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Israel trip, Revised, What to give up?

Had extended trip planned, accommodations booked (except Haifa) but not airfare yet. Need to reduce total trip by 17 nites (instead of 44, now only 27 - still more than most people can.)
Daughter's family is moving to Europe and I need to care for grandchildren just prior to their move.
Here's my trip:
Arrive TLV, April 15 stay 2 nites.
Drive to Eilat & stay 1 nite.
Cross border & see Petra stay 3 nites.
Return to Eilat stay 1 nite.
Drive to Ein Gedi stay 2 nites - see Masada, hike, float in Dead Sea.
Drive to Jerusalem see Qumran in transit, stay 25 nites in apartment - turn in car- see Bethlehem & Jericho while there.
(this could be reduced to 11 nites)
Rent car & drive to Arbel seeing Beit She'An, Gan Hashlosha, & Yardenit in transit - stay 5 nites in Arbel.
Drive to Nazareth & stay 1 nite.
(Could cancel & see Nazareth from stay in Arbel with Canna & Zippori same day)
Drive to Haifa & stay 3 nites- see Acre, Caesaria while in that area.
(Could reduce that to 1 nite and omit Acre seeing Caesaria on way back to TLV.)
Drive to TLV seeing Zirchon Ya'akov in transit & stay 1 nite so that no hassle to get to the airport and turn in the car.
Have a hotel booked that's in most eastern neighborhood of TLV I could find, only 19km from airport.
(Could cancel depending on time of flight out - staying this nite in Haifa instead and then Acre might be possible)

Do these revisions make sense? It requires 5 tasks for accomodations : reduce Jerusalem stay, shift Arbel dates, cancel Nazareth stay, book 1 or 2 nites for Haifa, & cancel or shift last nite in eastern TLV.

We are a retired couple age 69/70 who like to travel at a leisurely pace, do some of our own cooking, meet people, absorb the atmosphere. Yes, I read Rick Steves "Travel as a Political Act" and have been traveling this way for years. Spent 4 mos. in New Zealand and saw it all. Awesome! Now does this shortened trip make sense? I would have liked to include Megiddo, but Beit She'An is probably the better of the 2. I assume it doesn't make any sense to cut more out of Jerusalem - I haven't listed all I want to do there - certainly Israeli museum more than one day. I could just postpone the trip til 2016 and do the longer version but that means shifting all the reservations. Yikes!

Posted by
31506 posts

KBD,

Unfortunately, Chani the resident expert on Israel on the Forum is not available at the moment. She suggests that you try the Trip Advisor Israel forum as there's a very knowledgeable group there.

Posted by
70 posts

I was just there for two weeks on a DIY 'back door'-type trip. I would be glad to personally answer some questions. A few comments:

  • Arbel is a good choice. We stayed at the Shavit Family Guest House and while it is a bit out of the way was well worth the detour.

  • Ein Gedi beach and associated stops are closed so I would plan on doing your dip at the excellent public beaches at Ein Bokek. There is also a lot of road work due to sink holes. This may cause delays. Ein Gedi Kibbutz has a minimart, cafeteria, Hiking Ein Gedi is nice but you will see a lot of Israeli school kids! You are gonna want to stock up on groceries, snacks for this stretch.

We stayed at the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel (the youth Hostels are pretty nice but not too cheap in Israel); you could also do the new (eastside) youth Hostel at Masada.

  • Instead of Yardenit consider the Yasr Al Yahud baptism site...you'll pass it north of the Dead Sea. (it is closest to the traditional baptism site if that is your thing) Also we like the charming Dier Haija Greek Orthodox Monastery nearby.

  • I enjoyed Nazareth. We stayed in the old city and parking at a city lot and walked in. No biggie.

  • We did the Negev Camel Ranch and it was a blast!

  • For our last day we started at Mount Tabor (stayed overnight at the Pilgrim house) and stopped at Mediggo and Caesarea on the way to the airport. We still had LOTS of time to spare and traffic was heavy. Mediggo was more interesting than I thought, Caesarea was less so BUT the Med sea was beautiful.

  • We did 6 nights in Jerusalem Old City. And it was pretty packed.

  • Make sure you do a Shabbat dinner or two with an actual family while you are there.

  • Driving was a cultural experience but not too bad if one of you navigate. We rented an I-Pad and that helped us tremendously.

A lot of your choices depends on your interests and what you want to get out of it. We met lots of people: secular jews, orthodox jews, muslim arabs, muslim christians, and a whole melting pot of christian pilgrims. Almost everyone we met were nice and helpful especially if you are americans. A little hebrew and arabic went to long way...