Manna, Manna Mighty!: 8-Day Israel $999 – $1099 (Randyjw; October 7, 2016)
Although Travelzoo continually challenges themselves to find/create the best deals, they keep extending their benchmark standards and, again, have managed to outdo their last promotion to Israel, with an even greater offer, this time around!
It seems that travel just keeps getting cheaper and cheaper. I guess the industry is making up, in volume, what losses they’d garner in higher pricing schemes. And that benefits the traveller. With competitive capitalism driving consumer costs down, it benefits the end-user, in the long-run, with better options, better luxuries and amenities, better services.
While still not entirely inexpensive, altogether, travel might still be an attainable luxury if you can plan and save for it. I still remember the days of considering an overseas trip abroad as being a once-in-a-lifetime, hoped-for possibility, with a kind of a stars-in-the-eyes gleam. Air travel became easier and cheaper, incomes rose, and some were able to plan a trip on more regular bases. I still think it incredible that some can even fly-off on yearly trips — but they do.
The hospitality industry has become loaded with great new hotels, ever-expanding and renovating to be the best on-offer, in order to capture the all-waving consumer dollar. Hooray, hooray, we now can play!
So, there in my email inbox, like a shiny little candy in glittery wrap this morning was a Travelzoo deal, singularly offered, to Israel! This is the best price I’ve seen yet — at any time — which includes air, hotels, and travel on-land: eight days for just $999.00* (*and up, depending on departure city and length of travel, etc.)! Wow! The only things it doesn’t include is tips (of course!) and any optional side tours, which I would absolutely recommend (at least for two or three, out of the five offered with this package). This practically beats the price of air travel to Israel, alone — a decade ago! It’s like getting the tours, accommodations, and meals, all for free, and then-some! Manna, manna mighty!
The only down-sides of this offering are that it is not long enough, and that the time-offering means that it falls during possible cold weather. They do offer tours of longer days, also with discounts (discounts don’t appear until almost finished processing and must include Travelzoo’s promotional code, which you can access after signing up for a free Travelzoo.com account and inputting the code at the tour operator’s site). But, then, of course, the rates must increase — as so it goes.
What I really do love about this offering, first-off, is the consideration of choice of tour operators. While I’ve never toured with this particular company, and I’m not a spokesperson for any of these agencies, I was a candidate as an Israeli guide operator at one time (remaining incomplete), and the tour guide company president began in earlier days as a licensed Israeli guide, as well. All tour operators in Israel must receive their license from the state, which is a course of study of at least eighteen months, or longer, involving classroom and field studies.
More importantly, though, the tour company has a personal commitment to philanthropy in funding its charitable branch, which focuses on building onto or aiding existing school buildings and infrastructure of more-impoverished areas around the world, such as it has done in Peru and Costa Rica. Their website relays their deeds in providing water tanks, painting buildings, and other deeds via its education and enlightenment programs where people can sign-on to assist this tour/cultural exchange opportunity, if desired. There are plans to expand to other areas, also. So, your tour dollars go around and indirectly help the agency to help schoolchildren — and that, to me, is definitely a win-win!
I have to say that that impresses me, that Travelzoo has chosen such a tour operator to promote. I have always loved Travelzoo, though I’ve never yet utilized any of their great deals. Finding this out makes me love them, even more.
Well, now on to the deal! The offer of the eight-day tour includes 1 night in Tel Aviv, 2 nights in Tiveria (Tiberius), and 3 nights in Jerusalem (the other two days listed include your travel time, etc.). This is listed as a minimally active tour, meaning that most time is yours to do with as you please, unless you will be selecting the excellent, optional add-in tours, which are very cheap, and cover quite a bit: physical participation, involving stairs and a good deal of walking, will be anticipated.
Some listings of these featured areas highlighted are: the ancient port of Jaffa, with its artist colony; the ruins of Caesarea; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; Mt. Zion; Beit She’an; Tiveria/Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret), and Jerusalem. The optional add-ons include: a trip to Tsfat/Safed and the Golan; a trip to Yad Vashem and the vicinity; a trip to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem; a combined trip to Masada, and the Dead Sea; and the light show at the Tower of David with dinner out.
Definitely cram in as much as you can while you’re here. No trip to Israel would be complete without a visit to Masada and a swim in the Dead Sea (the health benefits are amazing!). Bring some extra money for this trip, take your towel and pack your swim clothes, and get thee to both these sites! I would also recommend the additional tour to Yad Vashem.
Instead of visiting Bethlehem, I would pass on that in favor of doing other things. If you had a longer, extended visit in Israel, I would say to go to Bethlehem, but since I recommend one of the “Jerusalem” days be taken for Masada/Dead Sea, and one day in Jerusalem already includes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, then I don’t think you’ll want to miss visiting the Kotel HaMa’ariv (The Western Wall/The Wailing Wall), if you don’t get to it on the escorted tour (I don’t know if you do, or not) — and there are other things you can do in the vicinity of the Old City, as well.
For one, the Wailing Wall, mentioned above. Also, there is a small, tiny museum (make sure it’s open that day) dedicated to the Holocaust called the Chamber of the Holocaust. It is located just outside the walls of the Old City near the (Mt.) Zion gate entrance (it’s a little hard to find, so make sure to get a map; you can pick up some great maps at the tourism office just past the gate of the Jaffa gate entryway on the left-hand side, where there will be numerous Arab hangers-on vying for your financial attention and patronage. Make sure to get the Jewish tour map, and any others which may interest you). The Chamber of the Holocaust had more of an impact on me than Yad Vashem, but in a totally different way. I would say to take in both, really. And make sure to look up as you exit the (Mt.) Zion gate from the Old City, and take a moment to reflect on the meaning of the cratered wall above the entryway, pockmarked by Jordanian artillery fire in their attack(s) on Israel.
I would have loved to have seen the Wohl Archaeological Museum, but somehow missed that opportunity to go with a German tourist I befriended during her brief visit to Israel. Perhaps you might visit in my stead and let me know how you enjoyed it.
You could also visit the archaeological park at the wall, or you could also walk around the City of David and see the really old walls there, located outside the Old City walls closest to the bus entrance roundabout by the Kotel HaMa’ariv.
I loved the Tower of David. I spent a long time just sitting. I went during the daytime, and watched the little video display (definitely do this) and walked around. Then I sat on a bench with the rifle-slotted windows with a vague view to the outside, feeling like King David peeking out to the outside world. I don’t recall there being anybody there during that whole time, and I could just sit, and be. It was great. I really recommend this. I know the evening option for another tour is the light show here, plus dinner out — and I’d probably say that you should do that, too. It would be different in the day, and you can really see and get a chance to explore it in natural sunlight. Nighttime would be a completely different story.
When you arrive to Tel Aviv, make sure to take a beachside stroll along the promenade, the “Tayelet”, and I recommend a sorbet (mango is yummy) at the Yotvata restaurant. If timing or itinerary allows, I’d also try to see if you can squeeze in a visit to the Palmach museum, that black, hulking building on the sands of the beach at Tel Aviv, near the Yafo end. Pick up a couple of my favorite drinks from the convenience stores: PriGat plum juice, and Anavim grape drink; as well as a Magnum ice cream bar — you’re on vacation! If you get a chance to go by Independence Hall, where David Ben-Gurion read out the Proclamation of Independence on May 14, 1948 — that’s cool! And don’t forget to squeeze in a good falafel, somewhere; preferably with amba.
As far as the Galilee goes, it’s hard to know what the side trip includes. If you can get out to Kfar Nachum (Capernaum), I think that’s a good tourist site to see. There’s a synagogue there made out of the stone common to that area, which is black basalt. There is the open-sided synagogue in the round, and there are the ruins of a temple, with Jewish symbols carved into the fallen capitals from atop the columns. It’s worth a trip, and I feel it should be seen.
The Kinneret, or “Sea of Galilee”, is a really beautiful area. Not to be missed is the view from inside the Church at the Mount of Beatitudes — it’s stunning. Lots of stairs down, but stunning. If the trip includes this, then go, by all means. Not necessary, although nice, if you have the time for it, is to see the “Jesus boat”, and listen to the guided background on how they figured out a way to preserve the approximately two-thousand year-old wooden boat.
I must say that the hotels they’ve chosen for these excursions all look wonderful. I especially love the way the seaside resort overlooking the Galilee appears, and the holiday village looks really nice, too. I particularly think I like the itineraries including the kibbutz Lavi, but the other ones all look good, as well, too. They do change, as does pricing, depending on your departure date (and therefore, your arrival date), and these particularities are well-listed at the website.
Pricing changes, based on departure date and location, and is a per-person rate, based on twin occupancy. Six breakfasts and two group dinners are included, as are fuel surcharges, hotel porterage, airport taxes and fees (baggage fees may be extra), transfers, and entrance fees (per itinerary). Deal must be purchased by October 12, 2016, and prepaid at least sixty days prior to departure. Pursuant to this promotion, travel is on certain dates and is valid for departures from January – March, 2017 (or perhaps end of February?) (January 22 and 29 are an additional $200.00): please check operator website for final details, changes, or updates, as well as additional requirements, pursuant to your selections. Don’t forget to enter the Travelzoo promocode to receive the unlisted discount.
Please check the sites, in case I’ve forgotten something or other things change; and have a great trip!
Here’s the Gate 1 Travel Home page website. Once there, select the destination pull-down menu, and then select “Mediterranean”; once there, then select “Israel” and you will see different pages and boxes for your needs:
Salmonese, Olivia. “$999 – $1099 — Israel Escorted Vacation w/Tours & Air”: Source: Gate 1 Travel; Travelzoo.com (email: October 7, 2016):