My husband and I just returned from our third trip to Israel - thanks to TA folks for some good advice as always. It was a wonderful trip- hot but not a problem because Israel is so "cool."
Here's some highlights...
Flew Delta from JFK and the trip started on the airplane... bit of chaos, chumash, hummus, musical chairs - ...lots of fun, but slept well.
Jerusalem: Harmony Hotel
Wonderful hotel...every positive review is true! Small rooms but they are well appointed and immaculate. Great location, cool common rooms, great outdoor space, and delicious breakfast. The manager was so lovely and chatted with all of the guests. We'd stay there again - just missed having a pool to cool off in.
We enjoyed spending some time in the German Colony on this trip- and loved the new Mamilla Mall. We met friends for drinks at the Mt. Zion Hotel and that was really a lovely place with great view. Then had dinner at Levana nearby - very good. We also ate at Cafe Cafe in Mamilla Mall one night and another cafe there another time. Also the restaurant at the Y which is very nice, too.
Since we're vegetarian & it was so hot we mainly had a lot of salads and shared plates because servings are very big in Israel. Most of our meals cost no more than $35 including wine (no dessert). But we drank large quantities of water, fresh juice, and ice drinks throughout the day! Hit the outdoor markets for fruit, olives, and borekas.
We did a day trip to Hebron and visited sites in Hebron, Kever Rachel and Machpelah. It was a really excellent experience.
Jerusalem of Gold...a special place indeed.
Mitzpe Ramon- Ramon Inn
We drove from Jerusalem to Mitzpe Ramon. Rented a car from Eldan and had no problems with Eldan. Gas is expensive.
We had a good drive to Mitzpe Ramon but got a little off course when we got to Be'er Sheva but it allowed us to see Be'er Sheva.
Great drive and scenery - the Negev was wonderful. Ramon Inn was a lovely hotel. Took a swim when we arrived and had dinner both nights of our stay at the hotel (breakfast was included).
This was among the best food of our trip. Their dinner was expensive but the spread and choices were superb and the food was the spiciest and most flavorful of the whole trip - great chef!
Next morning drove to Sde Boker and loved seeing Ben Gurion's home and paid repects at the gravesite. Sde Boker was a favorite experience of the trip. We then stopped at Avdat.
The late afternoon we went on a jeep tour with Adam Sela - very cool guy and we had a great time seeing the Machtesh and learning all about the geography and desert facts. I recommend Adam highly (as do many TA folks).
Next morning took off for drive up north to Amirim...
Amirim -- Eretz Hagalil
We heard about this zimmer on TA. It was so beautiful. It didn't have a view of the Galil like some of the others but we stayed 5 days so the price was right. The cabin and grounds are immaculate and beautiful - just like the website. The owners Revital and Yoram were the nicest couple and attended to our needs - including taking care of our laundry. They were awesome!!! The cabin is gorgeous and well appointed with everything and anything you could need. WIne, chocolate, cookies, jams and crackers, dried fruits, milk, yogurt & juice were set up for us when we arrived. Breakfast was so ample that we often ended up saving some for dinner (saved the omelets twice and heated them for dinner with salad). The bed was comfy, bathroom great, and jacuzzi with disco lights turned the place into the "love shack." We certainly found it relaxing and comfortable. We'll be back.
While up north we went to Tzfat for the Klez fest...we've been twice before and this was a bit of a let down because it was so mobbed that we felt we couldn't get to the music. We had dinner at Art Cafe and it was so-so. We returned the next day in the late afternoon and did some shopping and visited with a friend.
In Amirim we ate at Dahlia's - set menu a bit overpriced and too much food for us. All vegetarian but not all delicious. Dessert was on the porch with lovely view and we sat for a good while chatting with another couple from Israel. There is another cafe in Amirim - can't remember the name but it was near the pool. We just went there for drinks but they had a lovely menu, good prices, and cool atmosphere.
Highlights of the north: Bania & Nimrod's Fortress - Nimrod Fortress...wow that was great! Would love to do that again. We also went to Gamla in 100 degree heat and were the only one's basically hiking - we walked through rocky fields to the water fall. We're crazy but it was fun. Then we collapsed. Amirim has a really nice community pool - big and we enjoyed taking a swim to cool off. Amirim is wonderful- I highly recommend it and recommend Eretz Hagalil zimmer.
Stopped in Herzliya on our way to Tel Aviv to see IDC where our daughter will be going to college in September - lovely campus.
Tel Aviv: Rented Sea Apartment with CityVacation.co
Great Apartment on Dizengoff and wonderful company to work with. I highly recommend. Apartment was cozy and spacious for two of us. Tel Aviv was hot hot hot and we put out a major sweat each day but we went to the beach all but one day so it was no problem. We ate in three of the nights and ate at Masada (good); Yotvata (utilitarian); Cafe Michal next to our apartment (delicious); Lasagna (delicious but service was really poor - but the place gets packed with people pleading for tables).
We walked to Jaffa one day and that was intense - & walked through Florentin on our way- we consumed a lot of liquids along the way but it was worth it - sat for a nice time and took in the view of Tel Aviv. Slept well that night.
Also loved shopping in Neve Tzedek. Loved stores on Dizengoff...great clothing shoe stores. Fell in love with Bazel Street, too. Our Dream apartment is in that area.
Visited the Palmach Museum...well done and worth a visit.
Hit Hilton beach most days and then the orthodox beach on Saturday. I was amazed that the beaches seemed cleaner than our past trips - not as many cigarettes and trash in the sand. The water was warm and refreshing but as the week progressed we had a problem with a bit of trash in the sea - one day it got really gross - that was our first time experiencing that.
It was a great vacation. My husband and I did a lot but we also really relaxed and had time to just "vacate." We love Israel more and more with each visit.
Good flight home...slept most of the trip back
...and happy to report that we'll be back in December to visit our daughter...just rented an apartment again in Tel Aviv. This time we want to explore more of the surrounding areas of Tel Aviv and eat in more of the neighborhood cafes & restaurants off the beaten track & maybe go to Eilat & Timna...still planning. ..
Israel isReally Amazing. Happy Travels & Shanah Tovah!