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Travel Announcement: To Israel!

israel2

Sometimes opportunities arise when you least expect them. It happened to me recently when a new travel company asked me to visit Israel and participate in a test tour. I pay only airfare - everything else from luxury hotel accommodations to food are covered by the organizer. Israel isn't a country to which I previously envisioned traveling, but how can I resist such an opportunity? It gives me a chance to explore an entirely new region of the world. The schedule will be out of my control to some extent, but the organizers will work with participants to visit areas of interest. I know for certain that we will be in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I don't know if we will go further into Palestine, but I hope so.

Of course, the primary tourist attractions in Israel are religious sites but they're of no interest to me. What else can I see/do in these cities? Where can I find the most dramatic desert or scenic landscapes? Interesting people or markets? I want to make the drive to Ramon Crater, and am curious about the bedouin village/school in Khan al-Alhmar after reading this report. Has anyone been there? Please leave any suggestions about interesting places or people in comments. If anyone knows local English speakers in these cities who may be willing to answer questions and/or act as a guide, please let me know. I'd also be grateful if you could throw links to interesting photo reports from other LJ bloggers who have traveled in the region.

Thanks, in advance, for the help! I depart next Sunday, and will be sure to share photos and impressions of my journey.

Comments

( 56 comments — Leave a comment )
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girlspell
Apr. 3rd, 2014 01:15 am (UTC)
I've taken tours to the Dead Sea and Masada (climbed it) that was a great tour. I strongly recommend that one. I also took a tour to the northern part of Israel to the city Haifa. You can also visit the very ancient city of Jaffa. I was visiting relatives, so I traveled all over Israel. I didn't step foot in any religious building either Christian, Muslim, etc. The antiquity part of the tour was fascinating. So something along that line would be interesting for you. When you get there, look them up.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
I thought Haifa is mostly a beach resort? The city itself is interesting? We will definitely visit the Dead Sea.
(no subject) - girlspell - Apr. 3rd, 2014 10:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dindia - Apr. 4th, 2014 09:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 5th, 2014 01:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - macos - Apr. 3rd, 2014 04:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dindia - Apr. 4th, 2014 09:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - macos - Apr. 5th, 2014 08:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ya_yu_11 - Apr. 4th, 2014 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 4th, 2014 02:19 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 4th, 2014 01:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
rider3099
Apr. 3rd, 2014 01:24 am (UTC)
Lucky you! :) Awesome!
I have some friends from Israel - talk to them!
They are Ella - britmila, Natasha - natalia_jaffa, Julia - notredome
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 01:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, I can hardly believe it. I feel so lucky and blessed to be given an opportunity like this. Thanks for the LJ usernames of your friends from Israel!
(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, I don't think we'll have time for train travel. How do the ultra-Orthodox Jews react to cameras and being photographed? For instance, is it okay to shoot from a distance or it will anger them?
(no subject) - girlspell - Apr. 3rd, 2014 10:08 am (UTC) - Expand
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moebiuscat
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:01 am (UTC)
Israel is a great place to visit. I lived in Jerusalem for 10 years.
Thing is even religious sites are not purely religiously significant, most are amazing historical sites, some with unprecedented degree of preservation. Not much original places you can see in the world from thousands of years ago. No matter if you're not religious - those places and those religions literally shaped the world civilization and history, so they are interesting purely from historical point of view as well.

Jerusalem's old city is a must, I recommend taking a tour in the tunnels below the city. Among many places I can recommend Akko (crusade times sites), Caesaria (greek ruins in great shape, with bath system, floor mosaics and marble columns). If you're going to Makhtesh Ramon I strongly recommend visiting Avdat (where Jesus Christ Superstar was filmed) and Ein Avdat (beautiful canyon with a river in the middle of the desert, good hike) on the way there.
BTW I'm going to visit Israel for a couple of weeks this April, so feel free to contact me if you're there at the same time.
It's personal of course, but I wouldn't go too deep into Palestine. Bethlehem is fairly safe, but might not be very interesting if you're not religious. Places other than huge tourist sites are pretty risky, especially so for american woman travelling alone. Don't take it in the wrong way, arabs can be very friendly and hospitable, sometimes much more than westerners with a stranger, but it's a very controversial place, if you encounter a fanatic he will be just as friendly until he stabs you in the back. So just be careful.

Oh, for a great view of Jerusalem from above there is a little-known place (I learned about it only a couple of years ago) is a bell tower of YMCA (everybody knows where it is right in the downtown). If you go to the lobby you can buy a ticket and go up for a breathtaking view, usually with no one else present.

Drink a lot of water preventively (before you're really thirsty). When it's hot, especially in the desert, it's very easy to become dehydrated before you know it. It will riun a day for you if you let it happen. So have several liters of water with you if you're having an active day with hikes etc

Most people speak passable English, so you'll be able to get by..

Edited at 2014-04-03 02:02 am (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:45 am (UTC)
Hi! Nice to hear from you again. :) Thanks for the detailed response. I would only drive into other parts of Palestine with a male and, of course, appropriately dressed. Most of the other participants probably won't want to venture off the beaten path, so I may be limited to Bethlehem. Mostly I want to visit a Bedouin village, but not sure it will be possible.
(no subject) - moebiuscat - Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
dubovich
Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:16 am (UTC)
Spent there the best 16 years of my life. Will think about some tips for you. Nice, you'll have a great time there!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:33 pm (UTC)
Where did you live in Israel?
(no subject) - dubovich - Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
mybathroom
Apr. 3rd, 2014 04:20 am (UTC)
It's great!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree! There are so many reports about Israel on LJ, as it's a common tourist destination for Russians. But maybe I'll find something interesting or unique about which to write.
(no subject) - mybathroom - Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
llorax
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:16 am (UTC)
I would hope the religious sites would be of interest at least from the historical and cultural perspective. I imagine they play a great role.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:38 pm (UTC)
For some of the participants, the trip is solely a religious trek. I'll visit the main religious sites because you're correct, they are interesting from a historical standpoint. However, my main interest (no matter the country) is always ordinary people, living in small towns or villages outside major cities. To see the way average citizens of a particular nation live and function in society. That's why your blog is so interesting. :) It's fascinating to see how others' in the universe go about their daily lives.

Edited at 2014-04-03 03:00 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - llorax - Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
andrey_kaminsky
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:24 am (UTC)
Лучшая идея
The best option and the absolute luck is if at the days of your visit Jerusalem Fashion Week or something like that will take place in. If you manage to get on the underwear show and make a lot of pictures... This wil be the best possibility to promote blog. Macos & zyalt overfed readers with Israel and have left no choice for you. Only foul play!)

Edited at 2014-04-03 07:55 am (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Лучшая идея
I have not yet read any of macos' or zyalt's reports from this region. And why do I want to waste time looking at half-naked women? :) I can see that right here in Washington, DC by going to any nightclub. I just realized I'll be there during Passover.
livejournal
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:52 am (UTC)
Need help )))
User fesma94 referenced to your post from Need help ))) saying: [...] можете чего нибудь ей в комменты,на английском http://peacetraveler22.livejournal.com/75012.html [...]
fesma94
Apr. 3rd, 2014 06:03 am (UTC)
O ! I hope I will have time to drink coffee with you at Tel Aviv )) And wait for comments, I'v asked local tourists blog to recommend some places ))
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:42 pm (UTC)
If I have time to meet for coffee, I'll definitely write you. But I imagine we will be on the go most of the time. Thanks for asking the Israeli tourism forum for suggestions!
real_marsel
Apr. 3rd, 2014 09:23 am (UTC)
Good luck in trip.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! First time in this region of the world, so I'm excited to experience something new.
concept_in_time
Apr. 3rd, 2014 09:41 am (UTC)
Hi :-) I saw your posts in puerrtto LJ. Congratulations on the trip :-)
IMO Nazareth definitely worth a visit. It's the Christianity lullaby, in hebrew christian is "notzri" that means "one from Nazareth". It has an atmosphere that is quite different from rest of Israel, with a few streams of Christianity having their churches there (catholic, greek-orthodox and greek-catholic). The old town is tiny, so plan half a day + (or a night) there.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC)
Hello! Welcome! :) Yes, I sometimes comment in puerrtto's journal, but not very often because his readers get irate seeing English language text, especially if the topic of the post is controversial in nature. I wrote to Sasha, and he's been very helpful! Feel free to comment in my blog more often. Always happy to see new readers!
skvorets1989
Apr. 3rd, 2014 09:53 am (UTC)
Oh, my...! You are sooo lucky!!! Israel is the best place in the world. No question about that. Nowhere else there can be so many things in such small place. Religious people and girls in bikinis, soldiers and hippies, Russians and Arabs. And everything is close and mixed and interconnected.

You ride two hours and even climate can change dramaticaly. I was in Jerusalem once and it was snowing there. Then I came to Eilat and theoretically I could swim in the Red Sea because the water was 20 degrees. But it was storm so at the moment I put off my close and ran into the water lifeguard guy appeared with a loudspeaker and a lifeline and asked me to get out of the water. At first I tried to pretend not hearing and not understanding him but he was very loud and kept repeating in English "it is too dangerous today!". So I had to go out before he send a rescue team for me.

And I also remember when I got lost in Jerusalem. At night! Drunk! Without money! Without sell phone! Without ID! With absolutely empty pockets! I walked and I did not know where I walked. I got really scared. I thought "here I go to arab neighborhood and they kill me because I have nothing to rob from me. My short miserable life is over". I seriously considered breaking into some shop for police to arrest me and get out of cold streets.

And then I spotted a girl at a bus station so I come to her and with broken mix of Hebrew, English and gestures asked for direction. She smiled and said I should run for another bus station and gave me money for it. I ran there but the bus has allready left. But then I met another girl and she also gave me some money and told me that I have to look for people and ask them for money for taxi. And then I met a guy who spoke Russian and who came up with genious idea that I could call for taxi now and pay for it at the hotel. And so he called a taxi for me, waited till it come. And so I was safed. And I still have those money people on streets gave me.

Israel is a wonderful place. I dislike Obama for his inability to deal with Iran and its nuclear bomb even more than his inability to deal with Russia about Ukraine.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
I love hearing these stories of random acts of kindness throughout the globe! I truly belief the bulk of humanity is good, but the few evil souls disrupt harmony in so many ways. I have a similar story. A few years ago, I went on a Danube River cruise with my family through Eastern Europe. When we docked in Vienna, my friend who lived there picked me up and we had a fabulous dinner at her apartment, filled with lots of wine!! Afterward, I was totally drunk and her boyfriend drove me back to the dock. In the middle of the night, I realized I left my purse in her apartment, with passport and all!! We were setting sail in a few hours to our next city. So, I got up, got dressed and tried to find a cab to take me back to her apartment in the middle of the night. The taxi driver spoke NO English, but a little bit of Russian. :)) So, I communicated with him in my horrible Russian! He didn't even charge me for the cab ride to the apartment, only the return. I retrieved my passport, purse and money, and all was fine!
(no subject) - skvorets1989 - Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
anna_sollanna
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, what an interesting idea! I have never been to any desert (and I am still not sure whether I'd like to visit one or not - because it's too hot there :))) but I like to look at deserts' photos. I wish you luck in your journey and hope you'll show us many beautiful photos after!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:33 pm (UTC)
I'm very worried about the heat!! Even +20 is too warm for me. My face will be red from heat exhaustion in all photos. You know I like very cold temperatures, but I've never been in a desert environment (even in America), so I'm looking forward to it.
(no subject) - skvorets1989 - Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anna_sollanna - Apr. 3rd, 2014 04:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
jack_cracker29
Apr. 3rd, 2014 10:01 pm (UTC)

Time for an Israeli story… Sorry if too wordy

I visited it and Egypt unexpectedly in ’99 if I remember, when traveling thru Europe and getting a call from home that my uncle who was working as USAID projects rep in the Middle East was now in Israel and after that was planning to go to Egypt and would be happy to have a familiar face around.
So I went. Didn’t like either country much. Maybe was too young. Israel seemed particularly boring. You can cover major religious sites in a day or two , go to a hill where bunch of Jews committed mass suicide in antiquity and the Dead Sea that is actually a salty lake. Voila you seen Israel. One of local USAID employees was an Israeli Christian Arab (I didn’t know such specie existed) who invited us to his home in Jerusalem and took us around Palestine.
Story is that when we were leaving Bethlehem after visiting Church of the Nativity and some bazaar, Arab Gyro deli (or whatever it’s called) etc to go back to Jerusalem we ran smack into a CNN moment. At an intersection right in front of us they had Super Bowl of the Middle East.
Three or four Israeli soldiers on their home TD line against a Palestinian football team. It was a type of a "football game" where one team is shooting at players of the other team throwing rocks and whatnot from different yardage. Throwing is done by Palestinian players of various ages, the younger the player the closer he could get to the soldiers but not closer than about 25yrd line. If too many of them get too audacious soldier would shoot a teargas can at them and they run back to 50 yrd line. There they have older teens with slings giving 12-13 yr old rascals new plays… Some older teens shuttle back and force to 75yrd line where grown “coaches” are giving new “plays” to older teens. Meanwhile Israeli “players” are closely monitoring the field one with a scoped fully automatic, one with a rubber bullet gun one with a teargas thrower and an officer on the radio and an automatic. If too many Palestinian “players” start throwing rocks the soldier with rubber bullet gun shoots the most audacious kid and the tear gas soldier lets loose a few gas cans… and it goes on for like 2-3 hours…
We couldn’t move at all cars were all around us for miles back… so we had to watch the drama that I have never and probably will never see again…
At about closer to dinner time the “SuperBowl” ran its time and Palestinian “players” started to go back to their home TD line for rewards and attaboy from “coaches”.
A bobcat loader came out and took all the rocks back to about 50yrd line for the next “game” I guess…
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - skvorets1989 - Apr. 4th, 2014 09:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 4th, 2014 01:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
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