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Advice on touring in Israel?
Old 08-25-2012, 02:33 PM   #1
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Advice on touring in Israel?

DW and I are considering going to Israel July 2013, for approx 11 days. We'd like to see both the Jewish and Christian historic sites. My initial Google search found a few tour companies, and the itineraries seem the same - or very close to the same - for all of them.
If anyone has suggestions, recommendations, or perhaps a tour company to avoid, I'd appreciate the input.
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:16 PM   #2
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It's been 30 years since I was there, but here's a couple places:
Crusader Castle - Acre

Masada

Loved the old city part of Jerusalem.
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:47 PM   #3
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We were JUST there - 01/01/2012 - 01/10/2012. We used American Israel Travel (AIT).

Israel Tours | Israel Travel | Israel Trips | America Israel Travel

We did the "Roots of your Faith" tour. We ABSOLUTELY loved it. Remember - summer sill be HOT. In January it was nice. We had great weather - had rain one day - and THAT was not while we were out and about. DW did the research for us and also noticed that most of the tours hit the same places. AIT was the best deal. She noticed that often the hotels were even the same. We found the accomodations to be more than adequate. Our quide, "Ami" was top notch. Jewish, and 100% knowledgable in New Testimment as well. We NEVER felt less than 100%v safe while there. We took the 3 day Jordan extension which was also cool. The Israel / Jordan border crossing is VERY security conscious. AND the airport security is REALLY tight. More so than what passes for "normal" these days.

Instead of going on and on... if you have OTHER questions let me know. AIT worked for us.

Alan (& Michele too)
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:17 PM   #4
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Thanks! DW is a school teacher so no choice but to travel in the summer. I'll take a look at AIT.
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Old 08-26-2012, 12:56 AM   #5
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Thanks to a slight glitch in a computer system, DW, DD and I are headed over in Feb. We'll have 4 full days on the ground. We are planning on a day in Old Jerusalem, a day to Masada, haifa and a day to fill in any gaps as we go along.

We also plan to stay in Jerusalem using airbnb. If you haven't found out, hotels are $$$ and they aren't anything special.
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Old 08-26-2012, 01:45 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ronocnikral View Post
Thanks to a slight glitch in a computer system, DW, DD and I are headed over in Feb. We'll have 4 full days on the ground. We are planning on a day in Old Jerusalem, a day to Masada, haifa and a day to fill in any gaps as we go along.
If you only have 4 days - stay in Jerusalem. There is enough there, in the old city, to keep you entertained for a lot more than 4 days. Christian sites, Jewish sites, Muslim sites (Dome of the Rock). 2000 old archeology and restored buildings. The old market. The original Hell (Gehenna). And a lot more. Just wander the streets of the old city, they have a very special feeling.
Remember - there is nothing in the world like Jerusalem - it even has its own mental illness.

Masada's story is heroic but on the ground all you see are some crumbling stones. The night show is interesting but the hours you'll spend on the drive are not worth it. Haifa has great views and the Baha'i gardens but it does not compare to the atmosphere in Jerusalem.

I recommend leaving the US on a Friday or Saturday so you will not have ultra-religious Jews praying in the airplane and disturbing you. Arriving on the Saturday (Sabbath) you will avoid most of the hassle of the weekend in Jerusalem. Muslems on Friday and Jews on Saturday are a thing to avoid, also a lot of places are closed on Saturday. Note that Sunday morning and Thursday afternoon are times of very heavy traffic, more than usual commuting, if you want to get anywhere.

If you are female - carry a couple of large pieces of cloth (shawls, scarves) to cover yourself in Holy sites. Mostly people will not say anything but you may feel uncomfortable if not covered. That is more relevant in summer when people wear shorts and tank-tops.

Another advice - in other countries they tell you not to look like an American tourist. In Israel that is EXACTLY what you want to look like. You don't want either side (Jewish or Muslim) to stone you, so try to look rich and Christian (even if you are neither). If people think they can get your money (and your political support), they will treat you better.

For the OP - July in Israel is deadly, and I mean it literally. 35 degrees Celsius (almost 100 deg Fahrenheit) and breath taking humidity. The only thing you can do is prostrate yourself on some beach until you are crispy. Do not even think about Masada in July, unless it is a night-time tour of the desert around it, which is quite interesting.

The best time to visit is March-April or October-November but February is OK. August is slightly better than July but not by much. There is no point in spending a lot of money and then just staying in the hotel because you cant walk and breath at the same time. In any case, for 11 days I recommend Sunday to Friday morning in Jerusalem and the rest of the time in Haifa with a day trip from Haifa to Acre and another to Zafed/Tiberias. You don't need a tour company, just take a regular bus.

Weekends - the weekend is Friday-Saturday and most places are closed from Friday noon. Haifa is good on the weekend - they even have buses, Jerusalem is dead on the weekend, check other sites carefully about that.

Masada's moto is "Masada shall not fall again", I prefer - he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.
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Old 08-26-2012, 02:03 PM   #7
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I have been there on a business trip, but unfortunately spent most of the time in Haifa where most of high-tech companies were. So, sadly I only had a brief tour of Jerusalem and cannot offer much help. I did have a drive down the West Bank though, on the way to the Dead Sea.

It was a bit disturbing seeing some soldiers with machine guns in Jerusalem. And when we drove into a public place like shopping malls, we had to open the car trunk for bomb inspection.
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Old 08-26-2012, 02:17 PM   #8
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It was a bit disturbing seeing some soldiers with machine guns
When we were there, and we rented a car, there were many, armed, hitchhiking soldiers.......we gave rides to a couple/few, and when we were driving through the area of Nablus I turned to the guy sitting in the middle of the back seat with his automatic weapon and asked "Where are the trouble spots?"

He looked at us both, spread his hands apart in an 'all-encompassing' gesture, and said "Here".
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Old 08-27-2012, 05:27 PM   #9
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eeyore, thank you for your insight!
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