Israel at end of Feb?

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Jan 17th, 2012, 04:14 AM
  #41
 
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I usually stay at the Dan Panorama when I want a break from my Israeli home and want to vacation. Yes, some of the older rooms need updating, but it is my understanding that the older rooms have been updated in terms of curtains etc. --and slowly are getting major renovation. In terms of a spa--sauna etc. I've stayed there over a dozen times and was unaware of one, so I checked the website--no such creature at the Dan Panorama in Jerusalem. HOWEVER, the hotel does have a large parking lot. The only time I think it would be hard it get a spot would be if the hotel was suddenly inundated with locals who are all driving in. Even then, they allow you to park in "no parking " areas within the garage so it accommodates a lot of cars! The Harmony parking lot, to my understanding, is teeny tiny. Harmony is rated # 1 on Trip Advisor because it is pushed on the Israel forum. The Dan Panorama is a different kind of hotel --IMO!
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Jan 20th, 2012, 09:42 PM
  #42
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Hi all,

Looks like we might have to sightsee Jerusalem later -- starting on the Wed (2/1) of the week after we arrive. The people in Israel my DH is meeting want to give him a personal tour of Jerusalem on Wed, so we might as well stay there Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat.

Given that, it's best that we head out to the Dead Sea the weekend we first land. We land on Fri (2/27) at 2 p.m., is it even possible we get out of the airport w/ a rental car by 4 p.m.? In that case, we could try to drive to the Dead Sea (Ein Bokek). Is it better to take the highway that goes thru Jerusalem or Beersheba. From google maps, Beersheba route seems faster if we go to Ein Bokek.

Ein Bokek seems pretty far south. Maybe we should stay in Ein Gedi or someone closer to the first night?

If we get out of the airport too late, what is a convenient city to stay overnight before heading out to the Dead Sea? TLV, Jerusalem, or even Abu Ghosh (heard they have the best hummus in the world

Thanks!
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Jan 21st, 2012, 11:00 PM
  #43
 
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You could do the Dead Sea from Jerusalem as part of the Wed-Thurs-Fri-Sat as a day trip (no hotel). In that case you could spend Fri-Sat after you arrive in Tel-Aviv.

But, if you decide to go directly to the Dead Sea - there is a kibbutz guest house and a youth hostel (open to everyone) at Ein Gedi. There is a youth hostel at Massada. Your driving choices are via Jerusalem or via Arad. I would not recommend either road after dark after a long flight, particularly the Arad-Dead Sea road which is pitch-black and has a lot of dangerous curves. Jerusalem would be the most convenient place to stay overnight.
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Jan 22nd, 2012, 02:11 PM
  #44
 
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I agree with mbgg not to try the drive through Arad at night. I did it during the daytime and it was breathtaking in both good and bad ways. The views as you descend are not to be missed, but the road could be a little scary at times.if you take that route I would strongly suggest doing it only during daylight.

Ein Bokek and Ein Gedi are not that far apart, maybe 20-30 minutes drive.

I've forgotten if you plan to stay in Tel Aviv at all, but would you consider it for the first night? You could be there for the whole evening, have time to relax and have dinner, walk around. Spend some more time in the Tel Aviv Saturday morning, walk along the beach to Jaffa if the weather is good. Then drive to one of the national parks (historic and archaelogy sites) on the way to Jerusalem , visit the monastery at Latrun, even Mini Israel (kind of kitschy, but fun) , then stop in Abu Gosh. See what time you can check into your hotel in Jerusalem on Saturday.

Driving is pretty easy on Saturdays since it's not a work day, and as long as you avoid religious neighborhoods in Jersualem, you can even drive in the city in relative ease
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Jan 22nd, 2012, 10:12 PM
  #45
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Thank you both for advising us NOT to drive through Arad, esp in the night. Yes, we're also thinking of staying in Tel Aviv the first night and driving to the Dead Sea the next day on Sat.

We'd also like to stay in Ein Bokek as we have hotel credit that we can use at the Le Meridien Dead Sea. We'd like to relax and enjoy the area more, so staying over night is preferable to a day trip.

We might be able to stay in Tel Aviv on one of the nights when my husband has his meetings. His meeting schedule and locations are still tentative, so we might move things around.

Questions about El Al and Israil security: (My DH is flying business class on United, but I'm flying coach on El Al--as UA was a lot more expensive.)
1) Do we need to have our whole itinerary set? Would we need to show all the hotel reservations? What if it's just under my DH's name (I keep my maiden name) and we don't travel on the same flight? Would they give me troubles?

2) We're checking in one big luggage w/ some of our clothes combined in there. Would they give us trouble if one of us is carrying clothes/shoes/toiletries for the other person who's not traveling on the same flight? Since my DH is flying UA business class, would it be easier for him to get that check-in luggage instead of me on El Al coach?

3) Heard some women traveling alone on El Al get followed. Anything I should be prepared for? Do I need to notify El Al ahead of time of anything? Do I need 3 hours check in even from the US?


Thanks again for all your great help!
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 12:39 AM
  #46
 
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If you are going to the Dead Sea on the first Saturday, then you should stay in Jerusalem Fri evening. You will need a good night's sleep after the long flight so you probably not take advantage of the Tel-Aviv nightlife anyway. So why add an extra hours driving on Saturday ?

ElAl/security:
1. Itinerary - No. I think you are exaggerating here.
2. I doubt if it is a problem. Carry a photocopy of DH's ticket if you are worried.
3. If they question you at length for some reason, answer politely and patiently, no matter how silly and repetitive the questions are. Yes - you should be at the airport 3 hours in advance, both in the US and in Israel.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 01:12 AM
  #47
 
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I just want to add that none of us here can guarantee what will happen at the airport or immigration. However, keep in mind that nearly 3 million tourists fly into Israel each year and obviously the vast majority are only questioned minimally. The security personnel are well-trained and do not waste time on the average tourist and business person.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:26 AM
  #48
 
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Like mbgg says, security in and to Israel is very purposeful, They are looking to see how you answer questions, even "silly ones"

Your traveling situation with people traveling on different flights on different airlines is a bit unusual, but not too "out there"
I think it would help for you to have, just in case you are asked, hotel confirmation information (can your name be added to some of the reservations), names and telephone number of any local business contacts etc. They may ask if you personally know any of them. A copy of your husband's itinerary, and maybe even his passport as well as the ticket is nice to have too. He should have copies of your information too. I suspect you will be questioned quite a bit (and maybe by multiple people, at different points in the check in process) but politely . As long as you answer truthfully and politely you will probably have no problems. You definitely need the 3 hour check in time, though.
I doubt anyone cares what clothing is in your luggage--maybe you just like to wear men's clothes, right? Just explain if asked, but that should be a non-issue. Your husband may get a greater luggage allowance than you do for flying business class, so that might affect who carries what.

You sound pretty well prepared for your trip. I hope the information from here has been helpful!
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 02:15 PM
  #49
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Thank you all for your helpful advice! Yes, we'll bring copies of each other's passport, e-tickets, etc. The only thing is we booked the hotel online, so it's all under my DH's name. HOpe it's ok. My old college roommate in Jerusalem also gave me her home and work addresses and contact info, so hopefully we'll be ok.

For the first night, we'll probably just stay in Tel-Aviv. Next day drive out to Ein Gedi via the Arad route since some here said it's scenic and google maps says it's faster from TA. On the way back, we'll go up along the Dead Sea and take the Jerusalem route to Haifa.

Thanks again for all your help!
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 04:44 PM
  #50
 
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Sounds like a plan, JC98!

You probably know this, but just in case.
There are 2 totally different ways to get into Masada. The western entrance, closer to Arad, only has walk up and down access (manageable) to the site, in addition to the sound and light show (which is not on in Winter anyway)
The entrance on the other side of the site, near the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi, has steep walk up/down access and the cable car option.

It's a good hour or so drive between the 2 entrances (there only one backtracking road) so make sure you follow the right directions. Google maps is quite good for Israel!

The first time I went, I almost didn't notice that "you can't get there from here" Fortunately, I took a good look at the map right before we left. A friend who was meeting someone there on another occasion was less fortunate.

You do still go through Arad to get to the Dead Sea from Tel Aviv, but I don't remember if road signs indicating Masada might make you think you're somehow on the wrong road.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:14 PM
  #51
 
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It's a plan, but I have to say that I don't think it's a good one. The drive from Tel-Aviv to Massada via Arad takes about 3 hours (note Alexa's directions) so I doubt if you will get to Massada before 11 AM. If you then go into the Sea for a dip (and break for lunch) I doubt if you will have time to hike up to the waterfall at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. Then you have to face a long 3.5 hour drive to Haifa via Jerusalem. So that's about 7 hrs driving while jet-lagged to spend a few hours at the Dead Sea.

I would relax Saturday in Tel-Aviv - do the morning Bauhaus tour, see the new Tel-Aviv Art Museum, walk around Jaffa, etc. - and then do the Dead Sea as a day tour from Jerusalem - it's only an hour's ride.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 11:58 PM
  #52
 
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Another option:
Perhaps you feel that if you go to the Dead Sea on one of your four Jerusalem days you will not have enough time to see Jerusalem properly. In that case spend the first Saturday in Jerusalem, then go to the Dead Sea as a day trip after you return to J'm from Haifa.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 10:24 AM
  #53
 
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mbgg, I think JC98's idea was to drive to the Dead Sea on Saturday morning, but then stay overnight at Ein Bokek until Sunday.

"Yes, we're also thinking of staying in Tel Aviv the first night and driving to the Dead Sea the next day on Sat.We'd also like to stay in Ein Bokek as we have hotel credit that we can use at the Le Meridien Dead Sea. We'd like to relax and enjoy the area more, so staying over night is preferable to a day trip."

I completely agree that driving to Masada just for the day from the Tel Aviv area is not the best idea though I have done it (just Masada and Ein Gedi, though)
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Jan 24th, 2012, 10:55 AM
  #54
 
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Alexa-
I think you're right - they don't have to be in Haifa until Monday, so they can drive back Sunday evening. So ..... ignore my last comments

In that case stay overnight at Ein Gedi, get an early start at the Nature Reserve and drive to Haifa via the Jordan Valley and see the Roman ruins at Bet Shean.
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Jan 25th, 2012, 02:16 PM
  #55
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Thanks, all, for your advice! Yes, Tel-Aviv first night, Sat morning drive via Arad to Ein Bokek, check in, do all the must-dos in the Dead Sea. Drive to Haifa on Sun afternoon via Jerusalem road or maybe via Tiberias.

We're flying out tomorrow!

Thanks again!
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Jan 25th, 2012, 09:02 PM
  #56
 
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Have a great trip !!! I hope that our advice will be of some help

We look forward to reading your trip report.
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Feb 10th, 2012, 12:07 PM
  #57
 
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Just spent 12 days in Israel mostly staying with an Israeli friend in Tel Aviv. Took me a UK citizen, 25 mins to go through customs and collect my luggage. Watch the taxi drivers they try and rip you off if you are an obvious visitor
Weather was not good. Very wet and windy with only 2 days of sun. Fantastic food. Very good restaurants. Everything else very expensive. Cinema Hotel in Tel Aviv excellent. Stayed there for 5 nights. Unbelievable breakfast. I'd stick to Israel and leave Petra for another time. There's lots to see in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Masada and Haifa. Public transport is very good. Enjoy
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Feb 10th, 2012, 12:15 PM
  #58
 
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BarbBelle, tnanks for letting us know about your trip, I hope it was fun,
I'm curious what you specifically thought was "very expensive"? I ask because I agree that dependng on where you come from and where you're used to traveling, Israel can seem expensive or cheap! For example, I think hotels are expensive compared to similar quality in the U.S.
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