Need help planning 1st Trip to Israel

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Feb 25th, 2005, 10:48 AM
  #1
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Need help planning 1st Trip to Israel

I am planning our first trip to Israel for next summer and need some advice. My husband and I have been to Europe several times and always travel independently (with an occasional day tour here and there). We would like to do the same with our trip to Israel but would like some suggestions. First, we'd like to keep accomodations moderate, but nice (possibly with free parking, pool or beach access, and breakfast!)- recommendations welcomed.
So here's the preliminary itinerary:

Thurs: Arrive in Tel Aviv - spend night in Tel Aviv or Jaffa or somewhere else????

Friday: Drive to Tzfat (stop at Caesarea, Haifa) stay in Tzfat until Monday. Has anyone stayed at Ruth Rinomim or have other recommendations.

Sunday: visit Golan Heights area.

Monday- Tuesday: Stay in Tiberias or area. Any interesting hotel or Holiday Village reccomendations here?

Wednesday- Monday: Jerusalem. Could anyone recommend a moderate hotel in Jerusalem or apartment. If we're driving will it be hard to drive into Jerusalem?

Monday- Thursday: Eilat. Would like moderate but nice recommendations for Eilat. Does not have to be on beach but within walking distance and must have pool.
Also, considering a day trip to Petra.

Thursday- Saturday: Tel Aviv...again, recommendations for hotel welcomed- doesn't have to be on beach but within walking distance.

Also, it is hard to find a current travel guide. Any recommendations on a good travel resource book.

Last question: Any recommendations for travel agents in Israel who could help with booking hotels- or best ways to find out discounted rates.

Appreciate any assistance.
b'shalom

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Mar 4th, 2005, 02:05 PM
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Looks like not many responses. We were in Israel (also Jordan, Egypt) many years ago and will be interested in your travels especially as you are on your own. Sorry I don't really have current info on hotels and such. Just go on line or check out guide books.

It looks like you are getting around a bit along the coast and in Galilee and I do love the Lake area with Capernaum, etc. So Golan Hts. is open to visitors? What I enjoyed were some excavated ancient synagogues
...remembering one uncoverd on Golan.

Jerusalem of course is special in its own way. Wonder what Eilat is like...and yes if possible Petra is great. What about Masada and Qumran? Are places like Jericho, Nazareth and Bethlehem not safe now or off limits? I assume that would be the case for Hebron which we did like.
Shalom...Bill in Missouri
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Mar 4th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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I visited Israel in 1995 and rented a car to drive the country from tip to tip. I know some situations have changed, but I've followed the Israel/Palestine/Syrian situation ever since, so some of the stuff I'm going to say should still be valid.

- You can drive throughout the Golan Heights. Very few people there, and the scenery is pretty good. But keep in mind that most of the villages (not talking about settlements) there are Arabs. They may not welcome vehicles coming in with Israeli plates. This is different from going to mostly Arab cities in Israel proper like Akko. The Arabs in Golan Heights still think they're being "occupied' by Israel. So, be careful there.

- Nazareth is in Israel proper. Absolutely no problem going there.

- Qumran is in West Bank territory. Qumran is fine, but you should ask carefully which road to take to get there if you're driving a car with Israeli plate.

- I wouldn't know if one can go to Jericho in a car with Israel proper plate, whether it's wise to do so, etc... Ask extremely carefully! Even more so with Hebron.

- Bethelem may be okay if you stick to the main road. But it's under Palestinian Authority. Ask.

- Masada is in Israel proper, with lots of tourists. You can easily drive there.

- Eilat is a seaside resort. Really not too special, but there is great diving in the Red Sea. There should be tours that go to Petra and Wadi Rum from Eilat. That's what I did in 1995.
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Mar 5th, 2005, 04:55 AM
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Hi
We used hotels chain called Prima- they have very clean 3-4 stars rooms, in the center of TLV, Haifa Eilat.
We also used an Israeli travel agent to book it[email protected]
We were in touch with Zlatko, and it was graet.
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Mar 5th, 2005, 07:16 AM
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A couple of comments -

In Tel Aviv I'd probably opt for one of the higher-end hotels, mainly because (a) they're mostly located on the beach and in summer that might be a desireable thing - hot and humid is always a possibility.

Driving in one day, esp. Friday, to Tzfat via both Caerarea and Haifa, sounds like a longish push, given that Caesarea deserves a couple of hours at least, and Friday traffic in Haifa can be dreadful, not to mention getting out of Tel Aviv in the first place. Are you planning to sightsee in Haifa?

The Golan is very interesting; however facilities for motorists are not thick on the ground, so get a good map and watch yourselves. (We got lost in the northeast Golan a few years ago and when we finally met the people we were trying to see, their eyes went big when we told them where we had strayed. "Five more kilometers and you would have been shish kebab," were their words.)

Instead of Tiberias (which IMO, aside from religious connections, is pretty unattractive) consider Rosh Pina. In fact, I would look into B&Bs in Rosh Pina instead of Tzfat unless you must stay there over Shabbat. Some attractive places - do a search (cheaper than the Tiberias hotels or odd kibbutz accommodation nearby.) In the area, you might have a look at the little museum and grounds of Kibbutz Degania Alef, the first kibbutz, right where the Jordan leaves Keneret.

Not Kosher if that matters, but we really like the YMCA "Arches" hotel, located in the landmark building (same architect as the Empire State Building) across the street from the King David. Affordable, comfortable, good restaurant, parking (not that you need a car in Jerusalem - quite the contrary.)

Can't help on Eilat in summer except to say it's hot as hell getting there, and being there.

Agree with inisrael.com for a good starting point.

Bill, for the time being Jericho is off limits - not sure about Bethlehem, but probably accessible via a tour. Car rental agencies will go purple if you suggest taking a car into the PA areas.

Note Nazareth is an arab city, so check with car rental agencies (who seem dominated by risk management suits) before venturing there too if driving. I know, it's not just, but it is what it is.

Happy travels. Drink plenty of water.
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Mar 5th, 2005, 11:46 AM
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Interesting to get updates. We traveled in Israel many years ago, once with an Israeli guide then another time with a Palestinian one. Both good on history/archeology but each with a definite partisan slant. Even then each guide was comfortable being only in certain areas. Isn't it true that nowdays the Israeli government controls tourism and restricts Palestinians from even being guides? That means missing some wonderful feasts under a tent as well as seeing Jericho and Hebron and maybe Bethlehem.
Ozarks Bill
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Mar 5th, 2005, 01:11 PM
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I don't think going to PA-controlled areas is a problem, per se. But you should arrange for Palestinian guides to get you there and show you the places. You just can't simply rent a car in Israel and drive into there and assume you'll be okay.

And as I said, Arab villages and cities inside Israel proper is no problem. At least most of the time. Akko, no problem. Jaffa, no problem. When I visited in 1995, I stayed at a kibbutz which is next to a Arab village. Went there to eat and shop all the time - things are cheaper there than in Jewish cities. Not a problem. That's why I don't see why Nazareth should be any different.
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Mar 6th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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Unless things have changed in the last 6 or 8 months, guys in Israeli army uniforms will impede your journey to Jericho. Period. I'm not even sure if Hwy 90 is open to all pax all the way from the Galilee to the Dead Sea. Jaffa of course is no problem, nor Akko. Nazareth shouldn't be, but in those immortal words of the Gipper, trust but verify. Note the rental agencies will even stop you from using Hwy 6, the new toll road that runs close to the "fence" in places. Of more technically, if you use the road (a) they will not insure you and (b) if you don't pay the toll they'll add it to your bill by some multiplier that would make buying the car cheaper.
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Mar 7th, 2005, 12:42 AM
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gradyloo-
highway 6 is prohibited for rented car not because it's close to the fence, but because of the toll charging system. Since you don't pay on spot but they photograph your car and bill you later-the rental companies don't want to look for you abroad 3 months later when the bill arrives.Second-jericho is open for Israelies and tourist from last week!Also the casino there will reopen next month.
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Mar 7th, 2005, 05:04 AM
  #10
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hamitzer -

If the Casino is reopening, can Peace be far behind?
 
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Mar 7th, 2005, 05:44 AM
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Thanks for the info, Hamitzer. I stand corrected. The casino is re-opening?? Wow - that is a sign.
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Mar 8th, 2005, 02:54 AM
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The Casino...
A friend taped for me a TV news program from Israeli TV last week. They showed the preparations that were made for the reopenning (the casino suufered heavy attack 4 years ago), and interview with the German(?) manager. Also IDF spokeswoman said that according to the prommissing signs, Jericho will be delivered to Palestinian control within a couple of weeks, THAT"S OF COURSE IF EVERYTHING WILL REMAIN QUIET!
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