Friends were visiting recently and had an older Lonely Planet guidebook for Israel. While looking through it, I looked up a few favourite places. I found that Ramle was labelled, somewhat aptly, as “off the beaten track”. But I was surprised to find out that the authors make fun of Beer Sheva, the town Maya and I spent three years in before coming to Vancouver.
“Unattractive and with little to see and little to do, Beersheva (sic) is unlikely to impress many visitors. It’s the kind of town that gives most satisfaction when seen from the rear window of your departing bus”
Now, it’s true that Beer Sheva is not exactly a charmful town, but that seems needlessly harsh and not exactly useful information for the visiting tourist. They also decided, mysteriously, to change the name from two words to one.
I later got my hands on the newest edition of the Lonely Planet Israel guidebook, to find that Beer Sheva’s status was slightly elevated.
“The student population is so important here that locals joke that if Tel Aviv is a city with a university, then Be’er Sheva is a university with a city”
This time they got it right, at least in that I’ve indeed heard locals (as in: us) say this, but perhaps saying that the population is important is on the presumptuous side. I’ve also heard that Beer Sheva comes the closest to a college town that you can find in Israel. This is true for the students, but I doubt a visiting tourist would come away with that impression. I leave it to you to decide…