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Kind assistance requested for planning 1st trip to Israel

Kind assistance requested for planning 1st trip to Israel

Jun 22nd, 2007, 06:19 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 22
Kind assistance requested for planning 1st trip to Israel

I have read for many hours the wonderful advice given to those who write in. Each itinerary has their own unique set of needs i.e. length of time, special occasion, time of year, age and number of people in group etc. Well, I am at the starting point for our trip that we will take in May, 2008.I welcome all ideas that are offered.

We are a family of four- myself, my husband, and our 2 grown children, who are both graduating college next May. We have up to 2 weeks to spend in Israel. We do not plan to go to Eilat because we are less inclined to visit a beach. Last year, we went to Egypt, including the Sinai, and Jordan, including Petra. On this trip, we wish to see those sights that are special to Israel. We have now obtained our outbound flight from JFK to Tel Aviv(using frequent flyer miles) We depart on May 18th, arriving mid-afternoon on the 19th. Will not plan much that day.In a few days I will try to get the return flight.
Here are a few questions to get started.
1. Upon arrival, what is the best way to get from the airport to Tel Aviv. With 4 people, would cab cost the same as public transportation? Should we rent a car at this stage and drive to Tel Aviv or is it better to rent one upon leaving Tel Aviv for our travel north?
2. In order to make hotel reservations, I need some input as to the length of time to spend in various locations and which places deserve staying a night or two. Or is it better to just have 3 home bases out of which all sightseeing is done?

3. From what I have read, I was thinking of spending 2-3 nights in Tel Aviv. It would give us a chance to see the city and refresh ourselves after a long plane trip.

4. At the end of the trip, I thought 5-6 nights in Jerusalem might be appropriate, allowing us to take a day trip to Masada.

5. However, in between we were planning on visiting Caesarea, Atlit(?),Haifa,Carmel, Rosh Hanikra,Safed, Tiberias and Golan Heights. How much time for this? Where should we stay and for how long? Is there any route that is more logical and/or more interesting?

6. At what point in the trip would you go to the Dead Sea. Should it be a day trip from Jerusalem or does it merit an overnight stay?
Perhaps, going there by car first and afterwards to Jerusalem where we can then return the car would be preferable? I have read that it is better not to have a car there. Is this correct?

7. Once I can fine tune the itinerary with appropriate routes and time allotments, we can then maximize our ability to see as much as we can in a sensible way. We don't want to make this a mad rush, yet we do wish to visit all we can.

Please, please let me know if there are must sees to include. Take for granted that we will visit the major sights in Tel Aviv and,in particular, Jerusalem.

This is a special trip for our family and I value your help.
ny1002 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2007, 05:28 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 412
Just a start to the replies.
A cab to Tel Aviv is a set fare about 130 shekels(depends on time of day, number of suitcases)--about 32 dollars. No tip necessary or expected. Definitely the way to get to TA.
You don't want a car in Tel Aviv. You don't want to drive while there and you don't want to try to park there!
2) I think you may just want to pick a few cities and do daytrips from there--except for Eilat (where you're not going anyway) you could theoretically do everything from Tel Aviv, but it will be more convenient to be in TA, Jerusalem and somewhere north.
for example, Caesaria is about halfway between TA and Haifa--30 -40 minutes driving
AlexA is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2007, 07:32 PM
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Posts: 22
Thank you for your reply. Will wait to get a car once we depart Tel Aviv. Any thoughts on how best to divide our time in the 3 regions- Tel Aviv,the north,and Jerusalem? Perhaps 3 nights, 3 nights and 6 nights?
ny1002 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Agree that with four people and luggage, the easiest way to get to Tel Aviv from the airport would be by taxi. Also agree you probably don't want to drive within Tel Aviv--and also within Jerusalem.

As you'll be arriving Monday, spending 3 days will bring you into Thursday. Since most of Jerusalem closes on Friday night-Saturdaynight, you may wan to go up north first.

It is more convenient to have a car driving OUT of cities. You can do Dead Sea as a day-trip, but I think it is better if you spend overnight in Ein Gedi.
W9London is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 02:59 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 22
Thank you for your assistance. I have begun our itinerary as follows:

Arrive in Tel Aviv on May 19th
May 20 and 21st will tour Tel Aviv and perhaps get in some beach time.

On the morning of the 22nd, will pick up car and head north visiting Caesarea, Carmel, Haifa and Akko. Will overnight in Haifa and, if time permits, go to Rosh Hanikra that day or next.

May 23rd- head to Upper Galilee and Safed. We plan to use Tiberius as our central point to explore the region along with the Golan Heights. Overnight in Tiberias for 2 nights.

May 25th- will travel to the Dead Sea area and overnight there. The next morning, visit Masada and then on to Jerusalem. Will return rental car upon arriving.

May 26th- Will spend 5-6 nights in Jerusalem.

Does this itinerary seem the most practical? We are uncertain as to whether more or less time is needed in particular areas. Also, we do not know how long it will take to drive from Tiberias to the Dead Sea. I have read that it is not advisable to travel through the West Bank. However, some travel forums consider it safe. Any thoughts?
ny1002 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 03:23 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 412
It sounds reasonable to me. Keep in mind that it might be hot and keep some slowing down and cooling off time in your schedule.
Are you planning on seeing national parks, historic sites, religious sites, museums?
I'll probably take some flack for this, but depending on what you want to see and your pace, you might not want or need 5 or 6 nights in Jerusalem.
AlexA is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 04:59 PM
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I totally agree about not overdoing it. That is one of many reasons I have sought advice from forum members. As for what we want to see, we will try to see a mix of all the kinds of places you mentioned, more museums and holy sites in the larger cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, more national parks in the northern regions, and historic places everywhere. Do others think that 5-6 days in Jerusalem is too much? My hope is to get a good balance.I am still in the process of researching guide books for the special sights in each region. Thanks for helping.
ny1002 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 04:25 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 4
There is SO much to see in Jerusalem. Yes, you can see the essentials in 3-4 days but if you have the luxury of 5-6 days, go for it! You don't have to be racing around all the time. Go more slowly, sit at a cafe and enjoy the street scenes, and allow time for shopping! My only suggestion is that you seem to be changing hotels an awful lot and you might want to consider consolidating. Israel is tiny--the size of New Jersey--and you can cover the north, for example, in either Haifa or Tiberias, or a stay in a kibbutz up north.Personally, I hate the packing and unpacking and the checking in and out, and this would simplfy things.

My husband is Israeli and we have made 30+ trips to Israel and each one is exciting and unique. Enjoy!
chaya23 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 04:56 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,328
2 Notes:

A. Make a plan how to get from Tiberias to the Dead Sea... On the map it's just simply driving down South the Jordan Valley alright, but as you can read on this board, most Israelis would warn you NOT to do that for security reasons, which means, you have to drive AROUND the West bank, and THRU Jerusalem. Which can be done, as long as you know exactly which roads to take (so you drive AROUND the city).

B. 5-6 days is more than enough for Jerusalem. I would "steal" one day and drive your rented car from the Dead Sea instead of North, back to Jerusalem, go SOUTH and WEST towards the Negev Desert (you can take the beautiful road that goes up to Arad, or go further south and west thru Dimona). Visit Beer-Sheva (what day is the Beduin market day there, Thursday? I forgot, but it's worth an hour visit), and down to Mitzpeh Ramon (wonderful view of the Ramon Crater at the southern tip of this small town), and maybe even further south, just enough time for you to return to Jerusalem (3 hours drive)... You might get to Jerusalem late evening even if you return the car the next morning, but it's worth it, the Negev is quite an experience.
Mamamia is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 06:10 PM
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Posts: 22
Let me assure you,Chaya 23, that I am not physically able to visit a country and not devote time to shopping. My husband has given up trying.Clearly, there are so many great places to visit in Israel that 2 weeks will not suffice.We do seem to change hotels quite a bit, but if I stay in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem primarily then I will probably not rent a car during those days. For the trips up north and south, I think it may be easier with a car, especially for 4 people. On the plus side, we usually try to pack light.Maybe,I can streamline it a bit better.

Mamamia, your point is well taken when it comes to traveling from Tiberias to the Dead Sea. We factored in the better part of a day for that trip. Despite posts to the contrary, we do not feel comfortable traveling through the West Bank and will study our route well before venturing forth.Thank you for the suggestion of going to the Negev. We will have a family discussion about it.
ny1002 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 01:50 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,166
We spent a week in May last year in Jerusalem. We had one day trip to Bethlehem (well, half day, but it was worth it (a) if you are Christian to see the Nativity sites, such as shepards hill and the place of the stable and (b) to get if only a brief sense of what it means to "cross over"). May also was the time for an arts festival (websites
www.efa-aef.org or www.israel-festival.org.il.) You will not run out of things to do. I have many on my list we did not get to. Favorites not to be missed are Tower of David Museum just on the West side of the old city (history of Jerusalem, consider doing it early in your visit because it covers in historical order many things that you will see) and the City of David excavations just outside the South side of the old city (where you get a good sense of the layers of the place), not to be confused with the David Archeological Museum which is connected to Temple Mount. We had a great (free) walking tour led a volunteer guide for the city on a Saturday (recommended in another Fodors posting, see below quote). We also enjoyed visiting some of the same places again at different times of day to get a better sense of the city. Other places on our list that we didn't get to you might consider are some of the art museums, Islamic museums, Zionist Museum, Museum of the Bible Lands. A good resource for off the beaten track places is www.gemsinisrael.com. They are a travel arrangement company of some sort but they have a "newsletter" archive with great ideas for sightseeing.

Walking Tour: "There are free walking tours on Saturday's in Jerusalem, run by the Muncipality. They leave at noon sharp from Yaffo Road oopposite Zion Square, one tour in English and a different one in Hebrew. The tours change every week, last about two hours, and are basically history/archaeology.

For a specific area, like the German Colony, you might inquire with them on a Saturday before they leave or at the tourist office in Kikar Safra.

Also check the "Capital Calender" column in the "In Jerusalem" supplement that comes with the Jerusalem Post on Fridays."

laurie_ann is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 06:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 39
I would add a few points about your itinerary & some of the advice. First of all, when you go to the Carmel, there are some Druze villages, Daliyat Ha-Carmel is the most accessible that you pass as you drive along the spine of the Carmel mountains. The views are beautiful & make sure to have a felafel. Rosh Hanikra is quite an experience & not a long detour. When you go to the Dead Sea & Masada, there are spa hotels and the less expensive hostel at Ein Gedi. That takes you into the National Park at Ein Gedi which has some hiking and waterfalls depending on that year's rainfalls. Also, you will be passing Qumran where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls & the Essene community. I don't think you should worry about consolidating hotels, all the places you are visiting have their own appeal & are totally different. The Golan has some wonderful wineries & the hot springs at Hammat Gader & Tzfat is very interesting as well. Jerusalem, in addition to the religious sites has the Israel Museum which is really interesting and also Yad Vashem which I feel you cannot go to Israel and miss. One place I rarely see mentioned in Tel Aviv is the Eretz Israel Museum which is definitely unique & provides a lot of insight into ancient Israel.
SandyMerm is offline  
Jul 11th, 2007, 11:08 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 22
Thanks for the great suggestions.I looked at the Jerusalem arts website, but I think I'm a bit early for next May.We will definitely check back as the trip draws nearer. My husband and I often visit New York to enjoy the arts. In fact, we recently saw the Israeli dance troupe, Be Mayamana, (not sure of the spelling). Will have 4 full days in Jerusalem, and will follow advice on seeing The Tower of David Museum early on. I surely like the idea of the free walking tours and will add it to my growing list, along with felafel in Daliyat Ha-Carmel, Rosh Hanikra and,of course, Yad Vashem. Thanks to all for helping with my trip.
ny1002 is offline  
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