Advice for 10-day Israel/Petra(?) Self-Guided Trip

Jan 31st, 2010, 09:29 AM
  #1  
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Advice for 10-day Israel/Petra(?) Self-Guided Trip

We were able to get a trip to Israel via Paris using frequent flyer miles. We will have 10 full days in Israel.

We are trying to decide whether or not to fit in a one-day tour to Petra, and what the best itinerary would be for this many days whether we go to Petra or not. We were in Israel last 32 (!) years ago for 3 weeks, and given our limited time are inclined not to repeat certain things we did last time (Eilat, except as necessary if we go to Petra; Galilee and Tiberias; Tsfat; Rosh Hanikrah; possibly Akko). We had been inclined not to go to Masada again, but our sense is that it would be worthwhile given the museum, perhaps more excavations, and the potential to tour with Zabu as recommended in Douglas Duckett's excellent guide.

Given all of this, do you think we should try to include Petra? What improvements would you suggest to either or both of these alternatives? The responses to Woodstockguy’s question were very helpful to us as well, but it sounds like we have different priorities and a few days less than they have.

Thank you very much!

Len

ALTERNATIVE 1 (WITH ONE-DAY TRIP TO PETRA)
Tuesday 10/19: Arrive at Ben Gurion 3 PM (after a few days in Paris for time zone adjustment); taxi to Jerusalem

Wed 10/20: Jerusalem

Thursday 10/21: Jerusalem

Fri 10/22: Jerusalem

Sat 10/23: Jerusalem; rent car and drive to Ein Gedi in afternoon

Sun 10/24: early tour with Zabu of Masada; Ein Gedi botanical garden and Wadi David if did not visit on Sat; drive to Eilat, sleep in Eilat

Mon 10/25: One-day tour to Petra with Desert Eco Tours; sleep in Eilat

Tues 10/26: Fly to Haifa 640 AM-815 AM (Arkia); day in Haifa and possibly Akko; stay in Haifa

Wed 10/27: Day trip from Haifa to Caesarea, Megiddo, possibly Bet She’an; stay in Haifa?

Thursday 10/28: Early train to Tel Aviv; stay in Tel Aviv

Friday 10/29: Full day in Tel Aviv; taxi to airport late at night for 430 AM Saturday departure to US via Amsterdam


ALTERNATIVE TWO (NO TRIP TO PETRA):
Tuesday 10/19: Arrive at Ben Gurion 3 PM (after a few days in Paris for time zone adjustment); taxi to Jerusalem

Wed 10/20: Jerusalem

Thursday 10/21: Jerusalem

Fri 10/22: Jerusalem; rent car and drive to Ein Gedi in afternoon

Sat 10/23: early tour with Zabu of Masada; Ein Gedi botanical garden and Wadi David if did not visit on Friday; drive back to Jerusalem

Sun 10/24: Jerusalem

Mon 10/25: Early train to Haifa; day in Haifa and possibly Akko; stay in Haifa

Tues 10/26: Day trip from Haifa to Caesarea, Megiddo, possibly Bet She’an; stay in Haifa?

Wed 10/27: Morning train to Tel Aviv; stay in Tel Aviv

Thursday 10/28: Tel Aviv

Friday 10/29: Full day in Tel Aviv; taxi to airport late at night for 430 AM Saturday departure to US via Amsterdam
RCLCOLPB is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 10:30 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,455
Can't help with the Israel piece, but if you think this may be your only chance to get to Petra, definitely go! I just spent two full days (three nights) there and could have used longer. There is much more to Petra than the Treasury, which you see in all the photos. It has some of the most remarkable rock colors around, as well as many more facades. Click on my name for my TR. Photos at kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/Caucasus-and-Middle-East-2009
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 07:05 PM
  #3  
 
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Posts: 597
I just had a quick look at your itinerary and thought of one comment, which is that on 10/26 you have noted 3 places which I think are much too big to include in just one day. My opinion. Caesarea would be a minimum of 2-3 hours, Megiddo at least 90 minutes, and even I've never made it to Bet She'an simply because it requires probably at least a full half day, if not more. These times do not include any travel times, and assume you only want to quickly walk around/through the ruins. I must note that I've only done Israel on my own, and not with a guide, so if a guide says that you CAN actually do all this in one day, then go for it. Especially if you are going to be on a bus/private vehicle, But I still can't imagine seeing enough at each to be satisfied and not feel rushed. You may want to look at these sites on Google Earth just to get an idea of size. Even Megiddo, which seems smaller than the other two, has an awful lot to see. I would also recommend watching the free films at the sites, as they give so much background and history. Here is a link with all pertinent informaion on all three sites: http://www.parks.org.il/BuildaGate5/...&Bur=283627955
tinydancer is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 09:00 PM
  #4  
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Thanks for the very helpful advice! Perhaps against our better judgment (largely for personal reasons that I can go into if anyone cares, and because I don't know that we will have a chance to get there on any other trip), we have pretty much decided that we do want to go to Petra. We learned on the TripAdvisor forum that we won't be able to pick up a rental car when we planned in Jerusalem, we are thinking of going to Ben Gurion to pick up a car on Shabbat. Would this be crazy?

If one accepts as given that we will be going to Petra, how do you feel about these 2 alternatives—one vs. 2-day trip to Petra, and specifics of the itineraries for either or both of these options?

Does anyone think we would be better off driving from Eilat to Haifa (avoiding having to rent cars twice) rather than flying? How long a drive would that be (not including stops)?
Thanks again!
Len

ALTERNATIVE ONE (WITH ONE-DAY TRIP TO PETRA)
Tuesday 10/19: Arrive at Ben Gurion 3 PM (after a few days in Paris for time zone adjustment); taxi to Jerusalem

Wed 10/20: Jerusalem

Thursday 10/21: Jerusalem

Fri 10/22: Jerusalem

Sat 10/23: Jerusalem in morning; take a sherut to Ben-Gurion Airport midday (do they operate on Shabbat?); pick up rental car and drive to Masada; stay at Masada Guest House?

Sun 10/24: early tour with Zabu of Masada; Nahal David if have time (probably not); drive to Eilat, sleep in Eilat

Mon 10/25: One-day tour to Petra with Desert Eco Tours (or do it ourselves??); sleep in Eilat

Tues 10/26: Fly to Haifa 640 AM?-815 AM (Arkia says no flights on English site; check Hebrew or email them, and check IsraAir); day in Haifa and possibly Akko; stay in Haifa

Wed 10/27: Day trip from Haifa to Caesarea, Megiddo; stay in Haifa

Thursday 10/28: Early train (or possibly drive) to Tel Aviv; stay in Tel Aviv

Friday 10/29: Full day in Tel Aviv; taxi to airport late at night for 430 AM Saturday departure to US via Amsterdam

ALTERNATIVE TWO (WITH TWO-DAY SELF-GUIDED? TRIP TO PETRA)
Tuesday 10/19: Arrive at Ben Gurion 3 PM (after a few days in Paris for time zone adjustment); taxi to Jerusalem

Wed 10/20: Jerusalem

Thursday 10/21: Jerusalem

Fri 10/22: Jerusalem

Sat 10/23: Jerusalem in morning; take a sherut to Ben-Gurion Airport midday (do they operate on Shabbat?); pick up rental car and drive to Masada; stay at Masada Guest House?

Sun 10/24: early tour with Zabu of Masada; Nahal David if have time (probably not); drive to Eilat, sleep in Eilat

Mon 10/25: Self-travel to Petra (or possibly 2-day Desert Eco-Tour); candle tour of Petra; sleep in Petra

Tues 10/26: Travel back to Eilat; stay in Eilat

Wed 10/27: Fly to Haifa 8:00 AM (Arkia); day in Haifa and possibly Akko; stay in Haifa

Thu 10/27: Day trip from Haifa to Caesarea, Megiddo; late train to Tel Aviv; stay in Tel Aviv

Friday 10/29: Full day in Tel Aviv; taxi to airport late at night for 430 AM Saturday departure to US via Amsterdam
RCLCOLPB is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 01:24 AM
  #5  
 
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I'm not sure about when/where you can pick up a rental car on Shabbat. The Israeli websites for the rental companies should have their hours stated for that. Try emailing them, or calling them to make sure. We rented cars from Budget (otherwise known as 'rent-a-wreck-Israel') because they were less expensive and stated that we had 24hr road service anywhere in the country. But it was no easy feat to get the booking and I had to call them. There is a surcharge for picking up or dropping off at Ben Gurion. So I suggest you check all the companies and ask specific questions. Over Shabbat, you will probably not receive any replies to your emails. I didn't. You'll have to work out the rental car thing before you make the other decisions. You should also check on possibly picking up your car in Jerusalem before Shabbat begins and ask your hotel if they either have parking or if you can park on the street over Shabbat. As I recall, we drove into Jerusalem on Shabbat afternoon, and we could park on the street outside our hotel until Sunday morning when we returned our car. So try to find out if you can do this. I'm not sure about sherut's on Shabbat, although most of them are driven by Arabs. Taxi's are too expensive, and also going to Ben Gurion is in the opposite direction from the road to Ein Gedi, so a big waste of time. Here is a website with links to rental car companies: http://www.travel-library.com/carren...ael/jerusalem/
I think most of the rental companies are in the same street in Jerusalem. Easy.
To continue, you cannot take any rental car across the border into Jordan, so forget about self-driving there. I can't comment on your chosen company as we only did a day trip, but I have to say that my guess is staying overnight is better because I think we missed out on seeing a lot of Petra, and because of the heat and the walking I think it's better to have more time. Take a tour that includes 2 days/1 night in Petra if you can. I think we paid about +/-US$240 ea for the one day trip.

I don't know who Zabu is, but I can say we were very happy with the Masada Guest House and would highly recommend it: http://www.frommers.com/destinations...da/H54475.html
It is right at the bottom of Masada. From there you just drive up the road to Masada and right into the underground parking lot. Inside you can rent an audiophone which will guide you all over the site. From my own personal experience, having done Masada both ways, I'd recommend the audio phone because my last tour guide was so interested in getting out of the sun FAST that she rushed us through. I don't know if you'd really need a private guide. But do bring a very small travel umbrella to protect you from the heat (much cooler than wearing a hat) and water. Here is a site which will help you determine how long it will take to drive from Eilat to Haifa: http://www.israel-travel-tips.com/en...ng%20Distances
It's interesting to drive through the desert, although this is very REAL desert and you will be amazed at the nothingness of it. And the heat. And maybe the dust too. But if you leave early enough, you can stop off at Ben Gurian's home, Kibbutz Sde Boker:
http://www.tourplanisrael.com/?Categ...&ArticleID=374

btw, we also found the map the rental car company gave us quite adequate for driving, and driving on specified roads through the W Bank is fine too. Hope this helps.
tinydancer is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 01:26 AM
  #6  
 
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Posts: 597
PS: I don't think I'd recommend doing Petra on your own unless you pre-book a guide to meet you at the border. But keep in mind that if you are already on a tour, they will probably get you through the border (both ways) easier than being on your own. Just thought I'd add that.
tinydancer is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 10:13 AM
  #7  
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Thanks very much, tinydancer. We don't know where our hotel will be yet, but does anyone know whether parking should be obtainable somewhere in central Jerusalem from midday Friday to midday Saturday?
RCLCOLPB is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 12:52 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
I too would recommend you rent your car Friday afternoon, park at hotel or on street and then you can drive to Masada, late Sat morning (do know it will be darn hot, so be prepared... as well as ongoing trip thru the desert; water is a must). Makes no sense to spend for sherut (if even available on Sabbath) to drive halfway across country to airport to rent a car. What you'd spend for sherut will pay for hotel parking if it's free.

Once at Eilat you'll have to leave the car or return it to the rental company. Can't drive vehicle into Jordan. Best do the tour with the tour operator as indicated. If you do only 1/day, it will be a very long day and then next morning have a 6am flight to Haifa... ugh! Consider 2/days at Petra.

Once back in Haifa have a rental car waiting for touring up north, TLV and return to airport (or drop off at TLV and sherut to airport). Good luck.
sandi is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 02:51 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
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I'd say, in this case, just select your hotel first (or select a few) and then email them or call them to ask about parking. We stayed near Ben Yehuda and could leave our car on the street from when we arrived Sat afternoon until early Sun morning. So we didn't look to see if we could park from Friday afternoon, but my guess is we probably could have. Just look at a few hotels and then ask them what the story is on parking over Shabbat.
tinydancer is offline  

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