The last time I stayed in Tel Aviv was in 2008. So driving to the seafront from the airport, through the formerly sleepy tributaries of Jabotinsky, Arlosoroff and Ibn Gvirol, and seeing the sheer quantity of new residential and office buildings and the scale of gentrification of the older, inner-city neighbourhoods, was breathtaking.
I always love the feeling of voluntary solidarity with Israel which I experience when going through security with El Al. When the young man or woman says "There is a reason I am asking you these questions", tears spring to my eyes and I really have to stop myself from blurting "I know. I know it all. My life for you, Israel!" in case they think I'm a loony and stop me from boarding.
But this time I had been mucked about so much by the Fattal Hotel chain PR, that my brain was experiencing turbulence before I even set foot on the plane.
It is 10am and I am sitting on a hillside on the southwestern shore of Kinneret, puddles of sweat collecting on the ground below. I have been riding, with a friend, in the July heat for four hours. We are not sure where we are or how we are going to get down the hill. I ran out of water half an hour ago.
I am in the Galil to explore two short sections of the 85-mile bike trail that winds up, down and around the hills that surround Lake Kinneret, the lowest freshwater lake in the world.
While wine, womanly pursuits and song are not the most obvious reasons to visit Israel, the country is nevertheless becoming a fabulous holiday playground for hedonists.
Even those who thought they knew the country well may be surprised to find its vineyards are winning international prizes and opening up to visitors. And where there is wine, centres of well-being are never far away, particularly in the north, close to Israel's most noted spas and retreats offering numerous opportunities for New Age-style spiritual renewal.
El Al has announced it is to operate three daily flights in each direction between Ben Gurion and Eilat, commencing in March.
The airline, which ceased direct flights between the UK and Eilat in 2007, is adding the internal flights to improve access to Israel’s Red Sea resort for visitors flying in to Israel from Britain and other, mainly European, destinations.
Lord Levy isn’t happy. Actually, that isn’t strictly accurate; sitting in warm sunshine, eating breakfast with his wife Gilda, in Bubbe’s, one of two breakfast venues at Eilat’s Royal Beach Hotel, the chairman of Jewish Care seems remarkably happy and relaxed, especially at the end of a year during which JFS (of which he is president) has been riven by seismic legal judgements, and in which he underwent emergency heart bypass surgery.