Tuesday 26 March 2013

Next Trip: Israel Take 2

When planning our trip to Israel last year, we made a conscious decision to focus on the South and lesser travelled Negev Desert and leave to next time most of the more typical tourist spots.

Us at Masada with the Dead Sea behind us. Read all about our previous trip or see the pictures

Well, on Thursday night we leave for the second trip (gotta squeeze it in before Branson repatriates!) and as promised we're all set up for a slightly more traditional visit to the country.

Our current itinerary looks like this:
  • Day 1 - arrive early AM for Tel-Aviv. Hoping to catch an architecture walking tour & maybe some beach time before putting on our dancing shoes for a night out.
  • Day 2 - second day in Tel-Aviv. Maybe catch one of the museums (Museum of Art or Eretz Israel) or do some historical sightseeing near the old port.
  • Day 3 - drive to the Galilee via Haifa (maybe a second chance to tour the Bahai Gardens?) planning on a chilled evening at the kibbutz
  • Day 4 - visit Nazareth
  • Day 5 - Hiking in the Golan Heights
  • Day 6 - visit Safed and perhaps Capernaum along with the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves & Fishes
  • Day 7 - A mini hike in the AM and then drive to Jerusalem in the afternoon, first evening in Jerusalem. We may stop somewhere on the way instead of doing a morning hike. Will see how we feel
  • Day 8 - sightseeing in Jerusalem (probably focusing on the old city)
  • Day 9 - sightseeing in Jerusalem (probably focusing on the new city & the east)
  • Day 10 - visit Ramallah or Bethlehem depending on the security situation
  • Day 11 - morning in Jerusalem and then to the airport for our late afternoon flight back to London

It's pretty full, but should give us a nice cross section of some of the better known parts of Israel. No doubt we'll make substitutions and changes as we go depending on our moods and the situation on the ground. This is particularly true for Day 10 when we're hoping to see "the other side". I'm keen in particular to visit the Quaker Centre in Ramallah, but as with much in this region we'll just have to play this by ear.

We are super excited to be going back, not only to get to see the other half of the country, but also for the weather! London's winter has been beyond miserable, so the sunny, warm forecast for Israel is like something out of a dream. Sunshine and an exciting destination? Yes please!

We're using the same guidebook from before - our trusty DK Eyewitness Guide for Jerusalem, Israel, Petra & Sinai and Branson has a pretty complete collection of maps for our hikes. No doubt we'll pick up other bits while we're there, but this should provide us with a more than sufficient starting point.

In preparation for the trip, I've read (or am in the process of readng) a few non-fiction books:
Jerusalem, The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiori (excellent - highly recommended)
A History of Modern Israel by Colin Schindler (fair to middling, not convinced there isn't a better option)
The Arab-Israeli Reader edited by Walter Laquer & Barry Rubin (an enlightening read, but not good on its own. Much better if read in conjunction with a more traditional narrative history)

Also recommended past reads for those interested in a good laymen's understanding of the broader historical context:
The Middle Sea by John Julius Norwich
A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin

I'll be aiming to live blog the trip again this year, so keep your eye peeled this weekend for the next installment!

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