11/07/2013 04:30 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Israel in 3,300 Words?

The great frustration for me as a TV producer is to condense everything I'd like to say into 30 minutes and about 3,300 words. This week in Israel could have easily filled two episodes -- but we'll design it into one powerful viewing experience.

We like to start our shows with a montage, which we carefully craft as we travel and shoot. Now that we're wrapping up our week of filming, here's how we'll start our episode on "The Best of Israel":

"Israel is filled with fascinating sights -- from the holy spirit of Jerusalem to the cosmopolitan spirit of Tel Aviv, with its in-love-with-life Mediterranean beaches. Visitors ponder the fortress of Masada, and pilgrims find inspiration at the Biblical sights around the Sea of Galilee. You can bob like a cork in the super-salty Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth. And you can dive into thriving modern cities like Haifa, where both Jewish and Arab Israelis stoke the economy with a youthful and well-trained workforce. While lively multicultural café scenes seem to offer a promise of peace in Israel, any visit includes reminders of this country's ongoing challenges. Israel is a land of tension and controversy -- with protective walls, disputed settlements, and high-profile security. A thoughtful visit here is both poignant and enlightening."

Pictured here is the Damascus Gate which leads into the Old City of Jerusalem (which itself could fill an entire episode).

I'll continue this Holy Land series until November 21st. Then, to celebrate my homecoming, I'll give a live, free slideshow lecture on Thursday, November 21st at 7 p.m. PST in Edmonds, WA. You can attend in person (registration required)...or watch the live webcast from anywhere in the world (no registration required). Learn more at Rick Steves - Holy Land - Israelis and Palestinians Today.