This famous and ancient land is tiny but packed with history and compelling sites and experiences -- not to mention falafel. !מַזָּל נסיעה טובה

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Comment by José Balido on October 5, 2009 at 9:36pm
Here's a series of really cool 360-degree views of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher -- just use your mouse to move around!
Comment by EnLinea Media on September 9, 2009 at 9:46am
FYI, this week's Top Tune from Around the Planet hails from Israel; it's Boaz Mauda's "The Fire in Your Eyes," the country's 2008 entry in the Eurovision pop song contest.
Comment by Jen Karetnick on August 13, 2009 at 11:31am
incidentally, october is a beautiful time to go. excellent weather, after the high holy days.
Comment by Jen Karetnick on August 13, 2009 at 11:31am
writing a piece for a new jewish mag on jerusalem right now. will give you a post when i finish. as for hummus, abushukri in jerusalem in the muslim quarter is quite famous and delish too!
Comment by Ed Lehrman on August 13, 2009 at 11:04am
I'm in the early stages of planning an independent tour of Israel. I
am trying to piece together an itinerary using a number of sources,
including: (1) Frommer's Israel, (2) Harriet Greenberg's Israel On
Your Own (I purchased a used copy), (3) itineraries of a few major
travel companies (such as Isram and Magaret Morse tours), and (4) a
few recommended itineraries that I found on the Web. I also have
ordered Carta's Israel Touring Atlas & Easy Guide, but haven't
received it yet.

My wife and I will enjoy the historical sites and the Biblical
Judeo-Christian sites of the Holy Land. We enjoy antiquities. We are
not shoppers and we don't search out the night-time party scene. It is
of course easier to simply take a tour, but we have found in the past
that we remember more and enjoy our vacations more if we do things
independently. But planning independent travel means more work and
much more preparation.

I'm still in the early phases of planning this trip. It looks like we
will start in Tel Aviv (probably a 2-3 night stay), then pick up a
rental car and move up the coast through Ceasarea to Haifa (probably 3
nights), then travel inland through Nazareth to Tiberias (2 or 3
nights), then head south to the Dead Sea area (1-2 nights). I'm still
uncertain if we should plan to go all the way to Eilat (the main goal
would be to visit Petra from Eilat - I would probably take a 1-2 day
tour to Petra rather than attempt independent travel in Jordan). We
would return our rental car in Jerusalem and plan a more extended stay
there (4 or 5 nights?). All told I'm figuring between 2 1/2 - 3 weeks
for this trip.

When do we go? I am considering either October 2010 (after the Jewish
High Holy days) or May 2011 (after Passover).

The first stumbling block I am running into is this: how important is
it to plan your time around the Sabbath? Do tourist sites shut down
for the Jewish Sabbath, or do some or many remain open? What about
Christian sites - would these be difficult to visit on a Sunday? Near
Haifa are several Druze villages - I have read that the Druze sabbath
is Friday. Do I need to plan my itinerary around the various sabbath
celebrations in order to maximize our time? If I do, planning becomes
more difficult and I would need to figure out how to determine which sites are open and on which days.

A further complication is airline flights. I believe that El Al does
not fly on the Jewish Sabbath. My preferred airline is American
Airlines (an El Al partner), so this creates some further
issues. But I still think that I need to flesh out our land
itinerary first and can then add air, hotel, and car rental later.

Thanks for any advice or guidance you can provide.
Comment by David Paul Appell on July 21, 2009 at 12:57pm
Interesting value-oriented development re El Al from!:

El Al to introduce low-cost economy class
Airline to offer cheap tickets on flights to Europe, but passengers will have to pay for every additional service, including luggage check in, food and pillows

Israeli airline El Al announced Monday that as of next week it will offer its passengers a low-cost economy class on flights to Europe. If the new service proves successful, it may also expand to flights to the company's other destinations, including the United States and East Asia.

Low cost airlines EasyJet and Air Berlin recently announced they will soon start operating flights to Israel, a fact that is expected to increase competition over flights to Europe.

El Al CEO Haim Romano said that while basic price tickets for the low cost economy class will be cheaper, passengers will be required to pay extra for services such as food and beverages, entertainment and luggage shipment.

"On EL Al planes we currently operate first class, business class and economy class, which is divided into sub-classes. But on all sub-classes we provide passengers with the same service, even if they paid less," explained Romano.

"Our plan is to open on the planes another class, the low-cost economy. While leg room will be the same as in the rest of the economy class, low-cost passengers will receive no free services. They will have to pay for every suitcase they check in, for food and beverages on board, for headphones or any other entertainment service, for blankets and pillows and for reserving seats."

According to Romano, El Al plans to start operating the low-cost service as early as September. The low-cost class is expected to make up 10%-20% of the overall number of seats on the plane.

Tickets for the low-cost class will go for about $199 for flights to Europe and $599 for flight to the US. The prices of the additional services have not been determined yet.

Estimated prices for extra services on the low-cost class:
Luggage check in: $10 per suitcase
Hot meal: $10
Breakfast, including coffee: $6
Light meals and snacks: $3-4
Hot and cold beverages: $1.5-2
Sandwich: $5
Comment by David Paul Appell on May 15, 2009 at 8:41pm
For anybody heading to Tel Aviv, Haaretz recently did a roundup of the 5 top hummus joints. The winners:

Hummus Ashkara
The owners of this veteran hummus joint pass the hummus test time after time. Running for 30 years and open 24 hours a day, Hummus Ashkara serves this Middle-Eastern dish with just a small amount of olive oil and minimal spices. Soup is available in addition in winter.
Price: NIS 20 for a plate of hummus including ful (cooked broad beans) and grains. 45 Yerimiyahu Street. Tel: 03 546 4547

Hummus Abu Adham
This famous hummus eatery from Kfar Yassif opened its doors in Tel Aviv in 2003. Cuisine at Abu Adham is prepared throughout the day and its strictly smooth hummus is said to be easy on the digestion. Chips and salad are tasty additions. However, if your appetite still isn't satisfied after the first plate, don't worry, Abu Adham rewards the hungry with a free side-dish. Price: NIS 16 for a dish. 7 Carlebach Street. Tel: 03 562 5051.

Hummus Aba Gil
At Aba Gil's you'll receive health food and no mistake. The hummus served here is coarsely ground and comes with chickpeas, garlic sauce and lemon, a little tehina and olive oil and everything is organic. And that's not all - you can complete your meal with soup, baked peppers, rice, steamed vegetables and organic pita, freshly baked on site. Price: NIS 22 for a plate of hummus. 55 Yehuda HaLevi Street, tel: 03 566 3320.

Hummus Said
The Tel Aviv branch of the outstanding Acre-based Hummus Said is an ideal solution for those of you who have left the north of the country or just miss it. The recipe used is exactly the same as the one in Acre and fresh hummus is ready for the taking every hour. The joint also offers shakshuka, another Middle Eastern favorite, meat dishes, chips and salad. Price: NIS 17 per plate of hummus. 12 Menachem Begin Way. Tel: 03 624 3136

Hummus Mashawa
Chickpeas at Hummus Mashawa are ground on site for each individual customer. The fresh chickpeas are not crushed completely and are served warm - the hummus here is without doubt one of the best in the country. As well as its excellent hummus, Mashawa also serves good pita, tehina, salad and soup. Price: NIS 19 for a Mashawa plate. 40 Pinsker Street. Tel: 03 629 3796.



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