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Cruise Critic member in Israel, happy to answer questions


happy trailer
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Hi Everyone!

 

I'm really, truly am happy to answer questions, but, to paraphrase the words of another very helpful poster on this forum:

 

"Chances are that your question has already been asked and answered on this board. I really urge users of this board to do a search before posting."

 

I'm afraid I may have come off sounding a bit harsh to the last couple of posters, but please understand that while I really want and enjoy being helpful, I am (happily) posting on a completely volunteer basis. In addition to the 'normal' everyday life I lead, filled with its hectic times and daily events, I'm also busy planning for my own upcoming 2 month trip!

 

I'm guess I'm just asking for some simple consideration. The search forum on this board is easy to use and is very efficient; it should take you only a moment to find posts relating to your question. I'm willing to bet that in the months since I started this thread, your question has very likely been discussed, if not on this thread then on another thread in the Africa & Middle East forum.

 

Please take a few moments to do a search in the forum before posting. If, after your search, you haven't found the information you're seeking, then by all means, post here and I'll be happy to answer as soon and as completely as possible. :)

 

And, speaking of my upcoming trip (to Los Angeles, Australia, New Zealand, and Florida, with 2 cruises thrown into the mix :D)- I'll be pretty much out of touch from September 25- December 1. I may occasionally have a chance to check in for a few moments, but for the most part, I won't be available on this forum during that time.

 

So, again, please forgive me if I was a bit harsh.

 

Slightly early wishes to all for happy travels and cruising, and a Happy New Year (if it applies ;)). Ask away (......) over the next couple of weeks, before I head out to visit my grandchildren, and to see some more of the world :)

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Hi Ruth,

We will be arriving on the Equinox on OCT. 29 in Haifa and plan on renting a car there and returning the next day in Ashdod. We will be spending the night in Jerusalem visiting with relatives. Oct. 30th is a Friday and all the car rental companies want the car returned by 2pm in Ashdod. If we return the car by 2pm in Ashdod is there anything we can do there? Is there a nice beach or cafes by the port? WE do not just want to go back onto the ship at 2pm.

If we were to return the car in Jerusalem is it easy to get to Ashdod by cab? How expensive would it be? We could return the car in Tel Aviv- would it be easier to get to Ashdod from there? Cheaper cab fare from Tel Aviv?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Reba

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Thanks Ruth.

 

Have a nice long trip and enjoy. I see that you are coming to LA, it is so hot these days, uncommonly hot and humid. Hope that gets better when you arrive and that the fires are gone too, it has been a very bad fire season, the fires are not problem for tourists, but the air quality is bad and the visibility some times is low...We really, really need some rain.

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What a good suggestion. After we leave Jerusalem and the relatives, we can head to Tel Aviv and hang around there. Since car rentals are open 24 hours there, including Fridays, we can return the car a couple of hours before sailing time.

What kind of transportation would we get at the airport to Ashdod? Are there buses or do we have to take a cab? How much should that cost?

Thanks for the suggestion.

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Hi Ruth,

We will be arriving on the Equinox on OCT. 29 in Haifa and plan on renting a car there and returning the next day in Ashdod. We will be spending the night in Jerusalem visiting with relatives. Oct. 30th is a Friday and all the car rental companies want the car returned by 2pm in Ashdod. If we return the car by 2pm in Ashdod is there anything we can do there? Is there a nice beach or cafes by the port? WE do not just want to go back onto the ship at 2pm.

If we were to return the car in Jerusalem is it easy to get to Ashdod by cab? How expensive would it be? We could return the car in Tel Aviv- would it be easier to get to Ashdod from there? Cheaper cab fare from Tel Aviv?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Reba

 

Hi Reba,

 

If you read back thru the postings on this thread, (or even better, do a search, as I described/requested in a post or two before yours), you'll find several discussions on having to return rental cars early in Ashdod, and cab fares from Jerusalem. You can also do a google search of 'taxis fares + Israel' or 'cab fares + Israel' and come up with sites that give cab fares around the world and specifically in Israel, as well as at least one taxi company that even allows you to pre book cabs (because of CC regulations, I am not allowed to post that site, but you can find it easily).

 

And, as mensch999 suggests, you can return the car to Ben Gurion pretty much 24/7.

 

As to what to do with your time (assuming you don't want to spend more time with your relatives, or they don't want to drive you to Ashdod ;)), you can consider these:

 

-Stay in Jerusalem as late as possible, before hailing a cab to Ashdod.

There is so much to see in Jerusalem, that you will feel that no matter how late you stay, you haven't seen enough! My only caution would be that because you'll be there on a Friday, it may find some difficulty in finding a cab willing to take you to Ashdod.

 

- Head to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is where we head on at least one Friday a month (weekends here are Friday and Saturday)- great beaches, great restaurants, an entirely different 'feel' than Jerusalem..altogether lots of fun, but not necessarily relaxing!

 

- Relax in Ashdod. Right outside the port (but I think too far to walk) is a very nice beach that we go to several times a year. There is a cafe at the beach and restrooms, and you can rent beach chairs. Unfortunately, the shopping mall that was across the street from the beach has shut down, so I'd chose this option only if you simply want to relax and unwind. You can ask the cabdriver to take you further down the coast, where I believe there is more activity seaside (we've only gone to that first, quiet beach).

 

- On the way back from Jerusalem, you can visit 'Mini Israel', and from there return the car at the airport, and then taxi to Ashdod. I've written about Mini Israel several times on this thread, with a link included, so take a few minutes to look thru the thread, or do a search, and you'll find the info on it.

 

HTH, and please take some time to look thru this thread- I'm sure you will find many of your questions already answered, as well as some great ideas for things you haven't even thought of asking!

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Thanks Ruth.

 

Have a nice long trip and enjoy. I see that you are coming to LA, it is so hot these days, uncommonly hot and humid. Hope that gets better when you arrive and that the fires are gone too, it has been a very bad fire season, the fires are not problem for tourists, but the air quality is bad and the visibility some times is low...We really, really need some rain.

 

I've been keeping up on conditions in the LA area (I've got grandchildren there- of course I check ;)), and know it's been a difficult time lately.

 

I hope you get relief soon.

 

Best,

 

Ruth

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Hi Ruth

 

We port in Haifa and leave the next evening in Ashdod. We wanted to rent a car in Haifa and travel to Jeruselum, and then the Dead Sea. 2nd day see the dead sea, travel back and take in possibly one or two small things.

 

Probelms I have are 2 fold. Car rental has to return the Ben Guiron airpoirt from what I can tell since return date is a Friday, then cab from airport to Ashdod. More importantly... can I drive throught the west bank from Jeruselum to Eni Gedi or similar? Can I even drive a car with israeli plates from Haifa to Jeruslum through the West Bank.

 

Any places to specifcally avoid if driving? Do companies rent to people driving through there?

 

TIA. Receiving conflicting info so far. sorry if this is naive or insane or silly. We're Canadian btw, no dual passport if it matters.

Edited by JoeyJoJoShabadu
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Hi Ruth

 

We port in Haifa and leave the next evening in Ashdod. We wanted to rent a car in Haifa and travel to Jeruselum, and then the Dead Sea. 2nd day see the dead sea, travel back and take in possibly one or two small things.

 

Probelms I have are 2 fold. Car rental has to return the Ben Guiron airpoirt from what I can tell since return date is a Friday, then cab from airport to Ashdod. More importantly... can I drive throught the west bank from Jeruselum to Eni Gedi or similar? Can I even drive a car with israeli plates from Haifa to Jeruslum through the West Bank.

 

Any places to specifcally avoid if driving? Do companies rent to people driving through there?

 

TIA. Receiving conflicting info so far. sorry if this is naive or insane or silly. We're Canadian btw, no dual passport if it matters.

 

Well, as you know from recent discussions on this thread, you won't have a problem returning the car to Ben Gurion and then taking a cab to Ashdod.;)

 

As to driving to Ein Gedi from Jerusalem- I've never considered that a drive through the West Bank! We drive every where in Israel in our car, with an Israeli flag that is attached to one of our windows flapping in the breeze. That includes the areas of Judea and Shomron (the 'West Bank'), the road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, and from there to the Sea of Galilee, then over to Haifa.

 

You can check with your car rental agency, but, while they often have restrictions on driving your rental car to Judea and Shomron (which many, if not most, people ignore), I don't think I've ever heard of restrictions on driving the road from Jerusalem to Ein Gedi (the road along the Dead Sea, from Ein Gedi to Masada, is not an issue). You will pass through 2 security checkpoints on that road (one on the approach to the Dead Sea area, and one on the return trip, as you approach Jerusalem). The road is well traveled, with tourist and rest stops along the way, especially as you approach the Dead Sea area. Once you are out of Jerusalem proper, travel time to the Dead Sea can be as little as half an hour, depending on traffic.

 

There are two main ways to travel from Haifa to Jerusalem- the first is along the coastal road, which will take you through the Tel Aviv area, so might get you caught in traffic. The other way is via the new Highway 6, which is a toll road, and much faster as it bypasses Tel Aviv. Neither of these roads travels into the West Bank. (You'd need to check with your car rental agency to see how they handle travel on Highway 6, as tolls are billed electronically.)

 

There is one other way of traveling from the north to the Jerusalem area, and that is via the Jordan Valley Road, which is filled with spectacular scenery. It starts in the Sea of Galilee/Tiberius area, and ends at the junction to the Dead Sea. My husband travels on that road at least once a week, and although it goes through a couple of Palestinian villages, he travels it without a hitch. (You will see some cars and taxis with Palestinian plates along part of the way.) Again, it's one of the roads that I don't think will be an issue for your rental agency, but I guess you should check with them. I just wouldn't suggest traveling it at night, because for much of the way, it's only a 2 lane (or 3- one for passing) road, not particularly well lit (in some places it's not lit at all), and it has lots of twists and turns with some drop offs. It's an easy drive during the day, but can be an occasional challenge at night.

 

[bTW- the areas where Israelis and Israeli cars are not permitted are clearly marked way in advance; the signs are marked in English. These areas are not along any of the routes above, or any where near them. If, for some reason you make a wrong turn and start approaching an area which is under Palestinian control, Palestinian police will stop your car and question you, and then send you to the 'right' way to your destination. It's something that happens on occasion (it's happened to my husband), and nothing you need to be scared of, especially as your planned trip- along any of the above routes- does not travel near these areas at all.]

 

HTH!

Edited by happy trailer
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Thanks so much for all your good advice/information. My husband grew up on a farm, and he very much wants to do the ship's Taste of Israel tour of upper Galilee and the Golan Heights. We would visit a farm, winery and brewery. The tour takes almost 10 hours--pretty much all of our time in Haifa and costs $389 pp. Yikes! He really wants to do this. What do you suggest? Thanks in advance.

Edited by Heelan
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Thanks so much for all your good advice/information. My husband grew up on a farm, and he very much wants to do the ship's Taste of Israel tour of upper Galilee and the Golan Heights. We would visit a farm, winery and brewery. The tour takes almost 10 hours--pretty much all of our time in Haifa and costs $389 pp. Yikes! He really wants to do this. What do you suggest? Thanks in advance.

 

It'll be able to be of best help if you'll either copy and paste the description of the tour, or the link to the description. Once I have a look at the details of the tour, I'll be able to see if I can give you alternate ideas.

 

For now, I can tell you that Israeli wines and cheeses are top quality and very delicious, and that the Golan area, especially, is known for the quality of its wines. ;)

 

I'll keep an eye out for your post with the description :)

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Ruth, thanks so much...

 

"The tour starts with a visit to En Cammoniem Farm - in Upper Galilee hills,where we taste the dairy produced in the farm. Then, on the slopes of the Golan Heights we will see Qatrzin, the old city and the ancient synagogue. Then, we see the Magic of Golan, a complex that includes a model of the Golan Heights and the latest venture in the area - a Brewery. After lunch at the brewery, we will continue to the Ramat Hagolan Winery for a tour and taste the different blends."

 

The tour takes approx. 10 hours and leaves Haifa at 8:00 a.m. The ship leaves Haifa at 10:00 p.m.

 

Any ideas/suggestions are appreciated. We're just a little over 6 weeks from sailing are are very excited to visit your beautiful country.

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Ruth, thanks so much...

 

"The tour starts with a visit to En Cammoniem Farm - in Upper Galilee hills,where we taste the dairy produced in the farm. Then, on the slopes of the Golan Heights we will see Qatrzin, the old city and the ancient synagogue. Then, we see the Magic of Golan, a complex that includes a model of the Golan Heights and the latest venture in the area - a Brewery. After lunch at the brewery, we will continue to the Ramat Hagolan Winery for a tour and taste the different blends."

 

The tour takes approx. 10 hours and leaves Haifa at 8:00 a.m. The ship leaves Haifa at 10:00 p.m.

 

Any ideas/suggestions are appreciated. We're just a little over 6 weeks from sailing are are very excited to visit your beautiful country.

 

It sounds like a great day- the area you'll be in is beautiful, and while we've never had a chance to go to Qatzrin, it's on our 'to do' list as everyone we know who's visited there says it's a great day trip.

 

But, both my husband and I were astounded at the price for your tour! Before you book the ship's excursion, I'd suggest you check the threads in this forum for recommendations for private guides, and see what they would charge for a similar tour. Also, check the roll call for your cruise, and see if anyone would be interested in joining you on a private tour (or if anyone has already organized one).

 

If you'd be satisfied with just a winery tour, Zichron Yaakov is only about 40 minutes (or less) from Haifa, and from there you could continue to Ceasaria to tour.

 

If money is not too much of an issue, and if you'd be concerned about making it back to the ship on time, then the ship's excursion sounds like it will be a very pleasant (and delicious ;)) day. If you're more adventurous, then you could rent a car in Haifa, and explore the wineries and farms on your own.

 

HTH!

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Ruth, thanks! Now I'm really looking forward to doing this. The price is...yowza high. I'm sure we're going to do something like that though. I've posted on our roll call, but so far, no response. I'll keep trying. Thanks again.

Edited by Heelan
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I usedGuy Tours , our tour was great

 

Would you mind giving me more info? e.g., did your tour cover the same itinerary as ours; did you get back to the ship in plenty of time, etc. I'm going to Google Guy now. Thanks for the tip.

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Hi Ruth,

 

I want to wish you a terrific trip and La Shana Tova!

 

I have a quick question about Zichron Yaacov. My cousins just returned from 3 weeks in Israel and fell in love with Zichron Yaacov. They are even considering real estate there. Do you know how spread out things are there? We plan to have a rental car, but were wondering is there a centralized pedestrian area? We would like to park and then walk. Based on our past visit to Israel we learned that finding parking can some times be a challenge.

Thanks and regards from St. Croix,

Ellen

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Hi Ruth,

 

1. We will be on RCCL's Vision of the Seas, at port in Haifi on Thurs, Oct 1st and in port in Ashod on Fri, Oct 2nd. We always book shore excursions through the ship. Our excursion is from 8:00 AM to 6:15 PM. Sites include, the West Wall, Garden Gesthaneme, Via DelaRosa, and Church of the Sephlacre, and Bethlehem. From reading previous posts, it seems that things close down on the evening of Oct 2nd, so we should be able to see the sites on Friday during the day. I have read through the posts and have several additional questions.

 

2. I have seasonal allergies to enviornmental things, like pollen. I am going to start my Allergra a week before we leave. Do you know of anything in bloom at this time of the year?

 

3 I am planning on wearing capris and a button up shirt, with a shell underneath. I am also bringing a light-weight shawl. I am assuming this will be acceptable.

4 Do we need to bring bug spray?

 

5. Are you aware of the ports refusing entrance of the ships because of flu onboard? On our last cruise in June in the Caribbean, two ports refused our ship docking because two people, who were quarantined, had the flu. Also, are you aware of any flu outbreaks there? My husband is purchasing these special masks to wear on the plane, which, hopefully will filter out some of these bugs. Do you know of tourists wearing masks while on their excursions? I read from the CDC site that there is the threat of the West Nile Virus.

 

Thanks so much in advance for your reply.

 

Catherine Walker

Toccoa GA

Edited by cacky
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Hi Ruth,

 

I want to wish you a terrific trip and La Shana Tova!

 

I have a quick question about Zichron Yaacov. My cousins just returned from 3 weeks in Israel and fell in love with Zichron Yaacov. They are even considering real estate there. Do you know how spread out things are there? We plan to have a rental car, but were wondering is there a centralized pedestrian area? We would like to park and then walk. Based on our past visit to Israel we learned that finding parking can some times be a challenge.

Thanks and regards from St. Croix,

Ellen

 

Hi Ellen!

 

Shana Tova (and happy travels) to you, too! Yikes- we were just asked to host several US students for at least one of the meals, so I'm already shopping and cooking!

 

Zichron Yaakov is beautiful; I'm not surprised that your cousins fell in love with it. (It also has a substantial English speaking community, btw).

 

The town itself is spread around the hillside, but there is a central pedestrian area that is lovely. It's filled with cafes and artist's galleries, and the 'wine route' is also in that area. There's a lot of very interesting modern Israeli history in Zichron, and when you walk around you will find commemorative plaques and a small museum or two.

 

I think that the only times there might be a problem finding parking in Zichron would be on weekends and holidays. (The weather in October should be perfect for walking, so even if you need to park a few blocks from the pedestrian area, it shouldn't be a problem.)

 

HTH, and enjoy!

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Hi Ruth,

 

1. We will be on RCCL's Vision of the Seas, at port in Haifi on Thurs, Oct 1st and in port in Ashod on Fri, Oct 2nd. We always book shore excursions through the ship. Our excursion is from 8:00 AM to 6:15 PM. Sites include, the West Wall, Garden Gesthaneme, Via DelaRosa, and Church of the Sephlacre, and Bethlehem. From reading previous posts, it seems that things close down on the evening of Oct 2nd, so we should be able to see the sites on Friday during the day. I have read through the posts and have several additional questions.

 

Yes, that's correct- you should have no problem visiting the sites on Friday morning (stores and restaurants will start closing down on Friday afternoon). You are in for a special treat during your visit- Friday is the eve of the week long 'Feast of the Tabernacle' (Succot), so keep looking up- you'll see succot (booths- temporary 'rooms' that are built for the holiday) on the balconies in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City (and all around the city and most of the country).

 

2. I have seasonal allergies to enviornmental things, like pollen. I am going to start my Allergra a week before we leave. Do you know of anything in bloom at this time of the year?

 

With its fairly mild climate, there is always something blooming in Israel! My husband and I experienced a switch in our seasonal allergies when we moved here- the spring allergies I used to get hit with in the States affect me in the fall here, while my husband's allergies switched from the fall to the spring. In general, we've both found that our allergies are milder here, so I think you should be fine with the Allegra.

 

3 I am planning on wearing capris and a button up shirt, with a shell underneath. I am also bringing a light-weight shawl. I am assuming this will be acceptable.

 

It will be perfectly acceptable. There's a chance that you might be asked to wrap the shawl around your waist (over your pants) in some areas, but I wouldn't worry about it. BTW- Jerusalem can get cool in the evening (it will still be a bit hot during the day), so you will need the shawl for warmth.

 

4 Do we need to bring bug spray?

 

I haven't had any problems with mosquitoes, etc (most Israeli homes don't have screens on their windows), but I personally don't travel anywhere in the world without a naturopathic insect repellent (I use one that comes in a small tin, so it's easy to carry and use).

 

5. Are you aware of the ports refusing entrance of the ships because of flu onboard? On our last cruise in June in the Caribbean, two ports refused our ship docking because two people, who were quarantined, had the flu. Also, are you aware of any flu outbreaks there? My husband is purchasing these special masks to wear on the plane, which, hopefully will filter out some of these bugs. Do you know of tourists wearing masks while on their excursions? I read from the CDC site that there is the threat of the West Nile Virus.

 

I haven't heard of any ships being refused entry here because of the flu. Israel is like any country in the world- we have cases of H1N1, and deaths have been associated in those with other medical conditions. We had bouts of regular flu this summer, mostly in summer camps popular with US visitors (I got the flu from a friend who was visiting from the States, and flew here knowing she had the flu!), but while the health authorities are advising everyone to be smart and to take sensible precautions, there isn't a particular sense of concern here. I haven't seen any tourists wearing masks; the newspapers here would definitely report- with photos- if there were.

 

My understanding is that West Nile virus occurs at the same rates in Israel as it does in the US. Again, it's not a huge concern here- every year the newspapers report a few cases of the virus, but that is it.

 

To be honest, I'm more concerned about getting the flu on my upcoming trip to the States than I am about contracting it here. I'm especially starting to think I was nuts to book a short Baja cruise before I fly on to Australia and New Zealand- I'll be walking around the ship with my antibacterial wipes, washing my hands religiously, and avoiding the buffet!

 

Thanks so much in advance for your reply.

 

Catherine Walker

Toccoa GA

 

HTH, and enjoy your trip!

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