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Rutherford NJ Here!

 

We're on the Equinox coming to Haifa on August 25th, out of Ashdod on the 26th. I'm looking at a private tour / driver to get us around. Is this what you'd recommend? Here is the itinerary:

 

Driving from Haifa you will go first to Nazareth where you will visit the Church of the Annunciation and from here you'll go to Cana where you will visit the Wedding Church. After seeing Cana, you will head next to the Mt. of Beatitudes and Capernaum. You'll visit the Baptismal Site on the Jordan River and go from there through the Jordan Valley, passing by Jericho on the way to Jerusalem. Once in Israel's beautiful capitol city you will drive to one of the panoramic viewpoints (either Mt. of Olives or Mt. Scopus) and then you'll head to your hotel where you'll check in and spend the night. After a good night's sleep, you will check out of your hotel and begin your second full day tour, beginning with a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem beginning with Mt. Zion, then on to the Jewish Quarter (the Cardo, the Western Wall), the Christian Quarter (the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre), the Arab Quarter (with its terrific markets) and Jaffa Gate. Then you'll go on a driving sightseeing tour of the modern western side of the city, seeing during this part of your tour Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum; then you'll head out of Jerusalem and drive on to Ashdod.

This is a pricey 1300 USD! Is there a better value or group out there? This is avitours. Thanks so much -

 

I will be in Jerusalem on a land trip this year in October. I always read a Frommer's travel guide to any destination. His book says that you should not hire any guide that is not recommended and licensed by the Israeli Tour Ministry. The link to their web site is:

 

http://goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Tourist+Information/Planning+your+trip/TourGuideSearch.htm

 

There's several pages listing tour guides, languages they speak,if they have cars, & a link to their email addresses. I chose a name at random & sent him an e-mail requesting information,quote, & payment information. I received a reply within an hour and he responded with a quote of $375.00 for a full day tour of Jerusalem (I'm traveling solo). I am to send him a check for $375.00 which he will hold until such time as I get to Jerusalem. At the time of the tour I will give him the money in cash (US$) & he will return my check to me.

Of course, it is too soon to know how this will all work out but I do appreciate his prompt reply time.

 

You might try looking at this site & request quotes from several different guide.

 

Good luck

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Hi Happy Trailer

 

Can you tell me approximately how long it would take to drive from the port of Haifa to the Hula Reserve and Kfar Blum in the upper Galil?

 

Thanks!

 

Kfar Blum is about 75 miles from Haifa, so the drive should take around 90 minutes, depending on traffic, (but it likely could take up to 2 hours, or a bit longer).

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I would like to know if I can get a taxi at the dock that will take me to a hotel in Jerusalem. Does anyone know how much that would cost?

 

I was recently quoted a price of 650 NIS for a cab ride from a Jerusalem suburb to the Haifa port. That's about $170 (depending on the current dollar-shekel rate). You'd probably need to add another 50 shekel or more to get to downtown Jerusalem.

 

[The cab ride is expensive because, depending on the time of day/traffic, it can take up to four hours to travel between the Haifa port and downtown Jerusalem (at the 'right' time of day, the trip might take just a bit over 3 hours). Additionally, the Haifa cab drivers would be concerned about not being able to get a fare for the return trip to Haifa.]

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Kfar Blum is about 75 miles from Haifa, so the drive should take around 90 minutes, depending on traffic, (but it likely could take up to 2 hours, or a bit longer).
Thanks! We have some personal reasons for visiting Kfar Blum and the Hula reserve, and were thinking about visiting Safed along the way. Sounds like it will be a long day, but possible:)
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Thanks for your excellent information. We will also be on the Celebrity Equinox that will be in Haifa and Ashdod in October 2009. I have been to Israel twice and my husband once. We were there on our honeymoon in July 1998. However, these were organized tours (both times) through our local Temple, traveling with our Temple Cantor and his family. What an experience that was....

 

We are looking forward to returning and your suggestions are great. I have copied and pasted them into emails for the people we are traveling with on this cruise. We already have a hired driver/guide for the two days. We will not be staying over but your suggestions for each port will help guide us to what we want to see. I will keep reading to see if anything new pops up.

 

Darlene

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Thanks for your excellent information. We will also be on the Celebrity Equinox that will be in Haifa and Ashdod in October 2009. I have been to Israel twice and my husband once. We were there on our honeymoon in July 1998. However, these were organized tours (both times) through our local Temple, traveling with our Temple Cantor and his family. What an experience that was....

 

We are looking forward to returning and your suggestions are great. I have copied and pasted them into emails for the people we are traveling with on this cruise. We already have a hired driver/guide for the two days. We will not be staying over but your suggestions for each port will help guide us to what we want to see. I will keep reading to see if anything new pops up.

 

Darlene

 

 

Thank you for letting me know you're finding my postings helpful :)

I'm always happy to help, so please don't hesitate to ask. I try to check here every day or two, and to post replies asap.

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I have forwarded all your info to the other 6 people who are traveling with us. We plan to meet on the 4th of July weekend to pick out the points of interest we want to see in Israel in the two ports in which we dock. I definitely need to get back to the Western Wall so I can put those scraps of paper in the wall for my grandchildren and their parents. That is so special. Shabbat at the wall is also special and I have suggested that the Western Wall be the last stop on our excursion before we return to the ship. This way, if we have time, we will be able to see everything that goes on there as the Sabbath is ushered in.

 

Darlene

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Thanks for your excellent information. We will also be on the Celebrity Equinox that will be in Haifa and Ashdod in October 2009. I have been to Israel twice and my husband once. We were there on our honeymoon in July 1998. However, these were organized tours (both times) through our local Temple, traveling with our Temple Cantor and his family. What an experience that was....

 

We are looking forward to returning and your suggestions are great. I have copied and pasted them into emails for the people we are traveling with on this cruise. We already have a hired driver/guide for the two days. We will not be staying over but your suggestions for each port will help guide us to what we want to see. I will keep reading to see if anything new pops up.

 

Darlene

 

Hi,

I just happened to come across your posting. We are on the 8/31 Celebrity Equinox sailing and are in the midst of arranging our tours. If you don't mind, could you tell us who is your driver/guide for the 2 days in Israel?

 

Thanks.

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I have forwarded all your info to the other 6 people who are traveling with us. We plan to meet on the 4th of July weekend to pick out the points of interest we want to see in Israel in the two ports in which we dock. I definitely need to get back to the Western Wall so I can put those scraps of paper in the wall for my grandchildren and their parents. That is so special. Shabbat at the wall is also special and I have suggested that the Western Wall be the last stop on our excursion before we return to the ship. This way, if we have time, we will be able to see everything that goes on there as the Sabbath is ushered in.

 

Darlene

 

Hi Darlene,

 

Sounds like good planning! As always, I'm available for any questions that might pop up :)

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Just saw your post on the Africa boards about a tour guide in Israel. We are on the Azamara Journey on Nov. 8th and just signed up with Joel Berman. He came very highly recommended on these boards from people who have already used him. He is more expensive than Avi tours, but only requires a 20% deposit with the balance due after the tour. For us, the deposit is refundable up until the end of Aug. He also refunds it if for some reason the ship will not dock in Israel. We are doing 2-day tours, not an overnight. His e-mail address is jtours@netvision.net.il. Hope this helps.

 

Ellen:)

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Iceburg1, I did not book the driver in Israel. It was done by someone else who we are traveling with. Apparently this driver/guide was used by someone else and she kept his name and contact number and gave it to the person we are traveling with. Our friend has contacted him and he is available. That is all I know. I am sorry that I can't give you any more info then that.

 

Darlene

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Does it make any sense to rent a car in Haifa, drive to Jerusalem, maybe stop at Caesaria, park the car and tour in Jerusalem, stay in a hotel overnight and the next morning drive to Masada and the Dead Sea and then drive to Ashdod?

 

We are comfortable driving in many countries. This could let us travel at our own speed (pretty fast) but be economical. We could hire guides at various locations.

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Does it make any sense to rent a car in Haifa, drive to Jerusalem, maybe stop at Caesaria, park the car and tour in Jerusalem, stay in a hotel overnight and the next morning drive to Masada and the Dead Sea and then drive to Ashdod?

 

We are comfortable driving in many countries. This could let us travel at our own speed (pretty fast) but be economical. We could hire guides at various locations.

 

As long as you don't mind that it's about a 3 hour drive (or longer) from Haifa to Jerusalem (from Jerusalem to Ashdod is a bit longer than an hour, depending on traffic), I think renting a car makes a lot of sense.

 

Stopping in Caesaria is a great idea, and/or you could stop in Zichron Yaakov, especially if you'd like to tour a winery. I'm pretty sure the signs in the archeological park in Caesaria are also in English, so you might not feel the need for a guide. (However, you might want to drive straight to Jerusalem without stopping, in order to give yourself more time to tour the city. Alternatively, as you travel the last stretch to Jerusalem, on highway 1, you'll pass Latrun and Mini Israel, both of which (especially Mini-Israel) I highly recommend.

 

It's easy to walk around Jerusalem, especially in the evening and at night. I'd recommend getting a private guide for the Old City- you could walk around by yourself, but we've done tours with guides by ourselves and with visiting friends, and were very impressed with how much we learned, and how much we were able to see.

 

You could also do the Dead Sea and Masada by yourselves, but on our first family visit many years ago, we hired a guide and, again, found it an extremely enriching experience. The Dead Sea is about 45 minutes from Jerusalem, and Masada is another half hour's drive or so along the Dead Sea road. You'd want to get as early start as possible to avoid the worst of the heat.

 

BTW- ocassionally, depending on the time of year, available hotel rooms in Jerusalem are scarce, and prices are high for those that are available, so you'd want to reserve a room as soon as possible.

 

Oh- and just so you know: there are lots of speed traps on the main highways, so watch your speed when driving!

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thanks Ruth

 

There are so many options and so much to see and do that I'm having a terrible time making decisions. I know that this won't be our only trip to Israel as we use cruises to see where we want to return to. So , we don't have to see everything in two days. But it is all so enticing.

 

We want the flavour of your country and some of the famous places but we also want to see the people and the society.

 

The down-side of cruising is the short times in each port or country.

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thanks Ruth

 

There are so many options and so much to see and do that I'm having a terrible time making decisions. I know that this won't be our only trip to Israel as we use cruises to see where we want to return to. So , we don't have to see everything in two days. But it is all so enticing.

 

We want the flavour of your country and some of the famous places but we also want to see the people and the society.

 

The down-side of cruising is the short times in each port or country.

 

Hi Jan,

 

I'm having the same trouble with a trip I'm planning to New Zealand- I'll have only a week there, and there are soooo many options, that for the first time, I'm finding it difficult to plan! [but, like you, knowing I'll surely be back for another visit makes planning at least a bit easier.]

 

One of the best ways to get the flavor of Israel, and to see the people and society, is to stroll around at night, and then sit in a cafe or two and people-watch. I love doing that where ever I travel, and Jerusalem is perfect for strolling and people-watching! There is a lovely pedestrian mall in the center of the new city, but just about any neighborhood, including the Old City, will suit you perfectly.

 

Several times a year, the city of Jerusalem holds special festivals and fairs along either the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in the center of town, or at the artists center/Sultan's Pool area right outside the walls of the Old City. The new Mamilla mall, located right outside the Old City at Jaffa Gate, also often has evening and night entertainment, so check with your hotel to see if anything special is going on when you're in town. Another popular area for dining and people watching is off the Ben Yehuda mall and Zion Square- Joel Soloman street. All are a short walk from most center city hotels.

 

HTH!

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Just thought I'd post a bit of info about taxis in Israel:

 

- Although I'm sure tourists do, Israelis never tip a cab driver; nor is it expected or asked of us.

 

- We sit in the front seat, next to the driver.

While it took me a little bit of time to get used to that, I love it- it's how I learned a lot of Hebrew; nowadays I have terrific political discussions whenever I take a cab! [Needless to say, only one person sits next to the driver :p; if you are traveling alone, that's where you are expected to sit (the driver will move anything he's placed on the seat); I'd suggest if you are 3 people traveling together that one sit next to the driver (for both comfort and interesting conversation with the driver (see below)).

 

- You can ask the cab driver to put on the meter (and you may have to remind him to turn it on), or you can negotiate a price for your trip BEFORE you get in the cab. If you are taking a cab from the cabs standing outside a hotel (especially if you are taking a longer trip), don't accept the first price they quote you. Offer to pay at least 10% lower than the price they are asking, or find out in advance from the front desk how much you should be paying for your trip.

 

- Israelis love to speak English, but they are also happy to help you with your Hebrew. If you know a bit of Hebrew, and want to learn more, just tell your cab driver and he will almost always be happy to give you a quick lesson. They will also usually be happy to point out places of interest along the way.

 

HTH!

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The car rental idea isn't working. We have to have the car to Ashdod by 4 pm as that's when the rental office closes. Our ship doesn't depart until 8 pm.

 

Is there enough time to fit in both Masada and the Dead Sea and then drive to Ashdod by 4pm?

 

Are there any car rental companies that are open late? I've tried Eldan, Avis and Budget.

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The car rental idea isn't working. We have to have the car to Ashdod by 4 pm as that's when the rental office closes. Our ship doesn't depart until 8 pm.

 

Is there enough time to fit in both Masada and the Dead Sea and then drive to Ashdod by 4pm?

 

Are there any car rental companies that are open late? I've tried Eldan, Avis and Budget.

 

Hi Jan,

 

Sometimes small, local car rental agencies have lock boxes at their offices, so that you can return your car at any hour. If you can find a local agency in Ashdod, then you might be able to make those arrangements. I did a quick Google search for 'car rental + ashdod', and came up with some entries; I don't know if any of them would meet your needs, but you could give a try.

 

It's about 2 hours to Masada from Ashdod, so I really don't recommend trying to fit that into a day that has to end by 4pm. Have you thought about hiring a private cab for the day? When you figure in the cost of the car rental, insurance, and gas, the cost of a private cab hire might not seem excessive.

 

The only other suggestion I have is to return your car to Ben Gurion airport, and take a taxi to the ship from there. You can usually return a car 24/7 to the airport, and the ride to the pier from there should be less than an hour. Not the greatest solution, but if the ship doesn't sail until 8pm, then you'd have an extra couple of hours at the Dead Sea. I have no idea of the cab fare from the airport to Ashdod, but I imagine it would have to be over $50.

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Thanks Ruth

 

We were going to rent a car in Haifa and return it to Ashdod the next day. That makes it harder to use a smaller agency. We want to stay overnight in Jerusalem.

 

I was trying to fit the most into the two days. I guess I could look into a driver for the day to take us from Jerusalem to Masada and then Ashdod.

 

I have until October to figure this out.

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Hi Jan,

 

I forgot that you were planning to rent the car in Haifa, and then spend the night in Jerusalem..

 

If you don't mind getting up very early in the morning in Jerusalem, then you actually could visit both Masada and the Dead Sea, and be back in Ashdod in time to return the car before 4pm.

 

At least in the summer (and likely all year), many tours to Masada leave Jerusalem before daybreak so that the groups can be on top of Masada for sunrise. If you do that (it will mean leaving Jerusalem before 5AM), then you will have time to see all of Masada and spend a couple of hours touring the Dead Sea area, floating on the water, and maybe even either cover yourselves with mud or take a spa treatment.

 

Another thing you could do, aside from hiring a driver in Jerusalem as you mentioned, would be to join a day tour in Jerusalem to Masada (but a private driver would, of course, be better).

 

As I'm writing this, I'm 'liking more and more' the idea of your renting a car in Haifa, returning it in Jerusalem, and then hiring a driver to take you to the Dead Sea area and bring you back to the ship. That will allow you to tour independently the first day, give you the evening to stroll around Jerusalem and get a nice feel for Israeli society, and will maximize your time in Masada and the Dead Sea the next day.

 

HTH!

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Hi,

 

We are planning on doing Jerusalem on our own by taxi from Ashdod on a cruise in the beginning of September. I read somewhere that the taxi is about $75 each way for Ashdod-Jerusalem. I am not sure if there will be taxi vans at the Ashdod port that will hold 5 of us. Do you know? Is there a local Taxi Company in Ashdod that we can call to reserve a van that will hold the 5 of us to go to Jerusalem and back?

Thank you.

Harry

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Hi,

 

We are planning on doing Jerusalem on our own by taxi from Ashdod on a cruise in the beginning of September. I read somewhere that the taxi is about $75 each way for Ashdod-Jerusalem. I am not sure if there will be taxi vans at the Ashdod port that will hold 5 of us. Do you know? Is there a local Taxi Company in Ashdod that we can call to reserve a van that will hold the 5 of us to go to Jerusalem and back?

Thank you.

Harry

 

When I took my short cruise out of Ashdod a few weeks ago, there were several local taxis waiting at the port. If none of them have enough room for all of you, then I'm sure you could ask them to call their dispatcher to send one for you.

 

Unless you speak Hebrew fairly fluently, I wouldn't recommend calling in advance to reserve a taxi van. It will be easy to explain that you need a van if the other cab drivers see the size of your group at the port.

 

I don't know if an Ashdod taxi driver will be willing to both take you to Jerusalem, and then wait around all day to take you back to Ashdod. So, if you can't make those arrangements:

 

The bigger issue for you will be getting a taxi back to Ashdod from Jerusalem. I don't know if a taxi you hail on the street in Jerusalem will be willing to take you to Ashdod, and if you try taking a cab from the taxis hanging around hotels you will be charged a very high price. My suggestion would be to find a taxi dispatcher's office, and tell them you what you need. There is a dispatcher at the top of the Ben Yehudah pedestrian mall in the center of the city (it's a bit off to the side, at the first small vehicular street below the main street), and their are other dispatchers scattered around the city (if you see a few cabs lined up- other than at a hotel- then there is a dispatcher nearby).

 

The other thing you could do is approach a cab on the street, and ask him to call his dispatcher for a van to take you to Ashdod (most cab drivers, especially in Jerusalem, speak at least some English).

 

One other suggestion is to go into a restaurant or any place that speaks English, and ask them to call a dispatcher for you.

 

{-Make sure to scroll up a couple of entries in this thread and read my entry about taxis in Israel.-}

 

HTH!

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Thanks Ruth. We are doing a tour of Northern Israel from Haifa with a guide the day before we are in Ashdod. Maybe he will know who to call to take us from Ashdod to Jerusalem and back.

 

Since we are planning to go to Yad Vashem first (with an audio guide), and then head over to the Old City including our doing a tour of the Tunnels at the Kotel (where they supply their own guide), it did not make much sense to hire a guide for the entire day in Jerusalem...... hence the need for just transportation or a taxi for the 5 of us.

 

Thanks again.

Harry

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Thanks Ruth. We are doing a tour of Northern Israel from Haifa with a guide the day before we are in Ashdod. Maybe he will know who to call to take us from Ashdod to Jerusalem and back.

 

Since we are planning to go to Yad Vashem first (with an audio guide), and then head over to the Old City including our doing a tour of the Tunnels at the Kotel (where they supply their own guide), it did not make much sense to hire a guide for the entire day in Jerusalem...... hence the need for just transportation or a taxi for the 5 of us.

 

Thanks again.

Harry

 

Yes, that sounds like your best bet. You might want to contact your guide in advance, so arrangements (along with the price) for your driver for Ashdod will be all set before you dock.

 

The Tunnels tour is really great- I'm sure you're going to enjoy it, and also find it very informative.

 

At Yad Vashem, make sure to tour the gardens. Also, if you have time, there is a shortcut from Yad Vashem to Mt. Herzl, Israel's main military cemetary . There you will find an area with the graves of all our late leaders, including Golda Meir, etc, and near that area is Herzl's grave (it's about a 10 minute walk from Yad Vashem to that area of the cemetary). The cemetary is very serene, and I always find a visit there to be very moving.

 

BTW, at the end of the Yad Vashem tour, there are windows that look out at the 'new' Jerusalem suburbs. You'll be looking directly at my town (we see Yad Vashem from our terrace).

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Hi again Ruth,:)

We have all but ruled out being able to spend overnight in Jerusalem because of the cost. We can either sight see around Haifa the first day of our Israel stop or take a tour to Jerusalem from Haifa and do Masada and the Dead Sea from Ashod. If we stay in the Haifa area the first day we will have to do Jerusalem the second day and will not get to see Masada. Which do you think would give us a better overview of Israel. Masada sounds so interesting but is it worth all the extra travel time involved? Thanks!

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