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Israel

Israel

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Broad appeal across the personality spectrum, but for different reasons - religious, cultural, social and ethnic

Did You Know…?

  • Israel uses kosher glue on its stamps.
  • The Dead Sea is evaporating; it loses about three feet of depth each year.
  • Israel counts about 100 kinds of wild mammals, compared with 140 varieties in all of Europe.
  • Israel has more cell phones than people.
  • The same two Moslem families have kept the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for 800 years.

History like no other

Israel is unbeatable as a vacation destination — at least on paper. The one hitch, at times, is concern over security.

The country has history like no other and enough remnants of that past to keep visitors enthralled regardless of their personal commitment to any of the three religions that were born or nurtured here. For those attracted for religious reasons, the monuments, cities, towns, even the land itself are just that much more special.

Complementing those attractions, Israel is warm and sunny, with options for an active or less-active vacation in the hills, in the desert, on the water or at a spa.

This tiny nation draws North Americans despite on-again, off-again strife. Travelers say the look and feel of the entire area, including the neighboring countries, make them feel connected to the traditions and the great antiquity of the Middle East. North Americans come to Israel most often for reasons of significant historical, spiritual or ethnic interest, which make their trips as much pilgrimages as vacations.

All personality types emphasize these qualities when talking about Israel, but the least venturesome are less likely to choose Israel than are others. Although North Americans focus on the historical and spiritual when planning the trip, they come away knowing more about Israel’s diversity.

On the coast, visitors relish sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches adjacent to chic health spas. There is more of that at Eilat in the south and at a string of spas next to the Dead Sea.

Visitors relate how much fun they have in the modern, “with-it” city of Tel Aviv with its shops and nightlife. Those who visit a kibbutz come away with a new view of communal agricultural life — plus a real appreciation for the Israelis’ ability to make the desert bloom.

There is little difference among the personality types as to their activities. Those in the middle of the personality spectrum are more likely to emphasize the historical sites and educational qualities of their trip while the venturesome focus on the modern nation as well as the historical. The latter group more often seeks active recreation in the desert or on the water.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Join an archaeological dig, or just observe one. One place to search for opportunities is through the Archaeological Institute of America.
  • Make a real night of it in Tel Aviv. People in this coastal city venture out anywhere between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. Several neighborhoods are noted for their nightlife, including the port. Note that waiters and bartenders live on tips only.
  • From Tiberias, ride an inner tube or take a kayak down the Jordan River.
  • See some or a lot of Israel on a bicycle. Trips may last a day or a week. Cycling with a licensed guide is recommended.
  • Parasail on the Sea of Galilee.
  • Hike or ride horseback into the Golan Heights. Or, join a guided ATV tour across the Heights to Mount Bental, which overlooks the Syrian border.

Things to do for Centrics

  • On a tour, visit one of Israel’s Druze villages to learn about this unique religious minority. You may even overnight in a Druze guest house and attend workshops on Druze handicrafts and cooking, most notably the paper thin bread for which they are known.
  • Get a unique slant on Israel’s capital: Walk atop the waermon on the Mount. Take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee as wellls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
  • Go to Bethlehem, circumstances permitting.
  • Walk through Acre, both the above-ground and below-ground sections, for an idea of the layout and structure of the Crusader town, which dated from 1104 to 1291. Walk on Acre’s old walls, stroll the alleys of the Old City.
  • At the Sea of Galilee, see Capernaum, Simon Peter’s home town, and the Mount of the Beatitudes, the scene of the Sl.
  • Take a day trip to the Qumran caves, the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Selected pages of the scrolls are on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Decamp for a day or two in a health spa on the Dead Sea. Take a mud bath. Float in the salt water which is said to be great for calming the nerves.
  • You don’t have to be Jewish to tuck a written prayer into the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
  • Enjoy  huge Israeli breakfasts. Eat hummous. Drink freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.
  • Walk through Old Jaffa, the section of the ancient port city of Jaffa (up to 4,000 years old) that has been renovated and revitalized in recent times. Now a part of Tel Aviv, it offers shops, art museums and nightlife.
  • Buy Ahava skin products as gifts, or for yourself.
  • Visit the Baha’i Gardens, which brighten a narrow strip on a steep hillside in Haifa. The gardens, with formal displays at 19 terrace levels, lead to and surround the burial site of the prophet of the Baha’i religion. Entry is free but you must visit as part of a group. A hundred gardeners tend these lawns and flowerbeds daily, all of them Baha’i volunteers.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Tourism Israel at www.goisrael.com and, to locate a travel agent with Israel expertise, at the www.goisrael.com home page, click Find a Travel Agent. Or, go directly to www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Deals/Pages/Agents.aspx