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Ahava (Love) Sculpture – Israel Museum Art Garden – Jerusalem


View to the Dead Sea from Arad Sculpture Park - Arad


Palm Garden – Rothchild Memorial Gardens (Ramat Hanadiv) – Zichron Yacov


Carmel Market – Tel Aviv

 
JOHN AND TERRI LEE FARBER: TRAVELLING ISRAEL OUR WAY

John and Terri Lee Farber, posted June 23, 2011

There are many ways to support Israel. For us, the best way is to visit there and encourage others to do likewise. 

In our opinion, you can see but never truly experience Israel from a tour bus. Like many people, we have done “the mission” tour and still suggest it, especially for first time tourists and those with specific interests. But, to experience Israel, you must walk the streets, meet the people, and deal directly with the challenges of everyday life (driving, parking, shopping, laundry, holidays, security, etc.). 

We just returned from our seventh trip and third extended visit, this time for nearly 7 weeks. Our extended visits allow us to tangibly express our support, inject dollars into the economy, and demonstrate to others that it is safe to visit.

On past trips we have stayed in Jerusalem and ventured out on short excursions lasting one to several days. This time we decided to spend extended times in several locations; Arad, Jerusalem, Giv'at Ada (a moshav near Binymina in the northwest), and Tel Aviv. From these we explored the surrounding areas. As we have done on previous trips, we blogged the entire 43 day trip daily – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Our way of travel is not for everyone. It is not physically taxing, but does require flexibility. No fancy hotels or “all inclusives”, few restaurants, no big cars, no organized (or what we call “sanitized”) tours, and not many “pre-determined” plans. Remaining flexible is the key, willing to make plans on-the-fly; seizing opportunities as they arise or as our interests change.

We limit our luggage to the essentials – do laundry and buy whatever we forget (remember it is a first world country). We stay in tzimmers/bed and breakfasts (clean, comfortable, safe, very friendly, and far less expensive than hotels) which we usually arrange ourselves either in advance or “on the run”. We shop and prepare many of our own “Israeli” meals. We rent the tiniest car we can get (a lesson we learned the hard way) and head off to explore one of the most fascinating tourist friendly countries in the world with a history dating back over 10,000 years. We may miss some historic details, but in exchange, we live and experience the unexpected wonders of Israel.

Israel is an easy country for a tourist to navigate, though it may not feel that way at first. Most, but not all, people speak some English and even basic Hebrew is well received and can take you a long way. It is a small country, the Carta maps we use are very detailed (we do not use a GPS), the roads are excellent, and most signs are in English (plus Hebrew and Arabic as required by law) and easy to follow, once you get the hang of it. Most importantly, everyone is willing to help --  even if you do not want it! On this trip we drove over 3000 Km, no small feat in a country just over 400 Km long.

Arriving in Israel
Arriving in Israel is not like arriving in just any other country. Stepping off the plane transports you back in time. As your feet touch ground, it is impossible not to be reminded that this is where David slew Goliath, where Moses lead us from Egypt, where Abraham bound Isaac, where the Maccabees found that crucial vile of oil, and the Zealots took their own lives rather than be slaughtered by the Romans. It is here where our ancestors have lived for over 4000 years and where we finally returned, as promised, a mere 63 years ago. It is the land of Herzl, Meir, Dayan, Ben Gurion, and Rabin. It is one of the most fought over pieces of land in all of history, though has few natural resources. It a refuge where “never again” really means ”never again”. Where celebrating a Jewish holiday is something nearly everyone does. And, no matter where you live, it is where you will always be welcomed and never need to explain the foods you eat or the customs you follow. In a word, it is HOME.

Arad
Every Israeli asked us, “Why Arad?”. It is so boring there they said. “It's complicated”, we replied, using a favourite Israeli expression. We found a perfect tzimmer – Cohen House – operated by Avi Cohen, a retired Arad policeman and a wonderful attentive host. Located atop a valley, we awoke one morning to find camels outside our door – surely not boring for us. Easy access to a great walking/hiking trail made for an exciting tour through the dry desert landscape. 

Arad is not boring, but it is quiet – very quiet.  A town of only 23,000 people, it is located in the hills of the northern Negev, a spectacularly beautiful 40 minutes from Be'er Sheva, 30 minutes from the Dead Sea and the western approach to Masada, and most important for us, near enough to the western Negev where several of our friends live. The location was perfect for exploring the northern Negev; ancient sites of Mamshit, Tel Be'er Sheva and Arad, and the two minor craters, Machtesh Gadol and Katan. It is a doable drive to the spectacular Machtesh Ramon Crater and the sites along the way which we had visited on a previous trip.  Arad is known mostly for its clean air and dry climate which is sought after by people with respiratory conditions. There is a weekly a market with mounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.

There is a terrific, fledgling artist colony where we met Gideon Fridman, a remarkable warm glass artist, Laly Lazan, a wonderful bead artist and world-renowned Dorrit Yacoby, and her expansive multimedia exhibit - The Woman of the Thousand Voices. There is even a tiny micro-winery, ASIF, where you can sample and buy a variety of wines including Pomegranate wine. 

Jerusalem
Familiar and captivating Jerusalem was our next stop. We rented an apartment which was perfectly located in Old Katamon, a short walk to the German Colony. A small shopping area was within two minutes of our door

 
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