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Trip Report by Journeyer

Miami Beach, Fl
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729 posts
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Trip Report by Journeyer

May 14, 2008

I’m sitting at the airport, waiting for our Iberia flight to board. Since I woke up this morning, I’ve been thinking about our last trip to Israel. It was one week after college graduation that Harvey & I got married and only four days later did we leave for our honeymoon in Israel and Europe! In those four days, we were supposed to go to the beach on Long Island, but because it was raining, we went to the movies and saw Lawrence of Arabia. Ever since then I’ve had this desire to ride a camel in the desert! Packing bags and getting ready to leave today, helped to jog all kinds of memories of our honeymoon. We had a budget of $2,500, which included the student charter flight. We had our departing and returning flights for our 9 week trip, and the Let’s Go Israel guidebook. That was the extent of our planning. Each day we would wake up and decide what to do and where to go. We sometimes decided to move on without knowing where we were going. We would go to the train or bus station get in line and ask people where they thought we should go.

On this trip, we will be celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary in Jerusalem! We have wanted to return for many years, but each time we plan a trip, it feels like it’s too dangerous or we’ve had health issues. This time, Harvey insisted on going provided that we update our will. A little paranoia is healthy!

Over the years, we’ve changed. The thought of showing up in a city without a clue where we would stay is no longer an option. With much anticipation we’re ready to see what there is to see, do what there is to do and experience Israel once again! It’s different this time. We’ve been reading, revitalizing our minds regarding history, and expanding our perceptions by learning more about modern day Israel. We’ve read The Source (James Michener), The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land (Donna Rosenthal), Walking the Bible (Bruce Feiler), The Haj (Leon Uris), and Kabbalah: A Love Story (Rabbi Lawrence Kushner). Harvey has been reading about the political and economic history of Israel as well as its neighbors.

This seems like an appropriate time to pause and think about the people who helped me to plan this trip, those of you on TripAdvisor! My heart wants to thank everyone for your contributions, comments & suggestions, and contagious enthusiasm that have made this dream trip possible. Thanks for answering all my questions and for making suggestions on our itinerary, driving directions, restaurants, hotels, music venues & how to get tickets, bus reservations (and which side of the bus to sit on for best views), actually driving over to check out a bed & breakfast we were considering (!!!), for translating Hebrew text on websites – so many requests and and so many responses freely given. Such sharing and comraderie is so special and is appreciated! I would like to return the favor in kind…so maybe in some small way, updating this trip report for the next 33 days will serve to inform and inspire others. We’re all kindred spirits in our enthusiasm for travel, our desire to discover & experience Israel and our willingness to share and help others. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

May 15, 2008

When the plane’s tires touched ground in Tel Aviv, people clapped their hands! We’ve arrived! It was a quick pass through immigration and customs, then a taxi to our Hotel Cinema in downtown Tel Aviv. A warm welcome from the front desk personnel…and to our room, with a wonderful view off the balcony of Dizengoff Square. More about the hotel when I write next.

Harvey had a yen for felafel and shwarma, so with a recommendation from the front desk, we tried The Magicians or Hakomem, just a few block from Hotel Cinema. It was the lightest, crispiest, tastiest felafel we have ever had! Each bite of the felafel pita and the shwarma pita was just delicious. The menu was in Hebrew, but the staff helped us out and with lots of smiles and handpointing, we did just fine. We sat outside in the delightful twilight, breathing in the warm evening air and enjoying the street scene. I asked Harvey to pinch me to make sure I knew I wasn’t dreaming. I highly recommend The Magicians for a very informal light bite!

We then took a walk around the neighborhood and made our way back to the lovely rooftop terrace of the Cinema Hotel. There, with pleasant views of the square below, we enjoyed the night air and the complimentary desserts, tea and dried figs, dates, and apricots. I asked Harvey to pinch me again to remind me that this is real and we are truly in Israel. Just want to say that WE ARE SO EXCITED TO BE FINALLY HERE!

Here is a link for today's images:


Cincinnati, Ohio
Destination Expert
for Israel
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183 reviews
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1. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

While my trip is nearing its end (he says, wistfully), it did my heart good to read about the beginning of yours. What a lovely beginning to your trip report! I will savor every word.

Have a wonderful time, and happy anniversary to you both!

Douglas Duckett

In Jerusalem

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732 posts
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2. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

Great pictures, Margie! Brought back memories of my December stay at Cinema Hotel, eating falafel at HaKosem and laughing at the mannequins on the adjacent Center Hotel's upper balconies. I look forward to your continuing reports!

PS--from HaKosem, if you turn left about one block is a watering hole caled Bar Silon (I was told silon in Hebrew means "contrail," the exhaust from a jet plane), it's a great little place with friendly owners, bartenders and patrons. Though it's a younger crowd than me (most were in their 20s and 30s), the music they chose to play was good.

Haifa, Israel
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for Jerusalem
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3. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

Great photos! By the way, the mosaics on display at the airport aren't replicas - they're real!


On your way out of Israel, look at the cool display of posters from 60 yrs of Independence Days the other side of the sloping walkway area...


Destination Expert
for Tel Aviv, Galilee, Israel
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4. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

And I thought that now, that Labbat is leaving, the forum will be boring. With your trip reports it will be lively again. Don't hesitate to ask more if you need anything and enjoy your trip!

Washington State
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5. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

I'd especially like to hear what your experience with Iberia has been. They often have low prices, but a reputation for problems and bad service.

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1,578 posts
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6. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

Thank you, Journeyer -- every person's trip report brings different highlights and personal touches, and I look forward to visiting Israel through your eyes. So far the Cinema staff have not made a poor restaurant suggestion (although the young blonde woman always was off by about a block on directions).

Jerusalem, Israel
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for Jerusalem
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7. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

Journeyer - what a great start to your trip. I am really looking forward to reading about the rest of your stay. If you need any help along the way, we're all still here for you.

Enjoy :-)


Destination Expert
for Israel
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8. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

Hi! I am enjoying your message and loved your pictures. When you were in the airport and looked down at the open area with the fountain you were looking at the departure area after customs. So, you will get to spend time there.

Also, the blue and white on the curbs is a code that to park there you need to pay. Sometimes it is a meter, sometimes you need to buy a ticket to leave on your dash board ( from a nearby machine) and you may still find some of the older pre-paid tickets that you hang from your side window. You will notice Israeli owned vehicles with a small electronic gadget that you fill up with money and turn on and off to pay for the spot.

mid-hudson valley...
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9. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

Hi Margie,

I have only had a chance to quickly skim through your post and I can't wait to fully absorb it and see the photos.

I'm so glad things are off to such an excellent start. But that's Israel for you...

Looking forward to the next and future installments.



Writing from the lounge at Newark Airport

Destination Expert
for Cairo, Egypt, Nile River Valley, Luxor
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10. Re: Trip Report by Journeyer

Wow, what a great report, you gave me goosebumps. I cant wait to hear about your anniversay plans and really look forward to the next part. Love the live piccys, thanks for sharing them.