Middle East Adventure: Week One
Israel and Palestine Territories
Middle East adventures are looming in the days ahead. The exploretraveler.com team has left the comforts of home behind and anxiously arrive in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is a romantic sea port on the Mediterranean Sea, where the sun and the sea seamlessly meet. Tel Aviv is a modern city made up of several smaller communities. On arrival, we are met by representatives of Noah Tours and are escorted to Jaffa, where we spend a night relaxing at the Market House.
Noah Tours Ltd.
Communication Centre Neve Llan, Harvey Yehuda 90850
Market House is an outstanding boutique hotel in old town Jaffa. The accommodations are excellent, service is suburb, and the morning buffet is outstanding. We were close to restaurants, and many interesting small shops. Market House is an uniquely modern hotel, complete with Wi Fi in the midst of charming antiquity.
The Market House Hotel
Day 2 is off and running as we meet our tour guide, Elinoar Nitzani. Under her excellent guidance we begin our day in , the city that Herod The Great dedicated to Caesar Augustus more than 2000 years ago. Herod created the grandest city, next to Jerusalem, in all Palestine. It has a deep sea port, and the aqueduct, hippodrome and magnificent amphitheater remain standing today.
Leaving Caesarea we journey to Haifa, Israel's third largest city. Haifa is one of the most beautiful cities in Israel and is home to the World Center of the Bahai Faith. In Haifa you find a mix of Synagogues, Mosques, Churches and an abundance of natural beauty.
Leaving Haifa, we journey on to Akko, also know as Acre. In Akko you can take a leisurely stroll along the walls of the city, which is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Akko dates back to the time of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1504-1450 BCE). In Akko you will find the charms of unique antiquity and unsurpassed beauty. Can you even dare to imagine the secrets that this ancient city, in the Middle East, guards to this day? Leaving Akko we complete our day in Tiberias, an amazing city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
The Ron Beach Hotel is our home away from home for the next two nights. We have amazing accommodations with marvelous views of the Sea of Galilee from our balcony. Service is excellent and what a fantastic dinner and breakfast buffet. The foods of the Middle East are out of this world. They are unique to the area, nutritious, and amazing!
The Ron Beach Hotel
Day 3 and 4 begins with another outstanding buffet breakfast. Then, we get an early start on a trip to Jericho. Elinoar Nitzani, our Israelite guide, has set up our experience with a local guide, Mr. Samer Abu Shushei. The transfer goes smoothly and she waits for us just inside Israel. Not much remains of ancient Jericho today. Little beyond a few piles of rocks that archaeologists now tell us were once parts of towers, staircases and other structures are found in modern Jericho.
Those that are there date back at least 7,000 years. That in itself is amazing! The oldest stairs and wall in the world can be seen in Jericho. Here we see layers of 23 ancient civilizations. Many of these Middle East civilizations may be as old as 9,000 years. Nearby is the Spring of Elisha, or Sultan's Spring, where the prophet sweetened the water. This story is recorded for us in 2 Kings, chapter 2. This is the source of water for the oasis and serves as drinking water for the community today. The water must be some of the best tasting water in the world!
There is also a cable car that will take you up to the Mountain of Temptation, where Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world. It is a marvelous morning and Mr. Samer Abu Shushei provides excellent interpretative services. We then finish our day with Elinoar Nitzani visiting Tzfat, Banias, and the Golan Hights. The next morning we visit Nazzarth, Beit Shean, Qasr El Yahud (one of two possible baptismal sites) and finally the Mount of Olives.
It is one of Jerusalem's highest points and we have fantastic views of the old city. We spend the next 4 nights at the Monteflore Boutique Hotel. Service and accommodations are excellent. A wonderful buffet breakfast is provided.
George I. Safar
Day 5 we spend on a walking tour of the old city and make a visit to the Western Wall. When Rome destroyed the Temple in 70 B.E. only the Western wall was left intact. This is one of the Holiest sites in Jerusalem and the Middle East. We visit the Holy Sepulcher and end our day at the Yehuda Market. Yehuda Market is an amazing Middle East market. The next day we tour the New City, visit the Israel Museum, and the Shrine of the Book.
For me, I find the Shrine of the Book to be fantastic and was definitely the highlight of Day 6. We end our first week in the Middle East with a tour of Bethlehem. Bethlehem (Bet Lechem in Hebrew--House of Bread) is the burial place of Rachel and the birthplace of King David. Samuel anointed David as king of Israel in Bethlehem (see 1 Samuel 16:1-13.) King David's ancestors, Ruth and Boaz, were married in Bethlehem. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we see that Jesus was also born in Bethlehem. (In Arabic it is called Bet Lahm----House of Meat.) If only these streets in the Middle East could talk! What stories would they tell? It is a fantastic end to an amazing first week. It is spiritual! It is historical! It is an unique Middle East experience!