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Advice requested for our initial itinerary

New Albany, Indiana
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Advice requested for our initial itinerary

I’m in the initial stages of planning our trip (my husband and I in our late 30's) to Israel in May 2014. I’ve been reading and I think I have the areas we want to visit chosen. I’m unsure if I have ordered it correctly to maximize time. We will rent a car. Here is a very basic outline. I haven’t bought plane tickets yet.

Day 1 (will probably be Sunday, May 4) – Arrive Tel Aviv, hopefully in the morning

Rent car and leave for Caesarea spend half day, drive on to Sea of Galilee and stay first night in that area

Day 2 Sea of Galilee area

Day 3 half day Sea of Galilee area, drive on to Dead Sea hopefully stay at Ein Gedi Kibbutz Hotel

Day 4 Sunrise at Masada, tour Masada, more time at Dead Sea

Day 5 Drive to Negev Desert (will look into tour with Adam Sela)

Day 6 Negev Desert (this would be Friday)

Day 7 Jerusalem

Day 8 Jerusalem

Day 9 Jerusalem

Day 10 early morning flight out of Tel Aviv to Athens

Or slightly different

First 2 days the same

On Day 3 leave morning for Dead Sea (stay at Ein Gedi Hotel)

Day 4 Sunrise at Masade, tour Masada, leave for Negev Desert

Day 5 Negev Desert – tour with Adam Sela

Day 6 Jerusalm (this would be Friday)

Day 7 Jerusalem

Day 8 Jerusalem

Day 9 early morning flight from Tel Aviv to Athens

Is this a good order? Is either itinerary feasible? I'd prefer to keep it at 8 days but 9 at the most. It is possible we could arrive in Israel on Saturday but I'd rather it be that Sunday. I thought since we don’t want a rental car for Jerusalem that we should go there either at the beginning or the end.

What area is best to be in during the Sabbath to maximize our time taking closings into consideration?

Any other glaring issues? Once I have the order set then I can plan out each day much more thoroughly. I realize now that I’d like to start booking hotels as the hotel at the Mitzpe Ramon is already booked up that whole week and I’m afraid other preferred hotels will be booked up soon.

Thank you.

Haifa, Israel
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for Haifa
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1. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

Your itinerary looks hectic but doable. Like more option 1 that allows more time for Jerusalem (really needed).

On Sabbath most places, but synagogues will be open. In Jerusalem more attractions and restaurants are closed.

Which hotel in Mitzpe Ramon is fully booked? There are several options.

Jerusalem, Israel
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2. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

Both Itiniries seem OK. If this is your first visit to Israel, I would like to recommend one more day in the North, (Galillee, Haifa), instead of the Negev desert. The Negev is a wonderful place to visit with many great attractions but if your time is limited, it might be a pity to spend it behind the wheel. You might like to start in the North, go down to the dead sea and end in Jerusalem. If you specifically want to go to the Negev, I am not sure that you will need your rented car there as Adam Sela specialises in jeep and 4wd trips.

Whatever your decision is I am sure you will have a lot of fun

Jerusalem, Israel
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for Israel
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3. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

You have overlooked the holidays that occur in Israel during May 2014:

May 4th: eve of Memorial day

May 5th: Memorial day and at the evening: independence day

May 6th: Independence day

If your plan falls on these dates, I highly recommend to experience those days in Israel in a large city - Jerusalem or Tel Aviv for example.

Also - take into account that on independence day (May 6th) national parks and most tourism sites are overpacked.

Israel
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4. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

And also take into account that on the evening of May 4 all places of entertainment including restaurants will be closed.

New Albany, Indiana
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5. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

giora I - I was hoping to stay at the Beresheet Hotel. I tried every combination that week and it was fully booked. And now from what Amos R has said (thank you for pointing out the holidays) maybe we should consider starting a week earlier or a week later.

Ronnymarcus - if we didn't have a car for the Negev, how should we get there to begin a tour with Adam Sela?

This is our first time to Israel. I will consider what you have said about skipping the Negev but it looks beautiful and unique. We have never been to a desert and I'm an amatuer photographer so that also appeals to me.

Israel
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for Israel
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6. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

It may be that the hotels are not yet taking bookings for May, which could be why you are not seeing any vacancies. Try e-mailing them and asking if they are really full.

As for getting to the Negev without a car, there are buses serving just about every inhabited locality, although to smaller places they may be very infrequent. Undoubtedly Adam would be able to arrange to meet you somewhere reachable by public transport.

Jerusalem, Israel
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7. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

I'll advise to postpone in a week if you cannot get an accommodation.

As far as desert is concerned - you can enjoy the Judean desert - the desert around Masada and the Dead Sea. (it's a totally different type of desert than the Negev, but you'll have a desert anyway...)

In answer to your question about getting to the Negev, you can take a bus (or a train, depends where you are) to Be'er Sheva, one of the 4 main cities of Israel with population of about quarter of a million. Be'er Sheva is known unofficialy as the "capital of the Negev" and you can begin your Negev journey (or pickup by a guide) from there.

New Albany, Indiana
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8. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

I'm looking at Booking.com and I think they really are booked up but I will give emailing them a try. It would be easier for them to tell me when they have vacancies than to continue to plug in different dates. I don't want to get to far into May because I know it gets hotter by the day.

I'll likely change our week then because I think the holidays will cause problems. I'll take everything into consideration and I'm sure I'll be back with more questions.

We like the freedom of a rental car but only if it makes sense for an area.

Ottawa, Canada
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for Jerusalem, Galilee, Tel Aviv
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9. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

I would use a rental car for the Negev portion of your trip. It gives you far more flexibility. If you are staying in a hotel, Adam could pick you up at the hotel but for coming and going into the area, a car is definitely a huge asset over public transit.

israel
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for Tel Aviv, Galilee, Israel
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10. Re: Advice requested for our initial itinerary

Are you sure you want Bereshit hotel? this is a luxurious spa place, not a place just to go to sleep. There are other options there.

Coming a week later makes sense, also contact Adam Sela and decide what kind of a tour you want.

I would change the beginning of your trip. Landing and driving to Casearia is a bad idea. Go to Tel Aviv, stay one nigh, rest from your jetlag, tour the city at leisure. The next day take the car and strat driving.