Ha! This one snuck up on me! Seriously, we booked the tickets in September and I did nothing since then to prepare, except try to contact our former guide, who unfortunately, we could not hook up with. Then we thought, we'll do it all on our own, but again that time crunch and lack of time tod do any serious planning, left me in a pickle. So I contacted Allison at Best of Israel travel agency, and worked out an itinerary, along with a guide that I'm hoping floats everyone's boat. It certainly looks really good on paper, so I thought I'd share it with you (shoot, now I'm wishing I moved it from my other computer to my netbook). Let me go check and see if it's still online...
Okay it's not on-line, so I'm going to give you highlights. By the way, we went through a couple of iterations on this itinerary because originally we were moving a round a bit much (five hotel changes). Now we're down to three which we prefer.
To start, we're flying Continental. We'd been saving miles pretty much since our last trip to Israel and were able to snag four first class tickets. Going out we're flying non-stop from Newark to Tel Aviv but coming home is the snag - we leave Tel Aviv at 5:30am (so we have a 2:15am pickup at our hotel), and we fly to Amsterdam where we have an eight hour layover. Yes, we have access to their club (showers and all) and yes I hear it's a great airport to have a layover but eight hours is a bit much. Currently though we have a reservation at Anne Frank's house (from 11:30am to 12:30pm), so hopefully we'll feel up to it and that will work out. Then we depart Amsterdam about 5:30pm and land at JFK (the other fly in the cake batter), at 8:00pm. It will be over 24 hours of traveling by the time we get home. The price we pay though for first class. The good news though is it didn't break the frequent flier bank and we still have 400K miles in the account.
So we land in Tel Aviv late Sunday afternoon and from the airport head right down to the Dead Sea, Eid Boqeq to be exact. We'll probably just grab a snack or something and hit the hay.
We meet our guide and head to Masada (we did this on our first trip but the girls really want to climb the snake path. Staying in Eid Boqeq should give us enough time for this). Then we'll head over to Ein Gedi (did this on our last trip too but if it's not too wet, Sammi really wanted to see the waterfalls again. Then back to the hotel to enjoy the day by the Dead Sea.
We leave the Dead Sea and we'll visit Eretz Bereshit (aka Genesis Land). From there we'll visit Ein Fawwar and hike to the water source (a spring is there that erupts every twenty minutes). Afterward, Chris and I are going to head to Bethlehem so he can see the Church of the Nativity (I've seen it; I wasn't impressed but he really wants to go). Becky's a bit nervous about the expedition so we may see if the guide can take her to the Tomb of Rachel instead. Not sure where Sammi will go yet. By the way, Candi told me there's a great falafel stand in the square of the church - so we're looking forward to that. Then it's on to Jerusalem.
We're visiting the City of David, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Machne Yehuda market and if the weather permits a sound and light show at the Tower of David Museum (full day).
We have a free day in Jerusalem today. We'll probably visit the old city and do some shopping.
We're heading to Tel Maresha and doing Dig for a Day, then some sperlunking at Beit Guvrin and ending the day in Tel Aviv at the Nachalat Binyamin street fair.
We're heading north to Caesarea, Acco and hopefully the Bahai Gardens today (originally we were going to stay in Haifa tonight but that one night in Tel Aviv, one night in Haifa and three nights in Tel Aviv, just didn't feel right to us).
We're heading to a Druze Village to shop in their market then onto Tzippori and ending the day, before we return to Tel Aviv, at Tishbi Estate Winery for a tour of their facilities.
We're on our own in Tel Aviv to hang by the water if it's nice and perhaps do some more shopping.
Well, I told you about our travel day home.
So that's it - hope you check back for updates, pictures and videos throughout the week.