I’ve had several opportunities in recent months to journey the length and breadth of Israel by helicopter. Helicopter flights are becoming an increasingly popular component of the tourist experience for those who can afford them. Not only is it possible, by economizing on travel time, to squeeze more into a single day, but there’s simply no better way of getting a real feel for the lay of the land.
The big vistas from overhead give a very different picture from the one gained through incremental, sideways-looking eyefuls of Israel at ground level. And speaking for myself, I was astonished, despite my close familiarity with this country, at the incredibly rich and compressed diversity of landforms, land uses, climatic zones, and historical treasures that unfolds before your gaze.
Here, for example, is a photo I took from a helicopter flight over Jerusalem this season last year:
Malha mall is at the bottom right, along with Teddy Stadium; the capital's southernmost neighborhood of Gilo is the ridge immediately above it, and Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Jala - both in Palestinian Authority areas, are right behind.
And finally, for those who like to compare sizes, here a brand spankin' new website that shows Israel's size - West Bank included - in comparison to major cities abroad.
Pretty revealing, after all.