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Travel Questions for Galilee Area

Berkeley, California
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Travel Questions for Galilee Area

My wife and I, Catholics in our mid-60’s, are planning a first-time trip to Israel for early October 2013, arriving at Ben Gurion on Sunday the 6th and leaving Ben Gurion mid-day on Monday the 14th. We will have spent 14 days in Turkey before arriving in Israel. My wife is planning the Turkey phase; I am planning the Israel phase. I am writing for advice on general planning issues solely for the Galilee part (I may post a query for the Jerusalem part later—we have a private guide for our first full day in Jerusalem).

Despite the limited time we have for travel in Israel, we want to do the best we can to leave with a better understanding—beyond what we can read in books—and sense of:

The ancient history of the place,

The history and practices of Judaism, Christianity and Islam,

The current tensions and challenges facing Israel and Palestinian people, and

The daily life—family, work, celebrations, etc.—of the people.

An important part of this trip will be to take enough quiet time (including walking) for prayerful reflection on the above goals of our trip.

Given that preface, here is what we currently have in mind for the Galilee part:

• Rent a car (probably from Eldon) at the airport on the 6th, drive north to Akko (via Route 6) and take a couple of hours exploring the Old City of Akko. Drive to Tiberias where we have three nights reservation at the Oasis Guesthouse.

• Places to visit, see, walk and do in the Galilee area: Drive to Cana, walk to Nazareth and walk back to Cana (or vice-versa) via the “Jesus Trail”; taxi to Mount of the Beatitudes and a walk back to Tabkha/Capernaum; boat trip on the Sea of Galilee; and Tiberias walk-abouts.

• Drive to Jerusalem on the 9th, via Route 90, with stops at Belvoir Castle and Beth Shean, and return the car to the agency’s Jerusalem office.

Is there a significant advantage to hiring a private guide for one of our two full days in the Galilee area?

Are there places or activities we should add or subtract from the itinerary?

Is it worthwhile and practical to stop somewhere along the Jordan River on the way to Jerusalem?

Will it be relatively easy to return the car to Jerusalem via Route 90?

Any other insights or advice will be appreciated.

Thousand Oaks...
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1. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

Kudos to having already done substantial planning on this trip. So far it looks like you will have a great vacation.

A couple places to consider for the 3 days up north:

Tabgha, home of the Church of the Multiplication and the Sermon on the Mount location

Cana, on the previously mentioned Jesus trail.

Mt. Tabor and the Church of the Transfiguration. Astounding views from up there.

To gain an appreciation of Israeli geo-political considerations I would definitely recommend a guided tour of the Golan Heights area, possibly even a jeep tour.

Belvoir and Beit Shean can still be very hot when you visit. Have plenty of water for that along with your drive through Hwy 90.

Have a great trip!

Dr. Z

Thousand Oaks...
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2. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

sorry....look like I repeated a few things you already have planned!

Pinetop-Lakeside...
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3. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

Personally I didn't find much in Cana but traffic; but that was just me. Don't miss Mt Tabor. It is good you are staying in Tiberias, you will get a good feel of 'the people' there. Kudos on wanting to visit Beit She'an, it was the most amazing roman ruin site I visited. Other t6han that, the only other stop along Hwy 90 would be just north of the intersection of Hwy 1 to Jerusalem; supposed to be the 'other' baptismal site for Jesus.

As for returning your car in Jerusalem, double check google maps, it is actually quite easy, the roads take you right to it and theres a gas station right across the street so you can fill it up before returning.

I went in October/November 2011 and I thought the weather was perfect, but do bring water.

Happy travels

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

Other noteworthy locations in the Galilee and not too far from you include: Banias- where Peter stated that 'Jesus was Christ'- from the book of Mark. This area has beautiful walking trails and nature including waterfalls. Another location nearby is Tel Dan which has a city gate going back to 1800BCE, an Iron Age gate, and the High Place of Jeroboam. Beautiful walking trails along the Dan River and some spectacular lookouts over the valley. Nimrods Castle, located on the Golan Heights has a fascinating history and has been well restored. Beautiful views of the Hula Valley. Don't miss HarBental, also on the Golan. This lookout into Syria gives a really good perspective of the geography of the area, just how close Syria, Israel and Lebanon are and how the land offers strategic military advantages (or disadvantages depending on your viewpoint) to those living in the area. Agmon HaHula is a nature reserve which is a stopping off point for hundreds of millions of birds on their annual migration between Europe and Africa. You can hike or bike this area to see not only the birds but other flora and fauna. You might like to see Rosh Pina, a lovely village with an interesting history- a good place to go for an evening meal. Also in the Galilee is Tzfat (Safed), the centre of Jewish Kabbalah. There is an artists colony here with prices that are significantly less than in Jerusalem. The Galilee offers so much to see and do. You will really have to pick and chose with only 3 days but I would also recommend the jeep tour of the Golan if you can't get in any of my other suggestions. The weather will be perfect at that time of year- some hot days still but blue skies and it cools down in the evenings.

Tel-Aviv
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5. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

Drive through the Jordan Valley on the 9th, but continue straight to the Dead Sea, visiting Qumran or Ein Gedi Nature Reserve if you have time. Overnight at the Dead Sea (Massada or Ein Gedi Youth Hostels or one of the Ein Bokek hotels). Visit Massada the following morning and drive to Jerusalem in time to return the car (and visit Qumran or Ein Gedi on the way if you didn't see them the day before).

Israel
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6. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

Further to mbgg's recommendation for accommodation, don't take fright at the words "youth hostels". The hostels are open to all, regardless of age, with private rooms, and are of a very high standard with a big breakfast included. They are very popular and must be booked well in advance.

Jerusalem, Israel
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7. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

From the airport to Akko just travel straight up the coastal road - route 2. Route 6 (a toll road) has no advantage on this journey. You can by-pass Haifa and drive along route 70 near Yokneam - or take your time to cross the city and take in the spectacular Bahai Gardens on the way.

Tel-Aviv
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8. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

BTW, what time does your flight arrive ?? The drive to Akko takes about 2 hours (if the traffic isn't heavy). You also have to allow at least 1.5 hrs to get out of the terminal and pick up your car.

Berkeley, California
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9. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

Thank you all for the many suggested additions and advice. When we arrive in Tiberias we will check into the jeep guide for the Golan area. From other posts it seems that 3 hours would be sufficient--given our limited time in the Galilee area.

mbgg, we arrive at Ben Gurion at 10:20 am. So it appears we will be getting our car around noon. On Jebus' advice we now will take Route 6 not Route 2.

When we drive to Jerusalem on the 9th, I don't think we can get to Massada or Qumran that day before dropping off the car because we have a guide (for one day only) meeting us early morning on the 10th at our hotel.

Thanks again--this is a very helpful travel site.

Tel Aviv, Israel
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10. Re: Travel Questions for Galilee Area

The duration of a jeep tour in the Golan Heights is normally 2 hours. This can't usually be organized on the fly, but, rather, should be reserved in advance. I recommend Ilan Shulman for jeep tours in that region. He's based out of Kibbutz Merom Golan, near Mount Bental.