I have prepared two different itineraries (very different in many ways) for our May trip to Israel. I can sum up the differences in terms of the most important items: where we are staying and what we are doing. If 4 star hotels are a must then you should think of the itinerary I published previously. If you are up for a more adventurous trip (think Bedouin tents and camels) then this is the trip you want. In addition this second itinerary is the less expensive of the two though with our splurge it might be about even.
This itinerary is for 20 nights. Israel is seven hours ahead of Massachusetts. Note that not everything is open every day. We scheduled this itinerary around what we wanted to do and what day it was open. However, we (as you should be) are flexible. There may be a day we decide to flip things around. Feel free to use this itinerary but if it looks like we cannot possibly do everything we want in one day, you are probably correct.
Day 1: We will arrive in Tel Aviv at 12:24, which gives us the afternoon to relax after an 11-hour flight. We will drive to Haifa and walk around that city and enjoy just being in Israel. We are renting an Avio, which is the next smallest car and it is coming from Tamir. Rather than staying in Tel Aviv as the first itinerary had us doing, we will drive to Haifa where we will stay for three nights at Gallery Haifa. They are at 61 Herzel Street: [email protected]
Day 2: We will go to the Ghetto Fighters’ House, which is located at Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot D.N. Western Galilee on the Coast Highway (Route #4) between Akko and Nahariya. The Ghetto Fighter’s House is open from 9:00 to 4:00 Sunday through Thursday. You might want to go to Yad LaYeled Children’s Museum, which is part of the Ghetto Fighters’ House. We will spend the rest of the day in Akko.
Day 3: We will go to the Baha’i Gardens where you will want to dress modestly. That means anything sleeveless is inappropriate. Shorts would also be inappropriate. The Gardens are a must see so we have heard. The Shrine is open daily 9:00a.m. to 12:00p.m. The Gardens stay open until 5:00pm. Baha’i is a religion. Baha’i Shrine and Gardens are located on the edge of the city center. It is the second holiest shrine of the Baha’i Faith.
Day 4: We will leave Haifa and head to the Golan Heights/Tiberius area where we will stay at Kfar Korazin at the Frenkel’s Bed & Breakfast for three nights: [email protected] Korazim is at the gateway to the northern Galilee. We will go to Safed/TZFAT (also Sfad) on the way to the Frenkel’s. Once at the Frenkel’s we will go to the Korazim National Park where there is an ancient Synagogue, ancient ritual baths, and a Bedouin sheikh’s tomb.
Day 5: You may want to go to The Tiberias Hot Springs located on Rte. 90 in Tiberias. This is a modern spa fed by the mineral spring. There is a fee which varies on when you go. We will tour the upper Galilee.
Day 6:Every Sunday and Monday at 9:00a.m. and Thursday at 6:00p.m. you can take a free 2-hour walking tour of Old Tiberius, which leaves from the TiberiusTourist Information Center (tel. 04/672-5666), across from the Sheraton Moriah Hotel. Saturday at 10:30am, there is also a free walking tour which leaves from the lobby of the Sheraton Moriah Hotel, under the hotel’s sponsorship.
We will go to Beit She ‘an National Park. Established in the 5th century B.C. on a hilltop south of Nahal Harod, this park is one of the world’s largest archaeological sites containing an entire Roman-Byzantine city. It is located in the city of Beit She’an. There is a fee for the Park and the light show. You should make reservations.
Day 7: We arrive in Jerusalem and are staying at an apartment that we found through VRBO.
Day 8: We have a reservation for a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels. This is an underground tunnel exposing the Western Wall in its full length. This is also known as The Wailing Wall and The Kotel. We will take a driving tour of Jerusalem as outlined in one of the guide books you can buy – either Fodor’s or Frommer’s. We are planning on going to the Hadassah Hospital to see the Chagall windows.
Day 9: Athough we would like to visit the Old City and Tower of David, which is an ancient citadel, this is one place where juggling will have to be done in our case. We are Jewish and are going to Yad Vashim, which is Israel’s Holocaust Museum. It will be quite moving and emotional – much more so than Washington, D.C.’s Holocaust Museum. This may be a day trip in and of itself.
Day 10: Masada is a place of palaces and fortifications. After the Jewish-Roman War a siegeof the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to mass suicide of the Jews, who preferred death to surrender. The Dead Sea or the Sea of Salt or Salt Sea has the lowest elevation on the Earth’s surface on dry land. It is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water thus the ability to float on it and not sink.
Day 11: The Knesset (The home of Israel’s government) offers guided tours for the public on Sundays and Thursdays between the hours of 8:30a.m. and 2:00p.m.
Day 12: We will go to the Israel Museum, which has the largest collection of artifacts from Israel in the world. The Dead Scrolls are a collection of about 900 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves. Mount Olives/Scopus is a mountain (elevation: 2710 feet above sea level) in northeast Jerusalem. Since this is a Friday night we are planning to go back to the Western Wall.
Day 13: We will drive to Eilat and stay at Kibbutz Eilot [email protected] 972-8-6358816. We will stay here for two nights and will snorkel at a park such as Coral Beach, for which there is a fee. We will also go to the Underwater Observatory Marine Park where we will have a meal viewing underwater life.
Day 14: We will go to Timna Valley National Park and Wild Life Sanctuary in Eilat.
Day 15: We will be picked up at Kibbutz Eilot by a tour company. We will be taken to Petra, Jordan where we will stay in a Bedouin Tent. We may take a camel ride or just enjoy the area. Dinner and breakfast are served. We will sleep on a mattress of some kind!
Day 16: The tour company will take us to Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum also known as the The Valley of the Moon. It is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock. It is the largest wadi in Jordan. It is certainly a splurge and a once-in-a lifetime event. Later that day we will be taken back to Eilat where we will stay at Kibbutz Eilot for one night.
Day 17: We will go to Mizpe Ramon Hut also called Succah Bamidbar or Succah in the Desert. This is not for fearful people. There are eight huts each of which is different but all are made with walls of sheltering rocks and roofs of natural materials, and have areas open to the air. There are carpets covering earthen floors; comfortable mattresses, blankets, and bed linens; a clay jar in which water is kept cool; copper vessels for washing; and ecologically sound solar-powered lamps and heaters.
Day 18: We arrive at Adiv Hotel at 5 Mendele Street, Tel Aviv ([email protected]) where we will stay for three nights..
Day 19: We will go to the Bedouin Market and Eretz of Diaspora Museum, the Museum of the Jewish People. This institution tells the ongoing and extraordinary story of the Jewish people. It is located on the campus of Tel Aviv University, Klausner Street, in Ramat Aviv.
Day 20: We have reservations at the Ayalon Institute for a tour in English. This is an ammunitions factory. We will also walk Old Jaffa
Day 21: We leave Israel behind and head back to the United States.
You may want to go via a tour and have everything planned out for you. We chose not to. Putting together these itineraries took hours and hours. I hope you can make use of them. There are pros and cons to taking a tour. If you are adventurous, don’t mind driving the winding roads of Israel, want to come and go as you please, and perhaps someone with whom you are going has been to this country, then you might want to go it “alone” as we are.
Please note that everyone (well perhaps there are a few people who don’t) in Israel speaks English.
I will be posting reviews of the above so stay tuned! Back in a few weeks…