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Location - Middle East; Capital - Jerusalem; Population - 7 million; Currency - New Israeli Shekel MORE ISRAEL

Little over three hours by bus takes you from the Dead Sea to Eilat, the southern tip of Israel on the Red Sea coast. It's a city where I worked in a supermarket back in the 1990s and I was itching to return - November 2014.


israelnote120 Israeli Shekels








israel883A plane lands at the very central domestic airport in Eilat. So central you have to walk around it from town to beach

A new airport is being built north of Eilat, while the current airport will become the terminus of a rail link, built by the Chinese. No doubt it will lead to the city's further expansion and, most importantly for the Chinese, will allow freight transit via the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and on to Europe


israel899Eilat is the primary diving and beach destination for Israelis in the summer (days are a very sweaty 40°C plus) and for Europeans, especially Russians, in the cooler months


israel898aBoats in the lagoon and marina - Eilat













israel897The marina and lagoon are surrounded by several high-rise hotels, seemingly the bigger the better - Eilat













israel867The Three Monkeys is one of most popular bars in Eilat. Beer is expensive everywhere in Israel so look for happy hours!


israel902North Beach, heading eastwards to Jordan - Eilat


israel917Daytime winter temperatures hover at 20°C - Eilat













israel914Can't remember the name of this bar-cafe on North Beach but it's a cool place to chillout - Eilat













israel904North Beach is the closest beach to the town centre, divided into several smaller sections from west to east - Eilat


israel912The sparkling Red Sea - Eilat


israel920The expansion of Eilat continues - the new Peace Lagoon was built since I was here in the 1990s.
The 'castle' in the background is King's City, a Disneyland-style attraction.













israel885Lots of brightly coloured fish welcome visitors to Eilat Museum - Eilat


israel891The museum labels this as an Iranian flotation tank transporting weapons and intended for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, captured in 2002 by Israeli naval forces - Eilat


israel895Monument to the capture of Umm Rashrash (present-day Eilat) by Israel in 1949, raising the ink flag. The original ink flag is in Eilat Museum - Eilat
















israel934Near the airport are a series of salt pools attracting birdlife. Except in this photo! Instead, go for the pools near the Rabin border crossing - Eilat













israel936Ice Space is an ice bar-cum-sculpture exhibition complete with mini ice-slide, all in sub-zero temperatures of course - Eilat


israel943A saxophone frozen in ice - Eilat


israel945Posing with a real penguin! I think it was real, maybe - Eilat













israel930The Jordan border is about 200m away from here. The town in the distance (Aqaba) and the mountains behind are in Jordan - Eilat















israel953And at the other end of Eilat is the Egyptian border at Taba, leading to the Sinai peninsula and some of the best diving sites in the world


israel958The South Beach stretches several kilometres from Eilat city centre to Taba. This is Princess Beach just around the corner from Taba - Eilat


israel963The northern tip of the Red Sea is the meeting place of four countries: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Egypt. The faint outline of land behind the boat is Saudi Arabia - Eilat













israel959A glass-bottom boat returns to the Underwater Observatory Marine Park - Eilat













israel968Red Sea coral from the Underwater Observatory Marine Park's watchtower - Eilat


israel1005The underwater observatory is a fine place to view coral and sea-life while remaining dry - Eilat


israel986A brand new addition to the marine park is the Oceanarium where visitors can see the Shark Pools - Eilat












israel995In December 2014 the Oceanarium was so new that construction work was ongoing - Eilat













israel1001Walk beneath the sharks - Eilat


israel1009Coral Beach Nature Reserve is an underwater reserve catering to snorkellers - Eilat


israel1010This part of Coral Beach outside the reserve is a wide section of sand with a good bar-restaurant - Eilat












israel1012Eilat has a lively watersports scene as well as diving, snorkelling, snuba etc













israel1023I'd say the best beach in Eilat is the private one at Dolphin Reef


israel1024Floating platforms at Dolphin Reef - Eilat


israel1036Lunchtime for the dolphins, who always look like they're wearing a cheeky smile. Good on them! Eilat












israel1044The dolphins were brought from the Black Sea in 1990s - Eilat













israel1053Taking the bus through the Negev desert to Tel Aviv


israel1054From Tel Aviv I headed straight for Sderot where plenty of orange trees line the route. I guess they're Jaffa oranges?













I wanted to visit Sderot to see Gaza from a distance and also see the effect its proximity has on the town. Sderot train station is built to be rocket resistant (left). And as you'd expect the town has a high number of IDF soldiers (right, with backpacks)


israel1065At its closest point Sderot is less than 1km from Gaza, earning it the name 'Bomb Shelter Capital of the World'


israel1083Many shelters have been given a street-art makeover. - Sderot












israel1068The shelters are to protect from these, remnants of Hamas Qassam rockets at the police station's 'rocket museum' - Sderot












israel1073When the Red Colour warning ('Tzeva Adom') is heard residents have less than 15 seconds to seek refuge before impact. Towns further away have a bit longer - Sderot


israel1081Artists4Israel loves Sderot


israel1080Street art in Sderot













israel1086Newer buildings are reinforced from rocket attacks and bus stops are also fortified. There's also a children's playground shelter doubling as a brightly coloured caterpillar - Sderot













Panoramic view of Gaza from Nir Am lookout near Sderot. More photos of Gaza on my Palestine page


israel1089Bomb shelter at Ashkelon train station


israel1090Tel Aviv's main market is Carmel market













israel1091It's not a patch on Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market but it's lively - Tel Aviv













israel1093And if you're a beer fan it has the fantastic Beer Bazaar, stocking virtually all the huge number of Israeli craft beers popping up - Tel Aviv


israel1095Between Carmel market and the seafront is Hassan Bek Mosque - Tel Aviv


israel1104Close by is HaTachana, a converted former train station complex incorporating souvenir shops, bars, restaurants, a tourist office and also hosts events - Tel Aviv












israel1107Live music and plenty of food at HaTachana - Tel Aviv













israel1110The southern city centre district of Florentine is a bohmenian area of Tel Aviv with bars, cafes and graffiti art


israel1108Someone please translate this for me! No doubt it's something less than complimentary about Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu - Tel Aviv


israel1117I like this one. Propping up an eclectic building in a Tel Aviv side-street












israel1118Bright and busy street art close to Carmelit bus station - Tel Aviv














These are two important buildings on Rothschild Boulevard. On the left is Independence Hall where David Ben-Gurion declared the State of Israel in 1948 and became the first president.
On the right is the Haganah Museum. The Haganah were the paramilitary forces fighting against the British in Palestine, and later became the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) - Tel Aviv


israel1121The seafront is divided into a series of beaches, from Jaffa in the south to the Old Port in the north - Tel Aviv


israel1124aIt's Shabbat in Tel Aviv and what better than a communal dance at Gordon Beach












israel1124dUnlike West Jerusalem, which grinds to a halt on Shabbat, there's plenty of action in Tel Aviv. It's helped massively by having the Mediterranean Sea and miles of sand on its doorstep












israel1125Relax on Gordon Beach, where it was over 20°C on this December afternoon. Perfect! Tel Aviv


israel1134Next to Gordon Beach is the small Tel Aviv Marina - Tel Aviv


israel1133The wide promenade next to the marina. And this being Tel Aviv there's an open-air cafe-restaurant next door












israel1141It's possible to walk from Jaffa (the peninsula on the horizon) all the way to HaYarkon Park in the north - Tel Aviv












israel1136The waves are small but it's a (mini) surfer's paradise - Tel Aviv


israel1142Families make the Old Port a busy place on Shabbat, where it's all drinking and al-fresco dining - Tel Aviv


israel1145Father and son fishing on Yarkon River in HaYarkon Park, a five minute walk from the Old Port - Tel Aviv












israel1149There's a sailing club in HaYarkon Park where lots of kids row around in circles. And I'd be exactly the same.. - Tel Aviv













israel1157This reminds me of street art in London by Frenchman Invader though crucially it's minus the pixellation - Tel Aviv


israel1153There's a lot of bars to choose from in Tel Aviv


israel1162The Great Synagogue was built in the 1920s. Opposite (out of picture) is an excellent bar with outdoor seating - Tel Aviv












israel1171I'm sure I recognise this image, a face from the Vietnam war? Tel Aviv













israel1175Rabin Square is named after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated here in 1995 by an Orthodox Jew opposed to the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords with the PLO - Tel Aviv


israel1178Memorial to Yitzhak Rabin, murdered at this spot - Tel Aviv


israel1180Israeli flags stand over the memorial to Yitzhak Rabin - Tel Aviv












israel1181A juice stall just off Dizengoff Street - Tel Aviv













israel1183The Fire and Water Fountain on Dizengoff Square - Tel Aviv


israel1100The Etzel Museum in Charles Clore Park on the seafront. It covers the history of the Etzel, who fought against the British in Palestine and for Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The Etzel, Lechi and Haganah later merged to form the Israel Defence Forces - Tel Aviv


israel1188More surfing, this time with the backdrop of ancient Jaffa - Tel Aviv













israel1203Tel Aviv's coastline from above Ajmal beach, where the old town of Jaffa (or Yafo) begins


israel1191The Clock Tower is a good marker for the entrance to Jaffa


israel1198On the right is the late 19th century St Peter's Monastery - Jaffa













israel1207Take the narrow stepped alleyways through the Old Town to the port - Jaffa
















israel1206Jaffa hosts a flea market, art galleries and boutique shops, and is also home to a significant Muslim population with several mosques - Jaffa


israel1212Jaffa Port, one of the oldest ports in the world, is edged with sea-food restaurants and galleries - Jaffa


israel1218Street art is definitely flourishing in Israel - Jaffa















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