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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
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    My Second Day in the Holy Land

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jul 15, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: 13 April 2009, Monday.
    Jewish Fifth Day of Passover (Pesah)
    Great Orthodox Monday – the beginning of the Holy Week

    The second excursion to the Old City from 9.00 till 14.00 (5 hours). Mamilla, the Old City Western Walls, the Tower of David, the Jaffa Gate, the Christian Quarter, the Holy Sepulcher Church, the Mosque of Omar, the Church of the Redeemer, the Alexander’s podvorie, Helen’s Church and Cistern, Via Dolorosa, the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Western (Wailing) Wall Plaza, the Temple Mount: the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqsa Mosque (unfortunately from the distance), Cardo, the Christian Quarter, the Old City New Gate.

    Having a rest from 14.00 till 16.00.

    The third excursion around the Old City from 16.00 till 22.00 (5 hours). Mamilla, the Old City Western Walls, the Old City Southern Walls, the Gehenna Valley of Hinnom, the Ophel Archeological Garden, the Kidron Valley, the Tomb of Absalom, Tomb of Zechariah, the Tomb of Bene Hezir, the Old City Eastern Walls, the Old City Golden Gate, Gethsemane, the Basilica of the Agony, the Mount of Olives, the Church of Mary Magdalene, the sunset over the Old City, the Old City Lions' Gate, Old City Northern Walls, the Old City Damascus Gate, the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, the Jaffa Gate, Jewish Children singing, the Holy Sepulcher Church, the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Western (Wailing) Wall Plaza, tourists dancing in Mamilla.

    The second night in Jerusalem.

    Related to:
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    My First Day in the Holy Land

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jul 15, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: 12 April 2009, Sunday:
    Jewish Forth Day of Passover (Pesah),
    Gregorian (Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican) Easter,
    Orthodox Palm Sunday.

    Departure from the Airport Sheremetievo in Moscow at 12.40.

    Arrival to the Airport Ovda (the Southern District of Israel) at 16.40 (Moscow time) and 15.40 (Israeli time). Four hours in flight.

    Transfer from Ovda to Jerusalem via Ein Boqeq (Dead Sea) from 16.20 till 20.20. Four hours in a way.
    Accommodation in the Tower Hotel (close to the Old City of Jerusalem).

    The first evening excursion to the Old City from 21.00 till 23.30 (2,5 hours). Mamilla, the Old City Western Walls, the Tower of David, the Jaffa Gate, the Armenian Quarter, the Cathedral of St. James, the Jewish Quarter, Cardo, the Hurva Synagogue, Jewish singing and dancing.

    The night in Jerusalem

    Related to:
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    My Tour to the Holy Land from Moscow

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Jul 15, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: My tour to the Holy Land from Sunday 12 till Sunday 19 of April 2009 (8 days/7 nights):

    Jerusalem (2 nights SNGL in a 3-stars hotel, BB),
    Tel-Aviv (2 nights SNGL in a 3-stars hotel, BB),
    Eilat (3 nights SNGL in a 4-stars hotel, HP).

    It cost $1242,
    including regular flights of Aeroflot Moscow-Ovda (Southern District of Israel)-Moscow (economic class),
    all transfers (Ovda-Jerusalem, Jerusalem-Tel-Aviv, Tel-Aviv-Eilat, Eilat-Ovda),
    an excursion around Jerusalem, an excursion to Galilee (Nazareth, Kinneret, Capernaum)
    and medical insurance.
    Besides that $158 for an excursion to Petra from Eilat.
    In total $1400.

    It was arranged by the tourist company Rest-Style located in Moscow.

    Related to:
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    • Road Trip

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    8-Day Itinerary Suggestion for Israel

    by iblatt Updated Mar 2, 2010

    Favorite thing: This itinerary combines a rented car for the first few days, then continue by public transport:

    Day 1: Rent a car at the Ben-Gurion airport, head north.
    Stop in Caesarea (Roman & Crusader city on the coast); continue to Haifa: Bahaii gardens and panoramic view from the top of Mt Carmel; continue north to Acre (Akko): Impressive underground Crusader city, Ottoman city walls right on the coast, Arab market.
    Drive to Safed (Tzfat) in the Upper Galilee, stay overnight there.

    Day 2: Tour of Safed (Old City; Artists' Colony); then drive to Nazzareth: Church of Annunciation, market, Canna. Continue to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee: stay overnight.

    Day 3: Around the Sea of Galilee: Drive noirth of Tiberias to Tabgha, Mt of the Beatitudes, Capernaum. Drive southbound along eastern side of the Sea of Galilee; near the Southern tip of the lake visit the Baptism site "Yardenit". Then continue south along Jordan Valley to Beit She'an (well preserved ancient Roman city). Continue south along the Jordan valley to the Kumran area. Stay overnight at Kibbutz Kalia (http://kalia-kibbutz.hotel-rez.com/); This will also give you a glimpse to what a kibbutz looks like.

    Day 4: Kumran (site of the Dead Sea scrolls sect), Ein-Gedi, Massada, Ein Boqeq, drive back north to Kalia and stay another night there.

    Day 5: Drive to Jerusalem, return car. Visit Old City (City walls, Christian Quarter with Church of Holy Sepulchre and Via Dolorosa, Jewish Quarter and Wailing Wall, Temple Mount and Moslem Quarter, Damascus Gate).

    Day 6: Jerusalem: New City (including Israel Museum, "Yad Vashem" Holocaust Memorial, Mt. Herzl, city center and commercial district, Me'a She'arim neighborhood).

    Day 7: Jerusalem: Mt. of Olives and Kidron Valley; Bethlehem (Church of Nativity) and back to Jerusalem. Take bus (quick) or train (more scenic, takes much longer) to Tel-Aviv.

    Day 8: Tel-Aviv. Back to airport.

    Related to:
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  • Exchange rates in Israel

    by grosmas Updated Jan 3, 2010

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: If i were you .you should only change a little at the airport just to get you wherre you want to go, wait until you get to jerusalem or tel aviv.

    the airport has a terrible exchange rate. there are many private excahnge rate places / boothes in the major cities in israel.

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  • TravellerMel's Profile Photo

    HUGE portions served in restaurants

    by TravellerMel Written Dec 6, 2009

    Favorite thing: I had been warned, but did not heed... When you eat out at Israeli restaurants, the portions are HUGE. You would do well to split an entree and appetizer with a friend. You can always order more if you are still hungry (although I cannot imagine), but we often left at least half of our meal go to waste since we did not learn to share...

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    Forget the Shekels - bring US Cash!

    by TravellerMel Updated Dec 3, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Every vendor - from large hotel to street vendor - I encountered in Israel was willing to accept US Dollars, and in fact, they seemed to prefer it. You can get Israeli Shekels from any ATM, but my advice would be to bring US dollars, and lots of small bills, to make your purchases in Israel. Doing so will save you the hassle and expense of converting your unused Shekels back to US currency, and will make it easier to negotiate your bargains.

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  • gilabrand's Profile Photo

    A Foolproof Sign of Autumn

    by gilabrand Updated Oct 4, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Israel has a very short autumn season. Very often, the weather swings from boiling hot to cold and wintry overnight , which doesn't mean it won't be hot again - even the very next day.

    Israel is not New England: The leaves on all the trees don't turn red and orange and provide a glorious show of color for any length of time. In fact, most of the trees keep their leaves all year round. Some (at least those in front of my house) seem to shed their foliage at strange times of the year, like AFTER the winter, about a week before spring...

    But there is one foolproof sign that autumn is here: the hatzav, or squill, with its spikes of white star-shaped blossoms. The hatzav grows wild around Israel. Look for it near hiking trails and rocky outcroppings along the roads.

    Related to:
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    • Hiking and Walking

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  • Hotels and Shabbat

    by ElianaF Written Sep 9, 2009

    Favorite thing: Checking into and out of Hotels on Saturday can either be a big hassle or an added bonus depending on if you are coming or going. Remember Shabbat starts Friday at sundown and ends the following day one hour after sundown. People who are looking to check into a hotel on Saturday may be surprised when they show up and find out you can not check in until Shabbat ends. In the summer this can be as late as 9pm or later. Even if you are not staying in a religious area you should call the hotel ahead of time to see what their policy is. The reason for this is that the hotel can not force anyone to checkout and pay their bills during Shabbat. Then the rooms have to be cleaned by someone and prepared for the next guests.

    So while this might be a big hassle for unprepared guests it can actually be a nice bonus to those who are checking out on a Saturday. Again you would want to speak with the hotels reception staff, but if you check out on a Saturday you should get a free late checkout from between 5pm in the winter and 9pm in the summer. So while you are scheduling your trip you should try to arrange your stays at the different hotels so that you will be checking out on Saturdays and not checking in. It would even be worth it for most people to change their reservation to accommodate this nice little bonus!

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    When to visit

    by unaS Written Jul 22, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: If you prefer cool weather you want to avoid the months June - September. From mid October till mid June the weather is cooler. January and February are the coldest months. In Jerusalem in can be as low as 0C (32F), especially at night.

    It rains - hopefully - from November to April (usually). The rains are very rarely heavy, nor do they generally last long, but it can happen that it will rain for 3 days straight.

    Crowds are heaviest during March - April, depending on when Passover falls. These are also two of the best months to visit weather wise for nice Spring weather and green fields, blooming flowers.

    Watch out for the Jewish holidays when public transport and shops close.
    Holidays and the Sabbath are always from the evening before the date till the evening of the date e.g. Sabbath begins approximately 1 hour before sundown on Friday and ends one hour after sundown on Saturday. Check your dates before you make your reservations.

    Overall I would suggest early - mid Spring and early to mid Autumn.

    Fondest memory: The people

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    • Archeology

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  • gilabrand's Profile Photo

    All you need is love

    by gilabrand Updated Jun 9, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: When we were lost and asked for directions in Prague (it was just me and my daughter, who was 8 years old), people walked past us as if we were invisible. When we were overheard speaking English in a public square, we were approached by a bunch of young toughs who screamed at us and called us murderers. In Paris, we had an incredibly surly waiter with a cigarette dangling from his lips who insisted that the baguette he brought us was tart tartin. At JFK in New York, passengers are ordered around by security people who look like Sumo wrestlers and treat people like cattle. In Rome, we asked a bus driver if he stopped at a certain place. He yelled "no" and slammed the door in our faces. But of course he did stop there, so we had to wait for the next bus. The cloak room attendant at the national museum shouted and threw our stuff at us because it was late and he wanted to go home. A New York taxi driver dumped my kid's stroller onto the street and broke it because he thought the tip wasn't high enough. So I think nastiness to tourists is pretty widespread.

    All this is hard to fathom, considering how important tourism is to the economies of these countries. With millions of tourists pouring in, you would think the locals would be used to them by now, and more tolerant of their idiosyncrasies.

    In Israel, on the other hand, my sense is that tourists are truly welcome. People are friendly, and a large proportion of the population speaks some degree of English (or another foreign language). Ask Israelis in the street for directions and they will go out of their way to help - sometimes more than you might care for. Israelis love to dispense advice, even unsolicited, and don't stand on formality. Don't be surprised if some total stranger invites you home to meet the family. I'm not saying you should always go - use your discretion - but for the most part, the warmth is genuine. There are no ulterior motives. Israel doesn't get much love today, and what Israelis want is love. Tourism, in the Israeli psyche, equals love.

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  • gilabrand's Profile Photo

    Vegetarian Heaven

    by gilabrand Written Jun 7, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: No problem for vegetarians in Israel. Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive and unbelievably delicious (they actually taste like something, as opposed to the stuff they market as fruits and vegetables in the US, at least in my experience). Hummus and falafel are available on every street corner. Same goes for potato/spinach/cheese burekas. If you insist on a protein "replacement" in the form of soy products, Israel has a company called Tivoll that sells veggie burgers/hot dogs/schnitzel/TV dinners and exports its products all over the world. Cheeses will not contain rennet. Jelly candy and marshmallows are made with gelatin from vegetarian sources such as agar agar (but sometimes fish bones - so you need to look at the ingredients).

    Vegetarians can also rest easy in the knowledge that people in Israel KNOW what vegetarianism is, unlike some countries where the idea of someone being a vegetarian is completely foreign. If you go into a restaurant and ask for vegetarian food, they will not garnish your salad with strips of pastrami or bring you vegetable soup based on a beef stock in the belief that this "doesn't count."

    In short, Israel is full of vegetarians and due to kashrut laws, there are countless restaurants and cafes that serve ONLY dairy or vegetarian food.

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    Kashrut 101

    by gilabrand Written Mar 23, 2009

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    Favorite thing: Kashrut 101
    Keeping kosher is complicated, and the degree of strictness may vary from one Jewish household to another. Meat and milk products are not combined or served at the same meal. Pork and pig products are a big no-no. Meat and poultry must be slaughtered by a shochet, or ritual slaughterer, in keeping with a long list of rules, and then salted and rinsed to remove all traces of blood. Seafood is also off limits. Only certain types of meat are permissible, from animals that chew their cud and have cloven hooves. Fish must have fins and scales. Foods containing animal-based gelatin (which is often present in flavored yoghurt, unbeknownst to many people) cannot be eaten. Some religious Jews will not eat yellow cheese unless it is marked kosher (with a “U” for “Union of Orthodox Rabbis”) because hard cheese may be made with rennet, derived from the lining of a cow’s stomach. Bread must be made with pure vegetable shortening (no lard), so ingredients must be carefully checked. Many observant Jews will not eat anything cooked in pots and pans that have been used to cook non-kosher food, or use plates and cutlery that have been touched by non-kosher food. Despite the fact that all fruits and vegetables are kosher, some people will only drink wine that is certified kosher (for reasons that go back to the use of wine in pagan times).

    Now, the million-dollar question is WHY? Kashrut is a compendium of dietary laws set out in the Bible, and the Bible doesn’t tell us why. The approach of many rabbis is just “do it,” and don’t ask questions. Rationalists speculate that there may have been hygienic reasons for many of the prohibitions. My own personal feeling is that keeping kosher is a way of honing our awareness of what we put in our mouths and not taking things for granted. Keeping kosher means that you don’t just devour everything you see in front of you. It makes you think before you act.

    Related to:
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  • JerusalemPostcard's Profile Photo

    Crossing btween Israel and Jordan

    by JerusalemPostcard Written Mar 13, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: I crossed from Eilat last December (2008). It was really smooth and you get your visa at the border crossing rather than needing to get it in advance.

    Arrive at Israeli side of the crossing well before it opens (8am) so you can get ahead of the tour bus crowds that significantly slow down the queue. (I got stuck behind a tour bus and spent 2hrs crossing the border.)

    Jason

    Fondest memory: Having coffee at the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem's Old City. Then climbing the roof of the Hospice for a view of the Temple Mount, Jewish Quarter, Church of the Holy Sepulchre...just breathtaking!

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    A small country with most varied scenery & culture

    by iblatt Written Feb 21, 2009

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    Favorite thing: Israel is a small country (north to south just over 500 km, east to west 13-100km), but has a lot to offer for any visitor.
    Jerusalem is a whole world in itself, rich in historical and religious sites, various religious communities each with its own tradition.
    Then there are the modern cities of Tel-Aviv and Haifa, but beside them there's enough to keep you busy and happy for weeks or months: The Dead Sea and Massada, the Sea of Galilee & Tiberias, The Red Sea with Eilat, the Negev desert, ancient cities from Biblical times, Greek and Roman era (Cesarea, Beit-Shean & more), Nabattean times (such as Avdat) crusader period (Akko & others), the Ottoman era, to name just a few; there are different ethnic groups to visit and to get to know; excellent nature hikes, bike trips & more.
    I hope this is enough to whet your appetite...

    Related to:
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