A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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In a Nutshell

Israel was a place we approached with some concern. We had an image of the country in our head, built on decades of news coverage.

I think it’s fair to say that image was shattered and replaced with a much more informed and nuanced view.

Most important, I think we left the country (and the region) with much more context for interpreting what we see and hear on the news.  Call it a glimmer of understanding.  It was well worth the journey.

We traveled to Israel to visit our friends, the Habermans.  Their wonderful hospitality made the time spent in Israel all the more meaningful.  They were fantastic hosts, and we can’t thank them enough.

Israel is a very rewarding place to travel.  The richness of the country’s history — both ancient and modern — make it a fascinating place to visit.

It is also quite a beautiful country, and it had a very different look and feel than any place we had been previously.

There are some who are concerned about safety in traveling to Israel.  In our experience, these fears are unfounded.

Regional tensions rise and fall, and security is paramount inside the country — but as visitors, we felt completely safe, completely at ease for our entire visit.

I would encourage others considering a visit to do so – I think you’ll find it one of the most interesting places you could ever visit.

Entering Israel from Jordan

Our OneWorld RTW ticket took us as far as Amman, Jordan.  We then had to travel overland to Israel.

Jordan opened its border with Israel to tourists in 1994.  There are three border crossings – a northern, central and southern crossing.

We hired a private taxi for the one hour trip from Amman to the northern crossing at the Sheikh Hussein Bridge.

Entering Israel can be time-consuming.  It took us about three hours from the time we arrived at the Jordanian side of the border to actually be permitted to enter Israel.

You can read more about how to travel from Jordan to Israel here.

Israeli border security is tight.  They carefully screen your luggage, ask a lot of questions and want to know exactly what you will be doing in their country.   You’ll need plenty of patience for this part of the trip.

Relaxing on the Mediterranean

Once we completed the border crossing, things got considerably easier. We were fortunate to stay with the Habermans at their house in Zikhron Yaa’cov.  After months on the road, after ten days in India, it was a welcome relief to kick off the road dust and just relax.

Zikhron is a beautiful little town on the coast.  We wandered the pedestrian shopping street, lounged on the beach and took a short coastal walk through wildflowers and ancient ruins.  And we watched a lot of Mediterranean sunsets.

We made an overnight trip to Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea.  It was a fascinating walk through history.  Jerusalem has got to be one of most interesting places you could ever visit.

A traveler could easily spend a week or more there, seeing the sites and absorbing the feel of a city holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Masada and the Dead Sea are popular places to visit.

If you have an interest in floating in the Dead Sea, I suggest you go soon — the sea is shrinking at an alarming rate.  The spa at Ein Gedi is as good a place as any to enjoy to therapeutic benefits of the salty water and mud.

Finally, we spent a day wandering around the ancient Roman port city of Caesarea, an odd combination of Roman ruins and upscale shopping and dining.

So Much More

We arrived in Israel fatigued from nine months of travel.  We saw great sites and had a wonderful time — but we also know there is so much more to see there.

If we had more energy, we could have easily added other destinations like the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv and the resort town of Eliat (on the Red Sea).  We’ll save those sites for a return visit someday.

The most important point I want to make is this:  A visit to Israel is rewarding on so many levels.  It can give you a deeper appreciation for and understanding of history, religion and one of the most intractable conflicts of our time.

And, if you happen to have friends there, all the better.

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