2019 turned out to be the best year of tourism ever for Israel: a record-breaking number of 4.55 mln tourists visited the country. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 356,000 foreign visitors came to Israel in June 2019. In June 2020, this number plummeted to 5800 due to coronavirus.
Israeli tourism has already declined by 60%. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warns that this ratio might reach 80% in December if the pandemic won’t be over.
So far, the touristic sector had to face the following losses and challenges because of COVID-19:
- All 120 members of the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association had to either lay off dozens of employees or send them on leave of absence.
- Around 250,000 hotel workers and up to 5000 private tour guides hope the government could offer them temporary jobs, such as school teachers or public office clerks.
- El Al, the flagship air carrier, announced plans to place 4000 of its employees on unpaid leave, including 600 pilots out of 650, plus lay off 1000 workers.
According to the Israel Hotel Association, the total annual losses for the tourism industry might reach up to NIS 4.2 bln ($1.16 bln).
Encouraging domestic tourism
In June 2019, 837,000 Israelis traveled abroad. In 2020, this number shrank to 16,000. To motivate the citizens to travel domestically, the Ministry of Tourism ran an advertising campaign on a budget of NIS 2 mln ($585,000).
Tel Aviv municipality offered numerous perks to domestic visitors, such as free tours, free bicycle rent, two tickets to attractions for the price of one. The organizers of group tours declare a lack of demand for their services because people prefer individual trips for the fear of contracting coronavirus.
Among all the Israeli resorts, only Eilat is doing fairly well, some hotels are reported to be full. The occupancy rate of Jerusalem hotels is marginal, just around 25%. In Nazareth, 60% of the hotels had to temporarily close. Normally, international tourists would count for around 50% of the hotels’ occupancy.
Hopes for revival
The country might open its borders for international tourists on August 16. Those who enter Israel from the “green states” won’t need to take a corona test or spend 14 days in isolation — while those coming from elsewhere will. According to optimistic forecasts, the Israeli touristic industry might be able to recover in three years.Read More
CoVid2019 could not but touch upon the tourism industry in Israel. Every year, many tourists come to this country to relax at sea, learn more about history and culture of Israel, and see what the local life is like. Let’s see how CoVid influenced the development of tourism in Israel and why rural tourism on the local farms is a great alternative to the vacation abroad!
What is the current situation with CoVid2019 infection and tourism in Israel?
The pandemic situation in Israel is not easy. After the gradual lifting of restrictions in May, the number of cases of CoVid began to grow sharply, and every day more and more cases of diseases were recorded. Therefore, international air traffic was banned, and visits to crowded places were limited for several months. In total, about 80,000 cases of CoVid were registered in Israel. All this time, the country was closed to foreign tourists, and the Israelis themselves were deprived of the opportunity to travel abroad.
In early August, the Israeli government gradually began to open air connections with other countries, but Israelis are wary of traveling abroad and not ready to risk their health for a vacation in other countries. This contributed to the growth of interest in travel within their own country, and the so-called domestic tourism.
Rural tourism is the way
Rural tourism has gained unexpected popularity in Israel, because it involves living on a farm and doing certain agricultural work, immersion in the rural environment and local nature. This is a great opportunity to change the environment and take a break from the noise of the city, diversify your activities, meet new people and, of course, feel the atmosphere of rural life. Isn’t that what you need in such an anxious and stressful time?
Rural farm tourism in Israel can be divided into 3 types:
- Vacations on farms and kibbutzis mean helping the locals in some kind of agricultural work, for example, harvesting grain, fruit, producing agricultural products and much more! At the same time, you will be hospitably provided with accommodation and fed with delicious local food, which has a special flavor and absolutely differs from restaurant dishes and fast food. For many adults, this is a great opportunity to return to childhood or feel like visiting their grandparents and have a good time.
- Self-picking activities are a great way to have good time with your family on a farm. You are able to harvest various fruits and berries right from the farm and take home a few containers of your harvest. This is an especially cool vacation for children, because in this way you teach them to work, instill a love of nature and then the whole family can happily taste organic berries and fruits.
- Workshops on farms can help you learn a new craft and make a good weekend or vacation. You will be able to get acquainted with the basics of organic gardening, harvesting, cheese making, making clothes from natural fabrics and many other activities. Also kids will be able to try themselves as real fishermen, attending a master class on fishing. Choosing this type of vacation, you will definitely not be bored and you will return home with new skills.
Where to go with the family and kids?
The beauty of rural tourism is that you can have a great time in a rural environment with your family, while the children will be involved in interesting works and learn new skills. For example, they will master basic gardening and other agricultural activities. This is a great way to diversify family and children’s recreation, especially when children are used to spending a lot of time in front of the TV and computer. For example, check out The Solar Garden, Kfar Kedem and Ein Gev kibbuz!
How long can such vacation last?
You can choose convenient dates for your pastime on farms or kibbutzis. It doesn’t matter if you want to visit them for the weekend or spend a few days/weeks of vacation, you will be warmly welcomed!
How to book a farm?
Visit our website and use our catalog to find the best vacation spot! Using the filter, you can sort the results by location and type of activity. Choose the farm you like best and start preparing your backpack for an unforgettable and soulful vacation!
Despite all the hardships and anxieties caused by the CoVid19 pandemic, you should not be sad and despondent. Don’t let your vacation go by pointless, and don’t forget to take care of your health!Read More
On the outskirts of Rome, in the picturesque expanses of the Tiburta Mountains, in the vicinity of the ancient town of Tivoli, is one of the main treasures of Lazio. Villa Adriana, which is the most unique architectural monument of ancient Rome today, attracts attention with its enormous size. According to archaeologists, the summer residence of the ruler of the empire in ancient times occupied an area of at least 300 hectares, on its territory there were about 30 buildings, luxurious gardens and several artificial reservoirs. It was here that solemn celebrations were held with the participation of high-ranking officials, important political decisions were made and the everyday life of the emperors passed through for several centuries.
In 117 AD, Publius Eli Traian Adrian took over the throne of the Roman Empire. He was a great-nephew and successor to Trajan. During the two decades of his reign, Adrian managed to build a large number of colossal structures, many of which have survived to the present day. They say that the emperor himself created the projects of his buildings, but this fact remains covered with a layer of centuries-old dust and we cannot say with certainty about the architectural abilities of the ruler.
For a long time in the territory near the ancient city of Tibur, whose name today sounds like “Tivoli”, were located the luxurious houses of representatives of the Roman nobility. One of these villas that existed in the I century BC. and in the place of which the emperor subsequently built his summer residence, belonged to the great-grandfathers of Vibii Sabina, the wife of Hadrian.
No reliable information about the beginning of the construction of the imperial villa near Tibur was found, but the researchers, studying the ruins of ancient buildings, concluded that the work was carried out in at least three stages: from 118 to 121 years, then from 125 to 128 years and from 134 for 138 years. Adriana did not succeed in enjoying his creation, and the emperor died on July 10, 138.
Over the next two centuries, the emperors of Rome continued to use the villa as a summer residence, maintaining its condition in proper form. However, further on, Hadrian’s villa gradually fell into disrepair. There are suggestions that as early as the 4th century, Emperor Constantine took out many sculptures and decorative elements from its territory to Constantinople, and starting from the 6th century the Tiburtin government residence was constantly invaded by a barbarian.
The first excavations at this site were made in the 16th century. Ancient sculptures, bas-reliefs and other works of art found on the territory of Adriana, moved to museums. Most of them are now stored in the collections of the Vatican Museums.
According to the findings of the researchers, the territory in which Hadrian’s villa was located in ancient times occupied an area of at least 300 hectares. The complex of structures included about 30 buildings of various purposes, as well as recreation areas with artificial ponds and parks.
In addition to the main palace where the imperial apartments were located, the Hospitable courtyard was located on the estate. It was intended for the praetorians – the emperor’s bodyguards, as well as premises for the maintenance of slaves and the barracks of the guards.
In addition, Adrian’s Villa had a Greek and Roman libraries, a large library hall, a philosopher’s hall, an academy, several temples and shrines of pagan gods, and a theater.
One of the most important components of the life of the ancient Romans was a visit to the baths, so not a single luxurious residence, especially imperial, could not do without these structures. On the territory of Villa Adriana, several baths were built at once: Small and Large Baths, as well as saunas with solar heating.
In addition to rooms with hot, warm and cold baths, such facilities include halls for sweating, gymnastics, ball games, and special rooms for massage and relaxation. There was also a sports ground for practicing outdoors and wrestling exercises.
To service such a large villa, a whole system of underground tunnels was equipped. According to this system, slaves could move without disturbing high-ranking persons.
The Villa Adriana can be reached:
– by bus COTRAL, which leaves from the metro station Ponte Mammolo (линия B) on the route Rome-Tivoli.
– From Tiburin station by train, which follows the route Rome-Pescara, you need to go to the station “Tivoli”. The station is located in the historic center of the city, from where you can get to the Villa Adriana by bus.Read More
Independent five-day trip with rental cars. We share our experience
Good all the time of day.
Just want to ask a question: Have you ever had a desire to go to Israel?
If you’ve had, and if you have not yet had time to realize your dream, then do not delay this journey into indebtedness, pack up your bags and move boldly on the road.
For our part, we will try to summarize as briefly and as informatively as possible in this report all the nuances we encountered in this interesting and unforgettable journey, and the description of which will help (we really hope so) save your money and time, as well as get more impressions in a short time.
I ask you not to take everything written below as a short guidebook titled “How to know Israel in five days!”. The Holy Land deserves much more time and attention than we could give to this wonderful country. And if you like to travel on your own, but something is alarming you at the thought of visiting Israel, then you definitely need to spend your precious time reading this report.
You can see a brief summary and budget of travel at the very end of the report.
So, let’s begin.
Chapter I. Preparing for the journey
The idea of a trip to Israel arose with us, as usual, completely spontaneously, literally one week before the November holidays. We always have such thoughts in my head, as soon as at least three days off appear on the horizon. This time we had five days off (November 1, 2 – time off at work; November 3, 4, 5 – legal weekends), respectively, we really wanted to use them for rest and entertainment as efficiently as possible.
Thoughts in my head were formed in the following order:
- Need a country with no visa regime (the trip is still spontaneous).
- I would like to swim in the warm sea (I think that no one would be capricious about this).
- The flight should not be very long (on such a short journey, it is better to spend time on impressions, rather than on waiting for them).
- Travel should not be very expensive (no comment).
With all the wishes, the choice for this time of year was small – Egypt and Israel. We were already in Egypt, so we chose a guide to Israel in a bookstore. We formulated all our Wishlist in one letter, which was sent by e-mail to a dozen travel agencies and, while they collected information for us, we completely plunged into the study of the acquired publication.
Travel agencies began to show signs of life just when the route of our journey through the territory of Israel was almost 99% ready. However, according to the information provided to us, two conclusions could be drawn:
- Israel is very expensive (of course, it was not about pricing for independent travel).
- Israel is very scary and dangerous for independent travel.
The first conclusion we were not very upset because we are very picky travelers and know where and how to save money, so this time we also decided to abandon the expensive services of travel agencies.
But the second conclusion we first plunged into a slight despondency, because we ourselves heard many reports about Palestine, the Gaza Strip, Syria, etc., and then all the travel agents in one voice told terrible stories, dissuading us from independent travel . Comrade Sukhov was clearly visible: East is a delicate matter !!!
By the way, for two adults (me and my spouse), the travel and accommodation services of the travel agencies were estimated at 80 thousand and more.
In general, we turned off the phones so that we would no longer be distracted by scary stories and scary numbers, and we began to independently plan a trip to the Promised Land.
There are a lot of websites on the Internet that specialize in selling air tickets for low-cost flights; many of these sites offer a whole range of services, such as booking hotels and car rentals.
We used the site: http://www.bravoavia.ru/vg1/home.do.
It is clear that for these purposes a credit card is required.
As a result, we managed to purchase relatively cheap tickets for a direct flight to Tel Aviv of the ISRAIR airline and for the return flight with one change in Kiev by the Aerosvit and Aeroflot airlines.
Time of departures and arrivals of all flights has been carefully analyzed.
In Tel Aviv, we flew at one in the morning Moscow time and flew at 3 am Israeli time. What did it do? First, I did not have to ask for leave from work on October 31. Secondly, at 4 o’clock in the morning we were asleep at the hotel and at 8 am on November 1 our rested bodies were ready to be filled with bright and fresh impressions.
We flew back to Kiev at 6 pm on November 5 and at 22:00 we were already sleeping in a cozy and quiet corner of Borispol airport on soft and comfortable sofas. The flight to Moscow departed at 6 in the morning, so I arrived at work at 12 noon on November 6, completely recuperated and rested (Svetlana had 4 more days off in reserve).
Why am I so detailed in detail? Everything is very simple – with careful planning, you can get five full days of vacation from five vacations!
We booked a car on the same site http://www.bravoavia.ru/vg1/home.do, using the same credit card.
We took the cheapest machine on the mechanics. The place of receipt and return is Ben Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv)
Immediately practical tips:
- It is better to rent a car at home via the Internet; in this case, the procedure for obtaining documents for receiving a car at the airport will pass as quickly as possible. You will not need to answer a bunch of manager questions, practicing English or Hebrew (to our shame, we don’t know a single language other than Russian, and I haven’t seen Russian-speaking managers behind the counters).
- The cost of renting companies specializing in car rental is usually included (rental conditions can be viewed on the same site):
*unlimited mileage (if the rent is made for a period of more than three days);
*insurance (accident insurance (CDW) + theft insurance (Theft Protection) + liability insurance);
*Assistance with breakdowns in 24 hours.
- To get a car, you will need a credit card of any payment system with an amount of at least 25,000 rubles in case of road or parking fines (this amount is blocked on the card until the car is delivered + 1-2 days)
- To rent a car in Israel requires an international driver’s license of international standard. This sample includes our usual plastic driver’s licenses the size of a bank card, which have been issued since the 90s (I have one) and are issued now (a new sample).
- If you have your own navigator, take it with you, after downloading the latest map of Israel into it (for Garmin I took http://gpssoft.com.ua/garmin/ here).
- If you take a rental car at Ben Gurion Airport, then do not rush to leave the airport building. The paperwork is carried out right before the exit, on the second floor of the building (the racks of all car rental offices are close by).
We always use the website www.booking.com.
The level of selected hotels, hostels or guest houses – 2 *.
Convenience for such a trip, in our opinion, should be the most minimal. A shower and a toilet should be obligatory; It is advisable to have your own parking or private parking near the hotel. Breakfast is also a very nice addition.
Actually, this can be the end of the initial information on the preparatory part, the rest of the nuances will try to highlight in the course of describing our journey.
True, there is one more very important issue – it is the elaboration of the travel route around the country itself, but we would not like to torment you here with our reflections, because everyone should determine the importance of visiting certain places based on their preferences.
Further we suggest to familiarize with the following part of the report where our travel on days will be described. We think that in it you will also be able to gather some useful information for yourself.
Chapter II. Our trip
Nov. 1. The first day. Tel Aviv
At 3 o’clock in the morning, our plane neatly touched the runway at Ben-Gurion Airport and after 20 minutes we were wandering around his neighborhood, looking for the SIXT rental office in which we rented a car, occasionally appearing to rare citizens during these hours calling for assistance in finding its location.
According to statistics, every fifth Israeli speaks Russian, so the “understanding” person did not have to wait long. He returned us to the airport building and pointed to the second floor, where we very quickly prepared all the necessary documents. We were very pleasantly surprised that instead of a cheap car we had booked, we were handed the keys to the latest Mitsubishi Lancer with an automatic transmission, and later we paid nothing for it.
- When parking, be sure to ask to drive the car to a place with good lighting (we took the car at night)
- Inspect each element of the body and interior and do not be lazy to point out every damage (scratch, dent, cigarette marks on the seat upholstery …). All damages are recorded by the dealer. Be sure that the donor will not take the initiative, but your lack of initiative may turn into a tidy sum (Russians rented a car next to us, who last time paid 500 euros for their carelessness).
- In any case, I additionally recorded all the damage on the camera.
- Be sure to check the oil level, petrol level, spare wheel, jack and balonnik.
- Cars give to the client with a full tank of gasoline, they will demand the same from you. If the tank is incomplete, you will have to pay a fine of approximately double the cost of not having enough liters of gasoline (the cost of the gasoline will be indicated in the contract you have signed).
A few minutes later we went to the free highway and moved towards Tel Aviv, and at the beginning of the fifth morning we slept sweetly at the Momos Hostel, which was booked in the official capital of Israel for three nights – from 31.10 to 2.11 and from 4.11 to 5.11. The car was left in the hotel parking lot until the morning of the next day.
Four hours of sleep fully restored our strength and at 9 am we were already on the beach.
Indescribable feelings! A few hours ago, we took refuge from the sleet in Moscow, and now enjoy a swim in the warm Mediterranean Sea. The air temperature is +29, the water temperature is +25, in connection with which we could not deny ourselves the pleasure of spending most of the day on the beach …
We decided to devote the rest of the day to a walk along the magnificent promenade of Tel Aviv …
Tel Aviv is a very beautiful city, which is often compared to New York. Many call it a city that never sleeps (some quarters of Tel Aviv with their nightly entertainment can compete with any European capital).
By the way, Tel-Aviv is only 103 years old, it was founded in 1909, and numerous modern skyscrapers in a special way emphasize its young appearance. Most of them towering over the beaches of Tel Aviv, so we were very impressed by the walk along the promenade.
Along the coast, we leisurely reached the port of Jaffa, which is considered one of the oldest cities in the world and appears in numerous myths and biblical stories. Unlike modern Tel Aviv, Jaffa can be proud of its thousand-year history. Translated from the Hebrew “Jaffa” means “beautiful”, and this name was given to the port by the youngest son of Noah Japheth, who settled here when the waters of the Great Flood retreated. For 4000 years, the port city at least 15 times restored after the destruction of the invaders.
Now the labyrinth of the stone streets of ancient Jaffa is a favorite place of artists and sculptors, the streets themselves are named after the signs of the zodiac.
The view of the night Tel Aviv from the side of Jaffa was simply fascinating.
With great pleasure we walked along the return route and already next to the hotel we swam in the night Mediterranean.
This is how our first day in the Holy Land ended, tomorrow a small trip to the north of the country awaited us.
November 2. Second day. Haifa — Sea of Galilee — p. Jordan — Nazareth — Jerusalem
Breakfast at our hotel was very simple – tea or coffee to choose from + a bun from the store.
However, in any situation we try to find positive moments. In this case, there was one big plus – breakfast at the hotel began at 6 am! It was possible to have a quick snack and leave the hotel early in order to have time to see everything planned for today. And to whom, please tell me, would you like to put in a plate of borscht or ravioli at such an early time ?!
So we did not become capricious.
At 7 o’clock we were already “rushing” along highway number 2 in the direction of Haifa, and at about 8 am we were on the way to this beautiful city.
The speed limit in Israel, as well as in all other countries, is better not to break. This is closely monitored by cameras.
The speed limits in Israel are as follows (for cars):
** city – 50 km / h;
** outside the city – 80 km / h;
** motorway 110 km / h.
- On a country road, daytime traffic is allowed only with the switched-on headlights.
- Turning on the front or rear fog lamps in good weather conditions can cost you a fine of 250 shekels.
- In a car, everyone should be wearing seat belts, including rear passengers.
Enumerate such horror stories can be infinite. If you look in general, the traffic regulations of Israel are not much different from the traffic regulations of Russia. The differences are only in the quality of the roads, and not in our favor (in fact, this is clearly seen in the top photo). Especially pleased with the organization of traffic – in the country more than 90% of roads do not have oncoming traffic. Even in the city, the flows are separated by the organization of one-way traffic. Head-to-head accidents are most likely not here.
All informational signs have inscriptions in Hebrew and English, so it will be difficult to get lost. For those who are very poorly oriented, I will once again advise the navigator.
Are you a little distracted? Now move on.
Do not lag behind, we go for a walk around Haifa – the third largest city of Israel, the main part of which is located on the slopes of the famous Mount Carmel.
Once it was a small port city, which served as a safe haven for passing ships. Currently, Haifa is the center of Israel’s petroleum, chemical, textile and electronics industry. Locals are proud of their city and love to repeat the following phrase: “Jerusalem is praying, Tel Aviv is having fun, Haifa is working!”.
However, in addition to industrial sites there are a lot of historical sites. A detailed map of the city’s attractions can be found at the nearby information point.
In Haifa, there are four “routes of a thousand steps” – in each of them there are actually more than 1,000 steps. The tracks of each route are painted in a specific color: the yellow route leads to the German Colony, the red route goes through Wadi Nisnas and the Arab Quarter, blue leads to Paris Square in the Old Town, the green route also passes in the Old Town. All these routes are marked on Haifa’s tourist maps.
For a closer acquaintance with the sights of the city need more than one day. We were limited in time, so the Stella Maris Church and the Baha’i gardens were chosen for inspection.
“Stella Maris” in Latin means “Star of the Sea”. This is one of the most beautiful places in Israel, where Mount Carmel descends to the bay and meets the sea. At the top of the ridge is a church and a monastery of the Order of the Carmelites, located opposite the upper station of the funicular, overlooking Acre, Haifa, the bay and the Galilean mountains. This place is both a tourist attraction and a place of world pilgrimage.
The interior of the church is very beautiful, in the interior – beautiful stained glass windows and a magnificent ceiling decorated with frescoes by Italian artist Luigi Poggi on scenes from the Old and New Testament. The church is also decorated with reliefs dedicated to prominent figures of the order.
Steps descend from the hall to a carved cave in which a wooden altar is located, and above it is a statue of Elijah (the last two photos) – the Carmelites believe that this cave served as a temporary refuge for the prophet Elijah, fleeing from the vengeful King Ahab and his wife Jezebel.
Open daily from 6:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00.
We chose to visit this church precisely because of our early arrival in the city, many places of interest are open to the public only from 10 am.
Before the entrance to the church there is a monument, reminiscent of the tragic events for Napoleon and his soldiers.
In 1799, the church and monastery served as a hospital to Napoleon’s troops during the siege by Napoleon of the fortress of Acre in the war with the Turks. This year was in many ways a turning point for the emperor of France. It was this year that Napoleon made a coup d’etat, and it was at that time that he was looking for new allies with great enthusiasm. Among the potential allies were the Jews, so one of the goals of Napoleon is the restoration of the Jewish state with its capital in Jerusalem.
The French army easily took El-Arish, Gaza, Hebron and Ramla – these successes gave the rabbis a reason to pray for the triumph of French weapons. Napoleon captured Haifa and already intended to take Acca by storm, but then the British fleet came to the aid of the Ottomans, and it was more difficult to cope with such a rival. The campaign had to stop, the army returned to Egypt and the monastery was immediately seized by the Turks. Most of the monks and abandoned seriously wounded soldiers were killed by Turkish soldiers in the most cruel manner, and the building itself was almost completely destroyed.
Next to the church of Stella Maris is the top platform of the cable car, which you can go down to the beach.
From the cabins of the cable car you can see a large number of attractions of this beautiful city from a bird’s eye view. For a fee, you can take along a guide who will make your “cable” entertainment even more exciting and interesting.
By the way, oddly enough, at the foot of the cliff there is another cave in which the prophet Elijah allegedly hid. And from the cabins of the cable car, it is very visible. Well, in history, there are often discrepancies and the same events or meanings are attributed to different places.
Nevertheless, many Christians, Muslims, Jews and Druze consider this place to be holy, and many pilgrims from all over the world consider it their duty to leave any mark on the stone walls of the cave.
The cave is open to the public from Sunday to Thursday from 8 to 18 o’clock (on Friday – until 13 o’clock).
Opening hours of the cable car: from 10 to 22 hours in the summer and from 10 to 18 hours in the winter.
We did not wait for the opening of the cable car and admired the beauty of the city from the height of its upper platform, and then went up by car a little higher to see the famous Baha’i gardens.
Haifa is known for its religious tolerance, and this is the most suitable place for the world center of the Bahá’í religion, which preaches the unity of all religions and claims that Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad were the bearers of the same message.
The Baha’i religion originated in Persia. Its leader, the prophet El Bab, was executed for heretical preaching in 1850.
His remains are kept in the tomb, which you can see in the center of the top and bottom photos.
Open: daily from 9 to 12 (internal gardens) and from 9 to 17 (external gardens).
Admission is free and even offers free guided tours, but it seems like only in English.
Here we also saved our time a bit and instead of walking along the paths of the magnificent garden we descended to its base by car (we didn’t want to climb back up the hill after our four-wheeled friend).
Then we rode through the city, walked along the coast, swam in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea and lounged a little on the beach, looking at all this beauty from below with pleasure.
It’s time to go further. Today, we have very big plans, and it is already the twelfth hour on the clock, it is dark in Israel early – around 5 pm, so you need to hurry.
Just 18 km north of Haifa is the ancient city of Acre, the first mention of which is dated 1800 BC. in the era of Egyptian rule. For 4 thousand years, it was renamed several times, therefore in various sources it is mentioned under different names. Under the name Ptolemid, it is found even in the Bible, in the epistles of the Apostle Paul.
Acre is located at the crossroads of international trade routes, which is why in its 4,000-year history it has been captured and destroyed many times, and then restored to be captured and destroyed again.
In the 18th century, the Turkish ruler al-Jazzar rebuilt the city, surrounded it with solid walls, built a powerful fortress and dug wide moats. Under al-Jazzar, mosques, Turkish baths, markets, khans (inns) appeared, and it was under al-Jazzar in 1799 that Napoleon could not take Acre, and he could not forget this defeat until the end of his days.
I really wanted to look into this ancient city, but we understood that one day would not be enough for everything. We decided that we would definitely return to Israel once more and rushed from Haifa directly to Lake Tiberias, better known as the Sea of Galilee or Lake Kinneret.
The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake in northeastern Israel. It is turned into the main reservoir of Israel and is the main source of water for the all Israeli water pipeline. The third part of all the fresh water consumed by Israel comes from here.
The coast of the lake is one of the lowest land areas on Earth – 213 m below sea level. The water level is subject to changes throughout the year depending on precipitation and water consumption.
From the north, several rivers flowing into the Golan Heights flow into the Sea of Galilee, including the Jordan River, which flows from the south side of the lake. All these rivers serve as the main suppliers of water, pouring 603 million cubic meters annually into the Kinneret. m., of which 50 million cubic meters. m. delivered to Jordan (in accordance with the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan).
Lake Kinneret is mentioned many times in the Old Testament (the Sea of Kinnereth), in the Gospel (the Sea of Galilee) and many other ancient sources.
2,000 years ago, the Lake Kinneret area was the place where Jesus read his sermons, healed and resurrected.
These events are marked on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias by numerous churches and religious shrines.
It is to these places that the words of Vyacheslav Butusov’s song relate: “The Apostle Andrei fished from the pier, and the Savior walked on the water and Andrei took out the minnows from the water, and the Savior of the dead …”.
True, the apostle Peter was also fishing with the apostle Andrew; both of them were called by Christ to serve in the apostolic ministry; Peter just did not fit into rhyme. Yes, and they did not get minnows from the lake, but a fish called tilapia (Tilapia), the exquisite taste of which was admired by many famous people, including and Aristotle. Tilapia fillets can be bought in our stores, we tried after the trip – really delicious fish !!! Another name for tilapia is the fish of St. Peter; apparently, the fish of St. Andrew does not sound so solid. Well, okay, this is nagging.
Since ancient times, this area was very rich in fish, so the entire coastal population was engaged in fishing, respectively, and the first apostles of Jesus were from local fishermen (Peter and Andrew). Often He delivered sermons while standing in a boat, and crowds of people listened to Him while on the beach. Maybe that’s why it seemed to people that Jesus could walk on water, but these are already my personal assumptions.
In addition to the holy places, there are also many healing hot springs, most of which are located in the area of the main resort of Galilee, Tiberias (Tiberias), located on the western shore of the lake.
Tiberias was founded by Herod Antippa, the son of Herod the Great, in the 20th year of AD. and by the VII century, it became a major scientific center. In the 12th century, Muslims and Crusaders who fought among themselves destroyed the city, and a strong earthquake of 1837 wiped out the remains of ancient buildings. And now Tiberias is a modern resort with a few ancient ruins.
In this regard, we did not enter the city itself and headed towards the northern part of the lake along its western coast, stopping occasionally for swimming and contemplating the beauty of nature.
Around the coast of the Sea of Galilee there are many paid and “wild” beaches that are very popular with the local population. We spent a lot of time on the “wild” beaches of the western and northern coasts, swimming in the warm waters of a fresh lake with pleasure.
In the eastern part of the lake, we traveled not along the coast, but along the Israeli-Syrian border. Maybe there was a bit dangerous, but we could not deny ourselves the pleasure of a ride on the picturesque serpentine of the Golan Heights.
Pay attention to the top three photos. On the other side of the road is the territory of the Syrian state. All three photos were taken from the military fortifications of Israel on the border with Syria. At the time of our arrival there was no one there, most likely now these fortifications are not used. However, if you look closely at the photos, you can see the fence of barbed wire, and in the first photo is also a sign with the inscription “Carefully, mines.” Believe the word, it is better not to overstep the fence, despite the fact that there are no military here.
Views to the west from this firing point look more peaceful and peaceful.
The total length of the coastline of the Sea of Galilee is a little over 50 km, while we traveled a little more, because along the eastern part we moved along the border with Syria along a winding serpentine, so we arrived at the next point of our stop, the baptism site of Jesus Christ, after 5:00 pm.
Of course, at that time everything was already closed (work time on Friday – until 17 o’clock), but we could easily penetrate the small fence and go down to the Jordan River, to the place where St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ. Without white clothes, but with a pure white soul, we made a small religious procession along a specially arranged channel in complete silence and in the absence of anyone.
Open: 08:00 – 18:00, on Friday and the eve of holidays: 08:00 – 17:00.
Of course, we did not have time to get to Nazareth, so we were satisfied only with his night view. The sights of this famous and ancient city, we now look at our next visit to Israel.
Passionate about traveling, we forgot about the fact that the navigator is set up on the shortest road, so we did not immediately notice that to the place of our next overnight stop (the glorious city of Jerusalem), he leads us through Palestine. But we still realized it in time, told him “ah-i-yay” and asked our Garmin to choose a route with a detour of this unknown territory. To save money, we decided not to use the toll 6th motorway and got to Jerusalem via Tel Aviv, winding about 25 km of an extra road.
Around 10 pm we arrived in Jerusalem, and here a miracle happened to us, which we simply cannot fail to mention.
Having parked the car, we began to search for our hotel with a navigator in our hands. However, instead of the hotel, the navigator aggressively led us to the door of the bank. We walked around the bank and neighboring buildings several times, but we didn’t see the signs of the hotel. A call to the hotel did not solve the problem – at the other end of the tube they categorically refused to understand Russian and offered orientation services in Hebrew or English. I had to pester the local Russian-speaking passers-by with requests for help in finding our hotel. However, almost all Russian-speaking citizens, including policemen and taxi drivers, were convinced that the street we ask them about and which was shown in the printout of the hotel’s reservation is in another place, about 30 minutes walk from our current location, and right there poked his finger in the direction in which we needed to follow.
Having wandered this way through the night streets of Jerusalem for an hour and already completely desperate to find our hotel, we accidentally ran into a young man who had emerged from the dark in a completely unexpected way for us. It turned out that he speaks excellent Russian. We literally with the last hope turned to him as Savior, and he gladly agreed to help us in our search. Fifteen minutes later we were standing right at the door of our hotel, which to our great surprise was in the house next to the bank. And right there they saw overhead a huge luminous sign of the Zion Hotel 2 **.
Like this! A man came out of nowhere, did a good deed and disappeared into the dark. The only thing we managed to do was thank him for the shaking of his hand.
How can you not believe in God’s help, and even in such a holy city!
We immediately fell into a comfortable room at the Zion Hotel 2 **, in which we booked two nights from 2 to 4 November.
Under the influence of today’s impressions, as well as after a warm shower and a small dinner, we fell asleep like babies. The past day, in our opinion, deserved the rating of “excellent.” Tomorrow is planned a tour of Old Jerusalem.
The 3rd of November. Third day. Jerusalem
The saturation and intensity of the first two days of the trip made themselves felt, so we were able to open our eyes only at the beginning of the ninth morning. It turned out that earlier waking up and there was no point, because Breakfast at the hotel starts only from 8 o’clock. The morning buffet was very pleased with its diversity, everything was very tasty and satisfying, it did not work out from the table with a slight feeling of hunger.
Armed with photographic equipment and a guidebook, we moved to the Old Town, which is only five minutes walk from our hotel. The road to the Old Town runs through a very beautiful street Mamilla, along both sides of which there are interesting statues and compositions of different authors.
We will not write in great detail about the city itself, since On the Internet, you can easily find a whole lot of descriptions of any of its attractions.
A tour of Jerusalem must be made with a professional guide, the average cost of which ranges from $ 100 to $ 150 for a 3-4 hour tour.
Without a guide, walking around Jerusalem is pointless. In this case, you are wasting your time and do not get the impressions for which you probably went here.
Find a guide in two ways:
- Agree in advance with the guide via the Internet (the Internet just boils from such proposals).
- At the Jaffa Gate of the Old City.
- We used the second option and even saved a little.
How? Everything is very simple.
As a rule, the meeting with the guide takes place near the information center, located near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City. There are languishing in anticipation of either the excursionists (more often) or the tour guides (there are practically no such people, since they are just snapped up).
It makes no sense to approach the guides – they are already waiting for their clients, but it is very possible even for the excursionists.
We looked after a Russian-speaking couple with two children who were waiting for their guide, met (the guys came from Sochi) and offered them to share their costs equally. They agreed and for the four-hour interesting excursion we paid $ 75 from each family.
I will try to show you with a few comments a little of what was told to us, but I repeat that you will not regret a single second if you contact an experienced guide.
Jerusalem is considered the city of three religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Each of them has its own shrines here: for Muslims it is the Temple Mount with the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock located on it, for the Jews it is the Wailing Wall, for Christians it is the architectural complex of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The walled Old City of Jerusalem is the main attraction of Israel.
The length of the walls is more than two miles, their age is more than 400 years. Most of the walls that survived to our times were built by the Turkish ruler Suleiman the Magnificent (XVI century AD). Some sites date from the era of the Crusades (XI-XII century AD) or the period of rule of King Herod (I century BC). The walls and structures of the Old City are literally layers of history.
Eight gates lead to the Old Town, seven of which are open to pedestrians and cars. It is believed that the eighth – the Golden Gate, immured by the Arabs in the VII century. – will open only on the Day of Judgment. Jaffa Gate has always been the main entrance to the city, because it was through them that merchants arrived from the ancient port of Jaffa. From here we began to inspect the main sights of Jerusalem.
Inside the Old Town, life is in full swing in the morning.
This is especially noticeable in the Arab quarter, which is one big market with all sorts of junk.
With the help of our guide, we were able to break through the dense rows of Arab traders without significant losses to the family budget. With the goat paths, he led us to the main shrine of Christians – the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, located in the heart of the Christian Quarter and built on the former frontal place (or Golgotha).
The temple square turned out to be very small in size, closely pressed to the temple from all sides by buildings.
The construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher dates back to 335 AD. and is associated with the name of the Great Emperor Constantine and his mother Elena. True, it is not entirely clear why the construction of the temple was carried out on this place, although it seems there is no reason to doubt that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the place where, according to the Holy Scripture, Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and then resurrected .
Decide for yourself, I will just give a few lines from the book of J.E. Wright BIBLICAL ARCHEOLOGY chapter 9. PALESTINE DURING THE TIME OF CHRIST Philadelphia, 1960 (translated from English by A. Čech) (http://enoth.narod.ru/Bible/Wright_09.htm):
“The history of the search for the place of execution and burial of Jesus can be summarized as follows. In 313, Constantine the Great ceased persecution of Christians. Christians were granted freedom of religion, in addition, the Edict of Milan provided for the return of property confiscated from them – churches, cemeteries and other real estate (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 9.9). Persecution ended, but the enmity between Christians and pagans continued. In Jerusalem, at that time bore the name of Elijah Kapitolina, this enmity manifested itself in an especially acute form. The population of the city, sacred for both Christians and Jews, evicted from there by Emperor Hadrian, was mostly pagan, many of these pagans in previous years actively participated in anti-Christian speeches and became owners of property taken from Christians. Jerusalem became one of the centers of the pagan cult: its main shrines were the Temple of Jupiter and the Temple of Aphrodite-Venus, built under Adrian.
In 314, Macarius became a bishop of Jerusalem, a very energetic man who set himself the goal of exterminating pagan cults. The idea of finding the place where Jesus was buried after the crucifixion belonged to him. It is not exactly known why he proposed to look for him exactly where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands and where the Temple of Venus stood in his time. There is no evidence, written or archaeological, that the Savior’s burial site was located there, or that it was especially esteemed at the time of the apostles. There is no indication that she had any definite information about this in the 4th c. and the Christian church, aka Macarius’s contemporaries, among them the first historian of the church, Eusebius of Caesarea, would not question his project to search for a tomb. Apparently, Macarius did not present any hard evidence to them. Eusebius was familiar with another tradition. In Demonstratio Evangelica (6.18), a work he wrote about 303, he says nothing about the Holy Sepulcher and Calvary in connection with a pagan temple, but highlights the Mount of Olives (and the Olives Cave) east of Jerusalem and the Holy Church of the Lord on the hill to the west of it, as a place especially revered by Christians and Judeo-Christians. The artificial cave, located about 100 m south of the hill, could indeed be a burial crypt. She was an object of pilgrimage, although nowhere was it definitely said that this was the burial site of Jesus. The area around and the cave itself was badly affected by the stay of Roman legionnaires there during the siege of 70 – siege works, according to Josephus, greatly changed the surrounding landscape. Eusebius, apparently, continued to doubt the authenticity of the tomb, which was later found under the base of a pagan temple. It seems that Macarius himself was not sure that he would find anything there. Anyway, in 325, at the Nicene Council, he obtained from the emperor permission to destroy the pagan temples in order to search for the tomb.
Eusebius, who took part in the destruction of pagan temples and in the excavations that followed, writes (Vita Constantini 3.29) that the tomb was discovered “against all expectations” – either he thought that it was destroyed by pagans, or did not believe at all that she would be there . Constantine himself, in a letter to Macarius, regarded this discovery as a great miracle. It is noteworthy that the mother of Constantine, of sv. Elena, who had long been interested in “sacred archeology,” did not participate in the excavations of the tomb. She visited Jerusalem only at the end of 326, shortly before her death (she had turned 80 by that time).
So, having demolished the pagan temple, the workers of Macarius discovered a Jewish cemetery under its foundation — a series of crypts cut into the stone with a stone slab entrance. It only remained to establish which of them was the burial place of Jesus. It is not known what criteria they used, but their choice was on a single crypt with a round sliding plate. Such doors were common in the Late Roman and Byzantine eras, but in the period of the early Empire, in the first century. from R.Kh., they were a rare innovation; only very wealthy families could afford them. Of the approximately 900 tombs of the first century found in the vicinity of Jerusalem, only four have rolling round covers, the rest were covered with ordinary square plates (cf. Matt. 27:60 – “And he laid it in his new tomb, which he had carved into the rock; and he rolled a large stone to the door of the coffin and withdrew. ”The corresponding Greek verb means“ roll over ”, although it does not necessarily indicate that the rolled up or rolled up object has the shape of a wheel or ball. It is likely that the use of this verb in the Gospel Leah determined the choice of archaeologists IV.). Cyril of Jerusalem (circa 348), and numerous pilgrims who visited the tomb at a later time, mention this round stone in one of their sermons.
Constantine ordered to build a church over the found tomb. Eusebius and after this more than once raised the question of its authenticity. In 326, at an audience with the emperor, he delivered a report on this topic. Konstantin listened attentively to him, but Eusebius was not affected by his decision (Vita Constantini 4.33). Once again, Eusebius raised the question of authenticity in 335, during the consecration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The immediate result of the discovery of the tomb was the increased prestige of Macarius and the bishopric of Jerusalem. Insisting on the destruction of the pagan shrines, Macarius risked not only his career and reputation. The negative result of his excavations could lead to a political scandal, cause even more bitterness to the pagans and undermine the prestige of Christianity and the emperor who supported the Christians. “
So here is something like this !!!
In the VII century, the temple was almost completely destroyed by the Persians, and in the XII century it was restored by the Crusaders and in this form it has survived to this day, despite numerous fires and earthquakes.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher itself is divided between five churches, each of which has its own part. Only a professional guide can see the differences between the Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Coptic churches and understand the meaning of every corner of the temple.
In the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are the last 5 stations of the Way of the Cross of Jesus Christ.
At the 10th station, clothes were torn from Him (a mosaic on the floor illustrates this episode), the next three stations (11-13) are placed with each other and marked by altars that attract crowds of tourists. Here Jesus was nailed to the cross, then the cross was raised, and here the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross.
The last, 14th station is the Holy Sepulcher itself. In the marble tomb below is a stone that covers the entrance, the burial bed and the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
Open: daily 5: 00–20: 00 April — September and 5: 00–19: 00 October — March.
We excluded from the compulsory program a visit to the Holy Sepulcher because of the endless and slowly moving line of pilgrims and headed to Via Dolorosa, where the first nine stations of the Cross of Jesus Christ were located. We continued to familiarize ourselves with the stations in a descending order, which allowed us to avoid large losses of time due to the sluggish flow of pilgrims who came to meet us.
Of course, the current Via Dolorosa street can hardly be considered the way Jesus walked. His true path is most likely hidden under 2,000-year-old layers, however, during the reconstruction of the road itself and the surrounding buildings, large stone slabs dating back to the Roman era were discovered.
It should be noted that the massive commercialization of the area completely contradicts the atmosphere of spirituality that you so desire to plunge into here. Everywhere there are an infinite number of souvenir shops and boutiques, which make it even more difficult to move along narrow streets.
Further, our path lay in the Jewish quarter, to the Wailing Wall – the most sacred place of all Jerusalem for Jews, who believe that these are the remains of the Temple in which the ark of the Covenant was kept.
I do not want to upset them at all, but in my opinion the Wailing Wall is a part of the retaining wall 485 meters long around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which survived the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. er
The wall was erected by King Herod as a supporting wall supporting the earth mound, which was poured to increase the area of the Temple Mount during the restructuring and expansion of the Temple building.
The area in front of the preserved fragment of the Wall – one of the main attractions of the city – is divided into two halves, male and female, and Jews from all over the world come here to pray. Tourists are also allowed to the Wall, just need to dress appropriately. A disposable bale (yarmulka) is issued at the entrance to the square for free.
Between the stones of the Wailing Wall it is customary to leave requests to God written on paper. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists, regardless of nationality or religion, come to the Wall to pray and leave a note asking the Most High.
This tradition is rooted in ancient times. Requests of people are diverse: someone asks for a speedy recovery, someone appeals to get help in solving a particular problem, someone desperate to find a soul mate. But regardless of the request, after the attachment of the note, the person feels an extraordinary peace and peace of mind.
Today, the tradition of putting a note into the Wailing Wall has lost its exclusively Judaistic character and now applies equally to almost all religions. Regardless of religion, it is believed that the attachment of a note with a request to the Wailing Wall is the most direct and effective way to turn to God. According to the majority of the representatives of the main religious currents of the world, the miraculous power of the Western Wall equally applies to all people without differences according to national or religious principle.
There are many confirmed stories and cases in which the most incredible requests and wishes written on a sheet of paper and invested in the Western Wall were fulfilled and realized.
Where do the notes go then? After all, there are so many of them that sometimes there is no place to put another one. Twice a year, they are collected and buried in a curtain (the burial of sacred texts) on the Mount of Olives, as is customary to do with all the holy texts that mention the name of God.
Visit the Wailing Wall can be around the clock.
We could not get to the Temple Mount – it was already Saturday evening, while this landmark was open from Saturday to Thursday in the following periods: 7: 30-11: 00 and 13: 30-15: 00 in summer (8: 00- 10:30 and 12: 30-14: 00 in winter).
I really wanted to look at the Temple of the Rock, from where the Prophet Muhammad ascended. Judging by the photos on the Internet – this is a very impressive structure for its architecture. Leave it for the next trip. In the Jewish quarter, we saw a lot of interesting things. For example, here is this police cat looking at everyone passing by a stern and attentive gaze.
It was interesting to walk along the old Cargo street – an amazing Roman street, which was built in the 6th century as the main city thoroughfare. The most ancient excavations on this street date back to the 8th century BC!
On Cardo Street, as a rule, trade was going on, shops and shops were located on it.
In the Old City, Cardo Street appeared under Roman Emperor Publii Eliya Adriana, who ordered the construction of Eliya Kapitolina on the site of Jerusalem which he destroyed in 135 AD.
Initially, Cardo Street began in the northern part of Jerusalem, at the Damascus Gate and went through the entire city in a southern direction. In the center of the square stood Adrian’s tall column. When Muslims in the VII century. conquered Jerusalem, the gate was called Bab Bab Amud (Gate of the Column). The Damascus Gate and Cardo Street are depicted in full detail on the famous mosaic map of Madaba.
The Cardo street that reached our days was formed during the Byzantine period, under Emperor Justinian (527–565 AD), then the street was extended to the southern walls of the Old City and connected the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with Ney Church, the largest basilica ever erected in Jerusalem (it was built under Justinian, damaged during the Persian invasion in 614 AD and finally destroyed in the 9th century).
The width of the Cardo street was 22.5 m. Two colonnades with covered sidewalks for pedestrians were built along the street. The roadway was 12.5 m. There were drainage channels along the street under the pavement to divert rainwater.
Today you can see fragments of columns that adorned Cardo street. The height of the columns was 5 m, they were decorated with capitals, representing the Byzantine variation of the Corinthian style. During the years of Arab rule, Cardo Street began to collapse. When the crusaders along the street were built shops for merchants and artisans and the street Cardo turned into a covered shopping gallery. Today on Cardo Street one can see numerous Jewish shops, partially using the premises of the shops built by the Crusaders.
We devoted the rest of the evening to a walk along the bastions surrounding the Old City, from the height of which there is an amazing view of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.
Of course, I wanted to visit other interesting places in Jerusalem, for example:
- To climb the Mount of Olives – according to tradition, Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate from this hill. Jews and Christians believe that the second Messiah will resurrect the dead and lead them through the gate, and that is why the Mount of Olives is considered the most honorable place for burial. Muslims also believe that the dead will rise on the Day of Judgment, so the area under the city wall that serves as a Muslim cemetery is also a very prestigious and expensive burial site.
- Stroll through the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was betrayed and arrested.
- Visit Mount Zion, on which the Virgin Mary died and now stands the Church of the Assumption. Virgin
- Take a look at the Garden Tomb, located behind the Damascus Gate of the Old City. Adherents of the Anglican Church are convinced that the “true” Calvary is located outside the city walls in this particular place. The hill has the shape of a skull, and a cave carved in stone is typical of that era. The tomb was discovered in 1883 by General Charles Gordon.
- Wander through the Rockefeller Museum, located near the Garden Tomb and famous for its archaeological exhibits
And many many others…
In general, there are a lot of plans, but, unfortunately, they all do not fit in one day, and we could not take more for Jerusalem this time. We returned to the hotel around midnight. Tomorrow we were expected to travel to the Dead Sea and visit the reserve Ein Gedi, famous for its waterfalls and rich flora and fauna.
November 4th. Day four. Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Tel Aviv
The route of this day we worked very poorly, so we simply did not get to many places, in connection with which I will offer you a more correct layout, just now I’ll just continue my story.
Local residents and yesterday’s guide dispelled our fears about the insecurity of moving through Palestine, recommending not to waste time on its detour and heading to the Dead Sea along the shortest route through the Palestinian lands.
Actually, in order to get to the territory of Palestine, Jerusalem itself is practically not required to leave – the city is divided into two parts by the so-called “green line” as far back as 1949, although since 1960 the Israelis have controlled the entire territory of Jerusalem, despite the fact that eastern some of them are inhabited by some Arabs (about 210 thousand people). On the western side live mostly Jews (190 thousand people.).
In fact, Jerusalem belongs to Israel, from a legal point of view – a tangled question, from a human point of view, it is possible to understand Jews (for 2 thousand years they are probably tired of wandering around in the white light), and Arabs (people lived, people lived here, they say that they lived here a couple of millennia ago).
In general, the words of Comrade Sukhov come to mind again: “The East is a delicate matter!”.
I don’t remember exactly where we crossed the Israeli-Palestinian border, but I remember exactly that there was only Israel’s verification, there was NO ONE on the Palestinian side. Passing eastwards along Highway 1 about 35 km, we turned right onto the road number 90, which runs along the western shore of the Dead Sea.
For all the time of movement on the Palestinian territory, we never had the desire to halt on the shores of the Dead Sea. Actually, there wasn’t even a place to stop – barbed wire stretched along the coast and we didn’t see any beach spots right up to the intersection of the Palestinian-Israeli border.
The rocks sailing to our right, although they seemed as lifeless as the Dead Sea, were still incredibly beautiful. Particularly impressive was the contrast of the bright blue sky and the white-beige rocks.
Having passed along the coast of the Dead Sea about 35 km, we again found ourselves on the border, now Palestinian-Israeli. And again the same picture – a check only by Israel, the Palestinians again did not bother to put up their defenders of the fatherland.
Although the check is very loud. At both boundaries, the total delay was no more than 5 seconds. Maybe this lack of action was affected by the phrase “Russo tourist”, spoken by us, which, perhaps, was today the secret password for all Israeli intelligence services, or maybe this is just a simple negligence of soldiers, which fundamentally does not fit with a tough (often addicted) inspection at airports Of Israel.
Anyway. Let’s better about the good.
Literally a kilometer from the roadblock, we made a short stop to look around the neighborhood.
And after about 5 km we saw the first comfortable beach on the Dead Sea. Turning on him, we made the first mistake for today, but more on that later.
Entrance fee – 40 shekels from the nose (with the issuance of towels, the price rises to 60 shekels).
The Dead Sea is an amazing phenomenon of nature. It is the lowest place on earth and is located 400 meters below sea level. The Sea itself consists of two sparkling blue lakes, feeding on the waters of the Jordan River and interconnected by a narrow strait. At the moment, the Dead Sea is gradually growing shallower. This circumstance is connected with the creation of the national irrigation system of Israel and a similar water supply system of Jordan, located on the opposite bank of the Dead Sea.
Behind the outgoing water edge, the entire beach infrastructure — changing rooms, showers, umbrellas — barely manages to catch up … therefore, on almost all beaches, you can see old and abandoned buildings and structures (the same changing rooms and umbrellas) already located far from the coast, near which life was in full swing.
Before diving into the dead water of the Dead Sea, read some rules.
Due to the high salt content under water it is impossible to hold even a part of the body, it pushes it out like a cork. Attempting to swim looks very funny, it is almost impossible to move, and the legs themselves float in front of you. Do not taste the water – it is very bitter – and protect your eyes.
It is believed that minerals dissolved in water have a healing effect, but with prolonged bathing they can cause irritation, therefore, after getting out of the water, you must take a shower.
By the way, the term “dead” is not quite true, since the Dead Sea has a positive effect on human health:
** skin: an additional 422 m, which must be overcome by sunlight, reduces the intensity of harmful ultraviolet radiation, and in many people suffering from acne or psoriasis, the skin dries out, but there are no sunburns.
** Joints: mineral-rich mud helps with rheumatism and arthritis – just like feeling weightless in salt water.
** Asthma: the concentration of oxygen and bromine is high in evaporating water, which helps with allergies and asthma.
In any case, I will provide a link with brief information on the beaches of the Dead Sea.
Well, a little more interesting
Do you know that the Dead Sea is not the saltiest in the world ?!
The palm in this respect is occupied by Lake Elton, located in the Volgograd region near the border with Kazakhstan. Its mineralization is 200-500 g / liter, which is 1.5 times higher than the concentration of the Dead Sea!
We will return to the Dead Sea, and now it’s time to go to the Ein Gedi National Reserve, located just three to five kilometers from our beach.
Entrance fee – in memory of no more than 20-30 shekels per person.
There are convenient paths along the reserve that allow access to the most inaccessible places.
The main attraction of the reserve is the 36-meter waterfall of David, originating high in the mountains. Moving towards the Dead Sea, its waters form a multitude of small rapids and waterfalls, one of which is located near the central entrance.
This is a real paradise.
The fauna of the reserve is extremely diverse; You can see a mountain goat, a wild sheep and a daman (small animals that look like rabbits or marmots).
Ghazals, antelopes, foxes and jackals also live in the reserve, but it is much more difficult to see them – just like 13 leopards, which scientists follow with the help of electronic collars.
Of the local inhabitants in a special way I want to mention the long-tailed starling. Completely black, with orange tips of the wings, he lives only in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. There is an old legend, according to which this bird used to be colorful and incredibly beautiful. She loved to fly to King Solomon and listen to everything he said. The king really liked this bright bird, so he constantly treated her to something delicious. Once she broke one of his most intimate secrets. Disillusioned instantly, he launched an inkwell into it. A nimble bird managed to press its wings to itself, therefore ink painted the whole body of the bird except the very edges of the wings.
Towards noon, the number of people in the reserve increased, and at the next waterfall we were no longer able to be alone.
By the way, adult tourist groups practically did not come across to us, but in large abundance there were groups of schoolchildren who are most likely brought here after school.
As we climbed to the main waterfall, it became hotter and hotter, we no longer put on outerwear and used each small lagoon to cool our heated bodies.
After a small and picturesque tunnel, we found ourselves at the penultimate waterfall in which we bathed right up to the chill.
Finally, we got to the waterfall of David.
Well, we go further. Dressed in outerwear and filling all the free bottles with crystal-clear water from the waterfall of David, we decided to climb the upper plateau to look at the surroundings from the most favorable angle, but it was not there. From 13 o’clock access to the path leading upwards, overlap. Time to climb and descent takes more than three hours, and the reserve in November only works up to 16 hours.
It’s a shame !!!
At this time, another group of schoolchildren was descending from the mountain. They correctly built a route to travel around the reserve and are likely to have time today to visit all its secluded corners.
With a great feeling of regret and a slight feeling of white envy, we looked at their happy faces.
I had to be content with a small one – the contemplation of mountain goats and the views of the Dead Sea from the gorge of the reserve.
At 16 o’clock we left the reserve and headed to Ein Gedi beach, located across the street from the reserve.
Visiting the beach did not add merry thoughts; on the contrary, we were convinced that planning the day itinerary should be approached more carefully. Not only was the beach free and we could save up to 80 shekels, in addition, we lost the pleasure of visiting one of Israel’s most amazing and at the same time quite bitter landmarks – Masada, because The hours of operation of the cable car that takes tourists to this lonely mountain with a flat top are also limited to 16 hours.
It’s a pity! I really wanted to see the place where in 73 AD 960 brave zealots, including women and children, for three years successfully held siege to the ten-thousandth army of the Romans. And when the zealots realized that their end was near, they decided not to fight, in order to die later in slavery, but to accept death with honor. Men cast lots. Each killed his family, then himself, until there were 10 people left in the lot. Then one killed nine and committed suicide.
According to the testimony of the historian Josephus, the author of the book “The Jewish War,” the Romans, who broke into the smoking ruins, admired the courage of the zealots.
Since then Masada is considered a symbol of national pride.
This is the end of our day. In Tel Aviv (the last night was booked again at Moms Hostel) we were returning along the same road, so there is probably nothing more to add to today.
Yes, I almost forgot, I promised a version of the layout of this day, taking into account all our mistakes.
I think the following scenario would be the best option:
- Departure from Jerusalem at 6 am to catch the opening of the cable car to Masada (open from 8 to 16 hours). You can climb the mountain on foot along the Serpentine Path or the Roman embankment (both are open from 4:30 to 15:30), while you can enjoy the beautiful sunrise.
- Walk around Masada till 11 o’clock.
- Descent and arrival to the reserve Ein Gedi, located just a few kilometers from Masada.
- Visit to the reserve Ein Gedi (open from 8 to 16 hours). The route must begin with a walk on the upper plateau, after which you can go around all the lower paths.
- Swimming in the Dead Sea at the free beach of Ein Gedi.
November 5. Fifth day. Tel Aviv — Airport. Results
In gratitude for your patience, I will not torment you here for a long time. We spent the fifth day in the Holy Land in Tel Aviv. We were allowed to leave the car in the hotel parking lot until the evening, thank you very much for that. We walked around the city on foot and once again admired the organization of traffic. Almost all roads with one-way traffic, each direction is regulated by its traffic light.
Then they bought souvenirs and bought oriental spices in the central market of the city. Even scary to write here the amount spent.
But on the beach, they showed us an absolutely free way of fishing. My grandfather used to catch fish for his two-year-old grandson, who then let them go back to the sea.
For fishing and swimming, we didn’t notice how time flew by, wash off salt water, have lunch and go to the airport.
Azrieli Center is a complex of three skyscrapers in the center of Tel Aviv.
We still didn’t have a clear understanding of where and to whom we had to hand over our typewriter, but already at the entrance to the airport, such orange-colored information boards began to fall (return rental cars).
According to them, we found a huge parking lot, where cars are accepted by all car rental offices. His (SIXT) we found immediately.
Externally, the car did not even inspect, maybe they had a note that when receiving the car all the damage was fixed by me on the camera, or maybe just the receivers fell.
Nevertheless, we still had to pay a fine for returning a car with an incomplete tank of gas, because on the way to the airport we didn’t see the gas stations, so it’s better to refuel to the full in advance.
Delivery from the parking lot to the terminal doors is free.
Here, perhaps, that’s all!Read More
Last week, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a large-scale program The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development, whose goal is to prepare a new generation of American farmers. Millions of dollars are planned to be spent on popularizing the farmer’s profession and providing all kinds of assistance to beginning agricultural workers.
The USDA does not hide the fact that there are a catastrophic shortage of farmers in the United States and the state will do everything possible so that people move into the outback of the country, buy ranches and large areas of land.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of farmers will decrease by 19% in the period from 2015 to 2022, which will lead to a food crisis and the rise in prices of products. Meanwhile, the average farm income in the country is $ 69,300. This is a very good amount, given that such businessmen in most cases live in their own homes (that is, they do not pay rent or mortgage).
“Agriculture is an area that will always generate income,” said labor market analyst Jeb Halley. – The population of the country is increasing. Food demand is growing. The cost of farms and ranches is at an all-time low. Moreover, for many people, the purchase of agricultural land is a way to start a new life, leave the bustling city and start working for yourself. ”
Currently, 73% of farmers work for themselves and do not depend on anyone. This profession is considered one of the most promising among immigrants, as nearly a third of visitors have experience in the fields. Another indisputable plus is education, or rather its absence. Many successful businessmen do not even have a high school diploma.
“Today, about 40,000 farms and ranches are sold on the American market at prices ranging from $ 5,000 to $ 10 million,” says Ernest D., an agricultural infrastructure sales specialist. – On average, a good farm consisting of a dwelling house, barns, a dozen other buildings and at least 20 acres of land costs about $ 130,000. It’s smaller than a tiny apartment in New York or Chicago. ”
According to Ernest, today, farms and ranches are bought by all kinds of people – from retirees who dream of living away from civilization to young workaholics.
“One of my clients were three Guatemalans who won the green cards,” says the specialist. “In just six months of washing up in Manhattan, they saved up $ 60,000 and bought an 18-acre farm in Kentucky.” A year later, these guys earned nearly half a million dollars on selling chicken. There are many similar stories. ”
According to Ernest’s words, success in the agricultural business depends solely on hard work. Many farmers get up at 5 am and work until 7 pm. They do not hire workers and do all the black work on their own.
How to understand the principles of the agricultural business? This is indicative of the story of New Yorker Will Jones, who, after a divorce from his wife and loss of work, firmly decided to start a new life.
He never worked in the outback and had a brilliant legal background. However, the “farmer romance” always fascinated him.
“I flew to Idaho and found a job on a potato farm the very first day,” Jones recalls. – A friendly businessman paid me $ 50 a day plus free food and lodging. I did not spread about my past, pretending to be an ordinary mechanic. For three months of work, I had before my eyes a complete picture of how the potato business works. I became a PhD in the potato industry. ”
After quitting his job, Jones, who, during his time as a lawyer, managed to save almost half a million dollars, bought a huge potato farm, hired workers and turned it into a profitable business. The experience gained during the work in the fields, he considers invaluable.
“Many people who dream of becoming farmers, imagine themselves sitting on a rocking chair in front of a huge field with a bottle of beer in their hands,” argue Jones. – They have no idea about agriculture, but they are sure that they will succeed. My advice to you is to work first at least three months on someone else’s farm. It is possible that you will hate this job. ”
Now about the most important thing. In modern US agriculture, there is an unusual trend. Beginning farmers are increasingly moving away from growing popular crops such as corn, soybeans and potatoes, preferring to produce something exotic and in small quantities.
Here it is worthwhile to dwell on the history of the Californian Frank Lee, who bought a tiny farm in Iowa. His plot worth $ 12 thousand was located in the midst of immense corn fields.
“Farmers laughed at me and said that on the cob, I would not even earn hundreds of dollars a month,” recalls Lee. – However, I was not going to grow corn. My task was to produce shiitake and oyster mushrooms, which a year after the purchase of land brought a million dollars in profits. ”
The most interesting thing that Lee had only theoretical experience of growing mushrooms. He read a dozen books, watched several educational films and talked a lot with mushroom pickers over the Internet.
Mushrooms are one of the most profitable farm products. For example, the oyster harvest is 25 pounds per year per square foot. If we consider that the retail price of a pound of these mushrooms, on average, is $ 7, then from a small space of 10 by 10 pounds you can earn $ 17,500.
“The most difficult thing is to settle all the legal formalities in the early stages of the farm,” says Lee. – In addition to the USDA, there are a number of federal, state and city authorities seeking to prohibit or issue a fine. You have to keep all inspectors under control in order to stay in business. ”
The only worker on Lee’s mushroom farm is the 25-year-old son Jacob. His duties include selling mushrooms over the Internet. He spins the product on social networks, sells large supermarkets and small shops.
“Knowledge of the Internet is a huge advantage for new farmers over hereditary farmers,” says Jacob. – Many businessmen living in the outback, do not use the Internet and do not even have a computer. They have regular customers and they are not interested in new ones. They even have no idea how to get going at the expense of Internet farming. ”
Jacob is absolutely right. If desired, the agricultural business can be promoted even on Facebook, where there are many groups of fans of different products – from mushrooms to beef steaks. In addition, the possibilities of modern mail are not limited. If desired, for example, fresh beef chops can be sent in a special container to Alaska or the Hawaiian Islands. In certain situations, it is even profitable.
Mushrooms belong to the list of goods that bring about $ 50 thousand annually from one acre of land. An acre, however, is practically worthless in the outback state. In Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma or Arkansas, such a microscopic farm with an old house can be purchased for $ 10 – $ 15 thousand.
So, besides mushrooms, the most profitable crops are:
Lavender. Used in the manufacture of soap, incense, bouquets and funeral wreaths. So, in California, there was a case when a former co-worker started a lavender business.
Spring Pussy Willows. These woody plants are popular with florists, as well as room designers. Some varieties of willow are so unpretentious that the crop can be harvested all year round.
Thuja. Rapidly gaining popularity dwarf tree, which is used for landscaping facades and lawns. One sprout costs about a dollar. After 24 months, the tree is ready for sale at a price of at least $ 10 – $ 15. Plus you can add a tidy sum for a plastic pot and delivery.
Bonsai (Bonsai Plants). One of the most scarce plants on the market. Outwardly, it looks like a full-fledged maple, reduced to half a meter in size. I am sure that every resident would like to have a similar beauty at home. The price of the simplest and inconspicuous bonsai is $ 30. The most beautiful specimens are sold for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Willow. Luxurious, beautiful and fast growing tree. Willow saplings are sold at $ 7 per pound and are in great demand by woodworking companies that supply boards to furniture manufacturers.
Elephant Garlic. Personally, I learned what “elephant garlic” was last week when I bought one head of this amazing product for $ 5 in an American supermarket. The taste is incomparable and is cut very conveniently. One slice is comparable to apricot. In good soil, the crop is 15 thousand pounds per acre. The profit is obvious.
Herbs. The cultivation of various herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes has increased over the last decade by 20%. A small jar of loose spices costs at least $ 3 in stores. If you grow herbs wisely and process them appropriately (dry, chop, mix), you can easily become a millionaire.
Bamboo. Chinese immigrants have long since established bamboo production in the south of the country, as the demand for this plant is constantly increasing. Bamboo is made furniture, furnishings, souvenirs and much more. If you offer a good price, then the wholesale buyer can be found quite easily.
Ginseng. One of the most useful products in modern agriculture. According to Chinese philosophy, it prolongs life and youth. You can sell ginseng in a variety of forms – raw, dried, pickled, salted, grated, etc. If you take to grow an organic and environmentally friendly product, then do not sell it for less than $ 50 per pound.
Finally, it should be said that in the United States there are more than a hundred farming organizations that in every possible way help beginning agricultural businesses.
Moreover, under pressure from the USDA, banks began to willingly give loans to buy a farm or ranch, as well as approve the business plans of novice but ambitious farmers.
In general, everything goes to returning America the former glory of a country that has a developed and independent market for its own food.Read More
The ranch was one of the most popular methods of agriculture, widely spread in the countries of the Western Hemisphere during the colonization of America by immigrants from the European continent.
In the USA and Canada, a ranch usually means any farm located in a rural area. One way or another, the main economic specialization of the ranch is cattle breeding, first of all cattle. This ranch is different from plantations, the main specialization of which is crop (bananas, sugar cane, cotton).
When free time was given out on the ranches of cowboys, they entertained themselves with all sorts of “funny” competitions: whose horse works better with a cow, who sits longer on a wild bull or a mustang, who will quickly lash a cow. Over time, these sports were separated, gained established rules, overgrown with traditions and features of training the horse and rider. From the middle of the 20th century, official cowboy competitions were held in the USA, and western sport appeared.
Life on the ranch has its advantages – far from the bustle of the city, animals and complete unity with nature.
Once a year, the rancher and his team lead their flocks to mountain pastures. Shepherd dogs grazing during a long transition of cows and bulls (bottom right), everything is as it should be.
Dangerous moment – the transfer of the herd across the road. One of the cowboys holds a warning yellow flag for approaching cars. Sometimes it’s easier to walk along the highway.
Such is the life of the real ranch and the cowboys.Read More
Sights of Tbilisi
The beautiful and interesting city of Tbilisi attracts tourists to visit it regardless of the season, holidays and weather. Although, frankly, in the summer it is really stuffy and hot. And if travelers go to the coastal cities of Georgia for the sake of the warm Black Sea, they love the capital of the country for its incredible variety of attractions. So Tbilisi will be able to please as little tourists: a zoo, Turtle Lake, an amusement park on Mtatsminda Mountain, and their parents: a botanical garden, sulfur baths, a funicular railway.
Some of the places listed below do not require financial investments or are worth a penny. Therefore, a stay in the capital of Georgia will be quite affordable and interesting for you. We recommend that you carefully read our list of attractions, choosing from them the most suitable and affordable.
Tbilisi Sightseeing Itinerary
Tbilisi is an amazing city. Every day you can find new places in it, admire the unusual combination of seemingly incompatible buildings and even entire neighborhoods, be amazed and enjoy the peaceful coexistence of Orthodox churches, the Muslim mosque and the Judaic synagogue.
Next to the bell tower in the temple Tsminda Sameba there is a house and a small pond.
Here you can spend a month, immersed in a local flavor or a couple of days, seeing the beauty of the city, and maybe its heart …
To fall in love with Tbilisi, it is best to stroll through it with a local guide. It so happened that in 2018, on the advice of our acquaintances, we bought an individual tour and spent a fantastic 12 hours with Dina. Fascinating stories, new amazing places, including ceremonial ones, as well as pleasant company – this is what awaits you on a walk with a guide. By the way, if you don’t have time to find a “tasty” place with good Georgian cuisine, focused not only on tourists or don’t know which bath is better and how to order it, ask the guide during the excursion about this. They will prompt and help with the choice. Dinu can be found on the website: Georgia4travel.ru.
If you are traveling without a guide, we recommend starting with Shota Rustaveli Street; from the main cathedral in Georgia Tsminda Sameba or from the cableway, leaving the new modern park Rike. Any of the selected options will bring not only a lot of joy and positive impressions, but also allow you to get acquainted with the local beauty of the city.
The main sights that we managed to visit during our stay in Tbilisi, we sorted for convenience into groups. Each of them will try to characterize and describe in detail.
Bridges and Parks
Since the Kura River flows through the whole of Tbilisi, there are quite a few bridges in the city. The most interesting and visited by tourists are just four of them: the ultramodern Peace Bridge, the Nikolai Baratashvili Bridge, the Metekhi Bridge and the famous Dry Bridge. Each of them is valuable and in its own way is magnificent not only for travelers, but also for the local population.
The Peace Bridge is one of the main decorations of the city, a symbol of its modern look. It connects the two banks of the Kura River, part of one Tbilisi: the old and the new. The most interesting bridge in the evening, when the lights are turned on. Built into the frame of the bulb, according to the Morse system, transmit the coded information containing the DNA of each person.
The bridge of Nikolay Baratashvili is a little further. He is older, but no less attractive. On its two sides are the original figures of people, made in full growth. Some of them are spectacularly posing, the other as if in reality is preparing to jump into the water, some more cutely “communicate” with each other. Tourists love to take photos on their background: frames are lively and fun.
Metekhi Bridge is an important and necessary building for the city. One of his sides he goes to the church of the same name and the monument to the great king Gorgasali, and the second to the area of restaurants, cafes and sulfur baths. Every tourist at least once during his stay in Tbilisi necessarily passes through it, because from the bridge a beautiful view of the temple opens.
Dry bridge, in our subjective opinion, is too popular for tourists place. Recently, a flea market on the Dry Bridge has become a regular average bazaar, where you can see unnecessary junk to anyone. If earlier it was possible to find really exclusive, unique things, now there is practically no rarity and antiques. Therefore, those who are not interested in antiquities have nothing to do with it. Is that to succumb to the temptation of numerous guides, recommending this place, and personally verify its uselessness.
There are plenty of parks in Tbilisi too, otherwise in the summer it would be simply impossible to be in the city. Practically in each of them fountains work, in many there are drinking sources.
Especially interesting is the new Rike Park, located literally in the city center. Even despite the fact that he did not have time to finish building in his time, now he is a popular holiday destination among adults and children. It is quite spacious, has many comfortable shops, but due to its youth, it is not too shady. In the evenings, it sometimes hosts free concerts of local musical groups, a singing fountain is included.
The next, less popular park is called Park April 9th. It is large and cozy, located just behind the Kashveti Church and the National Gallery of Georgia. The park is shady, it has a nice cascade fountain, several monuments and small flowerbeds, a huge number of shops.
Mtatsminda Park on the eponymous mountain is very popular with young tourists. A large variety of attractions, made it the main entertainment in Tbilisi primarily for children. Adults in the park will not be bored either: the Ferris wheel located at the highest point will allow you to see the city from a bird’s eye view, and the Funicular Restaurant will delight visitors with delicious Georgian national dishes.
Heydar Aliyev Park modestly sheltered in the area of sulfur baths, Abanotubani. Very green, well maintained and equipped, the park attracts lovers of a relaxing holiday. There is always a bench for relaxing and drinking a fountain to refresh in the summer heat. And what are the magnificent flower beds, flaunting around.
Cable Car and Funicular
If we compare these two sights, then, to tell you the truth, we liked the cable car much more than the funicular that is popular far outside Tbilisi. Perhaps this conclusion contributed to a huge queue and further blockage of the car during the ascent and descent from Mount Mtatsminda.
The Tbilisi cableway differs in many ways from the Batumi one: in terms of size, price and, of course, a panoramic view, but we recommend everyone to take a ride on it.
It begins in Rike Park, passes over the old part of the city and takes tourists to the observation platform near the Narikala Fortress. Such a two minute pleasure will cost you 2.5 GEL. We recommend walking downstairs on foot – this is how you will see more.
The funicular is essentially an unnecessarily expensive pleasure to go up in a wagon full of cars, to the Mtatsminda Park. One way fare is 3 GEL. In this case, you must buy a card for 2 GEL, which cannot be returned at the end to return the balance. If you go in the afternoon, it is possible to exit in the middle of the road, for a review of the pantheon and the temple of St. David. Further travel from the Pantheon will be an additional 3 GEL.
Sulfur Baths and a Waterfall in the City Center
We have written a good and very detailed article about sulfur baths in the capital of Georgia: Should we go to sulfur baths? Here we will try to briefly outline the essence of this attraction.
Sulfur baths are located in a very convenient place – in the Abanotubani district, next to Heydar Aliyev Square. There are more than 10 of them in total. Each one is distinguished by its setting, area, cost, and the like. Only a few of them have common rooms, which, frankly, is not always good. In the bath it is better to go with your individual set of bath accessories or, at least, with a towel, slippers and washcloth. You should not be afraid of the peculiar smell of sulfur – the body quickly gets used to it, however, you will smell sweet for a long time. In addition, near the sulfur baths, there is practically no smell of sulfur, but very beautiful views of the Abanotubani area are opened.
Additionally, you can order a massage, but do not expect much pleasure from it. The average cost of bathing in sulfur springs is about 30 GEL / hour for an individual room and 3 GEL for a total.
Immediately behind the baths is a waterfall. It is very pleasant to go to him for a very short time and, most importantly: not so long ago, the fig gorge was ennobled. In addition, a small rivulet flowing along it was brought out. Now locals and visitors of the city gather near the waterfall. On hot summer days it is impossible to break away from the reservoir – the coolness attracts everyone around him.
Museums, theaters, temples of Tbilisi
There are enough museums and theaters in Tbilisi too. Some of the most interesting and popular among tourists are located along the main avenue of the city, Shota Rustaveli. Among them: the Opera Theater, the Shota Rustaveli Drama Theater, the National Gallery of Georgia (Blue Gallery), the Rustaveli Main Cinema, the Georgian National Museum, the Griboyedov Theater, the Rizo Gabriadze Puppet Theater. No less beautiful and interesting buildings: Vorontsov Palace, Academy of Sciences, the former building of the Parliament of Georgia. And completes this wonderful composition – Freedom Square, which has seen many magnificent events in its life.
The Presidential Palace does not belong to museums, much less to theaters. Nevertheless, it can also be “examined”, at least externally. Although, according to rumors, excursions are conducted on it: you only need to stipulate your trip in advance (two weeks, or even a month) and sign up for a “walk”. The palace is clearly visible from the Bridge of Peace and Rike Park.
Tbilisi is inhabited by a huge number of believers of various denominations. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are many temples in the city. We visited the most interesting and being on our way personally.
The Tsmind Sameba Church, the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church, is especially impressive. From its scope and greatness just catch your breath. In it, we spent the greatest amount of time: we looked at all the floors, including two underground ones, walked a lot of territory, climbed the belfry and just enjoyed the beautiful flower beds and magnificent views around.
To get to the entrance to the church of Sameba, you need to overcome a few dozen steps. The temple is also the highest in Georgia (more than 100 m in height and 40 m in depth).
The following no less fascinating temples are the Armenian churches Surb Gevorg and Echmiadzin. They belong to the old and very honored in Tbilisi. They are cozy, calm, homely warm and pleasant to be. Surb Gevorg Church, moreover, is the Cathedral of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia.
Sights of Tbilisi Suburbs
Near Tbilisi there are just a huge number of attractive places: the ancient religious center of the country – the city of Mtskheta; the edge of the sun, wine and smiles – the region of Kakheti with the romantic city of Sighnaghi; famous health resort Borjomi; Uplistsikhe cave city and the ancient cave monastery Vardzia; the usually secretive Mount Kazbek and the magnificent Georgian Military Highway ending in the Gergeti church; Zhinvalskoe reservoir and Ananuri fortress near it.
There are several ways to see these sights: during a group or individual excursion; on a rented car or by ordering a car with a Russian-speaking driver. No matter how surprising this may sound, we personally recommend choosing individual trips for yourself, especially if you come by company. So it turns out more profitable, more interesting and more fun. Our guides at Tripster.ru and Georgia4travel.ru turned out to be good specialists who know their business thoroughly and answer any of our questions.Read More
Georgia is a great country for Russian travelers. A visa is not needed, no English is needed, the climate is mild, people are welcoming, the kitchen and wine are excellent. Plus, the sea, beaches, mountains, ancient culture, relatively low prices and good infrastructure. What is not an ideal place for vacation? Find out where to go and how not to miss all the most interesting things in Georgia!
Tbilisi is a beautiful and atmospheric city. Sights are located quite compact, but scroll for inspection at least two full days to have fun and not to rush at a gallop.
What not to miss in Tbilisi:
- Narikala Fortress and the picturesque Old Town at its foot. You can go up to Narikale on foot, but it is more interesting to go by cable car.
- Abanotubani – sulfur baths, sung by Pushkin. On the opposite bank of the Kura from the baths stands the symbol of Tbilisi – the Metekhi temple.
- The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Tsminda Sameba) is the residence of the Patriarch of Georgia. The cathedral is modern and not very expressive, but it’s worth a look during a walk through the old district of Tbilisi – Avlabari.
- Museum of Art and State Museum of Georgia.
If traveling with children, take them by funicular to the amusement park on the top of Mount Mtatsminda. And on Rustaveli Avenue do not miss the funny miniature figurines.
Mtskheta is the ancient capital of Georgia and perhaps the holiest place for Georgians. In the tiny town 20 km from the center of the modern capital there are three UNESCO World Heritage sites at once. Getting to Mtskheta is convenient by bus or taxi.
The main attractions of Mtskheta are the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, the St. Nino Monastery and the tiny picturesque Jvari Monastery on a high rock at the confluence of the Kura and Aragvi.
On the way back to Tbilisi, be sure to drop by the restaurant “Salobiye”, famous for its khinkali and lobio since Soviet times.
When to go to Georgia
The ideal time to travel to Georgia is May – June and September – October. Spring is green everywhere and flowers in the fields and gardens. Autumn is the season of persimmon, grape, fig and, of course, young wine. In July-August in Georgia, especially in the east, it can be very hot, up to +40 ° C.
You can swim in the Black Sea in Georgia approximately from the beginning of June, when the water is already warm to + 19-21 ° C. In July – August, the water temperature usually fluctuates around +25 ° C, in September – around +23 ° C.
Georgian Military Road
One of the most scenic trails in the post-Soviet space goes from Tbilisi to the foot of Mount Kazbek. In addition to stunning mountain landscapes on the way, you will see the medieval fortress and the temple on the banks of the reservoir in Ananuri, a dramatic gorge near Gudauri and the Cross Pass. If time allows, from Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) rise even higher to the Gergeti church, from where, in good weather, there are beautiful views of Kazbek.
If you rent a car, you can visit Mtskheta in one day, drive along the Georgian Military Road and return to Tbilisi by evening.
Homeland of the most famous Georgian wines, where even road signs proudly read: “Tsinandali”, “Gurdjaani”, “Akhasheni”, “Mukuzani”. You can get to Kakheti from Tbilisi in an hour and, having left in the morning, visit key places and get back to the capital by evening.
In Kakheti it is definitely worth visiting Sighnagi, a lovely town with elegant houses, funny monuments and a wonderful view of the Alazani Valley. If time allows, visit the capital of the region – Telavi town, to the majestic Alaverdi cathedral and the ancient David Garedja cave monastery near the border with Azerbaijan.
Bad attitude towards Russians in Georgia is a myth. You will be met as a mother and surrounded with care, as if you are in the village with your grandmother. Friendly Georgia disposes to acquaintances and communication: do not close yourself up, and the country will reveal itself in all its beauty. To know what to expect, look at the selection of portraits blogger Sergey Prokhorov shot in Georgia.
Gori and Uplistsikhe
Uplistsikhe is perhaps the oldest cave town in Georgia. Labyrinths of tunnels and caves, a river under a rock, a lonely church, a place so fantastic that it looks more like a theme park than a historical landmark. But you can walk everywhere and touch everything with your hands, which the children will definitely appreciate. To Uplistsikhe ride through Gori, where you should look at the museum of Stalin and the ruins of the fortress Gorische.
It is not so easy to get to Vardzia, but this cave monastery from the time of Queen Tamara is much more interesting to Uplistsikhe and definitely worth a long (by Georgian standards) road. A nice bonus is the well-preserved fortress of Khertvisi nearby. On the way from Tbilisi to Vardzia, you can drink directly from the well of the real mineral water Borjomi in the city of the same name and visit the picturesque village of Bakuriani, which in winter turns into a ski resort.
The main attractions of the capital of Imereti are the Bagrati Temple and the Gelati Monastery, which are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not far from Kutaisi there are two interesting caves – Prometheus Cave and Sataplia. Both are famous for beautifully illuminated stalagmites and stalactites, but Sataplia in Georgia is called nothing less than the “Jurassic Park” – dinosaur footprints are well preserved here.
The best place in Georgia for nature lovers and beautiful landscapes. This remote corner of the country, little known even to the Georgians themselves, is entirely included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in recent years has been turning into a star of tourism in Georgia. People come to Svaneti to admire the Svan towers against the background of snowy peaks and mountain rivers, to go hiking and horse trekking and mountaineering (the legendary Soviet mountaineer Mikhail Khergiani comes from these lands). In the plains of Georgia they say that the Svans still have the custom of blood revenge. But these rumors, of course, are outdated by a century or two.
In winter, in the flat part of Georgia, the temperature rarely drops below zero, and at this time it is not so much cold as it is sad. From mid-autumn to early spring many passes are closed: walking and even car trips to remote places will have to be postponed. But if you like skiing, then from mid-December to mid-March in Gudauri and Bakuriani you will find good trails.
There are almost more business centers and hotels of global networks in modern Batumi than in Tbilisi. And this is not surprising: the city is clearly turning into the financial capital of the country, like New York in the USA or Mumbai in India. But with all the gloss and luxury of modernity, the old Batumi neighborhoods have not lost their charm, and the new areas and houses only emphasize it.
It is interesting to go from Batumi to the local botanical garden and to the ancient Roman ruins in Gonio. From here you can continue the journey further – to Turkey.
You can swim in the Black Sea right in Batumi. This is an ideal option to combine a beach holiday with shopping, nightlife and interesting walks: Batumi is a big city where you won’t get bored.
If you want to relax on the sea in a quieter place, take a look at Kobuleti. In this resort village there is a pebble beach and a long, long promenade along the coast: choose the cutest restaurant, order a glass of wine and listen to the surf.
With children they usually go to Ureki: it is believed that the black magnetic sand on the beaches has healing properties. But at the height of the season it is crowded. If you like silence and nature, a good alternative is Shekveteli. There is a coniferous forest, a black sandy beach and few people. But one thing: infrastructure is poorly developed.Read More
Traveling to France by car is a real pleasure! We will tell you about all that is important to know the Russian traveler, who went to this country in his car. Also, this information is useful to those who are going to rent a car to explore this amazing country on their own.
The capital of the French Republic is Paris. The language is French. To the French language, the French are, at least, without enthusiasm and the Russian-French phrasebook definitely does not hurt. Currency – Euro.
Roads in France are considered the best in the world after Singapore. Motorways are really comfortable and very picturesque, and the French are pretty neat drivers. Enough places to relax motorists with free toilets. The fact that these rest areas are often made in places with very beautiful views is also captivating. Toll sections are paid depending on the vehicle category and the distance traveled by it. The tariff is displayed on the board at the entrance to the paid section. You can pay by cash or credit card. Payment may also be subject to travel on some bridges and tunnels. The official site of the french roads is here.
At gas stations, gasoline is paid after refueling. The cost of gasoline in France can be found in the section Gas prices in Europe. By the way, approaching Paris, be prepared for traffic jams …
Roundabout Circulation in France
French roads are unusual for us round the intersections without traffic lights. Circular motion with several exits sometimes makes you nervous – the navigator does not always accurately show the exit. But it is better to make an extra circle than to hurry and go in the wrong direction.
The implicit rule is to enter the circle, to give in to those who are already spinning on it. Although the roundabout in France is of two types. The first type is indicated by the signs Vous n’avez pas la priorit? (you have no priority) or C? dez Le Passage (give way), which states that vehicles moving in a circle have priority. And the second type of roundabout is denoted by the familiar blue sign with white arrows and means the advantage of cars entering the circle and driving according to the “right handicap” principle.
Parking in France
Free parking on the street of the French city is possible, starting from 19-00 and until 9 am, as well as on weekends. Pay for parking in the parking machine, it is usually indicated and the rate. Wrongly parked cars are being evacuated at the expense of the owner of the car.
Finding a parking place in the center of a large French city is very difficult. We observed a colorful picture on the streets of Paris – a mini-machine, traditional for France, bravely shoved other crumpled fellows with its crumpled bumpers to push into a place on the side of the road. So the best way to leave the car in Paris is to quietly go for a walk – specially equipped paid parking (for example, underground) in a shopping center or at any sight (you can right under the Notre Dame Cathedral). Parking in France for more than a day in one place is prohibited. If you need to put the car for a long time, you will need a special parking.
Always check whether you have closed your car and do not leave things in the car!
Important phones in France
- Police – 17
- Firemen – 18
- First Aid – 15
- European emergency number – 112
Features of the Traffic Laws in France:
Traffic regulations in France are similar to European ones. Of course, you need to skip pedestrians at crossings. Pedestrians have an advantage throughout Europe and without hesitation enjoy this right, so beware!
At roundabouts, in front of which are signs Vous n’avez pas la priorit? (you have no priority) or C? dez Le Passage (give way), vehicles moving in a circle have priority. If these signs are not present, the cars entering this intersection have priority.
Speed ( unless signs prescribe otherwise)
In the inhabited locality – 50 km / h, outside the inhabited locality – 90 km / h, on the highway – 130 km / h. The minimum speed on the motorway is 80 km / h. If the visibility on the road is less than 50 m, then the maximum speed should not exceed 50 km / h!
Disposable breathalyzerAliable blood alcohol level – 0.5 ppm. According to the new rules, drivers must have a disposable breathalyzer in the car. From March 1, 2013, a penalty of 11 euros will be charged for his absence. Breathalyzer must be French. You can buy it at a gas station at the entrance to the country (they are also sold in pharmacies and supermarkets). Cost – from 2 to 5 euros.
Low beam during the day is obligatory in conditions of insufficient visibility and when passing through tunnels. It is recommended to use dipped headlights around the clock for all-wheel drive vehicles.
Be sure to wear seat belts, including in the back seat! Children under 10 years old are not allowed to be in the front seats. They can travel only in the back and in special car seats. Children weighing up to 13 kg must be transported with their backs in the direction of travel.
It is forbidden to use the phone without a Handsfree device.
The fine may be paid to the police officer who issued the receipt.
- Warning triangle.
- The use and even transportation of anti-radar is prohibited.
- The radar positioning function in the navigator must be disabled.
- Reflective vest (required when leaving the car when stopping on the carriageway or curb in poor visibility or at night).
- Disposable French breathalyzer.
- Winter tires are required from November 1 to March 31.
- Studded tires are allowed from November 10 to March 31.
- Spare bulbs are highly recommended.
Car route to France
We recommend the route to France from Moscow through Belarus, Poland and Germany with three stops for the night: in Warsaw, after crossing the Belarusian-Polish border, Berlin (or Potsdam) and in Cologne (or Dusseldorf). Thus, the trip to Paris will take four very bright days (approximately 2900 km and 31 hours on the road). France is also included in many of our routes. In Paris or Nancy – the route for autotravel in Europe №1. And if you want to visit the mountain resorts, such as Annecy or the fabulous Cote d’Azur of France, to enjoy a beach holiday, such as Saint-Tropez or Monte-Carlo, choose the European Automobile Route No. 2 …
Find and book a suitable hotel with parking in any city in France for the best price deals using the well-known online service booking.com (booking confirmation, even with the possibility of free cancellation, is accepted by the French visa center when you apply for a Schengen visa for autotravel)
Shopping lovers in the Outlets section of France can find addresses and coordinates for the navigator of the best outlets in the country. How to return the tax after purchases in France – in the article Return Tax Free in Europe.Read More
Italy is an incredibly attractive country. She has united everything that vacationers love so much: mild Mediterranean climate, luxurious coast, ancient architecture, interesting museums and sights, delicious cuisine, good shopping.
Organized tours here are a lot of money, and if you drive yourself without prior preparation, you can get into unpleasant situations. Therefore, it is worth knowing in advance all the nuances of independent travel, so that only great memories remain of it.
If you want to learn how to travel cheap in Italy by yourself, this article is for you! Here you will find tips from seasoned travelers, ideas of routes and lots of other useful information.
Now let’s get into the details.
Where to start a trip to Italy
Independent travel in Italy (when searching for information using non-Russian-language services, the name of the country you need to write is Italy) does not begin with crossing the border, but much earlier – with its planning. Your comfort and positive emotions on the trip depend on how well everything is organized. First of all, we recommend to take up the documents, tickets and transport logistics.
Documents to enter the country
To freely enter the country, you will need a passport with an open Schengen visa. If before the expiration of the passport is less than 3 months, it will not accept. About what documents are required for the Italian Schengen, read on the sites of visa centers.
It is very important:
- For minor children, if they travel with one of their parents, they need a notarized travel permit from the second parent; It is worth grabbing the birth certificate (if the child is not 14 years old).
- You also need to purchase medical insurance (inexpensive and good insurance can be purchased on the Cherehapa website or on instore.travel) and print out the booking confirmation of the hotel or apartment.
For travelers with a dog, a filled international vetpasport, certification in form No. 1 from a state clinic (it is valid for 5 days from the date of issue), and a certificate of form 5a are required.
The animal must be microchipped, and it is the microchip that is required – a transponder, free from fleas and worms, vaccinated against rabies and major diseases (no later than 30 days before crossing the border).
Attention: importing fighting breeds dogs into Italy is prohibited!
Airplane Tickets – How to Buy Profitable
At first glance, nothing complicated: choose a date, city and buy tickets online. But we set a goal to travel cheap, but there are nuances. This is what experienced tourists advise:
- take tickets early in the morning or at night;
- do it a couple of months before departure;
- choose departure and arrival in the middle of the week;
- Do not go in the middle of the high season.
- If all these conditions are met, you will take plane tickets to Italy for the best price.
Cheap flights will find on the site Aviasales. This is a reliable service with a long history, looking for tickets from trusted airlines, does not charge a commission. In general, a good site, use.
There are ways to reduce the cost of an additional flight, but be prepared to sacrifice convenience. For example, flights with transfers always have a much lower cost, and night departures will be cheaper than day flights. You can use a low-cost carrier, but in this case you cannot carry your luggage (you can, if you pay extra) – only hand luggage, and the plane will not be fed.
Subscribe to mailings of different airlines in order not to miss discounts and great promotions. Often they are on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Train tickets – what are the options
If, due to aerophobia or for other reasons, the flight is no longer possible, you can consider the train. True, there is no choice: from Russia to Italy is the only composition, Moscow — Nice. It follows Belarus, the Czech Republic, Austria and stops in the Italian cities of Bolzano, Verona, Milan, Genoa, San Remo, Bordighera and Ventimiglia. It will take almost two days.
The train provides places for the class compartment, NE and suite. Depending on the destination and the comfort of the place, the price of the ticket ranges from 23,000 to 100,000 rubles per person.
How to make an interesting and optimal route
The most important component of success! You usually want to see everything at once, but do not turn your vacation into a race. Practice shows that an average of one large city takes three days. From this and make a start: if you leave for a week, let it be two or three resorts, but you can explore them slowly, enjoying every minute!
From which city to start depends on what is in priority: excursions, a trip along the coast, a visit to Christian shrines or famous Italian boutiques. Here are some of the popular big and small routes:
- Rome – Florence – Venice – Milan – Como;
- Palermo – San Vito Lo Capo – Agrigento – Taormina;
- Naples – Ischia – Capri – Pompeii (Vesuvius);
- San Remo – Genoa – Pisa – Florence;
- Bari – Matera – Alberobello – Grote di Castellana;
- Amalfi – Ravello – Sorrento.
The recipe for the ideal route is simple: rely on your imagination, but do not forget about logic and common sense. Points should be at a small distance from each other, so that the road between them would not have to spend more time and effort than the rest itself.
You can first select one of the most desired city, then explore the map, see what interesting cities are located at a reasonable distance, and plan the whole way.
Top 15 best cities in Italy for tourism
To make your choice easier, we have made a selection of the most favorite cities of Italy by travelers, and all their features, advantages and disadvantages are tabulated.
- There is always something to see, even if you stay for a week or more.
- Expensive housing. The main monuments are surrounded by tourists around the clock.
- The beaches are out of town, but you can easily reach them.
- Among the attractions here are the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican and a great many others.
- A shopaholic paradise, beautiful architecture.
- You need to be vigilant and watch out for bags and wallets.
- There are no beaches here.
- Here you can see the Gothic cathedral in the central square, the fifth largest in the world.
- Cool photos on the background of the falling tower.
- To linger longer than 1-2 days does not make sense. Beaches in the vicinity, can be reached in 30-60 minutes.
- Sights of Pisa: Leaning Tower of Pisa and other colorful buildings, Botanical Garden.
- Crowded romance trips on gondolas, bright carnival.
- An abundance of tourists, sometimes from the channels is an unpleasant smell.
- Beaches on the mainland.
- Sights of Venice: Grand Canal, Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Florian (the first cafe in Italy).
- Memoirs of art and architecture of the Renaissance. Expensive, a sea of people, queues to museums.
- There are no beaches here.
- Sights such as the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, Ponto Vecchio Bridge, churches and the basilica can be viewed.
- Delicious pastries and pizza, gorgeous scenery.
- We must be careful on the road, the crazy movement of mopeds.
- Beaches are here, Capri and Ischia are also nearby.
- Sights of Naples: Castles, palaces, cathedrals, catacombs; near Vesuvius and Pompeii.
- Cozy and romantic place, city of love.
- This city has no disadvantages.
- The beaches are located near the lakes in the suburbs.
- Sights of Verona: Romeo and Juliet Courtyard, amphitheater, Scaligero Bridge, castles, panoramic platforms.
- Comfortable climate, fabulous views, lots of fun.
- In season, the beaches are crowded, and the entrance to the private is expensive, the city is not always clean.
- There are beaches in this city.
- Sights of Palermo: Capuchin Catacombs, churches, squares and fountains, Palatine Chapel.
- Luxurious landscapes, climate, nature, ancient historical monuments.
- High prices.
- There are beaches in this city.
- Attractions Taormina: Palaces, cathedrals, the Greek Theater, the Gate of Messina, Villa Communal, Odeon and others.
- A wonderful climate, an abundance of beautiful flowers, magnificent panoramas.
- Dear shopping.
- There are beaches here.
- Sights of Sanremo: Casino, Nobel’s Villa, Ariston Theater, the Empress Embankment, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
- Very colorful place, wonderful postcard landscapes, National Park.
- In most parts of the territory it is forbidden to move by car. Over three days will be boring.
- There are beaches here, including one nudist.
- Sights of Cinque terre: Love Trail, Neptune Statue, Aurora Tower, Wine Museum and Cellar.
- Authentic architecture, which has no analogues.
- There will be enough day for survey and photos, further it is necessary to think, what to do.
- There are no beaches here.
- Sights: White houses with conical roofs – trulli, arranged in some of them museums, cafes, wine bars.
- Picturesque houses stuck to the rock, suitable for families with children.
- Impressive prices.
- There are beaches.
- Landmarks Positano: Church of Santa Maria Assunta, exhibitions of street artists, the archipelago of Le Galli.
- Unusual architecture in pastel colors, good diving.
- In season, a lot of people are here, high prices.
- There are beaches.
- Attractions Portofino: Church of St. George, Brown Castle, Church of St. Martin.
- Renaissance architecture, magnificent landscapes, the famous lake.
- This city has no disadvantages.
- There are beaches at Lake Como.
- Sights of Como: Palazzo Broletto, cathedral, funicular, Villa Olmo, Tempio Voltiano, Kamerlat fountain.
Now, an independent trip to Italy will certainly be planned easier!Read More