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Two Weeks in Israel, March 2018

Pauline

Forums Admin
We were thinking an earlier trip to escape the British winter. We were lucky with the weather.

Great article. We tried to avoid the Christian/Evangelical sites, to avoid the crowds. I was worried that all the other tourists in Israel would be American Evangelicals, but it did not feel that way to us.

I would have liked to see Megiddo - we drove right by it - but we ran out of time that day. Next time!
 

Valerie

100+ Posts
Steve loved the trip as much as I did and in the end he felt like it was a roots trip for him.
:cool: <3

It was so fun following your trip! What a wonderful experience. And, Bryan remembered some of his trip there many years ago while reading your notes. :)
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
My SIL/BIL live on a kibbutz in the Hula Valley called Kfar Blum.
I am re-reading my trip report in preparation for our trip in March and taking note of the many suggestions when I came across this. We are staying in Kfar Blum in March, at the Kibbutz hotel, for 2 nights!
 

joe

500+ Posts
We are staying in Kfar Blum in March, at the Kibbutz hotel, for 2 nights!
Taken last Saturday not so far away. On the horizon you can see the snow-capped Mt. Hermon, enough snow fell that they opened the ski operation there a few weeks ago. Everything is very green, quite a delight.

R0006756.JPG
 

joe

500+ Posts
I am happy that we will be out of the country for the last month of this!
OTOH you will arrive here in the middle of what is going to be one of the most stormy elections in the country's (short) history. Hope you won't feel anything as a tourist.
 

ItalophileNJ

100+ Posts
OTOH you will arrive here in the middle of what is going to be one of the most stormy elections in the country's (short) history. Hope you won't feel anything as a tourist.
Yes, an Israeli election in the parliamentary system bequeathed to (and adopted by) the new State of Israel by the British after the Mandate.
 

Terry

100+ Posts
I just stopped back on the forum after being away for a long while, and I see that you will be staying at Kfar Blum in March! I am very excited for you, and I think you will find it a unique experience. Going in March will reward you with a green countryside, and probably milder weather than the scorching heat of the summer. I'll contact my SIL/BIL about your visit, also. Now to read through this thread!
 

Ruth

10+ Posts
We’ve arrived! We took a taxi from the airport to the German Colony neighborhood of Jerusalem, driving through dry, rocky, terraced hills with olive trees, with large modern concrete cities in the distance. As we got closer to Jerusalem the highway had tall concrete walls on either side to separate it from the Palestinian Territories. Once we were into the city it was crowded and busy. We drove past The Knesset, the government buildings, then descended into the very charming German Colony neighborhood where we have rented an apartment for a week.

The apartment is comfortable and nice, on the ground floor of an older building set back from Emek Refayim St, which is busy with people, shops and restaurants. We had takeout Asian food for dinner. Steve is having fun reading the Hebrew signs.

The drive to the airport hotel last night was horrible, in thick traffic, even at a standstill for some time because of an accident, and took 4 hours instead of 3. Plus it was raining. We were up at 5:30 this morning for an 8am flight, so are exhausted. We flew premium economy which was good.

View attachment 9817
Emek Refayim St, with lights in the trees.
It has been a while since we traveled, but how well I remember that first disoriented day of getting oriented.
 

Ruth

10+ Posts
Today was our getting settled day. We had coffee and bagel for breakfast at the Bagel Cafe across the street. Then we did some grocery shopping. There is an excellent natural foods store a couple of blocks away. Better than what we have in Bridport.

Lunch at “home” then we headed towards the Old City. We walked on the Train Line Park, a lovely walking and bike trail (well separated), that goes to First Station, the old train station turned into a pretty center of restaurants, and with another very good natural foods store. It was 15 mins walking to First Station, then another 25 to the Old City.

Our first view of it from a park on a hill was outstanding. Huge stone walls, built in the 16th century to replace older ones, surround the Old City. We followed pathways through the park and made our way to the Old City.

We saw a dozen tour buses on the road around the city walls and as we got closer there were more and more people. We reached Jaffa Gate and it was crowded. The tourist office there was pretty useless. We got a map, were told how to get to the central bus station to get the pass we have to have to ride the bus, and told there was no bus information in English.

Our plan had been to just see Jaffa Gate because we have a private guide booked for tomorrow to show us the Old City, but there we were on the edge and we decided to just walk across to see the Western Wall. Huge mistake. Within minutes we were in narrow lanes lined with shops, packed with tourists (mostly Americans), and got lost. After what felt like forever we saw a sign for the Western Wall viewing area, went there and were finally out if the narrow covered lanes, with sunshine and fresh air and a beautiful view.

With much difficulty we found our way back mostly avoiding the covered lanes. At least now we will really appreciate the guide tomorrow!

We couldn’t take a bus (no pass and you can no longer buy tickets onboard, didn’t know which bus to take) so we walked back but went on the main roads and got to see the YMCA (in a fanmous building) and the King David Hotel. Plus the Hertz office where we pick up our rental car next week and attempt to drive out of the city in thick traffic.

We had a late afternoon tea and coffee at First Station then hoofed it home. It was 6pm by the time we got back and getting cold. The weather is similar to Santa Fe (where we lived for 20 years). Big blue skies, bright sun, warm days but cold nights. Today was in the upper 60s F and felt beautifully warm. We had such a horrible winter in Dorset and it is so nice to get some bright sun.

Things seem shockingly expensive but probably are really similar to the UK and since 3.4 shekels is 1USD, but you don’t get that rate. So With the official rate, 34 shekels is $10. Breakfast, coffee and a toasted bagel, was 38 shekels, over $10. I bought a can of Illy ground coffee, 50 shekels, which is about $14.50, pretty expensive. Our apartment was priced in USD, $950 for the week, electricity extra.

Speaking of our apartment, they went out of their way to get fragrance-free sheets and towels for us! So is the apartment in Haifa.

So far I love it here!






Love your photos and descriptions. I lived learning how to handle different currencies, but Martin was thrilled with the advent of the Euro.
 

Ruth

10+ Posts
Today we did a walking tour from the Eyewitness Guidebook - A 90 Minute Walk Around West Jerusalem. It starts on Jaffa Road outside the Old City.

We are having a problem figuring out buses. You can only use them with a Rav Kav card (this started earlier this month). You cannot pay on the bus. And there are only a few places to buy this card, none close to us. We would have to go to the central bus station. Even with the card it isn’t easy to figure out the routes. The routes have numbers but the destination on the bus is in Hebrew. The tourist office could not give us a map of the bus routes. I thought we would get all this organised on Tuesday but we didn’t. So far we have been walking everywhere. It is 30 minutes from our apartment on a very nice route to get to the Old City or to the start of Jaffa Road. I think we will give up on buses since they stop running Friday afternoon for the Sabbath so it would only be Sunday we could use them. We leave Jerusalem Monday. I think we can use the cards in Haifa too, so we will have to deal with that there. Instead we will take taxis.

Today we decided to walk to the start of our walk and we took our time walking on the Train Track Park to First Station. We looked at the art installation along the walk (interesting mosaics) and at the beautiful houses. Then we looked at a few things in the area around the Montefiore windmill. Housing built in the late 1800s to try to get people to move out of the Old City. A stone tomb that might have been Herods.

The walk started up Jaffa Road, then went into some narrow lanes. The guidebook pointed out interesting historic buildings along the way. The vegetarian restaurant I had picked out for lunch, the Village Green, was on the route and we had a really good lunch there. We continued up to the Mahane Yehuda Market. This market is the best I have been too. Wonderful vegetables, fruit, spices, halvah, coffee shops, etc. We didn’t buy anything but we looked and looked. It was busy but not packed.

Then back down Jaffa Road. We cut it short to get back to Zion Square to have tea/coffee at Tmol Shilshom, a Cafe recommended by @ItalophileNJ , which features in season 2 of the Irsraeli TV drama we are watching. I had my new favourite tea - a handful of fresh mint in hot water with a tea bag. Steve had espresso.

It was around 3pm and we were tired but the drinks revived us so we walked home a different route to see more of the city. We walked past the American Consulate, with many armed guards outside. Made our way back to First Station and got a ew things at the Natural Foods Store because everything will close Friday afternoon for the Sabbath. Walked back along the Train Track Park. Had fresh pomegranate juice #2. Then home.

We got takeout Chinese food from a place down the road (we also did this the day we arrived) and realised we had eaten every meal out today, starting with breakfast at the Bagel Cafe because a water jug had leaked in the fridge and soaked the bread that was for breakfast. We hardly ever eat out in the UK so this was a major treat.

While waiting for our dinner to be ready we walked around and found the old cinema in this area, which also featured in the TV series (Srugim). We might go see a movie tomorrow.

We are both having a wonderful time and we love it here.









The tour would have left me knackered, but you did so much, and your photos are delightful. Love the Kippa Man. You do make me want to see Jerusalem, but you are far more stalwart about walking and crowds than I am.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
The tour would have left me knackered, but you did so much, and your photos are delightful. Love the Kippa Man. You do make me want to see Jerusalem, but you are far more stalwart about walking and crowds than I am.
In Jerusalem the crowds are overwhelming in the Old City, especially in the narrow covered lanes where all the shops are. Those lanes are horrible. We figured out a way to walk around the edge of the Old City to get from Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall, to avoid the crowds.

Where we stay, in the German Colony, the sidewalks are not crowded and it is very peaceful. Nice to return to after a day in the center of the city.

On our second stay in Jerusalem, in November, we finally figured out how to use the buses, so did not do as much walking.

Israel is a crowded country. Not in the south, in the Negev, but everywhere else. I read that if you don't consider the Negev, the density of Israel is close to that of Bangladesh! We will see more on our March trip because we are spending more time in the north.
 

Ruth

10+ Posts
In Jerusalem the crowds are overwhelming in the Old City, especially in the narrow covered lanes where all the shops are. Those lanes are horrible. We figured out a way to walk around the edge of the Old City to get from Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall, to avoid the crowds.

Where we stay, in the German Colony, the sidewalks are not crowded and it is very peaceful. Nice to return to after a day in the center of the city.

On our second stay in Jerusalem, in November, we finally figured out how to use the buses, so did not do as much walking.

Israel is a crowded country. Not in the south, in the Negev, but everywhere else. I read that if you don't consider the Negev, the density of Israel is close to that of Bangladesh! We will see more on our March trip because we are spending more time in the north.
That was getting to be an issue in Venice both for long term visitors like us and small shop owners. Some of our friends did not even open on certain super high day tripper days because their tiny space was overrun, objects were damaged and very little was bought. I can remember being in crowds and feeling almost panicked, but I also remember trying to get into San Pietro in Roma, just before Easter on a rainy day. If you looked down all you saw was feet;if you looked up all you saw were umbrellas. It was very Felliniesque.
 

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