Arrived at Ben Gurion Airport from London and transferred to Dan Panorama hotel in Tel Aviv.
Monday - Caesarea / Megiddo / Haifa / Acre
Departed Tel Aviv and drove along the coastal plain to Caesarea, capital of Judea under the Romans. Visited the excavations of the ancient city, the Roman theatre and aqueduct. We continued to Megiddo, identified as the site of Armageddon. Visited the archaeological excavations at Megiddo, including the well-preserved water supply system. We drove to Haifa, visited the Persian Gardens at the Bahai Temple. From Haifa, drove to Acre to visit the ancient city and harbour.Continued to Kibbutz Lavi for dinner and overnight stay.
Tuesday - Banius / Capernaum / Tiberius
Drove to the Banias Spring and Waterfall and tour the Golan Heights. Drove to Capernaum. Visited the remains of the 2nd century synagogue. Proceeded to Tabgha, the site of the miracle of fish and loaves, and visited the Church of Multiplication with its 4th century mosaic floor. Continued to Mount of the Beatitudes, the place where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
After a tour of Capernaum , we took a boat ride to Tiberius.. Returned to Kibbutz Lavi for dinner and overnight stay.
Wednesday - Nazareth / Beit Shean
Drove to Nazareth via Cana of Galilee. In Nazareth, we visited the Church of the Annunciation, St. Joseph’s Workshop and Mary’s Well. Drove to Beit Shean, an excavated city, and visit the Roman theatre. We drove along the Jordan River to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight stay in Dan Panorama.
Thursday - Jerusalem - Old City
We visited the Old City of Jerusalem including: Mount of Olives, Church of All Nations, Tomb of David at Mt. Zion, Room of the Last Supper. Entered within the walls of the city and visited the Cardo, Temple Mount , Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Oriental Bazaar. Stayed overnight in Dan Panorama Jerusalem and had dinner there.
Friday - Jerusalem – New City and Bethlehem
Visited the Model of Jerusalem during the period of the Second Temple, Yad Vashem Memorial to the Holocaust, Ein Karem and the Church of Visitation, Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. Proceeded to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity. Stayed overnight in Dan Panorama Jerusalem and had dinner there.
Saturday - Dead Sea / Massada
Drove to Qumeran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls where found. Visited the ancient city of Qumeran and drove along the shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, to Massada, the last stronghold of the Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. Ascended Massada by cable car and visited the food storeroom, water irrigation system and Herod’s Palace. Returned to Jerusalem for overnight stay and dinner at Dan Panorama
Departed Ben Gurion Airport on flight home.
This was a very intensive tour. We were on the go all day everyday, often returning to the hotel about 8.00pm. However it was absolutely fascinating and made very interesting by our guide Doron, who is a graduate in history and archeology. It was quite an experience.
The Israelis I met were very pleasant to me. I saw some tourists treating the Israeli staff in a hotel like dirt and quite rightly the staff responded in a suitable way. Very impressed with what Israel has achieved. I saw an area that had been sold to Israel because the Arabs couldn't do anything with it (it was very rocky) and the Israelis have made it fertile. I have a photo of one side of the road being a pile of stones and the other side being an orchard. I could go on and on, but time does not permit.
Highlights: Golan Heights, Western Wall, Masada, seeing how Israel has made the land fertile. Finding out that Herod the Great was quite a lad, being a genius and psycopath at the same time (that sort of thing appeals to me). He wasn't racist- he didn't mind who he killed!
Lowlights: Town of Nazareth is a dump, waiting in a line for one and a half hours to see the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and then seeing lots of scaffolding inside with the noise of the builders drowning out our guide, learning the Dead Sea is disappearing at a rate of over 3 feet a year and that the drought in Israel means that at least 5 consecutive wet winters are needed (not going to happen in my opinion), the attitude and ignorance of tourists from a certain country (some are very nice people, but some could win the gold, silver and bronze medals at the World Ignorance Championships and the Rudeness Olympics).
Very impressed with El Al flights from London to Tel Aviv and back.
All 3 hotels were very good, my reviews of each will appear soon under each hotel in the review section. But I will say that the Dan Panorama in Jerusalem must be singled out for praise. It was wonderful, and the staff very courteous and helpful. including in the restaurant. Food was very good, with many choices and was plentiful.
Before ending this report I would like to thank Douglas Duckett for his Israel Travel Guide and Oreet for answering some questions I asked before my trip.
May Eretz Yisrael continue to shine like an eternal light in a world that is becoming increasingly dark.