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Israel, November 2019

Pauline

Forums Admin
This will be our fourth trip to Israel in two years! We are smitten with the country. Our first trip was 2 weeks in March 2018, then 4 weeks in November 2018, and 4 weeks in March 2019. These were planned with help from many people in one long thread and from help on the Trip Advisor forums.

Our November trip is booked but I wanted to get feedback on things to do.

Jerusalem - 7 nights (apartment in the German Colony from Colony Suites)
Ein Gedi Hotel - 1 night
Eilat - 3 nights (in an apartment - not booked yet)
Mitzpe Ramon - 7 nights (apartment from booking.com)
Zikhron Ya'akov - 10 nights (apartment from airbnb)

We've spent a week or more in Jerusalem on each trip, so I know what we will be doing that week. We will pickup the rental car a couple of days before we leave and use it to drive out to some hiking areas the last two days. On the other days we will revisit our favorite things - the Old City, Mount of Olives, the market.

We've stayed at the Ein Gedi hotel twice before. This time we are staying just one night to break up the drive to Eilat and to give us time to visit the Dead Sea beaches north of Ein Gedi. We have not been to them before. Doru sent me an interesting article about them and I've been reading more on the Trip Advisor forums. It looks like there are three beaches together - Kalya, Neve Midbar, Biankini. You can get to the water more easily at these beaches. At the Ein Gedi Spa beach area you have to take some sort of shuttle 1km out to the water because the water had receeded. I don't want to go into the water, but I want to be close to and maybe wade in it (we have been close to the Dead Sea at Ein Bokek).

On the drive from Ein Gedi to Eilat we will stop at some of the towns in the northern Arava Valley that we missed last time when we stayed further south.

In Eilat we are going to have a day exploring the town (we stayed here for 3 nights last November) and day hiking in Timna Valley with Joe. I am thinking about parking at the Jordan border crossing and going into Aqaba (the town beside Eilat) for a few hours.

Last November we spent 1 night in Mitzpe Ramon and liked the small town and the location, so this time we are spending a week. We plan to do some hikes in the crator and see other things in the area.

We end with 10 nights in Zikhron Ya'akov. We spent 1 night here on the last trip and liked the town and area. We like Haifa but it feels like too big of a city for us, so we want to try Zikron. We can hike in the Ramat Hanadiv area (we missed that last time because the trails were really muddy from heavy rains) and in the Carmel Forest. We can take the train to Tel Aviv for the day and drive up to Haifa and spend some time there. We can also get out into the Galilee easily.

I would like to find a few places that we like and then return to them regularly. Maybe even do a longer 2 month trip next year. We are looking for smaller towns instead of staying in the big cities.

All feedback/suggestions welcome!
 

joe

100+ Posts
I would like to find a few places that we like and then return to them regularly. Maybe even do a longer 2 month trip next year. We are looking for smaller towns instead of staying in the big cities.
All feedback/suggestions welcome!
Zichron Ya'akov sort of hits a sweet spot as a base for longer stays, if you're looking for smaller towns, and still want to be relatively close to other areas in the country (at least in the center and north). Close to the sea, close to Tel Aviv and Haifa, and having lovely surroundings to explore. The only negative might be the lack of a train station, if you won't be having a car.
Other options might be Binyamina and Pardes Hanna-Karkur - these at least each have a train station. They are close to Zichron Ya'akov, so you could check them out in November.

If you don't mind dividing a longer stay into two or three bases, and don't want to be in a city, I'd look into the moshavim/kibbutzim in the Jerusalem hills between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, to cover a stay in the center of the country. The bigger ones will have facilities like grocery stores and perhaps a local cafe/restaurant. I believe you've gone through some of them on your last trips. Having a car would be much more convenient.

In the north, that depends : how close you would like to be to the coastal cities/towns (Akko, Nahariya, Haifa), or prefer to get away to less congested areas in the east. Personally, I really like the area around Kfar Tavor (just under Mt. Tabor), and the area around Kerem Ben Zimrah (where you have hiked, I believe). Rosh Pinna can be nice, but can become touristy as well. Again, a car would be useful.
 

emc1

New Member
Zichron Ya'akov sort of hits a sweet spot as a base for longer stays, if you're looking for smaller towns, and still want to be relatively close to other areas in the country (at least in the center and north). Close to the sea, close to Tel Aviv and Haifa, and having lovely surroundings to explore. The only negative might be the lack of a train station, if you won't be having a car.
Other options might be Binyamina and Pardes Hanna-Karkur - these at least each have a train station. They are close to Zichron Ya'akov, so you could check them out in November.

If you don't mind dividing a longer stay into two or three bases, and don't want to be in a city, I'd look into the moshavim/kibbutzim in the Jerusalem hills between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, to cover a stay in the center of the country. The bigger ones will have facilities like grocery stores and perhaps a local cafe/restaurant. I believe you've gone through some of them on your last trips. Having a car would be much more convenient.

In the north, that depends : how close you would like to be to the coastal cities/towns (Akko, Nahariya, Haifa), or prefer to get away to less congested areas in the east. Personally, I really like the area around Kfar Tavor (just under Mt. Tabor), and the area around Kerem Ben Zimrah (where you have hiked, I believe). Rosh Pinna can be nice, but can become touristy as well. Again, a car would be useful.
This will be our fourth trip to Israel in two years! We are smitten with the country. Our first trip was 2 weeks in March 2018, then 4 weeks in November 2018, and 4 weeks in March 2019. These were planned with help from many people in one long thread and from help on the Trip Advisor forums.

Our November trip is booked but I wanted to get feedback on things to do.

Jerusalem - 7 nights (apartment in the German Colony from Colony Suites)
Ein Gedi Hotel - 1 night
Eilat - 3 nights (in an apartment - not booked yet)
Mitzpe Ramon - 7 nights (apartment from booking.com)
Zikhron Ya'akov - 10 nights (apartment from airbnb)

We've spent a week or more in Jerusalem on each trip, so I know what we will be doing that week. We will pickup the rental car a couple of days before we leave and use it to drive out to some hiking areas the last two days. On the other days we will revisit our favorite things - the Old City, Mount of Olives, the market.

We've stayed at the Ein Gedi hotel twice before. This time we are staying just one night to break up the drive to Eilat and to give us time to visit the Dead Sea beaches north of Ein Gedi. We have not been to them before. Doru sent me an interesting article about them and I've been reading more on the Trip Advisor forums. It looks like there are three beaches together - Kalya, Neve Midbar, Biankini. You can get to the water more easily at these beaches. At the Ein Gedi Spa beach area you have to take some sort of shuttle 1km out to the water because the water had receeded. I don't want to go into the water, but I want to be close to and maybe wade in it (we have been close to the Dead Sea at Ein Bokek).

On the drive from Ein Gedi to Eilat we will stop at some of the towns in the northern Arava Valley that we missed last time when we stayed further south.

In Eilat we are going to have a day exploring the town (we stayed here for 3 nights last November) and day hiking in Timna Valley with Joe. I am thinking about parking at the Jordan border crossing and going into Aqaba (the town beside Eilat) for a few hours.

Last November we spent 1 night in Mitzpe Ramon and liked the small town and the location, so this time we are spending a week. We plan to do some hikes in the crator and see other things in the area.

We end with 10 nights in Zikhron Ya'akov. We spent 1 night here on the last trip and liked the town and area. We like Haifa but it feels like too big of a city for us, so we want to try Zikron. We can hike in the Ramat Hanadiv area (we missed that last time because the trails were really muddy from heavy rains) and in the Carmel Forest. We can take the train to Tel Aviv for the day and drive up to Haifa and spend some time there. We can also get out into the Galilee easily.

I would like to find a few places that we like and then return to them regularly. Maybe even do a longer 2 month trip next year. We are looking for smaller towns instead of staying in the big cities.

All feedback/suggestions welcome!
Hi Pauline,
I try to get to Israel as often as possible. This year we’re planning to spend 2 weeks in Tuscany (San Quirico as a base), 2 plus weeks in Paris, and a week or more in Israel. Your itinerary is interesting but I do think a week in Mitzpe Ramon is a lot. It seems like you have tours of the crater etc arranged?. We went on a day jeep tour with Adam Sala’s outfit and it was phenomenal. Also really enjoyed visiting Ben Gurion’s grave and his house. If you can manage it, a trip to the Hula Valley to see 40,000 cranes land in the evening (on their annual migration) is an experience like no other. October/ November are the months to go. Finally, I do believe Tel Aviv is an amazing city that deserves a few days. Wandering around the yemenite quarter is great. Spice shops, fabulous food, casual atmosphere, music everywhere..walking along the tayelet to jaffa.. no car needed in TA. I find the city to be more interesting and walkable than Haifa. Anyway, whatever you decide, you’re sure to have a great trip. Enjoy!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Your itinerary is interesting but I do think a week in Mitzpe Ramon is a lot.
You are the second person to tell me that and you are both probably right. We spent 1 night there last November and loved the area. We like to spend our days hiking and I think we will be able to find a lot of hikes in that area. Plus we love those Ibex that roam the streets.

If you can manage it, a trip to the Hula Valley to see 40,000 cranes land in the evening (on their annual migration) is an experience like no other. October/ November are the months to go.
We spent 2 nights in the Hula Valley in March. We saw cranes in the sky but not 40,000!

Finally, I do believe Tel Aviv is an amazing city that deserves a few days.
We spent a week in Tel Aviv last November. We may return at some point, but I like Haifa better. Tel Aviv feels too flat, the walkway along the sea is too packed with people on the weekends, and so is the Carmel Market. I feel like I had a good enough visit with our week there. Neither of us enjoy big cities that much, which is why we are trying Zikhron instead of Haifa on this trip.

In Israel, Jerusalem is my favorite city. It feels like the center of the world. I could spend months there - especially if I had a car and could get out to the hiking areas.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
I've been thinking over your answer Joe but didn't reply.

Zichron Ya'akov sort of hits a sweet spot as a base for longer stays, if you're looking for smaller towns, and still want to be relatively close to other areas in the country (at least in the center and north).
That is what I thought. If we were to do a longer stay in Israel it would be a good location, so we are trying it out on this trip.

If you don't mind dividing a longer stay into two or three bases, and don't want to be in a city, I'd look into the moshavim/kibbutzim in the Jerusalem hills between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, to cover a stay in the center of the country.
I had not thought of that idea, but we do like that area. I should try to find a town there for our next trip and give it a try. We have been out in that area, but just for hiking.

In the north, that depends : how close you would like to be to the coastal cities/towns (Akko, Nahariya, Haifa), or prefer to get away to less congested areas in the east.
I think for coastal areas, it is only Haifa or the area around Zikhron that would suit us. And I do like the eastern area, near Lake Kinneret. We loved Amirim. I do like Rosh Pinna even with all the tourists. It does seem busy and built up in that area. We will explore the Mount Tabor area in November. I love the New Testament story for it (the Transfiguration) and we have not been up to the top. We did a hike near Nazareth where we were walking towards Mount Tabor, but that is it.

I made hummus from Yotem Ottolenghi's recipe yesterday to get us in the mood for Israel.
 

emc1

New Member
Yes, I understand how Carmel Market could be chaotic. We stay on a pedestrian only street right next to the market so we go early in the morning. Agree with your comments about jerusalem. I lived in jerusalem for a year while studying at the Hebrew University. Walking the streets are still filled with memories. I look forward to reading about your hikes around the country.
 

joe

100+ Posts
I think for coastal areas, it is only Haifa or the area around Zikhron that would suit us.
If I had an inclination to live in a town by the sea, I would pick Nahariya. It's no Haifa or Tel Aviv, certainly, and has practically nothing to boast about. But it has managed to keep its "small town" identity without succumbing to many of the ills that plague other places like this. It's completely flat, but has a nice main street lined with small shops that leads to the sea and joins it in a nice way, plus it manages to stay pedestrian- and bike-friendly. What's called a "river" in Israel (;)) even flows through its center. It has lovely neighborhoods adjoining the center, and the beach is lovely and long. Add the well-located train and bus station that can get you to Acco or Haifa quickly, and the lovely Highway 85 that takes you easily out east to beautiful spots in the northern region of the country, and you get a convenient locality. Very hot and humid in the summer, though, like anywhere else along the coast, and don't expect the culture-rich atmosphere of the bigger cities.

Tel Aviv feels too flat, the walkway along the sea is too packed with people on the weekends, and so is the Carmel Market.
The Carmel market in Tel Aviv has definitely become very crowded, and in this respect has "become a success", like many similar markets elsewhere in the world.
Our preferred market in the city is the Levinsky Market. The market/shops are more spread out, and don't have a central covered alley like the Carmel market, so walking there in the heat can be a problem. But there are much less tourists, and there are also certain types of shops (such as for kitchen utensils) that you can't find in the Carmel market. The Levinsky market is also experiencing a rejuvenation recently, as new coffee shops and eating places having opened there. If you like markets, there are some quality businesses there, and if you include a brunch, you can easily spend a few hours in the morning exploring this area.
 

ItalophileNJ

100+ Posts
Yep, I visited the Levinsky Market on my last trip and I think it’s just this side of starting to appeal to tourists, along with the whole adjoining Florentin neighborhood. Wish I had gotten to it a few days earlier but the late “spring” heat was brutal.
 

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