Over the past decade, I’ve travelled fairly extensively – I’ve eaten goat in a souk in Marrakech, I’ve ridden snowmobiles in Finland and stream boats on the Mississippi. I’ve been to most European countries and most major US cities, attending conferences and launches.
But tomorrow I’m heading to somewhere I’ve never been before: Israel.
I’m being taken to explore the country by Kinetis, a non-political charitable organisation that seeks to improve people’s awareness of what Israel is like - how people there live, socialise and work. I’ll be travelling with Rosie Scribble and Exmoor Jane, along with some European bloggers, and we have a packed (if slightly secret) agenda.
With just a few hours until I leave for the airport, I’m completely unsure what to expect from this trip.
It’s an unsettling feeling not really having an idea of what’s going to happen or what the experience might be like – but that’s also why I accepted the invitation, when it came. How often do we get to see something completely new, that will surprise us?
So much of what I know about Israel is informed by news coverage and newspaper stories about the religious and political issues in the region – and I don't kid myself that I really understand the situation. Does anyone?
I used to be friends with a girl at college, who was pulled out of college by her family when she wanted to marry her non-Jewish boyfriend. Her family sent her to Israel for a year – and she came back completely transformed by the experience. I'm fascinated to see the country and people that created such a massive change in her.
More than anything though, I want to learn what women like me do in Israel – what experiences will we have in common, what differences will I learn about? What are Israeli cities like? Middle Eastern, Mediterranean? Do women there Tweet as much as we do? Are our beliefs about kids and education going to be different?
There's so much to see and learn, it's exciting, and intimidating, and I am really grateful for the opportunity to see it all.
But I'll come back in a week. And I'll tell you about it. There will be photos, but Jane, Rosie and I have agreed on a strict photo vetting policy that will ensure there will be no undignified shots of my new hat, which should prevent sunburn but will do absolutely nothing for my street-cred.
If you want to track what we're up to, you can visit the Kinetis Facebook page, or feel free to follow me on Twitter. And feel free to comment if there are things you'd like to know about Israel or if you have any great tips to share on places to go and things to see!