„Israel is a start-up country and became my own start-up as a newly discovered workation and bleisure hot spot. Between IT beach, kibbutz luxury and roof terrace world –130 kilometres along the Mediterranean coast.” Sylvie Konzack
I was in Israel last October, just before the new elections. Few expected that a couple of weeks later, thousands of Israelis would take to the streets for their democracy. To this day, they know what they are doing it for. The founding of the state 75 years ago was in a sense a start-up, the development into an agricultural country was a joint feat of strength, and the switch to a tech paradise since the 1990s has been smart economic policy.
The USB stick was invented in Israel, Electric aircraft are produced here, and e-buses are already charging themselves automatically on Tel Aviv‘s streets. Moreover, the founders of WeWork are Israeli, as are those of the lab meat farmer Aleph Farms, and the founders of the cybersecurity giant NSO Group. Alongside the dominant agriculture sector, the high-tech sector‘s share of the countries gross value added is growing steadily, most recently up to 18.1 percent. And at the same time, the protests of the “techies“ against the planned judicial reform are quite loud.
On a boat trip along the coast of Herzliya, a guide passionately reports on the start-up drive in his country. Founded in 1924, Herzliya is considered a high-tech centre on the Mediterranean. In the high-rises at the marina, several large companies have their headquarters with hundreds of international employees, on site or via remote work. And since the pandemic, some employees have moved from nearby Tel Aviv to one of the smaller coastal towns with the Mediterranean Sea, the beach and sports facilities right under their noses.
And what a statement: In 2022, the then tourism minister promoted Israel‘s diversity beside Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: In a commercial spot for it, he actually jumped into the sea in James Bond style.
Bleisure outside Tel Aviv & Jerusalem
I travel further north along the approximately 130 km long Mediterranean coast, past natural beaches like in Bet Yannay or impressive archaeological sites in Caesarea and the ancient city of Acre. I see holidaymaking couples travelling by rental car. The train is also a good alternative in Israel, the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem route alone takes only 20 minutes.
At Kibbutz Nahsholim on the Camel Coast, I get an impression of how some kibbutzes in the country have built up another mainstay with 3 to 5-star hotels over the past 20 years. My room has its own pool, only a few metres away is the restaurant with a great buffet that offers the whole Israeli culinary keyboard at breakfast and dinner. And above the kibbutz, I walk in the dunes on boardwalks.
All-inclusive is not the point of such offers, which can only be found in the desert of Israel, counted on one hand. The government and the people of Israel want the country itself to be seen in its diversity, even outside the tourist strongholds of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. That is why the authorities hardly ever approve all-inclusive resorts. At the same time, tourism stakeholders are open to newer forms of travel such as bleisure and workation. The three-month tourist visa makes it easy for foreigners.
One of my travel highlights will be …
… Haifa. The third largest city in Israel, is only 90 km north of Tel Aviv. If it means working in Haifa, praying in Jerusalem and partying in Tel Aviv, I find everything perfectly combined here in bleisure and workation mode. Located on the mountain, the view of the city and harbour from the Bahai Hanging Gardens is breathtaking. Haifa is considered a showcase city for internationality and integration, and on the numerous restaurant and hotel rooftop terraces, people not only open their laptops, but also celebrate life in the here and now – just like a start-up.
Sylvie Konzack …
ones read how a physicist described the Israelis as fearless of failure. Those how fail in Israel are a bit smarter and start all over agein, hi said. Hopefully, this is how the coutry retains its democracy.
Bleisure Tips Israel
Acre, Caesarea: ancient, breathtaking sites.
Rosh Hanikra: rock cave on the Israeli–Lebanese border.
Tel Aviv: as vibrant and inspiring as often described, sightseeing & remote work at the Anu – Museum of the Jewish People, among others. Sports on the beach promenade that leads to the old town of Jaffa.
Jerusalem: of course! Breathtaking, especially the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Remote Work e.g. at Café Triest – Austrian pilgrim hospice with garden.
Fotos: © Israel Dana Friedlander, Konzack