Posted January 26th, 2009, 12:40 PM
We were wondering if you knew of a licensed tour guide who will not take any $ upfront. We don't want to give a deposit incase we have to cancel out the trip for various reasons. Any suggestions you could give us about a guide or suggestions of what to see in those 2 days would be appreciated.
Thanks in Advance.Ellen
Hi Ellen and Colleen,
I'm sorry but I don't have the names of any tour guides- I occasionally take walking tours here, but have never dealt with an English speaking licensed tour guide.
As to what to see in the 2 days you'll be in Israel-
From the port in Haifa, you can focus on the north, from the Mediterranean thru the Kinneret (sea of Galilee). A 'see as much as you can' tour would probably include the city of Safed (a great place to buy art, btw),Tiberias (for the Kinneret), a quick tour of Haifa, and maybe getting into the Golan Heights. For something a little bit different, you can include the grottos at Rosh Hanikra, which is on the border with Lebanon, a visit to a kibbutz, to the town of Zichron Yaakov where the Rothchilds established a winery, and going as far south as Ceasaria. The ride thru the Galil (Galilee) is beautiful, very lush and green, and you might be able to stop in a Druze village along the way. There's also a small town in the Galil called Klil, where Israelis live a 'back to nature' life without electricity- there's a small artist's colony and a restaurant.
For a fun day that is not so tour intensive, you can go to one of a number of beaches from Haifa to Tel Aviv for rest and relaxation, or go horseback riding or ATV riding in the Galil.
From Ashdod you can tour Jerusalem, of course (if you haven't been to the Old City, then I highly recommend giving yourself 2-3 hours to walk around, preferably with a guide), and also include a trip to the Dead Sea and/or Masada. We're from the Jerusalem area and spend our free time exploring the area, so I have a long list of things to do:
- Herodian: Herod's fortress, south of Bethlehem in the Judean desert.
- Mitzpe Jericho: a town on the way to the Dead Sea, overlooking the city of Jericho, with incredible views of the desert.
- Ein Gedi: a kibbutz at the Dead Sea
- Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, and also Ammunition Hill: both were important sites from the '67 war, with bunkers built and used by the Jordanian army. From Kibbutz Ramat Rachel you also have views of Bethlehem and Herodian, and also a panoramic view of Jerusalem.
- Ein Kerem: a lovely 'village' that is actually part of Jerusalem; it's an important site in Christianity with stunning churches, but it's also a pleasure to walk around. It's also down the road from both Yad V'Shem (the Holocaust Museum) and also Har Herzl, our national cemetary where you will find the graves of Herzl, Golda Meir, and others as well as a very well done and informative multi-media presentation on Theordor Herzl and foundations of Zionism.
- There are jeep tours available in the Judean desert, south of Jerusalem.
- You can also take a Segway tour in Jerusalem, btw.
For something very different, you can take a drive along the Jordan Valley Road. It starts just north of the Dead Sea and goes to the Kinneret, and runs along the border with Jordan. The scenery is breathtaking.
I also highly recommend visiting Mini Israel, which is between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It's exactly what it sounds like - Israel in miniature (not tiny). Here's a link to their website: http://www.minisrael.co.il/home_en.html
I went with a group of Israeli friends, and we all had a surprisingly great time 'walking around the country'.
As to timing, much of Jerusalem closes down from Friday afternoon until after sundown on Saturday evening (many, but not all restaurants are closed, just about all stores are closed, and buses do not run), but some museums and tourist sites will be open. Haifa is more secular, as is much of the Galil (but not Safed), so most restaurants and tourist sites will be open.
Please feel free to ask me any more questions, I'm happy to answer