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Israel at end of Feb?

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Jan 5th, 2012, 09:25 PM
  #1
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Israel at end of Feb?

Hi,

I'm exploring whether it's worth tagging along w/ my DH (he's on biz) for a 1 week trip to Israel at the end of Jan. First time going there for both of us.

* What's the weather like at the end of Jan/early Feb? Too cold to float in the Dead Sea or snorkel in the Red Sea?
* Any major holidays that would impede travel?
* What airport to fly into? Tel Aviv vs Jerusalem?
* Suggested itinerary for 1st timers. We're open to anything quintessentially Israel -- historial sights, ruins, nature. Possible to tag on Petra too?
* How to get around? Public transpotation vs drive?
* Finally, is it safe? Terrorist attacks?


Thanks in advance!
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Jan 5th, 2012, 11:40 PM
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It may be too cold to float in the Dead Sea and it is cool in the Red Sea. It will depend upon your tolerance levels. There are also periods of rain ( barely in Eilat) that may last for part of the day or a series of rain bursts intermingled with beautiful blue sky and sun.

There are no major holidays. ( except the Sabbath which comes weekly and means no public transport, but you can work around that)

The ONLY international airport in Israel is Tel Aviv. It is located midway between the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, slightly closer to Tel Aviv. There are a few other domestic airports. Jerusalem does not have any airport--the one that had been there has been closed for years.

Public transportation is the only way to get around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where parking is poor and traffic can be horrible. Depending upon where you are going it is fine for inter-city travel too. If you plan on going up North than a rental car is really needed.

The itinerary is based on your interests. Who are you? ( age, religion, do you like archeology or history , things from only your religion or other religions etc. etc. ) Petra is accessed from Eilat. If you wanted to snorkel in the Sea and go to Petra you are talking two night is Eilat. Personally, if this is a first trip to Israel I feel that is to big a chunk of time but, it is your choice.

YES ISRAEL IS SAFE!!! IF THERE HAD BEEN TERRORIST ATTACKS THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS WOULD BE REPORTING!!! Fact is, it is probably safer than your own hometown.
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Jan 5th, 2012, 11:47 PM
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1. Weather. Jan/Feb is winter and the weather varies. If it rains it will be 55-65F along the coast and 45-55 in Jerusalem and Galilee. If it is sunny it will be perfect touring weather (add about 10F to the previous temps). Bring layers of clothes that you can peel off or add.
Dead Sea - much warmer and you only float for 10 minutes so it doesn't matter. I Don't know about Eilat (see 4)
2. Holidays - No
3. There is only one airport - Ben-Gurion - called TLV, but actually located between T-A and J'm, so travelling to either city is roughly the same (20 min to T-A, 40 min to J'm)
4. Itinerary: For one week I would divide my time as follows: 4 days Jerusalem and 3 days Tel-Aviv. From Jerusalem go to the Dead Sea on one day (organised tour or public transp.) From Tel-Aviv you can take a 1 or 2 day organised tour of the Galilee. Another option is to do Tel-Aviv as a 1-day trip from Jerusalem in order to spend 3 days up north (renting a car is strongly recommended). Don't go to Eilat and Petra if you have only 1 week because it requires 3-4 days.
5. You don't need a car in Jerusalem and T-A (in fact it's a liability because of traffic and parking problems). Only rent a car if you drive up north, where public transport to major tourist sites is inefficient.
6. Perfectly safe, in fact, most tourists claim that they feel safer in Israel than back home because they can walk the streets at all hours without worry.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 05:37 AM
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Have been there in Jan/Feb and floated in the dead sea around Masada it was comfy as was Eilat Aquaba also did Petra stayed at the MovenPick anfd Sharm X 2 OneandOnly best Marriott.com
best prices. Fly into TLV.Check consular advisories like
travel.state.gov register with emabassy not too bad right
now though Iran is about to get embargoed testing long range
missles capable of reach TLV and threatening to cut off Hormuz and choke off world oil.Probably just saber rattling
but insuremytrip.com and flexibility is the key over there
for me.

Good luck!
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Jan 6th, 2012, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for all your suggestions. It looks like I should leave out Eilat and Petra for a one-week trip.

Forgot to mention that my DH's biz meeting is in Haifa. What to do there?

Is T-A worth spending time there? We'd prefer historical sites and stunning natural scenery to modern cities, unless it's very unique.

Thanks
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Jan 6th, 2012, 05:19 PM
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If you are already planning to be in Haifa, you should definitely spend some time touring the north, weather permitting. Do make sure you have alternate plans in case of a stretch of rain. Sometimes roads to historic areas get a little difficult to pass if there's flooding

In Haifa, the Bahai Gardens are beautiful (though I haven't been there in Winter) and nearby Akko is very interesting.
Megiddo and Zippori are 2 of the many historical sites that are not too far from Haifa. Actually you could visit Megiddo and Zichron Yaakov (historic town, wineries) and Caesarea on the drive back to Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv as a city may not interest you very much, but Jaffa/Yafo is probably a must. And there are some nice areas of Tel Aviv to stroll in good weather,Rothschild Boulevard for Bauhaus architecture, Neve Zedek with quaint alleys full of shops and restaurants . Several good museums, too.
There's always plenty to do and see and I'm sure and you'll have a great time!
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Jan 7th, 2012, 01:08 PM
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I"ve made multiple trips and never registered with the embassy. Do it if you want but I don't think may do.

Tel Aviv IS modern but you should spend at least one day to just get a feel for modern Israel. UP NOrth on the coast is Akko and Rosh Hanikrah. Slightly south of Haifa--visit the Atlit Dentention Camp and learn about the "illegal" immigration right before Statehood when England didn't let survivors of WWII enter Israel.
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Jan 7th, 2012, 04:17 PM
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I'd definitely recommend a trip to Petra - you can even do it on a one day tour from TA or Jlm, but to be so close and to miss it out seems a pity - one of the greatest sights in the world and the ideal time of year to visit. In my opinion 2 days is the max time for Petra anyway for most people. It'll be cold in Jerusalem - snow is very unlikely there but possible - I experienced a snowfall in April! The rest of the country may well be wet. Tel Aviv is worth a couple of days if you want a feel of what Israel is about for most Israelis - it is a very vibrant place though lacking in major sights. The defense museums are good if you are interested in the birth of modern day Israel and see if you can get on a tour of the Palmach Museum - book well in advance. Haifa doesn't have too much to offer - Bahai Gardens for a short while and maybe the archaeology museum at the university. But the North is beautiful - you could go to the (closed) Lebanese border at Rosh Hanikra and many people love Acre (Akko). The Galilee with all its sights is less than two hours away. Israel can keep you very busy!
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Jan 8th, 2012, 04:56 PM
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Thanks, all, for your recommendations. gbn31, thanks for persuading me to go to Petra. My DH kinda wants to do it too since we don't know when we'll get to go to that region again. If I spare 1 1/2 to 2 days, how to go there from Jerusalem? Possible to go on our own or we need to join a tour?

Our tentative itinerary:
* 1/27 (Fri) Arrive TLV airport at 2 p.m. How long does it take to clear customs for Americans?
Possible to rent a car that day and drive to the Dead Sea right away? Do-able or it's too much for the first day? Overnight in Dead Sea. Which area? How's the Meridien hotel? Is it at a good location on the Dead Sea?

* 1/28 (Sat) Masada in the morning. Float in the Dead Sea in afternoon. Drive to Jerusalem in evening.

* 1/29 (Sun) Jerusalem. What are the good sights to do on Sun? Sun night head out to Haifa? Drive or by public transport?

* 1/30-2/1 (Mon-Wed). Haifa -- DH has business. I can do daytrips to nearby places. Go to Jerusalem at night.

* 2/2 (Thurs). Another full day in Jerusalem.

* 2/3 (Fri). Go to Petra. What's best option? DIY do-able or need to join a tour. Can spend Fri and part of Sat there.

* 2/4 (Sat). International flight out of Israel at 9:40 p.m. How much check-in time I need?

Any suggestions? Do we have enough time in Jerusalem?

Thanks!
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Jan 8th, 2012, 05:01 PM
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Also, is it worth flying to Petra? Which airlines? Or security check at the airport will take a lot of time as land travel?
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Jan 8th, 2012, 05:58 PM
  #11
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Is all of Israel shut down during Sabath? Is Sabath from Fri sundown to Sat sundown? What to do during that time? Would the Dead Sea be open?
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Jan 8th, 2012, 09:59 PM
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I think most people here recommended NOT to go to Petra. You can't do Petra in one day from Jerusalem !!!! You need AT LEAST 2 days to go back and forth - Petra is in the middle of the desert, hours from anywhere and you have to cross an international border twice. You cannot fly there. You also need need the better part of a day to tour the site properly.

It does not take long to clear immigration. It is a 45 min drive to Jerusalem from the airport, so if your flight arrives at 2 PM you should be in Jerusalem about 4PM.

Sabbath is from sundown to sundown. Israel is not shut down and many of the tourist sites are open, e.g. all national parks, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, all non-Jewish areas such as the Old City in Jerusalem, etc. You have to check the websites. Public transport does not run but taxi service is as usual including 'sherut' (shared taxi) intercity service.

Enough time in Jerusalem ? Some people spend weeks there. Two days is the minimum - 1 day in the Old City and 1 day in the New City. Of course it all depends on how interested you are in history, religion,archaeology, etc.

It is a 2.5 hour drive from Jerusalem to Haifa. You can take the direct bus or drive yourself. You should rent a car if you want to explore the Galilee on your own on the days your DH is working. You do not need a car if you want to explore only Haifa and Akko (20 min by train) and you can take organised day tours to the Galilee.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 10:34 AM
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When you land at Ben Gurion airport, you have about a 10 minute walk in the airport to get to passport control. The lines are divided into Israeli citiznes and foreign citizens, Depending on how many flights are arriving and from where, the lines for foreign citizens can be long, and may take up to 30 minutes. If you have checked luggage, you could wait another 30 minutes or more to get your luggage. Customs is the eay part--there are 2 exits--red, if you have something to declare, and green if not. Most people walk right through the green section in about 30 seconds though they do spot check and could pull you aside to open luggage.

If you get a rental car, you have to go in an elevator to get to the parking lot where the shuttle vans are. That could take very little time or 15 minutes. The car rental offices and lots are about a 5-10 minute ride across the aiport, and how long you wait in the office depends on how many people are ahead of you, and issues with the contract,insurance etc.

All in all, it could take close to 2 hours from the time your plane lands until you are leaving by car. It could be less, but I would count on budgeting that into your schedule.

Israel does not shut down on the sabbath but the lack on public transportation and some amenities (restaurants, stores) will be very noticeable in some places like Jerusalem. Also, while many historical sites, and suburban stores etc do open on Saturday, they actually close early on Fridays, so you might be more challenged to find something to do and see then.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 12:18 PM
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OK, it looks like it's best to avoid Petra. Could you please suggest a good itinerary w/o Petra, and do take into account the Sabbath and weekend shutdown. Heard that Muslim places close on Fri, Jewish on Sat, Christian on Sun. Which places/sights to see so I can make good use of weekends?

Thanks!
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Jan 9th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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Anyone know of a compilation of what sights are closed at what days, so I could plan my itinerary optimally?

Rick Steve's travel guides are usually great at providing such listing, but don't know if he has a book on Israel.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 01:28 PM
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I would rely on websites as any books--even Fodors--are likely to be out of date. Also, January/Feb is a slow tourist time in Israel so some sights may be open fewer hours.

Here's a good place to start
http://www.parks.org.il/BuildaGate5/...php?mc=378~All for national parks, including many historic sites. A word of warning that the English websites are not always updated as often as the Hebrew so call in advance when you can, or ask someone in your hotel to call or check the Hebrew website before you go out of your way!

All museums should have good websites, too. Which Muslim sites are you considering? Stores in the old city of Jerusalem or specific sites? Which Christian sites?
Here are some ideas from the official Israeli tourist office
http://www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/...n%20Sites.aspx
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Jan 9th, 2012, 10:45 PM
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Here is another site that can help you plan your trip:
http://ilmuseums.com/

"Time-Out" Tel-Aviv magazine has good info and suggestions:
http://digital.timeout.co.il/activem.../israel_55.asp
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Jan 10th, 2012, 08:28 PM
  #18
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Thanks, all!

BTW, is it OK to drive in Israel? Say from Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem to the Dead Sea? How about from the Dead Sea to Galilee and then to Haifa?

Anything to watch out for?

Thanks
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Jan 10th, 2012, 10:08 PM
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The roads in Israel are modern and all signs are in English. Buy a good map when you arrive. All the major cities are connected by expressways. Driving in the cities can be confusing (as in all strange cities), particularly in Jerusalem because of the topography. There is no problem on any of the routes that you mention, but you should drive up the Jordan Valley (Dead Sea to Galilee) during daylight hours.

Israeli drivers are slightly more aggressive than their North American and European counterparts so defensive driving is the best strategy (as it should be in any unfamiliar location). If you search the forums you will see that that the overwhelming majority of comments from tourists that rented cars state how few problems they had on the roads.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 01:50 AM
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IN terms of guide books, Foders has a brand new 2011 out, so it shouldn't be too out of date!
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