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I am in Israel!!!

NYC area
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I am in Israel!!!

Just a very short message because we just arrived and are heading to the beach. Tel Aviv Airport was one of the easiest I have ever been through. I did not see security personnel anywhere. There was a short line to have our passports checked. They did not stamp our passports though. I wish they had. I hope I am not here illegally. The only question they asked was why we were here and how long we were staying.

Then we went to get our luggage, which came right out. I am accustomed to long waits sometimes. We took a cab to the hotel. Very easy to get a cab. The cab driver used the meter. Thank you so much for recommending the Savoy Hotel. It is very nice, modern, clean, such warm friendly people working here; I can see the Mediterranean from my balcony and I am about 1/2 block to the beach. Speaking of which, that is where I am headed now. It is hot out. I think there is a heat wave but it is supposed to cool off a little. The hotel provides us with beach towels.

I will try to write more later.

NYC/Israel
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41. Re: I am in Israel!!!

ziggy--as Bobby said, they don't translate into English, they summarize. Years ago it was better ( if my memory is correct) I don't know why it is done the way it is--maybe because they are finding that tourists don't have as much background--I don't know. I DO agree with you!

NYC area
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42. Re: I am in Israel!!!

Just wanted to touch base. At Kfar Blum. Going to Tsfat today. Having trouble getting wifi here. Using iPad. Cannot type full report this way. Shabbat Shalom! I love israel!!!

Cincinnati, Ohio
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43. Re: I am in Israel!!!

Bobbie, I am loving your reports -- and we have similar tastes! Continue to enjoy your trip, and thanks for sharing when you can.

Douglas Duckett

NYC/Israel
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44. Re: I am in Israel!!!

While people are enjoying your reports we will also enjoy a trip report AFTER your visit is over. Please, dont' feel you have to do this day by day. If ti becomes a chore due to time restrictions or trouble getting wifi--then just don't do it.

Your main task is to enjoy your vacation. We are # 2.

Houston
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45. Re: I am in Israel!!!

Thanks for posting! We are leaving for Israel Tuesday and reading this makes even more excited!!

NYC area
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46. Re: I am in Israel!!!

Missed several wonderful days, which I will do with real computer. We are driving along the Dead Sea. Beautiful scenery from air conditioned car. Made pit stop. It is hot outside!!!!!!! Heading to Crowne Plaza Hotel. If I go into the Dead Sea will it be refreshingly cool or hot? We truly love Israel and have not even gone to Jerusalem yet. Just passed Mineral beach. I better get off and pay attentIon.

Israel
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47. Re: I am in Israel!!!

The Dead Sea experience - floating in the mineral rich water is not what you would call a "refreshing" experience. It is different, truly unique but afterwards you will be refreshed by your shower and a dip in the hotel pool.

NYC area
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48. Re: I am in Israel!!!

Thanks Oreet! Crowne Plaza is absolutely gorgeous with gorgeous views and a gorgeous pool and a gorgeous beach, all of which I plan to enjoy. Temperature is much more comfortable here.

NYC area
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49. Re: I am in Israel!!!

We went to the beach and put our toes in the Dead Sea. Extremely easy access to the Dead Sea from the Crowne Plaza. I think you could probably even get a wheelchair down there. Thank you so much, Dave and others, for recommending this hotel. Then we got kicked out because the beach closed at about 5:30. We had planned to arrive here earlier but got lost a bit up north. Then we sat by the pool. We got kicked out. Apparently the pool closes about the same time as the beach. Not many people speak English here so we are using a combination of every language we ever learned. We are enjoying it though. Sooner or later we can make ourselves understood. We were upgraded to an Executive Room and our room is gorgeous. We decided to come here to relax until dinner. So far, no one has kicked us out. This gives me a little time to continue my trip report. I am sure I have already forgotten so many things.

Day 5 - Tel Aviv/Haifa - Ron (my husband) walked the short walk to Eldan to rent our car while I checked out of the hotel. We enjoyed this hotel very much but there was not much I could walk to from there except the beach. I believe better walkers could probably walk to several more places. Driving in Tel Aviv was no more difficult than driving in New York City or Boston. We used the GPS system we rented from Eldan, IGOIsrael, and loved it!! It was not always perfect and sometimes we had to be a little creative, but it was worth every penny. At one point we switched to another system also on the I-Pad, Waze. But we were basically happy with IGOIsrael in English.

We drove from Tel Aviv to Haifa. There was very little traffic. Haifa is absolutely gorgeous. I loved it. It is one huge hill. Driving, you start at the bottom and circle your way around to the top. We used the GPS and had absolutely no problems. We stayed at Dan Panorama. It was gorgeous and we had a room overlooking the beautiful harbor and the Bahai Gardens.

We were more than ready for lunch and had been looking forward to felafel. However, we were too hungry to go all the way to Wadi Nisnas, where some of you had recommended felafel restaurants. We asked around the hotel and town area and were advised that the best felafel was at Hanasi, which was an easy walk from the hotel. We walked thru town to Hanasi. The felafel was the best I have ever had, as was the hummus. The hummus even had cooked chickpeas on top, that did not come from a can!

After our fill of felafel, we still wanted to see Wadi Nisnas, so we took the carmelit down there. The carmelit is like a subway that goes up and down the hill. I believe we got off at the wrong stop because we had to take a taxi from there to Wadi Nisnas. We got a fantastic tour of many of Haifa's varied neighborhoods. I, of course, had to try the felafel restaurant that many here recommended, Hazkenim. At this felafel restaurant, they were offering samples of felafel, which was perfect given that we had just eaten. This felafel was unbelievably good. I do not know how you can pick the best felafel and hummus.

We walked around Wadi Nisnas and enjoyed exploring the neighborhood. This appears to be primarily an Arab neighborhood. There were many fruit and vegetable stands. We met a very nice Arab couple. They were selling fresh squeezed pomegranate juice, and we decided to try some. It was delicious and they seemed very pleased that we were enjoying it so much. We sat and people watched for a bit then decided to go back to the hotel. We tried to get a taxi, but could not. We then spoke with some neighborhood women and figured out a way to get back to our hotel by bus. We were at the bottom of the hill and our hotel was at the top. The bus ride was another exciting adventure. We got to see lots of people who live in Haifa and lots of neighborhoods.

We then walked along the Louis Promenade behind the hotel from where we could sort of view the Bahai Gardens.

Dinnertime. Shoshi, I wish I had read your recommendation before we went anywhere. We decided to try the German Colony for dinner. From here, we had a great view of the Bahai Gardens from the bottom, all lit up at night. This was gorgeous. German Colony, at least David ben Gurion Street, was like restaurant row. There were many restaurants and many people asking us to go to their restaurant. We finally decided on a restaurant that had the name Havana in it. It was okay, but nothing that I would particularly recommend.

We sat outdoors in the smoking section because that was the only place outside where they had room for us. The weather was too beautiful to eat indoors. People were smoking something that smelled very nice. They were smoking hookahs. Whatever they were smoking must have been legal because we saw them and smelled them everywhere. We asked the waitress what they were smoking and she said they were smoking apples. I will wait for someone more familiar with this to tell me if she was pulling my leg or if they were really smoking apples.

We did have one unfortunate experience in Haifa. Someone looked as if he was trying to run my husband over with his car and then stopped abruptly just before hitting him. We were walking. I was even using my walker then. We were petrified. He was laughing. A taxi stopped and said he would call the police for us, but we did not want to start anything. We felt much safer driving in Haifa than walking for sure. This happened in German Colony, someplace where I believe there are many tourists.

We would not let that spoil our good time. We walked around some more and then went back to the hotel.

The next morning, I experienced what everyone was raving about when they talk about the Israeli breakfast. There were many things to choose from. However, I have to agree with Douglas, that although the Israeli breakfast is quite impressive, there is not much there to my liking. Yes, I know I am in the minority, but this is my report. I think I had fruit and yogurt and a few vegetables. There were many kinds or breads and pastries and cheeses to choose from for those who wanted them. And, I got to try shakshuka, or something like that, which I had heard so much about. It is a bit like huevos rancheros I think. Again, not my favorite, but I am glad that I to to try it.

I highly recommend that visitors to Israel go to Haifa. The views are absolutely beautiful and there are many different neighborhoods and cultures to experience.

Belfast, United...
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50. Re: I am in Israel!!!

Bobbie, thank you. I am trying to organise my return visit to Israel and Haifa will be one of my stops.

I agree with you, the Israel breakfast is not my 'cup of tea' either but I love Falafel and Humous!!

I have so enjoyed you report so far and looking forward to more.