Tag Archives: featured

Catholic tour, 8 days, $455 per person

Here is an example of a ‘low-budget’ tour under the $600 range (actually this tour cost $455 per person without guide and $515 with the guide). In this tour, the group (of 20) changed one time their location and focused on the center and north of Israel and they lived in luxury and splendor. They used public transportation and apartments to see and visit the Holy Land. Read here about vacations in Israel on a limited budget and Touring Israel with public transportation.

The way how the tour was created was that they contacted me to have a Catholic  tour. As usual, they tell me that they want to have a conventional tour and I offered it to them with some customizations. When I named the price ($1,350), they said that they didn’t have such budget. When asked, they said their budget was $1,000 p.p. So I created for them the low-budget tour and voila, $455 per person, and additionally $20 per person for my services in creating the tour.

A group of 20 Catholic people wanted such ‘low-budget’ tour. They wanted to visit ‘all’ the Christian sights in Israel, but not the Negev or Eilat.

That was an easy one.

They wanted me to arrange a pickup from the airport and place them on the train to Jerusalem and help them with the luggage.

I arranged for them three apartments in Jerusalem (near the city center) for $120 per night (with 3 bedrooms each and one apartment had 4 bedrooms). They paid each person $18 per night for that luxury. And it was luxury, which they didn’t expected at all! TV, Internet, computer, radio, air conditioning, pray sessions and even holy mass in their apartments. I arranged for their pre-made dinners (large dinner (barbecued chicken with vegetables, chips) $20 for 4 persons).

From their apartment in Jerusalem, they toured intensively all the Christian sights in and around Jerusalem and then it was time to expand the tour. They still kept their apartment, and took ‘day tours’ to Bethlehem, Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea. The next day they said, they wanted to keep it civilized (“… not eating sand …”) and left for Tel Aviv and returned to their apartment in Jerusalem. There is not much to see in Tel Aviv, which might satisfy Catholic people. For all of those ‘day tours’, they bought food for their lunches (prepared in apartment) for picnics and hand food.  They spend totally five days in the Jerusalem apartment and used mainly buses as transport (and they took my free day tours as well).

Oh, they also went to two (free) concerts in the evening in Jerusalem. They rented movies at home to watch.

Then it was time to move up to the north and visit Nazareth. The group dragged their luggage and moved by bus to Nazareth, where I arranged for them apartments, which were even cheaper ($80 per night). They paid per person $12.

From their new base, the spent their time in their apartment in Nazareth to visit the Holy Sights in the city of course, and visited the sights surrounding Nazareth like Cana, Tiberias, Sea of Galilee, Golan and more. They spent totally 3 days in their apartment in Nazareth.

I needed to arrange their trip to the airport for them and I did. With a mini-van they were brought to the airport on time for their flight back home. They spend totally $455 per person on this 8 day tour.

They didn’t, but the group considered to rent a guide for that money. It could cost them $515 per person for the total tour, including guide!

What I did for them to make this tour?

  1. Found for them the apartments for the prices above
  2. Detailed for them a schedule for the public transportation from their apartments to the sights and a good itinerary for each day
  3. Arranged the food and that they knew where to buy more food and what to buy
  4. Took care that someone was at the airport to welcome them and bring them to their apartments in Jerusalem and someone to bring them from Nazareth to the airport (they were really tired and appreciated the luxury of a large minivan to bring them and their luggage (which has grown extraordinary) to the airport

If you want to have such tour, contact me or send a message.

Clubbing in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv night life
Tel Aviv night life

The Tel Aviv club scene is comparable to those in most European capitals. Top international (and local) DJs regularly perform in Tel Aviv, with clubs constantly vying to outdo each other with ever more extravagant parties. Be aware, Clubbing in Tel Aviv is popular, busy and exciting. Click here for maps of Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv night life
Tel Aviv night life

The biggest and newest club (mimicking New York’s Roxy) in the city is Haoman 17 (Florentin quarter) (map), website, telephone: 972-.

Other fantastic clubs are TLV, Dome (gay; Offer Nissim is the resident DJ), Vox, Powder and the “indie” Cafe Barzilay (Ahad Ha’Am St 6, Tel Aviv-Yafo, map) and Studio 46.

Tel Aviv night life
Tel Aviv night life

Rock clubs, include Barbie Club, in Kibutz Galuyot St, or the Zappa Club, in the northeastern neighborhood of Ramat haChayal (map) among others, host concerts almost every night of the week.

Billiards (pool) clubs, include Gypsy on Kikar Atarim (Atarim plaza) in Hayarkon St.

Tel Aviv night life
Tel Aviv night life

Dance clubs

  • Block Club, 157 Shlomo (Salame) St, +972 3 5378002. Usually open Thur and Fri nights and featuring big name international DJs weekly.
Tel Aviv night life
Tel Aviv night life

Salsa clubs

  • Hazira Club, 45 Itzhak Sadeh St, +972 3 5623456 (Tue, Thur, and Sat, classes start at 9:15PM and party starts at 10:30PM, on Mon about 50% line dancing 30% ballroom dancing, 20% salsa).
  • Bailatino Club, 29 Karlibach St, (entry is a little difficult to find – its on the other side of the building) +972 3 6240186 (Su,Tu,W, classes start at 9:15PM and party starts at 10:30PM, Fridays no classes and starts at 12:30AM). Entry is ₪40 in both places and each day has a different style of Salsa music. There are other dance clubs with Latin/Brazilian music once a week.
  • Galina Club. Saturday afternoon and the local club scene is buzzing. 6pm the doors will open. Outside deck is huge and located in front of the sea. Inside the DJ is blowing the roof in pure Galina style. The queue is long so best come early on the weekends. Prices are not cheap.
    Tel Aviv night life
    Tel Aviv night life

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k65GaptVLg

The Dramatic Story of the Battle of Masada

For two years 1,000 Jewish men, women and children were able to hold off the Roman army of 15,000 soldiers in Masada. The Romans were forced to built a huge sloping siege ramp to move battering rams up to the walls to subdue the defenders. At the end, they were able to breach the walls of the defenders by sheer weight of numbers. This is the story of the defenders and attackers of Masada. Click here to see the maps of Masada.

Plateau on which stood the Masada stronghold, with the Roman base camp and siege ramp below
Plateau on which stood the Masada stronghold, with the Roman base camp and siege ramp below

The Romans began the siege in 72AD, building camps around the foot of the mountain, and another on the heights overlooking it. They slowly constructed a dike to take the soldiers and their siege engines up to the ramparts of the fortress.

The slope was mainly build by soldiers and slaves under threat of their lives; many died there. Later, the siege machines needed to be pushed upward the slope and that was a very slow, deadly process.

Thousands of slingshots (rounded balls of stone the size of grapefruit) were collected from the surroundings of Masada, to be transferred to the Roman base camp. The Romans fired the slingshots with their siege engines towards Masada. The defenders of Masada collected the slingshots and hurtled it back to the attackers, especially those who were pushing the huge siege engines up the slope.

Each day the artillery barrages became more deadly and caused damage to the walls of Masada, especially after one and half years of the siege. During the siege, Romans received their food and water from carriers.

The water supply for Masada was provided by a network of large, rock-hewn cisternsThe water supply for the defenders in Masada was provided by a network of large, rock-hewn cisterns. Those cisterns were 10 meters high, 8 meters wide and 20 meters long and holding 750,000 liters (200,000 gallons) of water. They filled during the winter with rainwater  and could be relied upon in time of siege.

Pigeon coops provided a source of fresh meat, and the pigeons were also used to carry messages
Pigeon coops provided a source of fresh meat, and the pigeons were also used to carry messages

The defenders used to hold many pigeons, which they ate for meat and used them to communicate with the outside world. But the defenders were alone; there was nobody who could help them, because they were the last remaining fortress holding against the Roman armies, who were there to put down a Jewish rebellion. And even when there was help out there, the Romans had them encircled; nobody came out or in Masada, the last remaining rebel-fortress.

The last months of the siege was hell for the defenders of Masada. There was almost a constant bombardment of slingshots raining down on the defenders and it was dangerous to walk in the fortress; even at night. It took a heavy toll on the defenders. The slope was after almost two years of construction completed. The Romans could use larger siege engines now and they concentrated their fire on the outer walls of the Masada fortress.

In 73 AD, the Romans were able to push through the outer walls at last. As the outer walls crumbled, the defenders retired hastily behind a second wall to defend themselves for the expected onslaught of the Roman legions. But the Romans did not attack!

The palace buildings faced out towards a spectacular view across the valley beneath
The palace buildings faced out towards a spectacular view across the valley beneath

They used the slope to bring closer the smaller siege engines to attack with pieces of burning wood, which brought devastation to the defenders. Cut off from their water supplies, and avoid to be burned alive, the defenders and their families retreated in desperation into Herold’s palace. They had no hope, they could not retreat any further, it was the end. The Roman troops poured in Masada behind them, looking for them.

They knew what would happen to them if the Romans would come there. Some men would be killed, the rest – especially the women and children would be kept or sold as slaves.

The dreaded, much spoken and discussed moment was upon them. The choice between slavery and death. With desperation and deep anguish, the men started to kill first their wives and their own children, and finally each other and themselves.

When the Romans finally discovered what happened, the reactions were divided. The Roman professional soldiers showed signs of respect, but the Roman officers were frustrated; losing the spoils of war after so much work and effort.

The heated or thermal bath
The heated or thermal bath

The Romans threw the bodies from the rebels down from Masada; none were buried. People found skeletons in a cave on a cliff. In the ruins of a heated bath near the lowest palace they found the skeletons of a man, woman and child.

Only a woman and two children survived the slaughter, who were indeed captured and kept as slaves. The manner of their death was recorded by Flavius Josephus (first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer) who claimed to have learned the story from that one surviving woman.

This ends the story of the dramatic battle of Masada and the unexpected end of the defenders of Masada, the last fighting remaining Jewish rebels, who chose for death above slavery.

In many tours, I’ve answered questions how Jews could kill themselves, while it’s forbidden by Jewish law to do so.

First, almost nobody killed themselves, they killed each other. The leader of the rebels at Masada, a man with the name Eleazar, was one of the few who killed himself with his sword, because he was the last to die.

Secondly, the knowledge of what’s going to happen to them – especially the women and children – by the fast approaching Roman soldiers brought terror bigger then their own death.

And finally, those last rebels were the last of them, they fought against professional Roman soldiers, which were more then fifteen times larger then their numbers, and that fact made them refuse to surrender.

Normal Masada tours takes about 2-3 hours. This dramatic customized tour takes about 4-5 hours, going through the two year battle of Masada. Visiting the places, while I tell the extraordinary final journey about the last rebels of Masada, their families and final moments of their lives. Most groups are so impressed, that it takes a while before they start asking questions.

Too romantic for words

Leaving the noise, pollution and traffic of Tel Aviv behind, it was with great enthusiasm and anticipation that I set off with my girlfriend for a weekday mini-vacation at the world-renowned Efendi Hotel situated in the heart of Acre’s Old City.

Efendi Hotel in Acre
Efendi Hotel in Acre

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old City is an enchanting mix of markets, mosques and vaulted Crusader ruins. As a hub of international trade, this 4,000-year-old port city was once home to the Canaanites, Romans, Crusaders, Turks and the British. Each left their mark. As a result, the city contains many historical structures and sites, such as the Crusaders’ Fortress, the Synagogue of the Ramchal and the Acre Bahá’í Gardens.

Efendi Hotel in Acre
Efendi Hotel in Acre

After a very comfortable train ride (approximately an hour and a half) from Tel Aviv to the Acre train station, we took a taxi (normally a fixed rate of NIS 14) to the entrance of the Old City. The driver said the Efendi was about a five-minute walk from there.

Efendi Hotel in Acre
Efendi Hotel in Acre

However, we didn’t realize that the Old City was a maze of small streets and alleyways, so naturally we got hopelessly lost. I phoned the Efendi, described our location, and within a few minutes we were rescued by the amiable front desk manager Merav, who graciously escorted us to the hotel.

Efendi Hotel in Acre
Efendi Hotel in Acre

THE MOMENT we walked through the doors of the impressive building, we were greeted by Roi, the hotel manager, who emphasized the fact that he wanted us to enjoy ourselves. And that we did.

Efendi Hotel in Acre
Efendi Hotel in Acre

Opened in 2012, the Efendi Hotel is the pet project of Israeli restaurateur Uri Jeremias, the chef and owner of the famous seafood restaurant Uri Buri. The renovation of the hotel took eight years, conducted under the watchful eye of the local Antiques Authority.

Craftsmen were flown in from Italy to restore the plaster work and frescoes, which date back to the 19th century.

Efendi Hotel in Acre
Efendi Hotel in Acre

The five-star boutique hotel is composed of two adjacent Ottoman- era palaces. The southern structure is the Afifi House, or WIZO House, while the northern structure is the Hamar, or Shukri House, named for a family of musicians that once resided there.

With just 12 guest rooms in the grand hotel, it feels like you’re staying in your own private residence (rooms range from NIS 1,500 to NIS 3,000 a night.) As our room was not ready yet, Merav offered us some chilled date juice and took us on a short tour of the hotel, highlighting an original 400-year-old Turkish bath/hamman, still used for spa treatments, as well as a 900-year-old Crusader-period cellar stocked with the finest Israeli wines. She also told us about the sunset happy hour on the hotel’s rooftop terrace.

Efendi Hotel in Acre
Efendi Hotel in Acre

When we entered our room, the Presidential Suite, it simply took our breath away. A striking blend of old world charm and modern luxury, it felt like stepping back in time while enjoying the most modern amenities. Not only did this 38 sq.m. room offer marvelous panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea, but it was also beautifully decorated with marble floors, leather upholstered chairs, a writing desk, LCD TV and a king-size bed covered with Egyptian cotton sheets and goose down comforters and pillows.

Continued at the Jerusalem Post Article.

The writer (SHAWN RODGERS) was a guest of the Efendi Hotel. For more information about the Efendi, visit http://www.efendi-hotel.com or call 074-729-9799.