A few weeks ago a friend came to Israel and we spent 10 days touring together. First, I would like to thank Oreets, a licensed tour guide who posts on this forum, for the numerous questions she answered and her comments. While I wrote the itinerary and did the planning I felt like I had an angel watching over me, to prevent me from making a huge error. Anyway, as someone with around 50 trips to Israel as well as my now living here half the time, it was definitely an eye opener to see Israel through the eyes of someone who had not been here for over 40 years. I do not think of Israel as a foreign country. My friend did.
Day 1—Rather than rent a car and drive round trip to the airport I decided to meet my friend and we would travel back to my house by train. Israel has an excellent train system and friend would get to see and experience the Israeli trains. Service on the train was quick and efficient. My friend indicated it felt like the Long Island Railroad. Since the flight was a late afternoon one, our activities were returning to my home, having dinner and getting settled.
Day 2- We got up this morning to rent a car. We drove into Tel Aviv—no problems—and went to the Palmach Museum. Both of us really enjoyed the museum. I had been there years before. We had made large salads for lunch and we enjoyed picnicking near the Sportech area. It was hot but the trees provided shade. There were also, we thankfully discovered, nearby restrooms. Our second planned activity was to take the Tourist Open bus around Tel Aviv. Using the excellent directions provided by Mbgg I easily found the Reading parking area. I also easily found the spot were the bus was supposed to leave from. As discussed on an earlier thread—it no longer left from there and we didn’t have enough time to find it. (At 3:45 we had plenty a time to make the 4:00PM bus, had it been were it said it would be) BTW the link from the English Dan Site is STILL incorrect and while at one point I was able to find the Hebrew link—it is now harder to find. If anyone can get it –the map linked from the Hebrew site (written in English and Hebrew) was accurate!
Our alternative plan had us walking around the Tel Aviv Port area and up Ben Yehuda Street. However, my knowledge of Tel Aviv is weak and it was disappointing. I also had not downloaded any supplemental information since I was planning on a tour. We took a sherut back to Reading and then I drove through lower Tel Aviv so my friend could see some of the new modern buildings. Dinner was a local diary restaurant in Netanya, on the side of the actively being renovated city center.
Day 3- Today we were off to Jerusalem. We decided to stop on the way in Elad, for ½ hour so I could see my great niece. My friend enjoyed meeting her and her mother. My friend also had an opportunity to drive through Elad. Elad is considered a Hareidi city but that is a misnomer. While the majority is Hareidi there are some modern Orthodox and some who are not religious. This information is gleaned from both my nephew and what we observed of the dress of people in the city. After a successful visit we drove off.
We arrived in Jerusalem at around noon. Our room at the Dan Panorama was not ready (it was before check-in) so they held our luggage and we went across the street to eat. I should note at this time that neither my friend nor I are foodies. So, we went to Cup of Joe—a dinner type of dairy restaurant that can be counted on for good food and free wifi. We each ate and were each satisfied. Heading back across the street to the hotel (car was in hotel garage) our room was still not ready so we proceeded with the next item on our itinerary. We took the bus to the Gush Katif museum, located near the Machne Yehuda market. However, we didn’t realize that although there had been a number of bus stops located near each other—when we pushed the stop button we ended up around 8 blocks past our desired location AND at the Central Bus station. It didn’t matter; we used our free transfer to the light rail and backtracked to our destination.
The Gush Katif Museum is a small museum that includes the history of the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif. It also, to the surprise of many, includes the history of Jews in Gaza dating back 3,000 years. There were pictures of synagogue mosaics and references to Jews that have since been destroyed by the Arabs. Needless to say that through film, artifacts and personal testimony it is a moving experience.
After the museum we again headed back to the hotel and this time our room was ready and our luggage had been delivered to the room. Later that day I made it my business to figure out who had delivered it, since I felt it would be wrong not to offer a tip.
After unpacking we got the car and drove to the Haas Promenade. This presents a fantastic view of City of Jerusalem. The Park below was full of Arab families enjoying the final day of the three day festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. There were also a large number of regular tourists as well as people on Segway tours going past.
We stayed there till slightly after sunset and headed back to the hotel. Parking was difficult as the lot was full and I had to park in a makeshift space along a side wall on the ramp. (Another reason NOT to have a car in Jerusalem) We walked from the hotel to the Kotel. Definitely a great way to start a long delayed Jerusalem visit. Dinner that night was at Village Green, a lovely self-serve vegetarian restaurant that is a Jerusalem institution. We went to the original Jaffa Street location but they have opened a second store in Emek Refaim.
I’ll continue the report in a new thread due to length.