First Class 11 Day Tour
Ancient History, Natural Beauty & Contrasting Cultures
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Ancient History, Natural Beauty & Contrasting Cultures
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Price Includes: All motor coach and land transportation, sightseeing, admissions, services of tour director and driver, lodging, meals as specified in tour itinerary, taxes, gratuities to bellhops and waiters at included meals.
Not Included in Tour Price: Cost of obtaining passports or visas, laundry, meals, beverages or sightseeing not included in the itinerary, travel insurance, gratuity to guide, driver, communication charges, & excess baggage fees. Port charges and gratuities to crew are not included on cruises.
Day 1: Travel to Israel
We depart today and travel on our overnight flight to Tel Aviv. Sit back, get some rest and enjoy the in-flight service.
Day 2: Welcome to Israel
Upon arrival at the Tel Aviv airport, we’ll be greeted by our Pilgrim tour guide who will escort us to our awaiting motor coach. We’ll transfer to Jerusalem where we’ll check into our hotel and enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Day 3: Highlights of Jerusalem
After breakfast we begin our first day of touring on the Mount of Olives – the best place to start your Jerusalem experience, with its panoramic view of the Old City, its ancient Jewish cemetery and surrounding historical churches. What better way to see the Jerusalem than with a Ramparts Walk – a walkway atop the Old City walls, with unforgettable views from above. Continue to the Western Wall, revered as Judaism’s most sacred site as the last remnant of the Second Temple. While at the Western Wall we’ll walk on the original two thousand-year old street and climb the ancient steps as we explore the Western Wall Tunnels , the Southern Wall Excavations, and visit the Davidson Center where we’ll view a high-definition film that depicts an ancient pilgrimage to the Temple. This afternoon we visit Mount Zio and King David’s Tomb, the Room of the Last Supper, and the Church of the Dormition - where by Catholic tradition Mary fell in to eternal sleep. Our first day ends with some free time to wander & explore the Old City markets, steeping yourself in its sights, sounds and aromas. You may want to try your hand at hunting and bargaining for treasures.
Day 4: Ancient Jerusalem
Our day will begin at the City of David, where Jerusalem started and expanded. We explore Warren’s Shaft, the new Visitor’s Center, the Water Fortress, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, through which water has flowed since the days of King Hezekiah some 2,700 years ago, and the Pool of Siloam. Walking through the Zion Gate we’ll discover the rebuilt Jewish Quarter including the old Sephardic synagogues, the Cardo, which was the main street of Byzantine Christian Jerusalem, the Broad Wall, the Burnt House with its captivating audiovisual presentation, the Herodian Mansions, and more. This afternoon we’ll visit the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem, which sprung up over the centuries around the historic ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian Orthodox orders all maintain their own sections and can be identified by their distinctive dress and liturgy. We finish our day with a visit to the Tower of David Museum showcasing the history of Jerusalem from its beginnings to modern times.
Day 5: New Jerusalem
Today is devoted to the New City, beginning the day with a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. Walk through the astounding new Museum, the Children’s Memorial and Hall of Remembrance. We’ll enjoy a drive through the New City viewing old and new neighborhoods, the Knesset (The Israeli Parliament) and the beautifully designed Supreme Court building. At the nearby Israel Museum, among many other fascinating exhibits you can discover the mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Shrine of the Book and see the 1:50 scale Model of Jerusalem from Second Temple times. This afternoon we’ll have time in downtown Jerusalem to walk in the pedestrian malls of Ben Yehuda Street, Nahalat Shiva, a restored quarter of shops, galleries and cafes, and the Mahane Yehuda open-air fruit and vegetable market.
Day 6: Qumran, Ein Gedi, Masada & Dead Sea
This morning we depart Jerusalem and our first stop is Qumran, the ruins of an ancient settlement in whose nearby caves the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and whose Visitor Center tells its fascinating story. Our next stop is the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, a biblical oasis with a spring and waterfalls, where David hid from Saul. Then it’s on to Masada, taking the cable-car up to explore this fortress built by Herod the Great, which was the scene of the epic stand by Jewish rebels at the end of the Great Revolt against Rome nearly 2,000 years ago. The new museum at the Visitor Center reveals the secrets of the rebels’ daily life, the story of the excavations, and how Masada became one of Israel’s most important symbols. We’ll conclude our day with a relaxing float in the healthful waters of the Dead Sea, the lowest, saltiest body of water on earth.
Day 7: Jaffa and Tel Aviv
After a relaxing morning at our Dead Sea resort we head for Tel Aviv, beginning with Old Jaffa, where you can wander the restored old lanes lined with galleries and shops. Stop in at the Visitor Center, which showcases the long and fascinating history of this port city to which Solomon brought the cedar wood from Lebanon to build the Temple and from which Jonah set sail to be swallowed by the whale. There’s also a great view of Tel Aviv from here, to whet your appetite for your next stops. Tour Tel Aviv’s White City to see the preservation of buildings of Bauhaus architecture (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) including Independence Hall, where Ben-Gurion declared independence in 1948. Sheinkin Street is famous for its fun shopping, dining and people-watching in a youthful atmosphere, while the open-air Carmel fruit and vegetable market is a treat for all the senses. Our tour guide will lead us on a walk through Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park and head to the nearby Tel Aviv Port for sunset and a fish dinner.
Day 8: Caesarea, Druze Life & Culture, Haifa
Head up the Mediterranean coast today, stopping first at Caesarea National Park to see the remains of the former Roman capital, including the ancient theater and hippodrome. Walk the seaside promenade to the renovated port area within the Crusader walls. See the Caesarea Experience, a fascinating computerized presentation of the city's history and best-known historical figures. The beautiful arched remains of the Roman aqueduct are right on the beach, so you can dip your feet in the Mediterranean before leaving the area. As we climb into the hills of northern Israel we’ll come to a Mount Carmel winery for a guided tour and an opportunity to taste Israel wines and cheese. Continue through the forested Carmel National Park to a Druze village on Mount Carmel, where you can enjoy a slice of Druze life and culture and a taste of traditional Druze home hospitality. Our last visit today is in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city. Here we’ll see the magnificent Baha’i Shrine and Gardens, the world center for the Baha’i faith. Enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the bay from the Louis Promenade (a beautiful sunset activity). We’ll enjoy dinner and an evening stroll in renovated old German Colony neighborhood.
Day 9: Acre, Nazareth & Galilee
Begin your day at Acre, the ancient Phoenician and Crusader seaport (designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site) for a tour of the Knights Halls, the Al-Jazzar Mosque, the bathhouse with its multi-media display and the new ethnic museum, built right into the rooms of the old wall, and the covered markets. Next, drive to Rosh Hanikra, where the rocky cliffs descend steeply into the sea, allowing the waves to carve grottos of a thousand shapes. Take the cable car down to the grottos for fun exploring through the rocky passageways. In the afternoon, head southwest across the Galilee mountains and the Jezreel Valley to Nazareth the boyhood home of Jesus, with its beautiful churches and colorful markets. Continue through the Galilee mountains to our Sea of Galilee hotel.
Day 10: Sea of Galilee, Mt. of Beatitudes, Hulu Nature Preserve, Free Afternoon
Today you can take in the famous sites around the Sea of Galilee, including Tiberias - a historical resort town on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) and one of Israel's four holy cities, the Mount of Beatitudes, traditional site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount Heading north to the Hula Valley, at the Hula Nature Reserve you’ll enjoy the lovely walking trails over the last remnant of this protected wetland, and the special lookout points where you can observe the avian wildlife. While at the reserve, don’t miss Oforia, a fun, experiential multimedia display that tells the story of the migratory route across the region and the millions of birds that use it. We return to Galilee and our afternoon is free to rest at our lake side hotel or take part in an optional active adventure such as cycling or jeep tours, kayaks on the Jordan River, horseback riding, hiking, and more.
Day 11: Return Home
This morning we transfer to the Tel Aviv airport for our return flight home.