Travel Review: Israel Informative - Thinking of taking a vacation this summer? Israel could be right for you?

Review by 23169 on 2008-04-05
Where to start is the problem, it was the trip of a lifetime for me.

I was very apprehensive about the whole thing because of all the crap we see on the news. I always take the news with a grain of salt and call it 50/50 whether it is the truth or not. The thing for me about my fear of being in Israel was not being blown up on a bus or shot in the head but being kidnapped and then have my big head slowly cut from my body. Although, many people who have been to Israel told me it wasn’t like that, I still didn’t really believe it. Boy was I wrong!

From the time we landed until the time we got through customs, I was very leery of everything. But as soon as I walked out of the airport, it was just like anywhere else in the world I’ve been. No massive bunch of guards running around with guns and dogs, checking everybody. No sense of fear and doom that I had thought was going to be there, just another airport. Yeah, there was guards all over once you started looking but they were dressed more like people that were there to help you with information rather than security guards.

The Itzkovitz’s, who we went with got left behind in the good old USA and could not get a plane until the next day. So we were pretty much on our own and had to find our way to the first house we were staying. Now I will say I have been ripped off, or should I say let myself be ripped off at least once in every country I have visited and this would be no exception. I was waiting outside and a cab driver came up to me and asked if I needed a cab: First mistake! Don’t let that happen to you, go to the curb and get a cab from there. These guys took us to our destination but charged us about twice what it was worth. I found out about a week later after many cab rides that you don’t TIP cab drivers in Israel. Most are honest and are just like cab drivers anywhere else they are trying to make a buck or in this case a “sheckle.” I found most to be very helpful and just nice people.

We stayed at a Mary Falkkenstein‘s house where she rents the bigger half of her house out for travelers like a B&B. It’s about 30 miles outside of Tel Aviv a place called Zichron Ya ‘cov. It was a great two days staying there. Our friends took us to a place called Tel Dor, an archeological dig on the Mediterranean Sea.

Note: “Tel Dor is located on the Mediterranean Coast of Israel next to what some call the nicest beach in Israel” Surfers like it there.

Enter our guide Amatzia Dayan who is the cousin of Moshe Dayan, (Moshe Dayan was an Israeli military warrior who became a crusader for peace. He was skilled in both battle and diplomacy. He played a key role in four wars, but also helped negotiate the historic Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Dayan.html ) and an ex-military commander who fought in the 6-day war and some others as well

He lives on a Kibbutz called Ein Hashofet that his father and others founded. It is located north of Zichron Yaachov and just South of Haifa. This guy was one of the major highlights of the whole trip because of his knowledge of history and his general outlook on life itself. I tell you everybody in Israel knows him and has nothing but kind things to say about him. I was also afraid of how much this was going to cost me but, if it would have been four times as much as it was, it would have been worth every penny of the time we spent with Amatzia. He goes out of his way to make sure each person has the best time he/she can and gets to see what they want.

For example: He didn’t know I was the only Christian among the rest who are Jewish but as soon as he found out the whole plain changed and we went to and heard about all the things and places where Christian (Jesus) fit into the grand scheme of things. This guy gave me a history lesson that I could have never gotten from any books. Thanks to him I now have a new perspective on the history and the people of modern day Israel that one could never get from any news channel.

Anyway, first stop is The Sea of Galilee and all points in-between. We went everywhere. I could go on and on about what we saw and what we did but I think it is something one has to experience for one’s self.

I went down to the Sea of Galilee by myself, (I did have an escort, a little dog that lived at the hotel) in the mornings just to be there and think. I didn’t walk on the water but I did feel like I could. There were also cats everywhere, I mean everywhere, wild cats but friendly ones. One cat stayed in our room while we were there. I called him Jesus. He would come in at night and eat then sleep with us for a while. At about 2 AM he would wake me up to let him out. There are all kinds of cat. There were a lot of Egyptian cats, you know the ones we see in the pictures, oh well I like cats.

One day as we were riding around by the border of Jordan or on the other side, I don’t know which. We came across an Israeli outpost (military base) and knowing what I thought about getting my head cut off, Amatzia drives towards the fence like it is know big deal. In my head I am thinking, “well, it’s been real”, but I was not afraid for some reason. There were tanks that had just gotten back from a patrol or something and one guy was on top with the machine gun still and ready to shoot. When we got as close as he could with the car Amatzia told me to run up to the fence and take a picture and I did. The guys on the tanks didn’t even flinch and I got some good pictures. Lesson is, don’t always believe everything you are told and there are people you can trust.

The Food?

The food we ate was excellent everywhere we ate if it was Arab or Israeli .We just did not eat at a bad place. They also had some good beer.

The Weather?

The weather was great, not too cold and not too hot. Most people said it was a little warmer then it usually is and of course I asked for no rain until we left, so it was sunny 99% of the time.
Would I go back again?

In a heart beat but I would like to spend more time at archeological dig sites and more time in the area of the Sea of Galilee.

Was it fun?
Yes, Yes and Yes!

More then I could write here because I would have to write a book. If you like to see cities that are built on cities that were built on cities then you could stay there for the rest of your life and never get tired. The history alone could keep it interesting for a few life times.

Spiritually fulfilling?

That is a loaded question and I think it’s a question one must go and answer for him/her self. But for me yes it was, not magical type, but an inner type and personal.
What impression did you leave with?

This I can answer as to the people, place and what I feel now.
The people are just like us in that most want peace and to have a home that is relatively safe from the outside world. What I found is that most Arabs and Israeli’s are the same in that respect and they really don’t want to fight each other. It is the radicals, special interest groups and the politicians just like here in the good old USA and the ignorant people that don’t know what is really going on and the dictators of the region that just want power that we hear the most about in our new broadcasts.

Here we as a people seem to think that they have been fighting for thousands of years and they are not going to stop. So let them kill each other. I do not exclude myself from this form of thinking either. But now I have been enlightened and can see the difference.

It’s easy to see when your eyes are opened. Take what we know and go from there, we know that here in America we have only been fighting for a few hundred years since this country was founded. Then there was the time before that when we were taking the country over and, of course, now as we still fight each other for so-called rights and a host of others and terrorists that have free rain while we pretend it’s constitutional and yes we have not stopped killing each other yet.

But let’s take it from there and go backwards through the ages. Back through Europe and Asia as they have only been doing it for a thousand years or so.
Don’t forget about South America or Canada either and yes they are all still fighting too.

The only conclusion it seems to be the same story as everywhere freedom has a cost and the cost is subject to inflation. The same people that say that “they have been fighting forever, let them die” are the same reason we as a people must keep fighting. We don’t learn from our mistakes so we must keep fighting. The only reason they have been fighting for thousands of years is because they have been there that long. We have only had a few hundred years. If we are to assume we are any better then the only fools are us.

People all over the world are just that, people just like you and me they are looking for happiness.
Comments:40 Replies - Latest reply on 2008-05-14
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Excellent review Lid's! You are spot on, it is the trip of a lifetime. As soon as the dollar gains some health we are going back for sure. We will go in the Spring or Fall again as the crowds are smaller and places like The Dead Sea area are not so dang hot. (VH! Excellent)
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Excellent review, indeed! Good info to know..
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Thanks ya'll. * blushing *
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
I'd love to take a trip like this!! OMG! I just noticed I have a star. How'd that happen? lol >:-)
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Way to go John!!! California ROCKS AGAIN!!! CONGRAT's!
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Way to go John!!!
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
I can't imagine why I'd care to vacation in the Middle East.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Why not? There are beautiful areas, nice people and lots of cultural experiences to absorb. You arent basing that on a stereotypical idea that you have, are you Pirate? Contrary to popular belief, the mideast is not a big giant dust bowl.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Well we see the trouble maker has spread some more of his hate. You want a 1,000 reasons to go to Israel Pirate? Pull your head out of the sand and open your eyes. Or should we all go to your hot spot and try to sell time shares?

Lid's, ignore him he is just out to cause trouble again.
Posted by Slimjim on 2008-04-05:
LMAO, or spec kitchens Super. Nice review lids. Something I would come back and look for here as a reference should I ever make plans to visit, which you certainly have made tempting.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Thank's Super, Slim and John and Pirate thanks for being the person you are you make it look even better, silly boy.
Posted by jktshff1 on 2008-04-05:
congrats on the star John!
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
thank you Super, Lid and JKT. I think the star giver had been drinking when he passed that one out. :)
Posted by Nohandle on 2008-04-05:
The last I heard one had to have a passport to fly into the Middle East. Perhaps that has kept some of our members away. Nice review.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
NoHandle, you need a passport for even Canada and Mecico now. The border checks into Jordan and stuff are like trying to sneek into the White House. An American passport is a great thing to have anyplace in the Middle East these days.
Posted by Nohandle on 2008-04-05:
LOL Super. I was referring to a member who had no desire to go to this area.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
LOL, to subtle for me, went right over my thick head.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Despite your low-brow comments, I am entitled to my opinion. The middle-east has little appeal to me and most people because of the on-going violece that you mentioned in your own review - no thanks.
Posted by Nohandle on 2008-04-05:
Violence is everywhere Pirate. I don't ask for trouble but the way things are now I expect one would get his head blown off at the local convenience store late at night as quickly as somewhere else. JMO
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
Well Pirate, That is really what this review is all about. Before I went I felt the same way and it was the last place I would ever think of going but if you read my review on my trip you may see that I was turned around on my thinking and it is not any worst then anywhere one might go in America. It is nothing like what you see and read about in the news.

Maybe you could try being a little more positive about it or just let go of it?
Posted by Nohandle on 2008-04-05:
I was one of those who flew shortly after the airlines were operational after 9-11 with my leg in a cast at that. Was I apprehensive, yes..especially when there were few shops open in the Atlanta airport. It was a somewhat strange feeling I suppose akin to being in a morgue. I'm not out asking for problems and I look out for my safety, but I refuse to be frightened to leave my home.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-05:
You've stated your opinion, and I've done so as well.
Posted by dimplepie on 2008-04-09:
Lidman, that was a good posting. I would have commented sooner, but I just got back in Ohio not too long ago. Keep up with the sensible postings!
Posted by MRM on 2008-04-09:
Perhaps, you were only in one place of Isreal. I dont think that you visited all the places in Isreal to experience the chaotic scene that you see in the news.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-09:
What people fail to realize is 98% of the people in the Middle East just want to work and raise a family. Everyplace we went it was always safe and we had fun. The slanted U.S. news media makes you think everything is bad, well it's not. Just like anyplace else the 2% that cause all the trouble get 98% of the news media attention.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
WOW! I loooooove your review... :) Makes me wanna go there too! :)
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
I voted this very helpful BTW :)
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Not me.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
mOnIcA83, thank you very much and I'm glad you liked it. * Blushing from your words *
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Only the truly uninformed and dullards would find this review anything but helpful.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Lidman! Glad you liked Israel. Zichron Yaakov is one of my favorite places in the world. Sort of an artist's colony and probably one of the most romantic places in Israel. The beaches at Tel Dor are SPECTACULAR as Lidman says...only more so! Other fun places are Beit Shean (great Roman ruins to explore). I have my favorite fish meal on the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) at a lovely Christian-Arab joint. Lidman...you made me all over proud of my other home. I miss it greatly!! Go back soon! Thanks for being one of Israel's best spokespeople...a happy tourist!
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Your welcome Doc and I will be going back next year but this time I think maybe two month's instead of one. I love that place!
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Sorry for LOL about you getting stung by the cabbies in Israel. They are notorious for overcharging. One technique they use is to quote a price, drive you halfway there, and then stop and demand more money. Not all of them are crooks. But, when you run into one who is do the following: Note the cab's license number, date and time, and the cabbie's ID number (posted on the dashboard). TELL the cabbie you will pay the extra amount, but you are going to report the incident to the Tourist Police (Mishtarah Ha-Toyar). They do NOT want that to happen. If you already paid them the overcharge and they give it back...give half of it back to them and tell them to make 'tzedakah' (charity) with it. If they do, you have done two good deeds!
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Great tip Doc, thanks. It only happened once and most of them were very nice. In fact most all the people I met there were very nice people, very helpful and fun too.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
We were on a tour bus most of our two weeks. Only had to use a cab once, it was a Mercedes! Charged us the quoted price and was happy to get US dollars. They do still like the dollar in Israel.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Hey Lids, just curious...was the cabbie who burned you driving a regular taxi or was it a 'sherut' (share-root)...a kind of van? We were there for three months, and got this guy twice trying to jack up the fare. The second time, I did report him to the tourist police. Next year, visit my hometown, Rishon L'tZion (outside of Tel Aviv) and stop in for a cold beer in "Mike's Place" behind the US Embassy in Tel Aviv...on the beach. Thanks for a fun post.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
superbowl...The exchange rate for USD to shekels stinks right now. Interesting fact to learn and tell: Real estate in Israel is based on the US dollar and quoted in dollars. About 95% of the cabs in Israel are Mercedes Benz. Thanks for visiting, superbowl, and I'm glad you had a nice time. If you go back, stay at the Hotel Maxim on Hiyarkon Street in Tel Aviv. Great breakfast, near the beach promenade, and close to some fun shopping.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Doc, thanks. Just posted a pic for you on the Forum side. We were there before the dollars crash so they always wanted our dollars.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-04-12:
Doc, it was a van and I fell for it at the airport, I wont do that again. I did go to Mikes Place it was great!

I can't remember the name of the Hotel we staied at in Tel Aviv but it was right across the street from the beach.
Posted by tar322 on 2008-05-14:
Very long, but very nice. How much did the entire trip costs? This is one place I will love to visit before my time on earth ends. Thanks.

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