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.