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Ok, so I will admit that a visit to the West Bank or what much of the world calls Palestine (inclusive of Gaza) is likely not on the top of most leisure travelers’ lists. However, the West Bank is indeed safe and it’s a worthwhile, enlightening place to tour, especially for those interested in the region’s complex political challenges. During a recent trip to the region, I had the unique opportunity to spend a day in Jericho and Ramallah.
I asked several people if I could enter from Jordan (as I was staying in Amman in the first part of my trip). Asking three people drew three different answers. One said it would be easy to cross over the Allenby Bridge from Jordan into the West Bank, and since I was to be on the Dead Sea (Jordan side) in the morning, Jericho is theoretically just 20 minutes away. But one must cross the Jordanian and then Israeli borders. Another person said, no way, there would be at least a two-hour process going through the Israeli border and then we’d face problems returning to Jordan from the West Bank – not least of which was the border closing by 8pm. Finally, a third said it was doable but complicated from Jordan; better to arrange it from Tel Aviv. That’s what my friend and I chose to do.
EL AL Airlines customers can get round-trip, non-stop business class fares to Tel Aviv, Israel from New York City starting as low as $2,821 and from Los Angeles starting at $3,605. Customers can also fly out of Chicago and Miami, via New York or Toronto, with rates as low as $3,475. Passengers will enjoy the many amenities of EL AL business class, which include sleeper seats and a digital entertainment system at each seat coupled with a bevy of in-flight entertainment. Travel is valid now through December 31, 2010.
THE VALUE: New York City fares are at 45 percent discount while the fares from Los Angeles are at a 40 percent discount.
THE CATCH: Taxes, which can exceed $100, are not included in the ticket price.
THE DETAILS: To book your flight, visit www.elal.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search Comparison Tool to find other great flight deals.
Check out our Israel Travel Guide.
Read about Israel’s under-the radar Upper Galilee and Golan Heights in our Top Ten Off the Path Wine Regions.
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Having already made a name for itself in the crowded LGBT tour market with its exclusive Life Ball trip to Vienna and signature Mykonos villa escapes, three-year-old Steele Travel is expanding its luxury group tours this June—to nightclubs. Specifically, a 24-hour “Nightlife Concierge” to cater to participants’ hedonistic whims during Tel Aviv‘s increasingly wild Pride celebration.
From June 4-13, 2010, with an optional three-day Jordan extension (Petra, Aman and more), the inaugural “Milk & Honey” tour aims to be both educational and celebrational, with a distinct two-part itinerary:
The first six days, based out of the five-star Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem, Israel’s first modern boutique-style accommodation, include cultural highlights such as a tours of major religious sites and life on a Kibbutz, an all-day workshop with a Kaballah mystic, light adventuring (rappelling, ATV riding), a night in a Bedouin camp and some Dead Sea spa time. The next four days include unwinding on the beaches and in the bars of surprisingly safe, secular and gay-welcoming Tel Aviv. Read more
The Luxury After embarking from Athens on November 9, this 10-day Silversea cruise visits 10 ports in Asia, Europe, and Africa. The itinerary includes some off-the-path destinations such as Haifa (pictured) and Ashdod in Israel; Limassol, Cyprus; and Tartous, Syria, an island port receiving only a handful of luxury cruise ships each year. The 298-passenger Silver Wind will also anchor in popular eastern Mediterranean ports such as Santorini, Greece, and Alexandria, Egypt. Guests can experience musical entertainment in the Show Lounge or moonlight movies under the stars.
Everybody says that Israel is a land of contrasts, but it doesn’t really hit you until you’ve been there a few days and begin to absorb the truly amazing variety of landscapes, cultures, and experiences packed into this tiny country. Many visitors concentrate on one city on their first trip, but I found that it was possible to take in a lot of sites on a weeklong vacation.
My first suggestion is to start in Tel Aviv. While it’s not as glamorous as other Mediterranean hot spots, it has an alluring charm all its own and a very friendly population that knows how to have a good time in the sun. The city doesn’t have a big selection of luxury hotels, but I was delighted with my room at the Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel and Towers, which is conveniently located right across the street from the beach (from $278/night). The temperature is pleasant year-round, but the beaches in Tel Aviv really come alive in the summer. (Don’t forget a high-SPF sunscreen and a hat–sunstroke is common.) I began the day with a visit to the shore and spent the afternoon walking around the compact city. Start at Carmel Market, taking an hour or two to check out the boutiques along Sheinkin Street, which feels a bit like New York’s Greenwich Village.
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