Israel Trip Planning - Please Help!

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Mar 27th, 2005, 06:10 AM
  #1
CFW
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Israel Trip Planning - Please Help!

Just starting to plan a trip to Israel for two weeks next Spring - April or May, haven't decided yet. I spent a year studying at Tel Aviv University many years ago and did several return trops, but haven't visited in over 20 years. My husband has never been to Israel. We'd like to spend time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem of course, at a kibbutz in the Galil perhaps on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)with a visit to Safad. We also want to see Caesaria and Haifa on the way to Galil, with perhaps an overnight in Haifa. We were thinking of staying at the Hilton in Tel Aviv & the Sheraton in Jerusalem because we have "points" at these hotels. Would like to get opinions on these hotels. Also, what is the best way to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? I used to take sherut. Are these still available? Where can we go to get one? Should we then return to TA & rent a car to go to the Galil, or rent a car in Jerusalem & drive to the Galil from there. I think my biggest question is about tours. We both hate group tours and will not go on an "all inclusive package" but I want to make sure my husband gets a real sense of the country, the sights, & the history since this is his first trip. Should we take day tours? I think a private tour guide with car will be too expensive. What do any of you fodorites recommend?
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Mar 27th, 2005, 08:52 AM
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Hi
Hilton in Tel Aviv - one of the best hotels in Israel(listed in the top 5).great rooms, good breakfast (I would go out for dinner, not the best food in their restaurants except breakfast).Good location-on the beach and near public transportation.I don't know Jerusalem Sheraton.
The best way to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem : you can still use the Sherut but there is no need for that.If you stay at the Hilton you can use the very good bus service leaving every 10 minutes from Arlozorov railway station. For sherut you have to go to the southern part of thr city, the new Central bus station. No need for that.It will take you double time just to get there...
You can rent a car from Jerusalem, then you have oportunity to drive through the Jordan valley on the way to galilee, even make a detour to Dead Sea. If you go back to Tel Aviv for the rental, you will travel the same road to Gallil twice. If you go from Jerusalem you drive one way through Jordan valley, Beth Sean (Roman city).On the way back you visit Caesaria and Haifa/Acre/Nazareth.
The regular daily tours operated by Egged are the best.
If for example you stay few days in Jerusalem, you can do one day with them (in a group), so your husbend gets to hear everything from their guide. You can do 1/2 with Egged in tel Aviv, so again the guide can provide important information and highlights.You can book the tours in every hotel so you don't have to decide in advance.
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Mar 27th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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CFW
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Great information - Thanks! I am concerned about buses for security reasons, which is why I thought about sherut to Jerusalem. Is there a place to catch a sherut in the center city without having to go to the central bus station? Also, any recommendations for Kibbutz guest house & itinerary for Northern Israel?
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Mar 27th, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Note there are two Sheratons in Jerusalem - the Plaza, located sort-of close to the Old City, and the Four Points, located close to the central bus station but not (IMO) walkable from the Old City. The Four Points serves as a sort of navigation beacon for drivers leaving for Tel Aviv because it sits on top of the hill where the main road exits the city.

Unfortunately the former Jerusalem Hilton is now rebranded as the David Citadel and I'm not sure that your Hilton points would work there. If they still did, I'd recommend switching hotels and cities - Sheraton in Tel Aviv, Hilton (Citidel) in Jerusalem - gorgeous building, down the street from the King David and a 5 min. walk from the Jaffa Gate.

Regarding the Galil, you might have a look at B&Bs in Rosh Pina, between the lake and Safed - gorgeous town, some lovely B&Bs there, convenient for the lake, Golan, Safed, Tiberius. For a kibbutz visit, see the museum and grounds at Degania Alef, the first kibbutz, at the south end of the lake where the river exits. (Disclaimer - we have family there so this is an unpaid advertisement - but go anyway. )
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Mar 27th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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I dissagree with Gardyloo regarding the Sheraton in Tel aviv , which is quiet a poor deal comparing with the Hilton.
Kibutz Guest house-try Nof Ginnosar on the shore of the Kineret.Beside having a beautiful location and good rooms, they have lots of activities around the lake , and also a museum where you can see the famous ancient boat 2000 years old.A very picturesqe place is Ramot , which is on the Golan Heights overlooking the Kineret. Also in a good location is the Ein Gev on the shore of Kineret.Ayelet Hashachar has good accommodation with great views on the beautiful Mt. Hermon and within a short distance to the Hula swamp (very rewarding bird watching!).
Very popular among tourists is the Hagoshrim, on the way between Galilee and Golan and a good starting point for nature trails and Gola's trips (such as Banias , Metula, Hermon).
If you are planning to have a guided tour of Jerusalem (even for 1 day only) you can take a day tour which start in Tel Aviv, they will pick you up at your hotel, and then by the end of the day drop you in your jerusalem hotel. In this case you can combine the guided tour with the transfer to Jerusalem (you save the efforts and cost)
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Mar 27th, 2005, 10:31 AM
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try this link, for Kibitz guest houses:

http://www.kibbutz.co.il/
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Mar 27th, 2005, 11:31 AM
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Hi CFW,

I found for you some internet sites, hoping that this will help:

Daily tours in Israel:
http://www.inisrael.com/united/asg/Category_0.html
(United Tours)

http://www.egged.co.il/main.asp?lngCategoryID=2069
(Egged Tours)
Information & Reservation: Tel Aviv Tel. 03-5271212 Fax. 03-5272020
Jerusalem Tel. 02-6221999

Of course you will visit Ierusalem, Haifa, Dead See, the villages around See of Galilea, maybe Eilat if you have enough time.

I recommend also to visit near Haifa:

Acre - old port and fortress http://www.akko.org.il/English/main/default.asp
Acre - at entry in the town is Bahai shirne - the most sacre place of Bahai religion http://www.gemsinisrael.com/index000001057.htm

This internet site give you information about many other places in Israel

Haifa - http://www.tour-haifa.co.il/Eng/gallery/bahaiEng.phtml
Do not miss the Bahai Gardens in Haifa, there are free tours ( ~ 1 hours; there are many steps to go down, so wear confortable shoes).

In Tel Aviv, I recommend hotel Dan or hotel David International. There are newer than Sheraton or Hilton, also near the sea.

Caesarea - old town from Herod time - http://www.netours.com/2003/caes-hippo.htm

Regarding kibutz, see the following site:

Vacant rooms for weekend / kibutz - in different locations - http://www.weekend.co.il/Default.aspx?lang=EN

Near Kineret (Tiberias Lake or Sea of Galilea) you can stay at Kibutz HaOn, or Ein Gev, or Ginosar, etc.

At the hotel in Tel Aviv you will receive detailed information about the sherut or bus to Ierusalem.

From Tel Aviv you can go to Haifa by train.

If you have other questions, I'll be glad to help if I can.

Liliana

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Mar 27th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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CFW
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Thanks to everyone for the recommendations & web site links. I'll do some searching. We may also want to at least consider a private guide for some areas - does anyone have any recommendations for a guide for Jerusalem or areas of the galil? Also, do any of the kibbutzim in the Galil offer day trips/tours? Thanks for all the help.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 12:45 PM
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Dear CFW,
Is this trip in 1 month or in 1 year? I ask because I'm planning a very similar trip for this summer and would be happy to tell you about it afterwards. We've booked a private guide, David Schoenfeld, for our Jerusalem city touring, and up north through the Judean Highlands and into the Galil. He's customizing a tour that is child-friendly, since we're bringing three children with us. His website is: www.tourisrael.co.il

FYI, we're already having trouble booking particular hotels because it appears Israel will have a good tourism business this summer. Same with the tourist kibbutzim.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 03:20 PM
  #10
CFW
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Mommar, We're getting an early start on planning for Spring 2006! I'll look forward to reading about your trip and guide. Thanks for the link to his website. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing about the Kibbutz you choose.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 03:36 PM
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Checked out the website for David Schoenfeld & he may not be right for us as he seems very family/kid focused, and we are not going with children....
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Mar 29th, 2005, 11:26 AM
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David had recommended Kfar Blum (Kibbutz in the north) but it was booked. Here's their website: http://www.kfarblum-hotel.co.il/kfar...el/hotele.html

It's not really a kibbutz stay, but a hotel run by a kibbutz (and you can tour the rest of the facility).

So we are staying instead at Nof Ginnosar. It appears Nof Ginnosar is a 4 star hotel in Tiberias.

Hope this is helpful info. Thanks
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Mar 29th, 2005, 06:47 PM
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Regarding transportation to Jerusalem, I just heard today that the Tel-Aviv - Jerusalem train is scheduled to resume operation again in late April.
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Aug 25th, 2005, 05:38 AM
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I have stayed at Nof Ginosar on two occasions and will be staying there twice more in 2006. It is clean and comfortable and the food is good. I would not describe as 4 star, but, it seems to me that Israel rating and USA ratings just may be different. Having said that----I heartily DO recommend Nof Ginosar to everyone I talk to who is planning a stay in the Galilee. You can easily walk down to the lake for wonderful walks and the view is breathtaking at sunset. I hope your trip comes together just the way you want it to. I can recommend a couple of guides......Ezra Eini and Moti Dagan. I'm traveling in March and again in the autumn of next year. One is a group that I am putting together myself (the autumn trip).....

Kathy
Paragon, Indiana, USA
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Aug 25th, 2005, 09:05 AM
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The last few posts here have brought back some memories for me. I stayed at Nof Ginosar during my first trip to Israel, in 1976. I can't say that I remember the particulars! but I do have a photo of myself taken there. I was standing on a tree limb sticking out oover the lake, with a stick in my hand, dueling an imaginary foe (I was a teenager at the time).

On my second trip to Israel, in 2004, I stayed at Kfar Blum, which I do remeber with more clarity. I would recommend it. It is well located for sightseeing in the northern Galilee and the lake, and has nice recreational facilities (a big pool, within walking distance of the Jordan River for kayaking or just a nice walk). Rooms/food were fine.
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Aug 25th, 2005, 12:30 PM
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We just returned from 19 amazing days in Israel - I can't tell everything, but I'll add a few ... we stayed at Nof Ginosaur -it's fine. Not luxurious, but a great location right on the Kinneret. They have a lakefront beach and very nice pool - the food is just ok, nothing special - but you can go into Tiberus (10 minute drive, ethy'll call you a cab) for dinner at any number of hotels/restaurants. I can heartily recommend a guide/travel arrager. Shraga Ben Joseph is a guide himself- but also emplys several guides.(We used Dani Weiss for 9 days in Golan and Kinneret and we LOVED him) Shraga will arrange any and all drivers/airport transfers/tour guides. Just tell him what you want. Our guide&van was abt. $300 a day, but we were 5 people (Dani was worth it) You need a car to see much of the Golan. Shraga can be reached at email: [email protected] or phone: 052-2211933
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Aug 25th, 2005, 05:05 PM
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Thought I would come back and give email addresses for the two guides I have found to be best.
Ezra Eini [email protected]
Moti Dagan [email protected]
Both are excellent.

Kathy
Paragon, Indiana, USA
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Aug 31st, 2005, 03:47 PM
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Just returned from Israel and stayed at Sheraton hotels in Jerusalem and Tiberias. They were beyond worn out, rooms were in disrepair, no basic amenities like bar soap, mattress pads, etc. Our travel agent, Israel Tour Connnection (ITC), booked us there. Would recommend thorough research before choosing hotels.
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Sep 1st, 2005, 06:25 PM
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CFW
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Which Sheraton did you stay at in Jerusalem?
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Sep 4th, 2005, 06:41 PM
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We stayed at the Sheraton Plaza. Our room was disgusting. Looked like it had not been painted, recarpeted, etc since the 1960's. Did not even have a bar of soap.
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