Israel: Timeless Wonders

Trip Highlights

Visit Tel Aviv, with touring including “White City” of Bauhaus architecture. Explore Jaffa’s ancient port and the artists’ village of Ein Hod. Enjoy an overnight stay on a working kibbutz. See the Biblical sites of Tiberias, Nazareth, Mount of Beatitudes, and Sea of Galilee. Tour Jerusalem, where we will see the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Old City, Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Israel Museum, and Ein Kerem. See the famous Dead Sea Qumran Caves.

Dates

October 30 to November 10, 2018

Region

Africa/Middle East

Tour Operator

Odysseys Unlimited

Physical Activity Level

Active

Duration

11 Days

Price

To be decided

Type

Land

Make a Reservation

Call Alumni Travel at 855.764.0064

Itinerary

DAY 1: Depart U.S. for Tel Aviv, Israel
This evening, we depart the U.S. for Europe with a connecting flight to Tel Aviv.

DAY 2: Arrive Tel Aviv
After arriving in Tel Aviv, we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and transfer to our hotel.  Please note that as guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, no group activities or meals have been planned for this day.  We are free to explore the area around our hotel or simply relax after our overseas flights.  Dinner tonight is on our own in this cosmopolitan city with more than 400 restaurants.

Accommodations:  Hotel Dan Tel Aviv

DAY 3:  Tel Aviv
Today we encounter the vibrant modern city of Tel Aviv, built along the Mediterranean in 1909 and today Israel’s arts and culture capital.  Our tour features Independence Hall, where the state of Israel was declared in 1948 and now a museum of the history of Zionism; and the original heart of Tel Aviv, the “White City” around Rothschild Boulevard, with its distinctive pre-war Bauhaus architecture.  Many of the buildings here have been restored to their original façades of gleaming white; this UNESCO World Heritage site now comprises the world’s largest collection of Bauhaus buildings.  We also explore the recently renovated neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood built in Tel Aviv’s New City.  After lunch together at a local restaurant, we head to the nearby town of Jaffa, visiting the ancient port, flea market, and reconstructed Artists’ Quarter of galleries and boutiques.  Our tour ends with a walk around Tel Aviv’s vibrant, recently renovated port.  We return to our hotel late this afternoon and enjoy a welcome dinner together tonight.

 Accommodations:  Hotel Dan Tel Aviv
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 DAY 4:  Tel Aviv/Upper Galilee
We travel north from Tel Aviv along the Mediterranean coast today to Caesarea, where we see the ruins of an ancient Roman harbor and amphitheater still in use today.  From here we continue on to the artists’ village of Ein Hod, set amidst olive groves at the foot of Mt. Carmel overlooking the sea, where artists of all media – photography, ceramics, sculpture, print-making, stained-glass making, iron work – come to live and work in the stunning natural setting.  Roughly 600 artists live and work in Ein Hod full time, and we enjoy a short tour of several artists’ homes and workshops to get a glimpse of what life is like in this unique colony.  Then we continue on, arriving late afternoon at our hotel on the grounds of a kibbutz founded in 1916.  After checking in, we travel through the hills of Galilee, stopping to watch the milking process at a working dairy farm.  Tonight we return to our hotel and dine there together.

 Accommodations:  Kfar Giladi Kibbutz Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

 DAY 5:  Mount Bental/Tiberias
This morning we ascend Mount Bental in the Golan Heights where, from a scenic overlook, we enjoy a superb panoramic view of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.  The valley below, site of a momentous battle during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, is known as the “Valley of Tears.”  Then we enjoy a tour of our kibbutz and a visit to a local winery, before visiting the ruins of Capernaum, where Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath.  We continue on to visit Tabgha, site of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, followed by Kibbutz Ginosar, where we view the “Jesus Boat,” a preserved fishing boat carbon dated from 100 BCE to 70 CE.  Then we board our motorcoach for the drive to Tiberias and our historic hotel on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Important in Judaism as one of the four holy cities (along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safed) and as the burial site of the scholar Maimonides, and also in Christianity as holy ground where Jesus performed miracles, ancient Tiberias has attracted visitors, settlers, and invaders for more than two millennia.  The city also is known for its curative hot springs.  We dine tonight at our hotel, built as a hospital by the Scots in the 19th century and today owned by the Church of Scotland.

Accommodations:  The Scots Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 6:  Tiberias/Nazareth
The New Testament comes to life today as we travel to Jesus’ boyhood home of Nazareth.  En route we visit the Mount of Beatitudes, where he preached the Sermon on the Mount.  We reach Nazareth, where we visit the Church of the Annunciation, the largest church in the Middle East and where the archangel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.  We enjoy lunch at a family-run dairy farm then continue on to the town of Safed, another of Judaism’s four holy cities, and a center of learning and trade in the 15th and 16th centuries, when it also became a hub of Jewish mysticism (Kabala).  Here we take a walking tour through the medieval streets, long home to artists and craftspeople.  We witness some of Safed’s creative energy on display with visits to galleries housing local artists’ works before we return to our hotel, where we dine tonight.

Accommodations:  The Scots Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7:  Tiberias/Jerusalem
On our way to Jerusalem today we stop at the archaeological site of Beit Shean, where ongoing excavations have revealed the ruins of numerous cities (including Canaanite, Greek, and Roman Byzantine) dating as far back as the 4th century BCE.  Highlights include an 8,000-seat Roman theater (ca. 200 BCE), colonnaded streets, and a 1½-story Byzantine bath house.  We continue on to Jerusalem, the 3,000-year-old “City of Gold,” sacred to the world’s three major monotheist religions.  Capital of Israel and its largest city, Jerusalem sits in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean Sea and the northern tip of the Dead Sea.  We get our first look at the revered city from a panoramic lookout on Mt. Scopus.  After lunch together at a local restaurant, we get acquainted with the New City.  Then we spend the afternoon at the Israel Museum, the nation’s leading cultural institution, housing the world’s largest collection of Biblical and Holy Land artifacts.  Home of the dome-shaped Shrine of the Book housing the Dead Sea Scrolls displayed two-thirds below ground, the museum also boasts a unique sculpture garden, a scale model of Jerusalem from the period of the Second Temple, and an art collection including European, contemporary, Asian, prints, and photography, among other genres.  Dinner tonight is on our own in this eternal city, with restaurants offering mostly Middle Eastern and Mediterranean-style cuisine.

Accommodations:  King David Jerusalem Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

 DAY 8:  Jerusalem
Our day begins with a moving and inspiring tour of Yad Vashem, the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust dedicated to the four pillars of remembrance:  commemoration, documentation, research, and education.  Set on a 45-acre site on the Mount of Remembrance, Yad Vashem comprises exhibits, artwork, gardens, archives, seminars, and a library among its many centers of activity.  Then we travel to the Judean Hills to the picturesque village of Ein Karem, the childhood home of John the Baptist.  As we walk through the village, we see several of the stone houses adorned with arches, churches with bells, and paths paved with stone.  Next we enjoy an ethnic cooking class followed by lunch served with local wines.  The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure; dinner tonight is on our own.

Accommodations:  King David Jerusalem Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast

DAY 9:  Jerusalem
We start our morning with a visit to Haas promenade for spectacular panoramic views of the city.  Then we visit the Old City for a tour of the excavated tunnels beneath the Western Wall and then move on to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditional site of Golgotha where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried.  After this sobering visit, we return to Jerusalem’s New City to absorb some of the flavor of this multicultural enclave at the bustling outdoor market of Machane Yehuda (“Shuk”), encountering local residents as they shop amidst hundreds of colorful stands selling merchandise of all kinds, including produce, spices, baked goods, candy, meat, fish, and even household appliances.  Following our tour here, the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration.  We may choose to return to the hotel or venture out on our own.  We are free for dinner on our own tonight.

Accommodations:  King David Jerusalem Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast

DAY 10:  Jerusalem/Old City
We return to the Old City today, beginning with the original settlement of the City of David, dating at least to the Middle Bronze Age of 1800 to 1550 BCE.  Here, our guide gives us an in-depth account of Jerusalem’s role throughout history.  Then we embark on a walking tour through the Old City, the one-third square mile surrounded by ramparts and 11 gates built in the 15th century by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.  Inside this tiny enclave, a UNESCO World Heritage site:  the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian quarters; the ancient Cardo marketplace still in use today; the Dome of the Rock and al-Aksa Mosque, Islam’s most important mosque; and the Western Wall, sacred to Jews as the last remaining trace of the wall that enclosed and supported the Second Temple on the Temple Mount.  We have the opportunity to observe those who come here to pray – or to join them ourselves.  Tonight we dine together at a local restaurant.

Accommodations:  King David Jerusalem Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11:  Jerusalem/Masada/Dead Sea
Today we travel to the shores of the Dead Sea to explore the Qumran Caves, adjacent to where the momentous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956.  Although the exact provenance of the scrolls remains in question, excavations of cisterns, baths, and cemeteries here reveal the presence of a settlement (believed to be of a religious sect) dating from the Hellenistic period through to the first century CE, when it was destroyed by the Romans.

From here we travel to the ruins at Masada, the celebrated mountain stronghold (and UNESCO World Heritage site) sitting atop an isolated mesa at the edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea.  It was here, during the First Jewish-Roman War in the first century CE, where vastly outnumbered Jews held out against a three-year Roman siege – the survivors of which then committed suicide en masse when death or surrender became their only alternatives.  We ascend the mountain fortress by cable car to tour Masada’s ruins, including those of a synagogue, ritual baths, and the palace of King Herod.

Leaving Masada, we have the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea at a hotel beach with indoor and outdoor pools, and a spa (at additional cost).  We enjoy lunch at the hotel before returning to Jerusalem mid-afternoon.  The remainder of the day and evening is at leisure for independent exploration.  We gather to celebrate our Israel adventure tonight over a farewell dinner at our hotel.

Accommodations:  King David Jerusalem Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12:  Depart Tel Aviv for U.S.
Very early this morning we transfer by motorcoach to Tel Aviv for our return flight to the United States.
Meals:  Breakfast

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