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Israel is worth your time. Its sights, ranging from Biblical ruins to Crusader fortresses to WWII memorials to cosmopolitan cities, are breathtaking. Israel is also easy to tour — its excellent bus system puts any city within reach.

Tel Aviv is the cosmopolitan heart of Israel. My best tip for enjoying Tel Aviv...see it as a fun-loving resort. A secular cafe culture rules. Originally a suburb of the much older city of Jaffa, Tel Aviv has outgrown its suburb status. About 100 years ago a group of Jewish families banded together to create a more comfortable Jewish alternative to Arab Jaffa. They established an English-style planned garden city which has blossomed to 382,000 residents.

For a commanding view, elevate yourself to the rooftop observatory of the 40-story-tall Midgal Shalom building. Except for a military communications tower, this is the tallest building in the Middle East.

Tel Aviv's waterfront promenade is the place to rock to the rhythm of modern Israel. Strolling couples, creative street vendors, foamy cafes, and strumming folk musicians all conspire to wipe out any memory of Israel's struggles.

An hour's drive up the coast from Tel Aviv is the fortress city of Akko. After the Holy Land had been ruled 500 years by the Arabs, Europe sent in Crusader armies to "liberate" it. The Crusader forces of Richard the Lionhearted and King Philip of Spain took Akko in the 12th century. When Muslims retook the town in the 13th century they didn't tear down the Crusader city, but simply built over it. As you wander the subterranean halls of the Crusader city, you can almost hear the clashing swords of faiths at war.

A truly amazing experience for the traveler with a thirst for something different!

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