Saturday, August 13, 2011

Land excursions from Ashdod and Haifa Ports

The best Mediterranean cruises today stop at Ashdod and Haifa ports giving passengers a wonderful opportunity to visit Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, the Galilee and Golan Heights as well as the Sea of Galilee. As frequent cruisers ourselves, we like to hire local private guides whenever possible. With the information available today, it is also possible to do some self guiding that works out well. While we are professional guides and do love to private private tours out of Ashdod and Haifa ports, we will offer suggestions for self-guiding whenever possible.

In the scenario below, where the first port is Haifa for two days, we recommend one day of self guiding in Haifa. Excellent public transportation including buses, taxis, a railway station and the Carmelit funicular are within easy walking distance of the port.

Below is a recommended combination of self guiding (one day in Haifa) and three days of touring the Galilee, Golan, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea areas.

Please do contact us with your questions to Mark and Marilyn We are on Skype at ID mzober and on mobile: Mark 972-54-590-0223.

Day One (Haifa Port) On your own.

It is quite easy to explore the city by public transport.

The Haifa Port located in the old center of the Namal/Harbor area. While the area is a bit run down, it is within walking distance of the German Colony at the foot of the Bahá'í Gardens, close to the Carmelit (funicular) up to the Carmel area of Haifa (trendy) and a short walk to the Louis Promenade view point of the Bahá'í Gardens from above.

25 yards from the entrance to the Carmelit on #1 Meginim St. is the Abu Yusef restaurant – gets positive reviews and frequented by locals – featuring maza assorted Middle East salads (humus, tehina, tabooli) and grilled fish and meat.

Day Two: Tour of the Galilee- Here there is the need to make some decisions based on preference and time constraints.

There are some fabulous sites in the area. If youur tour will be Jewish oriented. The listed sites and we should discuss and finalize.

Zippori National Park – Zippori was the central town of the Galilee during the Hasmonean, Roman, Muslim and Crusader periods. It was the home of Yehuda HaNesi who compiled the Mishna and the Sanhedrin (Jewish central religious authority).

Zefat – One of the 4 holy cities in Judaism ( Jerusalem, Hebron, Zefat and Tiberias). Important synagogues and artist quartere

Gamla National Park on the Golan Heights (the Masada of the north) is also a vulture reserve.

Akko – the Old City is not primarily a Jewish site – more Crusader and Ottoman – but has important Jewish significance as a Ottoman and later British prison held first the head of the Bahai faith and then was the place were many young Jewish martyrs held by the British were imprisoned, some were hung and escaped.

Tiberias – this a major Jewish community from @300-900 CE was the last place were the Sanhedrin was located.

For Christian oriented tours, you will need to consider Nazareth, Cana, sailing on the Sea of Galilee, visiting the 2000 year old "Jesus Boat" at Kibbutz Ginosar, Capernaum, Mt. of Beatitude, Tabghe (Church of the Fish and Loaves), Kursi and other sites with Christian magnificence (e.g. baptismal experience at Yardenit).

Third Day – Jerusalem – pick up Ashdod Port

Here there are essential things to do and some variations based on preferences and time.

Mt. of Olives overview looking west to the Old City
Walk through the 4 quarters (Armenian, Jewish, Christian and Muslim)
Lunch Middle Eastern after Abu Shukri restaurant in the Old City.
The Western Wall – plus Western Wall Tunnel Tour
Davidson Archaeological Park featuring the the story of Jerusalem revolt of 70 CE and the crushing defeat at the hands of the Romans.

Then we have other options:

The City of David archeological site with the possible palace of King David and King Hezekiah's and the Canaanite Tunnels. This is only for those who like a bit of strenuous walking – but worth it!

Those who like museums can consider the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

Fourth Day – Dead Sea Region

Drive from Ashdod to the Dead Sea – on to Masada- going up on the cable car. I also suggest visitig the museum at Masada as a fabulous introduction to the site.

Ein Gedi Nature Reserve for a 1 ½ hour relatively easy walk observing wildlife (hyrax and ibex) along the way.

Qumran – the home of the Essene Torah scribes and caves where the Dead Sea scrolls where located.

Ending up bathing in the Dead Sea at Kalya Beach and

Back to Ashdod Port and bon voyage.

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