Starting planning for a trip to Israel

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Jan 17th, 2012, 06:25 PM
  #1
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Starting planning for a trip to Israel

We are beginning to plan a trip to Israel. We are sincerely Jewish, but not religious, interested in the places to visit in 2 to 3 weeks. Of course the signature sites of Jewish history would be targets. I am interested in archaeology but my wife, not so much.We would love any and all ideas about where to go and not go and how and when to go. We are mature but active. Independent and small group travel are possibilities. We look forward to hearing from you.

Swidoc
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Jan 17th, 2012, 07:31 PM
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I have been to Israel 3 times, and plan on going again (I hope)! I would spend a 4 to 7 days in and around Jerusalem. Spend a whole morning or afternoon at Yad Vashem. Spend 1 day just getting lost in the Old City, and if you can do it, try to see the Mosque. Hopefully no one will ask your religion. Take a walking tour of the Old City, so you can see the important historical sites, and if you are near the Christian sites, see them. I'm sure you have heard about most of them all your life and this is your chance to see them. I'm Jewish and still have enjoyed seeing all the Christian sites I have always heard about just living in the Midwest! There really is nothing in Jerusalem that will be a waste of your time exploring, be it a neighborhood, or Museum or religious site.
In the Negev, you must spend a few hours at Masada. You can get a guide book or audio there, or hire a guide or tour, but don't go without knowledge or someone to let you know what you're doing there. The other must (IMO) is the Dead Sea. Best bet is to go on Friday night & Saturday, because Masada & the Dead Sea spas are open, but much of Jerusalem observes Sabbath. There is also a nature reserve there. The place I would not spend any time is Eilat. It has an Aquarium and great snorkeling, but unless that's important to you, there are better places for a 1st timer.
I would stop in Tel Aviv for 2 days. 1 to see the various sites, Museums, neighborhoods, markets and Old Jaffa. Then the 2nd day to just relax at 1 of the beaches. Then spend time going up the coast seeing Ceasarea, Akko, Haifa, Rosh Pina and other towns, villages and historic sites on Med. coast going North. Then move inland and get some tours of the Military sites near Lebanon & Syria and the Golan Heights. Farther south there is the sea of Gallilee, Tiberius, with many Christian sites and ancient Jewish sites. There is lots to do if you like hiking or horseback riding or just relaxing at wineries in the Gallilee. I would probably hire a guide in tht lots of this stuff is spread out and unless you are comfortable driving around on your own, with a good guide book, you won't get much out of it. We've done it both ways. A guide was easier and more knowledgable, but more expensive and we have great memories of doing it on our own! Hope I helped a little.
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Jan 17th, 2012, 08:44 PM
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Wow! I can't imagine a better skeleton to hang our planning on. Thanks. I hope you won't mind my asking some more questions once I've had a chance to digest this.

Swidoc
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Jan 17th, 2012, 09:27 PM
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To add to the terrific information you got - you will not be allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount - not only that "Hopefully no one will ask your religion" will not happen - if you try to enter you will be tested and if you don't know to recite chapters from the Koran and Moslem prayers you will not be allowed in.
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Jan 17th, 2012, 09:59 PM
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Oreet, are you sure about Al-Aqsa? The only reason I ask, is when I was there in September I had dinner with a couple from Russia who weren't Jewish, but they weren't Muslim either. They walked up to the Temple Mount and here's where I get fuzzy. They said no one bothered them at all, and they are very Caucasian looking, but I can't say for sure that they were admitted to the Mosque. I guess I just assumed they were. Oh well, I have been in Al-Aqsa twice and although I am happy I got to see it, it didn't make or break my trips! Swidoc, I hope you will ask me more. I keep thinking of wonderful experiences I've had with my family, friends, guides and on my own. Seriously, whatever you're interested in, Israel has it!
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Jan 17th, 2012, 11:08 PM
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How long is your trip ? If you are coming for two weeks I suggest the standard tour:
- start off in Tel-Aviv
- pick up rental car ; tour Haifa, Akko, Galilee and Golan.
- drive to Dead Sea via Bet Shean and Jordan Valley
- drive to Jerusalem and return car
- Jerusalem

However if you will be in the country for three weeks, I recommend going to Eilat and taking a 2-day tour to Petra.

Here are some sites with good general information:
- National Parks (note the "Money-saving ticket"):
http://www.parks.org.il/BuildaGate5/...php?mc=378~All
- A list of all museums:
http://ilmuseums.com/
- "Time Out" magazine:
http://digital.timeout.co.il/english/
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Jan 18th, 2012, 06:06 AM
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zwho,
non Muslims can go to the Temple Mount, but can not enter the Mosque itself.
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