Faina’s trip report: Israel Adar 5766/March 2006.

Old Mar 26th, 2006, 07:53 AM
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Faina’s trip report: Israel Adar 5766/March 2006.

A drop of drama.

A week before the tour I got a phone message from the travel agent asking to call her. That’s it, I thought, I’m dropped off the tour... Any alternatives? I’m not canceling the flight, still going, maybe with another tour? Oh, boy... After 10 minutes of frantic calls and messages she got back to me. As I was staying after the tour making my own reservations, she had my departure date 3 days later then the rest of the group, so she thought she made a mistake. Whew! No, WHEW!!!!

Airport shuttles.

To go to the airport, I used the Bay Shuttle - I really like their on-time pick-up, nice drivers, and the price can’t be beat - from a residence the on-line reservation is $10, from a SF hotel it’s even less - only $9!

Going to the airport, the driver questions each passenger: going to SFO, not to OAK? I bet they’ve taken people to the wrong place in the past

Coming home, I don’t bother with reservations and waiting, it’s usually out of the building into a waiting shuttle, so I just take the first one going to my area. BART is convenient too when my husband handles the luggage, when alone I need physical help with the suitcase.

Continental flight.

Check-in at SFO was easy. They just don’t do it to Israel on-line, in person everything was the same as to Europe. No waiting. Coming back, it was very different in Tel Aviv. I went through at least 5 different types of X-rays and questionings!

The flights were on time; the food was OK, plenty to drink, and some boring entertainment - why do they have only one segment of Raymond rewinding it over and over and over again? Some movies too, of course, and even a cartoon - a chicken still trying to cross the road somewhere over the Atlantic.

Going back, I tried to confirm my return flight over the phone in Tel Aviv, finally got a live person who said we don’t do it over the phone even if a flight is late, you come to the airport and wait here. That day was windy, and I worried, but everything turned out fine. Only the last domestic leg was 10-15’ late on arrival.

Things to bring.

I have an Eagle Creek inflatable pillow, I hope this is what it’s called, and what I like the most - you can make it softer or harder, and then it goes like a horseshoe on your neck, very convenient on flights and buses.

Also a knife came in handy - for bread rolls with crust, and to open packages like coffee, they are sealed like should be saved for another 5 generations.

Make sure your shoes are not only well broken into with thick sole preferable, but also non-slippery. Even in the dry weather the polished by so many feet cobblestones of Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Tzfat sure feel slippery!

I have an Advantix non-digital camera, and when I thought I’m running out of films, tried to find that special film, but nobody knew that type of camera offering me regular Kodak film. Here in San Francisco it’s sold everywhere, in each corner store! So plan accordingly.

I had a small travel-sized alarm clock, and at least once needed it not to be late for the tour. I recommend having one, as I got wake-up calls twice at the Dan Panorama Jerusalem. The good thing is the phone rang an hour after I got up, or you’d hear about me in the news: an American traveler got arrested for attempting an assault on the front desk person I wonder who were those 2 people and what they’ve missed. The front desk was not amused when I mention their mistake.

Oh, yeah, and seat covers, very handy for us ladies None provided in the public restrooms.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 07:54 AM
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Things I’ve learned about the country.

In US you order sparkling water and get club soda. In Europe you order mineral water and get club soda. In Israel if you order mineral water you get just that - water with some salts in it. “Water with gas” gets you some funny looks “Soda” or “soda water” is what you order if you want club soda.

All soft drinks come with flexible straws. The Israelis take a special pride in serving straws with all drinks, doesn’t matter if in a glass, a bottle or a can. Why the waiters think it’s funny if you don’t like a straw in your glass?

Turkish coffee and black coffee are the same: 1/2 glass coffee, 1/2 glass mud at the bottom. If you’re not careful, that mud gets in your mouth, eewwww! Nescafe on the menu is instant coffee, still good! Not every place has filtered coffee.

The words “welcome drink” are highly deceiving. Or maybe translated incorrectly? Don’t expect wine, all you get is a glass of orange juice.

Unlike US, the pills are not sold everywhere in convenience shops - I thought I was running out of painkillers, would have to go to a pharmacy. This wouldn’t be a pleasant task while on a tour in a kibbutz.

Jaywalking is not a crime. It’s the survival of the fittest. The roads are for cars. The sidewalks are for parking those same cars. Pedestrians, beware!

And yes, it would be so much easier if I’d speak Hebrew

Arrival.

I bought the tour through the Internet agency “Affordable Tours” to get the 10% discount. They sent me a voucher for a free shuttle from the airport to the Jerusalem hotel. A local travel company representative was supposed to pick me up. Tough luck, I thought then, but the representative was there with the Trafalgar sign. He was there, but I was not. Somehow in that huge airport, going through the passport and customs I didn’t see him. So off I went to the Jerusalem shuttles area. This is where that guy amazingly found me!! And with another couple we had a free taxi ride to Jerusalem.

The taxi driver told us there was a sandstorm a day or 2 prior to our arrival. It was true, but unreal, as the arrival day was rainy. And so was the next day, but the rest of my stay was nice and sunny. Not hot enough for swimming, but very pleasant.

ATMs - Caspomats.

The ATM cards work with a 4-digit pin code, but not in every Caspomat. I saw 2 types of those, smaller and a little larger, so the larger ones are for our use. The smaller have signs in Hebrew only, the larger in both languages. When an American card is inserted, the signs switch to English automatically. Minimum withdrawal is 200 NIS.

Telephone.

Before the trip I worried how to stay connected to my family, my husband doesn’t know how to use computers, and by the way, the internet is everywhere if you’re willing to pay. At least at the Dan Panorama they had cell phones for rent with a drop-off at the airport per our Diesenhaus tour representative.

I used the old-fashioned phone card; the public phones are usually tucked in somewhere in the back or in a basement, ask the front desk. The last hotel, Best Western Regency in Tel Aviv didn’t have a phone inside, 2 in the street, 1/2 block away on both sides.

Using the cards, take your time. Wait till it shows the quantity of units on the card; don’t hurry to punch the number in. For US, it’s 012-1-xxx-xxx-xxxx. Remember: work it slowly, or you’ll get a busy or disconnected signal. Trust me, I’m talking from my (sad) experience.

Restaurant.

Usually I don’t care much about food, eat whatever wherever, but this one restaurant I want to recommend, close to Dan Panorama and King David in Jerusalem “Olive Grill” serves local food. They have “business lunch menu” - pre-fixed cheaper lunch, and a list of dishes if you want to choose.

For starters, I had eggplant. If you cook, you know it’s not an easy veggie to prepare. Their eggplant was the best I’ve ever eaten. My main dish was chicken in a date/honey sauce, very local dish, remember “the land of milk and honey”? Unusual combination of meat and sweet, and really, really good!

The restaurant is on the corner of Keren Hayesod and either Shalom Aleichem or David Hamelech across from the park.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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The Trafalgar tour.

I was surprised to see only 10 of us on this tour - was told it’s a norm to have a small group. Of course, it’s Israel, a minyan is needed We had a min-van with a driver/guide the former fighter pilot. Sure mentally he was still up there in the skies as his driving was insane even by Israeli standards. Where the road was winding like a snake, he’d go a straight line. The average speed of his driving was 110-130 km/hr, doesn’t matter the speed limits posted.

The first morning he announced: don’t bother to buckle up, in Israel only the driver must do that. As soon as we understood the only rule of his driving is to follow the car in front of him not father then 20 cm and after a couple of brake slammings, we all got buckled up for the duration of the tour

But he took us to many interesting places where a regular tour wouldn’t go, for example, the building of the anti-terrorist wall. We didn’t see the actual building, just the unfinished wall between small towns. The guide pointed out Jewish and Palestinian towns, and for everybody in our group it was an eye opener to see them the same. Due to the TV media propaganda we expected to see something like shacks on the Palestinian territory, no, nice clean buildings, same as on the Jewish side.

And after feeling of freedom to go anywhere with the American passport being stopped at a checkpoint was an unusual, somewhat creepy experience. The country is divided into sectors, if under Palestinian control, the Jews are not allowed to enter, if Jewish - the Palestinians are not allowed, in some Palestinian areas the Jews are allowed only to use the roads by driving through without stopping. Did I get that right?

Jerusalem.

First impression of the city: safety. Women walking in the dark alone. Children going home after school - unsupervised! And the feeling of security.

I knew Jerusalem is generally a poor city, large families depend on the welfare payments, so to see so many flower shops was surprising. On every corner on Thursday night people were buying flowers for Shabbat. The tour participants certainly asked lots of questions while we drove through the narrow streets of Mea Shearim.

Dan Panorama hotel is in a nice location, as everything in Jerusalem (it’s the city law) covered with limestone so in the sun it’s really looks like made of gold. Great breakfast buffet! Don’t miss the red herring - it’s like regular herring only reddish and tastes so much better! Mushrooms probably cooked in cheese sauce - just great! The cheeses are as good as they were in Switzerland. Hummus is homemade. Lots of pickled veggies, even carrots and cauliflower, gotta try to do that at home. All food tastes homemade.

The wine I ordered was white Yarden made on Mt Hermon in 2003. If you like whites, try it, must be the best in Israel I thought 44 NIS is for a glass, got a small bottle, finished it later up in the room, it was amazing!

There is a coffee shop good enough for dinners; I didn’t go to the restaurant. First time ordered the “selection of Israeli cheeses”, got a huge bowl-type plate of green salad topped with 5 types of cheese slices with 2 large bread rolls. Enough for 2! Their smoke tuna sandwich (served with salad) is great! Try it!

If you don’t want to pay taxes, charge everything to your room. The foreigners are exempt; it’s something like 16-18% savings, which is a lot!

Hop-on, hop-off bus.

During the free time I took the double-decker bus 99. It runs 4 times with the last run only till the Central Station - makes it senseless to use this bus for hopping on and off on 24 stops. So I only took one full loop to see what the tour guide had missed. Entered the front door past 2 security persons, paid the driver.

At the Jaffa Gate a couple with a teenage son tried to get in through the back door and up to the 2nd level. Those security guys ran up, took all 3 of them off the bus, politely explaining they must go through the front door. Out of nowhere 2 army guys appeared to see if anything must be done on their side. The tourists walked in this time through the front door.

The tour is narrated; there is a switch and a list of... 8? languages. Music between narrations. Passing Yad Sarah we were told about this organization - they loan medical equipment like wheelchairs to poor people at no charge. One of the places I send donations too. Proud to be involved.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 07:56 AM
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Yad Vashem, Israel Museum.

The Holocaust museum Yad Vashem looks very new and well organized. You enter and zigzag your way through the horrors of the past. Sorry, I just couldn’t take it. After a half of it I couldn’t see any more through tears. My both parents’ families were evacuated to the Far East of Russia, so I think nobody perished in the camps. I don’t know how people who’ve lost relatives can go through this museum. It is my understanding there is a separate building for children murdered in the camps, but on the day of our visit it was closed. I agree with a sign: it’s not 6 millions killed, it’s a murder committed each time, and there are 6 millions of those murders.

One can easily spend a day in the Israel museum and the Shrine of the Book. To me it looked like 2 separate museums. The ancient scrolls - originals! So strange to come from a country where the history is measured in centuries to a country where the history is measured in millenniums. Our guide was so knowledgeable; it seemed he knew the history of every item displayed. I strongly recommend visiting this museum and getting the audio tour - it’s always better to hear too then just to see. There is also the Bible Land museum across the plaza; I was there without the group, if you’re interested in history and Egypt, go there too.

Masada.

This place is a must to visit. Even if you have to take a bus tour for that. The cable car ride is 3-5 minutes. Very beautiful and unreal, like you are on some rocky planet. If you took a boat on Lake Powell into the Antelope Canyon, you’ll have the feeling of something familiar. Try to get on first, the cars are usually full, take pictures through the windows. Being afraid of heights, I closed my eyes on the way up, but was peeking on the way down

The most memorable thing is to see the 10 triangular rocks with the names of the last 10 survivors, they drew those lots to determine who’ll be the last one to kill the 9 warriors and then himself.

There is a food, drink, and souvenir area, expensive of course as in all the tourist places. Also don’t miss the short free movie for more information, better before taking the cable car, so you’ll know better what to look for.

There are steps down, part of the group walked down just for the experience, I think 1/2 hour all it takes.

Dead Sea area.

The sea was so blue when we were driving along, such a deep color! And closer to the evening it was changing to some metal color, not silver, but like a polished mirror. Very unusual! Open pits, deserted buildings along the shores - when fresh water washed out the salt, the sinkholes had become a life-threatening problem. People fell in the holes.

Yes, we made the “mandatory” stop at the Ahava factory where they sell 2 for 1 cosmetics, and you can see the employees pretending to work behind the glass wall. Seems nobody’s in a rush anywhere in Israel, but when I talked to the locals, they said the rhythm of life is getting too rushed. I guess coming from San Francisco everywhere else seems to be slow.

We saw rock rabbits - like rabbits without the long ears, and the guide said they are close relatives of elephants? I doubt he was pulling our collective legs, but... Also lots of European sparrows, not many of those in the US. Lots of other birds too, everywhere.

Another tourist stop is at Ein Gedi, we only stopped for lunch - a cafeteria where you see the food and tell them what to put on your plate, or get a salad bar. The food was good if you’re hungry, but nothing memorable.

We stopped at a private beach on the Dead Sea, the water is oily, and there also was a sulfur mineral water pool. I didn’t put the mud on, but others complained it’s not easy to wash off.

The Golan Heights.

Patches of dark red poppy flowers like drops of blood of the fallen soldiers. Painful to see the fertile land with only weeds growing and deserted building along the highway. Signs along it “mine fields”. The Syrians never gave the maps of the minefields, so only the highway is safe. Occasional unfortunate cows wander into the fields, the “Jewish cowboys” have a nickname for them: flying steaks.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 07:56 AM
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Along the Jordan River.

We drove along the Israeli-Jordanian border along the river. There is no manned patrol, only the barbed wire fence. The Israelis invented special computer sensors that can tell an animal touching the fence from intruders trying to cross the border. The last incident was several years ago when 2 terrorists were caught hiding close to a nearby kibbutz. Strange to see the wires only, no people. Maybe this is what we need in the south.

As we were visiting all kind of sights, we stopped at the Yardenit - a baptismal site. Jesus was baptized “approximately at this site” - not making it up, there is a sign saying “approximately”. The souvenir shop has all kinds of things, including sealed bottles of water from the river, and also some empty bottles! So now I have a bottle with “certificate of authenticity” saying “the holy water is from the Jordan River”. I can put anything in it! The website is www.yardenit.com

To use the toilets on the site one must pay a shekel. Was Jesus, too, charged for “going into the waters” I wonder?

The tour guide pointed out a Cherkess village. They are non-Arab pro-Israeli Muslims from the Caucasus area in the former Soviet Union, expelled from the country by the Russian invaders, moved to the Holy Land. Now that’s something you won’t find in the Russian history books!

Tzfat.

We were there on Purim. Children dressed as princes and princesses. At the entrance to the city 2 boys maybe 6-7 years old dressed as policemen directed the traffic (from the safety of the sidewalk, of course!). Orthodox Jews visibly drank but non-the friendlier. Narrow streets on the hill. Artists’ shops with unique paintings and crafts priced accordingly: ouch!

Nazareth.

Yeah, we went to all kind of places, including Christian pilgrimage. In our group of 10 we had a religious leader from Monterey, CA, not sure a priest or a minister. At the gates of a Catholic Church we were stopped to be checked for modesty: no bare shoulders, no shorts. Guess who was the only person in shorts who had to run out for a kefiya It’s what Arafat had on his head, the specific Palestinian kerchief-looking piece of fabric, can be wrapped around any body part, so that guy wrapped it around his waist like a skirt. I would offer him to borrow my skirt, but he was embarrassed enough already.

Armageddon.

Megiddo is a national park now. I skipped the tour inside - too many steps up and down, saved some strength for the rest of the day as I’m not good at walking, others told me later: smart move But I enjoyed the park, it’s on a hill with a great view of the surrounding area. I do recommend visiting this place.

Kibbutz Ein Gev.

Actually, we didn’t see the kibbutz itself. Both nights we’d come in late in the dark and leave early in the morning. A spacious room with a kitchenette, not equipped, and a walk-in shower only, no bath tub. Balcony/patios have a clothesline rack for laundry. Buffet breakfasts and dinners, convenience shop and souvenir shop - very expensive!

Also another memorable kibbutz is Geder with its crocodile farms. This is how our guide described it: meat goes east (for eating), skin goes west (for purses and shoes).

Acre-Acco.

It’s an interesting Arab old settlement to visit; we even saw an ancient market place in the open plaza - a movie being filmed. Get in there, but not alone, most of this historic place looks deserted, and don’t miss the water tunnel - an easy walk on a wooden floor, well lighted, engineering delight!

We had a lunch on the seashore, literally, the day was windy, and the patio’s floor of the restaurant was wet. The view was priceless! This is where I finally got to try the St Pete’s fish caught only in the Lake Kinneret. Very tasty, reminds of the soft sand fish. In that place it was served whole, and a guy from Chicago tried to convince me the most protein is in the eyeballs. Why did he then refuse to eat them?

Somewhere around Tiberius we visited Rambam’s grave. He is treated with the greatest respect; the surrounding space reminds of a synagogue, prayer books, separate prayer spaces for men and women. People do come often to ask for his help.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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Tel Aviv with the tour.

The end of the tour was the most unusual. The driver gave out questionnaires saying he doesn’t want them back, a tour representative will be in the hotel to meet us. We waited. The front desk brought out welcome drinks - orange juice. We waited. The front desk told us no more freebies, go to your room. I never saw anybody from that tour again.

Stayed at the Dan Panorama, and didn’t like the location at all. In the middle of nowhere, across from the Dolphinarium where 21 young people where murdered, there is a rock for a monument with a list of names, and across is the mosque that sent the terrorist on that homicide mission. But I had a great view of the sea and Jaffa.

The breakfasts there are enormous. Imagine 2 blocks’ length of buffet tables with food and a couple of tables where you can order. This must be declared illegal! All food is fresh and the taste is beyond imagination. Even such a simple thing as halvah had 6 layers: halvah, chocolate, halvah, chocolate... the size of a bread loaf, and you cut off as much as you want. Plenty of vegetables. Of course, there is food to satisfy any diet, but why suffer if you can do it later at home?

Best Western Regency Suites hotel Tel Aviv.

From San Francisco I made reservations with Best Western Regency Suites at 80 Hayarkon. Not because I wanted a suite, but for location and price. I had a partial view of the sea from the bedroom, and a parking lot view from the living room. With the AARP membership paid $108 a night. Up to 4 people per rooms, one double bed in the bedroom, one pullout sofa in the living room. Children stay free with paying adults.

Of course the choice was not the cheapest, but really good, and I’d stay there again! And can recommend this hotel. It looks like being recently remodeled, very clean and neat.

While on the tour, I didn’t need to show neither passport nor the credit card upon check-in. In the hotel I was on my own, so a copy of both was taken for tax purposes, the foreigners don’t pay hotel taxes on anything charged to the room.

My friend with her husband stayed at Maxim, they are Israelis, stay there often, like the rooms, but the breakfast she described as “lousy”. I had the room only, no food, and once waiting for these friends to visit me, bought a breakfast at the BW for $6. OJ, coffee, toast, margarine, jams, rolls, cheese - not bad, but not Dan’s buffet either Margarine is the usual thing in Israel, can’t remember ever seeing butter.

The suite was not exactly as described on the website. For example, it took a while to figure out the “welcome gift”. In other hotels, when I left tips, I’d get something additional. In this hotel the maid left 2 bottles of shampoo the first night. After tipping, no shampoo. So I guess this is what they describe as the welcome gift.

2 TVs and 2 phones, and the living room TV I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on (big surprise for an electronically challenged person huh Both TVs are small, but plenty of channels in many languages. Instead of the promised coffee maker an electric teakettle. Instead of a microwave I had a toaster oven. The kitchen was fully equipped with glasses, plates, bowls, and cutlery for 4. Refrigerator, sink, counter space. It looks like the suites were designed for long-term stays.

I liked the way the housekeeping is done. It’s a small place where they know you by name and/or appearance, or they ask for your room number when you’re leaving. The front desk gets on the walkie-talkie telling the maid which room to clean while the guest is away. Neat, huh?

Great location by the sea, couple of steps down, all kinds of cafes and restaurants, AM-PM shops selling produce, souvenir shops, American embassy, post office, and public laundry - all within no more then 4 small blocks. No public phone in the hotel to use a phone card, but there are 2 within 1/2 block of the hotel. To call USA dial 012-1-xxx-xxxx.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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Tel Aviv after the tour.

I planned 3 days after the tour for some sightseeing, meeting friends, and shopping. Didn’t work out that way. Not enough time to meet everybody! It was a strange mixture of the real life and the Internet. Shabbat dinner with a family whose son I met through the Internet chat lines and the mother in the real life later. A former neighbor from the former Soviet Union, our children were friends. An e-friend with her family came just to see me in Tel Aviv driving all the way up from the Arava desert. A young man I met for the first time after 10 years or so of e-mails. His wedding is 2 months away.

On Shabbat the whole city is on the sea promenade. Unlike US, not too many wearing black, so it’s enjoyable to people-watch. Colorful clothing. I don’t know how those young mothers move about in their 8-inch nail-sized heels, is this why they have to hold on to the strollers? Russian language everywhere, was amazing how they hear your accent in English and switch to Russian! And if you run out of money, Russian-language ads invite you to get some income by stripping at their clubs for $10-15,000 a year!

To go to the airport, I took a taxi. Across from the hotel there is a taxi stand/office so I was walking by and made a reservation with Bugrashov-Sheraton taxi. It was on time, nice driver; he was with the army helping Armenians at the time of the big earthquake there in 1988. One of the very little known facts is that Israel always offers help with any disasters.

The wind was strong that evening, and I worried the flight could be delayed. No, it was on time for a bittersweet “good bye”. In 24 hours I will be at home dreaming of my next vacation in Israel, this time maybe Eilat.

Coming home.

In the New Jersey airport during that 3-4 hours layover I felt something’s scratching my cheek inside. A large piece of tooth broken off, exposing the filling. More dental work upon arrival, how nice! This will be my first “crown of glory”.

At work they were actually happy to see me back. And I thought I could be missed only if I skip a monthly payment! One (older) woman was even disappointed I came home safe without any accidents. She was sure Israel is not safe to visit and everybody gets into some kind of trouble. I advised her to turn her TV off.

For my next big trip I want to try a river cruise. Suggestions welcome
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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Fabulous report, FainaAgain. Brought backs lots of memories from my stay in Israel in 1995.

About the roadblocks. Yes, Palestians from the West Bank need permits to get into Israel proper. But yes, there are some main roads through the West Bank that can be used by Isrealis and visitors, and they are patrolled by Israeli Army. A vehicle with an Isreali-proper license plate, like your minivan, definitely should stay on those roads only.

About entertainment on CO, think Raymond is bad? How about they show you 3 episodes of "24"? Don't you want to know what happened the next hour? I think it's provided by FOX for free so that FOX can sell some more DVDs.
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Welcome back Faina. I was waiting for your report and it is informative and enjoyable as expected.

We'll be going in late May and I've not had enough time to organize anything. Part of the problem is how to fit in visiting friends/family.

I'll be reading your report again when I get a chance to make a schedule for our trip. One question for now; you say you didn't like Dan Hotel. There's a chance that we may end up there (organized by the conference). Would you recommend moving to another hotel?

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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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Faina- That trip report was awesome!
Thank you for bringing back so many memories that were faded in the passages of my mind and brought back to technicolour once more!
On our trip so long ago, we stayed at the Dan in Tel Aviv & the King David in Jerusalem.
Masada was the highlight of Israel for me and especially walking down to Herrod's Palace on the very tip.
My most precious memory though is a photograph of my son Jordan (2yrs old)
playing in the Jordan river!
Thanks again for sharing your trip with us -Tod
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 10:52 AM
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Faina,

Wonderful report! May I say how brave I think you are to do a trip like this own your own? Bravo!
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 04:09 AM
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WOW! What a wondeful trip you had. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 05:35 AM
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Faina,
It sounds like you had a wonderful time and I'm so glad everything went well.
You certainly had some interesting adventures, and saw so much on your trip. It was a great report.

I made me chuckle when you described the water vs cuba soda. We like to purchase "water with gas" when we travel, too. It seems to keep digestion in order.

Thanks for taking the time to share your travels. And welcome back.

Kathy
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 08:03 AM
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Great trip report Faina. My son will be going to Israel in June and I am printing your report for him. He will benefit from some of your tips. I was there so long ago, I dont have useful infomration. Is there anything he could bring to give to people he meets in his travels? Things that are hard to get in Israel? Or better to just send him with money to spend and help the Israeli economy?
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 09:54 AM
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Faina,

Loved your report. The best reports include tips like yours "see the film before you go up in the cable car". Guidebooks never tell you that stuff. We are looking forward to our own trip to Israel in May. Thanks.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 10:09 AM
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Great report, Faina.

In T-A we usually stay at the Yamit, across the street from the BW. Last time, though, we were left rather unsatisfied with the Yamit, so your report on the BW comes in handy.

The contrast between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Saturdays couldn't be more striking. Visiting both cities in depth (and not forgetting Haifa, which has its own vibe) really reveals how diverse a place Israel is - ethnically, culturally, socially...

Too bad you missed the children's memorial at Yad Vashem. On the other hand, with the new museum and the older halls, visiting the children's memorial in the same trip is just too intense IMO.

One last note - this weekend we were leaving our mandatory $100+ per trip at the local Costco (big "membership" warehouse chain for those unfamiliar) and came upon... Ahava packages, priced less than Ein Gedi or Hayarkon St. outlets! Who knew? Now we don't have to pay extra for heavy bags coming back from Israel.

"What have you got in there that weighs so much?"

"Oh, just mud."
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 10:54 AM
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Oh, I'm kind of surprised at one thing you wrote. You said you "knew Jerusalem is generally a poor city". How and why would you have that idea? Going around western Jerusalem, I certainly don't find that it's much different from many other Israeli cities.

Afterall, that's the capital of a relatively rich country of the world.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 11:45 AM
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ESM, Dan Panorama is a great place for large groups, they are experienced in handling those, so moving out is not nesessary. I didn't like the location as I felt it's not nearly anything except water. Nothing's wrong with the hotel itself!

Rachel, I wish I'd have more time to shop! Dunno if there is anything you can't buy in Israel, and certainly the food is better there. I did bring gifts for my friends, but I knew I will meet them.

As for your son... maybe souvenirs from your area where you live? Like 3-D cards or... And yes, give him more money then you want to

RKkwan, what I meant is that the city has most religious families living there which have many children and so use some financial support. According to the official statistics, the income per person in Jerusalem is the lowest, this is what our guide said.

Everybody else, thank you all for your kind comments.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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Very interesting report, Faina.
You are right regarding Jerusalem, the income is very low there, because the religious families have many children and many adults in these families only learn and they do not work.
A similar situation is in Bnei Brak.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 12:28 PM
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Hi Faina,

I'm joining in on the praise of your report . . . thank you so much for writing it.

Happy travels,
Sandy (in Denton)
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