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I've been everywhere, man.Crossed the deserts bare, man.I've breathed the mountain air, man.Of travel I've had my share, man.I've been everywhere.
Johnny Cash's iconic song popped into my head when I arrived home from a week-long 'Winter In Israel' themed trip organized by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. My wife and son asked: "So, where did you go, what did you see?" My mouth opened, but a flood of new memories left me tongue-tied. "Everywhere," was all I could reply. "And everything."
In terms of what could possibly be seen, done and experienced in Israel in seven days - and on the seventh day we did not rest - I'd say our group gave it a 'gibbor' (Hebrew for mighty) effort.
In further articles we'll explore specific areas and themes from TravelPulse Canada's Israel odyssey in more depth. This one is a words-and-pictures taster to show the myriad pleasures that await your Israel clients. Over my 30 years writing about destinations, Israel ranks highly on the non-scientific WFPSK scale - a newly-coined and unlikely to go viral acronym for 'wow factor per square kilometre.'
Here are 30+ things TravelPulse Canada experienced in seven days in Israel:
The theme of our trip was 'Winter In Israel,' but it almost seems tongue-in-cheek. By our standards, it was a fine late spring week, despite the mid-January dates. From Haifa to Jerusalem to the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea and on to Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean, daytime highs ranged from 16-22C, nighttime lows from 7-12C. Skies were cloudless and not a drop of rain fell.
Our trip was carefully planned by the Israel Ministry of Tourism's Odelia Wainshtain, a 20-year tour guide who has brings her broad knowledge of Israel's attractions to the role. With a diverse group that included a vegan blogger and lifestyle writer as well as travel trade media, she put together an itinerary that had something for everyone, and revealed many facets of both Israel's ancient history and modern culture.
Though it is home to beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, a trip to Israel for most visitors is the polar opposite to a beach vacation. It's a place where you jump out of bed ready for a fabulous Israeli breakfast buffet and filled with anticipation for the sights on the day's itinerary. Fifteen hours later you tumble into bed again, filled with new memories.
Located at the centre of what many see as the cradle of civilization, Israel is the proverbial onion, with countless layers to discover. Each new bit of knowledge adds richness to the experience.
If you have clients who want to get beneath the skin of a complex and history-filled destination, hiring one of the many qualified local guides - for a couple of hours, a day or a week -- is an ideal way to go. There are dozens of specialized tours offered in the major cities and we enjoyed both a daytime graffiti/street art tour and an evening nightlife tour in Tel Aviv.
Our group had the great fortune to spend the week with Ron Nitzan, an amazing professional guide commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism. His vast knowledge of history, objective views and the obvious hours of preparation he had put into the trip helped us pull back a few of the Holy Land's layers.
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