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travel advice: what to do during one week in Israel?
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OreoCookie
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Sep 8, 2011, 06:32 PM
 
I'll spend two weeks in Israel starting from the middle of September to the beginning of October. The first week is a business trip (although I will spend some time) to Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a collaboration, so I've decided to tack on a week of vacation. I already know for sure that I'm going to visit a friend of mine who lives in Tel Aviv, but other than that, I've just started thinking about what to do.

Do you guys have any suggestions?
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subego
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Sep 8, 2011, 06:46 PM
 
It's been over 20 years for me, but you could spend a whole week in the Old City in Jerusalem.

Go to Masada and see if you have what it takes to climb it in the noon sun (my pasty 14-year-old ass didn't, but my dad walked me down from half-way and then walked back up).

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vmarks
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Sep 8, 2011, 06:55 PM
 
Subego is correct, but I would tell you to try and see more -

Masada is good (and I DID hike up the old path)
Jerusalem, Old City. Check out the church of the Holy Sepulchre while you're at it.
Go to Haifa and the Ba'hai Gardens.
Go to Tsfat (sfat, you'll find that latin char spellings vary wildly from sign to sign. K and Q are sometimes interchangeable.)
Get to the Galillee and have seafood there. Go up to the Golan.
Go to Caesaria for a short afternoon trip.
Go to Acre (Akko.)
You have a unique opportunity to get a view of the length and breadth of the place. It's not a large place. There's not reason these can't be day trips.

But you know what? Ask your friend in Tel-Aviv, too.
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subego
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Sep 8, 2011, 07:07 PM
 
One more thing. I don't know if this has changed, but I experienced the full court press from pickpockets in the Old City.
     
vmarks
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Sep 8, 2011, 07:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
One more thing. I don't know if this has changed, but I experienced the full court press from pickpockets in the Old City.
I didn't have that problem. Doesn't mean it changed or didn't, just that I didn't experience that.
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vmarks
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Sep 8, 2011, 08:04 PM
 
I recommend that you go to Yafo (Jaffa) and sometime around 1, 2am, stop by a place called abulafia. Buy food, follow the lead of everyone else. You won't be disappointed.
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bstone
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Sep 9, 2011, 12:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
One more thing. I don't know if this has changed, but I experienced the full court press from pickpockets in the Old City.
I lived in the Old City (Jewish Quater, Misgav Ldach #20) for a year. Never had a single problem with pickpockets.
     
bstone
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Sep 9, 2011, 12:55 AM
 
A lot of your touring would depend on WHY you are going. I went to Israel for religious reasons, so visiting the Jewish holy sites was of paramount importance for me. Visiting Elat and Tel Aviv meant nothing to me as they weren't religious in nature. Visiting the graves of long dead Jewish prophets and rabbis in Tzfat was much more important to me than visiting the Kenesset or Hertzel's grave. If you can describe why you are going then I think we'll be in a better position to offer suggestions as where to spend your time.
     
subego
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Sep 9, 2011, 07:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by vmarks View Post
I didn't have that problem. Doesn't mean it changed or didn't, just that I didn't experience that.
Originally Posted by bstone View Post
I lived in the Old City (Jewish Quater, Misgav Ldach #20) for a year. Never had a single problem with pickpockets.
Fat, touristy looking kid may have had something to do with it. I certainly wouldn't have messed with the locals we were traveling with.

The more I think about it, I'd also be shocked if stuff that flew in the early 80s was still flying now.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Sep 9, 2011, 09:25 AM
 
Thanks for all the replies!
Originally Posted by subego View Post
It's been over 20 years for me, but you could spend a whole week in the Old City in Jerusalem.
I'll spend a week (plus a few days, I guess) in Jerusalem.
Originally Posted by bstone View Post
A lot of your touring would depend on WHY you are going.
I want to go because I want to get a better feel for the people and the culture. I've met quite a few Israelis and Israeli-Americans up to now, so I want to get to know their country. Even though I'm not the religious type, it's hard to divide out religions from a visit to Israel, I guess. FWIW, I enjoy taking pictures.

Are there any taboos when taking pictures (other than not to take pictures of any military installation)?

@vmarks
Thanks for the list, I'll look them up tonight and try to prepare an itinerary.
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subego
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Sep 9, 2011, 09:42 AM
 
I leave the taboo answer to vmarks and bstone, however I will say there will be so many things to take pictures of where there isn't any conceivable taboo, you'll have no shortage of subjects.
     
SSharon
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Sep 9, 2011, 10:44 AM
 
My advice after having visited Israel a few times and having lived there for a year like bstone is to see as many cities as you can. Go for quantity not quality tourism. I say this because the feel of each city is extremely different and if you only go to Jerusalem your opinion of Israelis will be much different than if you stay in Tel-Aviv.

I've stayed in Ashkelon, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa for a minimum of a month each if you have any questions about those cities. I also lived next door to Hebrew University for 6 months.

Don't limit yourself to historical or religious sites, but I would go to the western wall in the old city of Jerusalem. If you want a feel for the locals, try some recreational activities. You can go skiing, rent an off road vehicle, or whatever you like to do and not feel like a tourist the whole time. Just about everyone speaks English so communicating with the locals shouldn't be a problem.

If you have never been to Israel before, be prepared for a lot of security. Personally, it makes me feel safer there, but some people never get used to people walking around with guns (and not just the soldiers in uniforms) or the metal detectors at the mall.

Will you be bringing a cell phone with you? There aren't many pay phones left in Israel (and almost all require phone cards) because even the kids have multiple cell phones.

Edit: the end of your trip will coincide with Rosh Hashana (the Jewish new year) and so you may want to be in a more secular city (like tel-aviv) during that time so things are actually open.
( Last edited by SSharon; Sep 9, 2011 at 10:52 AM. )
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subego
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Sep 9, 2011, 11:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by SSharon View Post
If you have never been to Israel before, be prepared for a lot of security.
Right off the bat, when the flight attendants tell you to "remain seated", they really, really mean it.
     
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Sep 9, 2011, 12:22 PM
 
Bask in the popular culture in Nazareth, birthplace of some people's Messiah, for a wide-eye unique experience.
     
bstone
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Sep 9, 2011, 12:33 PM
 
The only place that is taboo to take pictures would be the Jewish holy places on Friday night and Saturdays, when it's Shabbat. Don't go to the Orthodox or holy places during those times and use your cell phone, take pictures, etc. The locals consider it incredibly rude and disrespectful.

Some ultra-Orthodox places like Mea Sharim (in Jerusalem) really dislike tourists and even have large signs asking for the tourists to stay out. If you go into that area don't be surprised if you find someone throwing a tomato at you.
     
andi*pandi
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Sep 12, 2011, 11:43 AM
 
Have fun, take notes, and report back. This is on our "someday" list of places to go. I would hope to go with my MIL but she is very fearful to travel to Israel, despite all her family living there.
     
SSharon
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Sep 12, 2011, 12:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Have fun, take notes, and report back. This is on our "someday" list of places to go. I would hope to go with my MIL but she is very fearful to travel to Israel, despite all her family living there.
Keep it on your list! It is as safe as the US in most places. Avoiding 5% of the country will avoid 75% of your risk just like avoiding the bad neighborhoods in any US city. People in Israel are aware and conscious of threats, but do not live in fear.
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Captain Obvious
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Sep 16, 2011, 03:41 AM
 
Since when did you delete posts on a personal whim? This batch of mods need to grow a pair. Particularly the one that intervened in this thread anonymously.
The entire board is already on life support. With the lack of traffic or interest in the sub par news stories MACNN churns out the pansy like moderation that's been the norm the last year and half just makes the forum even more of a joke.

And don't bother sending me a private message.
The assumption that I would read it is wrong.

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Thorzdad
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Sep 16, 2011, 09:48 AM
 
Your deleted post was little more than an anti-religious, racist/anti-Semitic rant, completely out-of-line in a thread asking for activity ideas while on vacation, and out-of-line in the open Lounge in general. As such, it was deleted.

You are welcome to discuss this offline via PM.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Sep 16, 2011, 03:25 PM
 
Just to give you guys an update: I've decided to spend three days each in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa and explore the region around each city. I have found accommodation via CouchSurfing and so far I have had a great experience with the service. I'll probably do a bike tour with one of the hosts to get to know the region around Haifa.

I'll keep you posted.
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