10 day trip without too many religious sites

Old Mar 16th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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10 day trip without too many religious sites

My husband and I are planning a trip to Israel in the fall. We want to get a feel for the country, but since we are not of the Judeo-Christian faith, we do not want to be inundated with too many religious sites (I know, some people may find that to be pointless). We were thinking of spending 2 days in Tel-Aviv, 2 days in Jerusalem plus a day trip to Masada, and 2 days in Eilat plus a day trip to Petra (in Jordan).

Does this sound like a good itinerary? Should we visit some of the towns in northern Israel? What is the best way to get from city to city...bus, plane or rental car? Any suggestions are greatly welcome...thanks!
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 10:23 AM
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What kind of a vacation are you looking for, and where are you coming from? I ask about the second because if you're coming from a cold climate, it might be all about the beaches--both in Eilat and in the center of the country.
Tel Aviv may not hold much appeal from someone who comes from a big city. Jerusalem is beautiful, but so full of religious sites that it would be impossible to avoid. Of course, they are also historical sites, so think of them that way if you prefer.
The northern part of the country has beautiful valleys and backroads to drive around.
Other than Eilat, almost every place can be reached from anywhere in the center. Traveling from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv you can easily stick to public transportation. If you want to explore other sections, go to beaches, hike, etc, it is best to have a car.
Flying to Eilat is not cheap, but it will save some time
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Old Mar 16th, 2006, 11:06 AM
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Flying to Eilat isn't all that expensive since you can get your flights to/fr and hotel as a package at quite reasonable prices; the day-trip to Jordan will probably cost you in the range of $100+ /person.

Israel and the Middle East (from Turkey thru Syrian, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt), where you will find major religious sites, is also an area of history.

Any tours you take don't have to be religious; even if you walk on your own, this doesn't have to be a religious experience though can be in an uplifting spiritual way. As mentioned in post above, most of what you see/visit are historical sights - stories we've heard since childhood, regardless whether we are believers.

I'm not religious and not Christian, but I can't count how many churches I've been in around the world. The architecture, the art work and/or frescos are amazing and certainly worth a look see. Not being a Christian or Hindu or Bhudist, I can't count the number of temples I've visited and, likewise, am in awe of the beauty and the meaning these have for believers of these religions.

Most of what you see in Israel is as much archeological as they may be relgious to others, so don't discount so-called reglious sites. And in Israel you will find Christians of every shade and hue, as well as for Jews and Muslims, that you almost can't tell them apart.

You have a very short trip planned hat I feel Jerusalem and surronding area is due at least 3-days. You can do a day-trip to Tel-Aviv which is a big city, very western in many ways. Likewise, you can do a day-trip to Masada; concluding with 2-days in Eilat and a day-trip to Petra.

Don't discount any parts of Israel for religious reasons, as you'd miss a lot in this amazing destination.
Old Mar 16th, 2006, 02:39 PM
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Well the question is what do you want to see? What do you enjoy? History? Archeology? Nature?

I mean, why did you choose Israel if you don't want the religious sites of the three major monotheistic religions?

I'll be glad to try and recommend places to visit if I have some idea of what it is you are looking for - I am an Israeli and pretty familiar with the country.
Old Mar 17th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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Thanks so much for your replies! We are interested in history/architecture/archeology/modern culture. We are interested in seeing this country that spawned three of the major religions of the world...it must be a truely inspirational place! We are not at all opposed to going to religious sites. But, I do not want to walk the entire life of Jesus or anything that detailed (which, from some of the tours I've looked at, that is what they recommend).
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 05:59 AM
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You certainly don't have to walk the Via Delarosa, which isn't actually the real thing as so many civilizations have been built upon it, including building blocking the actual route.

The Church of the Holy Seplucah (sp) is fascinating for the art inside, not only the religious aspect.

There is so much history and archeological places, the fact that most have some religion attached to them, don't have to impact your participation.

Israel is an ancient and modern country, you can have whatever you wish and matched to your interests. In some places, so modern, you'd think you were back home (wherever that might be). Don't fret about it.
Old Mar 17th, 2006, 10:06 AM
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Considering your interests I would suggest including Akko (Acre), Caesarea and the Negev (for the Nabatean ruins). Eilat is not worth two days unless you are nature lovers. A 2-day tour to Petra might be more rewarding. If you are interested in desert nature then check out: <http://www.parks.org.il/ParksENG/ganim_about.php3>
and click on Parks and Reserves, then the area that you are interested in.

For modern culture a nice contrast is spending a day wandering around alone in the Old City of Jerusalem, followed by a day in Tel Aviv. Haifa too is interesting in that it is a truly mixed city, probably the only one in Israel.

Inter-city bus travel is easy and convenient. Within most cities you might prefer taxis the traffic being what it is... If you will be visiting mainly cities I do not recommend renting a car. Parking is impossible!!!

As Alex mentioned, if you are short of time it might be worth flying to Eilat, or traveling one day to Ein Boqeq by bus, visiting Masada, taking a dip in the Dead Sea and then continuing on the next day by bus to Eilat. It is a longish trip but passes through the desert which can be beautiful. Watch out the windows to see the natural caves which the Bedouin sometimes still use.
Old Mar 24th, 2006, 10:02 AM
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I've been living in Israel this year and this is what I would recommend based on what you said:

Haifa: A really beautiful city with a mixed population. I believe it's the only city in Israel to have public transportation on Saturdays because of this. The view from the mountain is stunning and the beaches are nice. You can see the German Colony (street with artists and their work, facts about the architecture...), Arabic areas, Jewish areas and there are great restaurants to boot!

Near Haifa I would say to take a day trip to the artists' colony of Ein Hod. This is a wonderful little town that only lets artists live in the community (so if you want to sell your house, you must sell to another artist). The artists open their studios (often inside their homes) and show and sell their work. While in Ein Hod there is an INCREDIBLE Argentinian restaurant...I can't remember the name, but if you ask about it, everyone will know as it is the 'known' restaurant there.

Go to the Golan Heights (in the North of Israel). Drive around or take a guide. It is breathtaking. It is really quite amazing what has been done with land that was essentially barren.

Ein Gedi (by the Dead Sea) is beautiful. Go for a hike in the National Park, there are water oasis' throughout and are nice any time of year. While you're there see Masada.

Go to Tel Aviv just for a day or two to see the contrast between the most modern/secular city in Israel and the other sites you will see. Jerusalem (aside from it's religious sites) is a nice city to walk around in and it is much much prettier than Tel Aviv (though Tel Aviv is called The White City, due to it's extensive collection of Bauhaus architecture).

Taste the food. It's cheap! Enjoy your time in Israel!
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Old Mar 25th, 2006, 04:00 AM
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In my planning for our trip to Israel in May I am astounded by the range of museums, archeological sites and nature areas across Israel. From Megiddo in the north (the inspiration I understand for James Micheners "The Source") to a jeep tour in the Negev desert in the south. Israel is not as easy as some countries to find tourist information but in my research the opportunities there seem endless without even visiting a synogoge, church or mosque.
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 02:38 AM
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my favourite place in Jordan is Dana.. it is in the south of Jordan...not very far from Petra. It is a nature reserve, very peaceful and absolutely beautiful. There is a very nice guest house there and there is a camping area... the mountains around you are great and you can do hicking or just relax and have a nice quite time in nature, also very friendly people and great food.

I would alos consider visiting Dana for a day trip or overnight before going to Petra.
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 04:42 AM
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Post script:

For Roman ruins do take a short side trip to Bet She'an.

In the old city of Jerusalem, walk the Roman Cardo and look down into the past through the glass covered 'wells' that have been dug out to the time of the 1st Temple.

Have fun!

Old Apr 22nd, 2006, 02:58 AM
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Regarding history/archeology, Akko (Acre) in northern Israel is definitely a must see: http://www.planetware.com/acre/akko-...sr-nr-akcc.htm
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