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Friday, November 04, 2011

Trip to Israel

We've been talking for over a year about taking at trip in 2012, for Matt's graduation.  When I looked into tours last spring, I realized that it would be a lot more expensive to go in June compared with the off season, so we settled on Matt's spring break from college as the best time (early March).

I investigated tour packages, and I think this Gate1 Travel package covers the things we want to see at a price we can stomach (though it's a lot).

Today I put down the deposit and actually booked the trip.  My stomach is still fluttering about committing so much money (almost $10K), but I think ultimately that it's money well spent (though I had really hoped that Bobbie would go with us).

Below is the itinerary from the website~

We fly out of JFK on Thursday evening, with a brief layover in London, and for the return trip, leave Thursday morning and arrive Thursday night at JFK, same layover in London on the way back.

DAY 2, Friday - Arrive in Tel Aviv and transfer to Jerusalem 
Free day to enjoy the city; [probably focus on the old city, including the Western Wall, and save Yad Vashem and the Dead Sea Scrolls for Sunday]
DAY 3, Saturday - 
Taking the optional package - Masada and Dead Sea - Ascend the towering desert mesa via cable car to visit the excavations of the fortress of King Herod and last stronghold of the Zealots against the Romans. Then journey via Ein Gedi and the Judean Desert to the Dead Sea, the lowest elevation on Earth at more than 1,200 feet below sea level. While at this natural wonder, enjoy the opportunity to float in the water or cover yourself in the mineral-rich mud. 
DAY 4, Sunday - Day at leisure in Jerusalem
Enjoy the day at leisure in this fascinating city.

DAY 5, Monday - Beit Shean and Capernaum Sightseeing
Depart Jerusalem, driving via the Jordan Valley to Beit Shean, a city mentioned in the Bible, later a Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine city which was destroyed by an earthquake in 749AD. Continue north following the Jordan River to Yardenit. Drive around the Sea of Galilee, with views of Tiberias, to Capernaum, site of a second century village and synagogue on the northern shore

DAY 6, Tuesday - Day at leisure in Tiberias
Taking the optional package - Golan Heights Tour - Drive to Safed, a holy city in Judaism and the center of the mystical Kabbala. Stroll through the artists' colony and visit an ancient synagogue. Proceed to Golan Heights stopping at Mitzphe Gadot for a tour and lunch at Kibbutz Gadot. Continue to Har Ben Tal site of a former Israeli bunker. Next visit a kosher winery in Katzrin, the largest town in the Golan Heights. 
DAY 7, Wednesday - Nazareth, Haifa and Ceasarea Sightseeing
Drive south through the Galilean hills to Nazareth, home of the Church of the Annunciation, the largest basilica in the Middle East. Continue to Haifa, stopping for a view of the picturesque Bahai Gardens. Proceed to the Mediterranean coast, and visit Caesarea. Tour the remains of the Roman and Crusader ruins and the impressive theatre. Visit the harbor and see ancient history come to life with the multi-media presentation. Drive south along the coastal highway to Tel Aviv



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