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
The culture of Italy is inextricably linked with wine. Nature had to create this amazing peninsula in the form of a glass to more accurately reflect the essence of ancient Enotria – the country of wine, as ancient Greeks called Italy.
Wise Horace admonished: “Do not plant any other tree, Var, until you plant a vine.”
And his advice was followed everywhere, gentle hills, mountain slopes, plains illuminated by the sun, blown by fresh winds, covered with vineyards throughout the country.
In Italy, there are 20 regions and each of them produces its own wine, which is distinguished by its diversity and dissimilarity, has its own character, sometimes characterized by obstinacy, sometimes tenderness. And how could it be otherwise, if in Italy there are about 400 grape varieties, moreover, everywhere there is a different microclimate, the soils and winemakers love creative approach to wine making.
Wine-making in Italy goes back thousands of years. In the II. BC. The Phoenicians brought to Sicily the noble Vitis Vinifera vine, the “wine-bearing vine.” From here, grapes spread throughout Italy.
The ancient Romans introduced the consumption of wine in the rule, making the wine a real popular drink.
Already at that time there were well-known Italian grape varieties such as Sangiovese and Trebiano, which are still the most common.
Conquering new territories, building cities, the first thing the Romans did was to lay the castrum, pave the way to Rome and plant a vine. Well, do not carry the same wine in the new provinces of Rome! Moreover, the problem of storage and transportation of wine in the ancient world was very serious.
Ancient wine was very different from the modern drink. It was a syrupy, very sweet and strongly alcoholic drink, which was diluted with water and honey and spices were added to achieve a pleasant aroma.
Horace, a great lover of wine, wrote that wine removes anxiety and anxiety, helps to reveal hidden feelings. Seneca echoed him, saying that wine has a beneficial effect on a person, heals from disease and sorrow. But all mentioned moderation in the use of wine.
The ancient Romans, peeping at the idea of the conquered northern barbarians, began to use wooden barrels for storing and transporting wine. Experimentally found that oak barrels are best suited for this purpose due to tannins, in them not only wine is well preserved, but also acquires an additional flavor.
Also, the Romans began to use wooden presses, prototypes of modern. (Such wooden presses can still be found in Champagne).
But with the fall of the Roman Empire, everything changed, and viticulture was in deep crisis. And only in the Middle Ages, thanks to the monks, the situation changed. Wine began to be made in monasteries – wine for the mass, using techniques that were followed up to the XVIII century.
The next stage in the development of winemaking in Italy was the Renaissance, affecting not only culture and art, but also wine production, the center of which moved to Tuscany. In the XIV century. Chianti wine was born, and the Jesuit monks began to produce Nobile di Montepulciano for church services. In the XVIII century. The first classification of wines was carried out: the Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III Medici limited the territory of production of Chianti Classico.
But to talk about the Italian style is still very early, as Italy as a single country does not exist.
Then there was a pan-European misfortune – phylloxera, which destroyed many vineyards. Many French winemakers lost their jobs and began to travel to wine-producing countries, offering their services for little money. And, as you know, France at that time was an advanced country in the field of winemaking. So in the XIX century. There were iconic and iconic Italian wines Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino.
In the 1960s the Italian government made a classification of wines, according to which, Italian wines were divided into four categories:
– Vino da Tavola. Table wines. Simple wines, without specifying the place of vintage.
– IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). Table wines with an indication of the place of growth of grapes.
– DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). Wines of high category, appellations indicating the place where the grapes were grown and controlled by the state.
– DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). The top tier of Italian wines, which are not only controlled by territory and are guaranteed for quality.
Since August 2009, a new European classification has entered into force, involving only three levels:
– table wine
– IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta)
– DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), which includes former DOC and DOCG.
But Italian law allows the use of old category names, so many manufacturers are in no hurry to switch to new designations.
Italy is now the largest producer and exporter of wine, giving us the opportunity to enjoy wines and travel on wine roads.Read More
Features of the organization of independent gastronomic tours
Italy is a diverse country, where each region has its own unique features and unique character. This applies to both nature and culture, manifesting itself in a variety of forms. Cooking here on top. Gastronomic habits and traditions in different parts of Italy are very variable: it is often enough to travel several tens of kilometers to get from one culinary world to another. For example, Venetian cuisine is not at all the same as the cuisine of the mainland Veneto, and the culinary traditions of Bologna are markedly different from the Florentine tastes. There is nothing to say about the differences between Lombardy and, say, Campania, Lazio and Apulia, Sicily and Sardinia. All of them are not so similar to each other, that it is time to ask a question, and is it not about different countries? Therefore, it is amusing to read on all sorts of tourist portals and in countless blogs that, say, such and such a city is the gastronomic or culinary capital of Italy. There are at least two dozen such capitals in Italy (by the number of regions), and in each case we will have sufficiently weighty reasons to justify the capital.
In general, the soil for culinary and gastronomic tourism in Italy is very rich, and therefore it is not at all surprising that gastronomic tours in Italy are very popular among travelers from all over the world. In Russia, the corresponding programs are offered by a number of travel companies (interesting tours can be found, in particular, from Simpletravel; see here). It is only necessary to take into account that the pleasure is, as a rule, not cheap. However, if you are not very well oriented in the field of cooking or do not burn with the desire to think through every little thing, then a gastronomic tour organized by professionals is perhaps the ideal option.
However, here we are more interested in the possibilities of organizing independent travels. Let’s talk about this in more detail.
How to organize a gastronomic tour of Italy alone
In general, organizing an independent journey in Italy is quite simple. Buy air and railway tickets, book hotels, get a visa – is a simple matter. The most difficult thing in the case of gastroturas, in our opinion, is to draw up a travel program. What and where to try, what places (restaurants, wineries, agricultural enterprises, etc.) to visit, when it is better to go to one or another region of Italy to fully appreciate the advantages of local cuisine – these and many other questions will require you to be careful preparation.
However, here, for lack of time or desire to search for all the necessary information on your own, again, you can resort to outside help. To this end, it makes sense to look at sites like www.tripster.ru, where, among other things, there are excursions of a gastronomic orientation. For example, here you can find a good selection of culinary and gastronomic excursions in Rome and its environs, here is a tempting tour of Venice and its hidden back streets, and here is an interesting one-day tour of Apulia. Similar tours and walks can be booked in Florence, Naples, Verona, Turin and many other Italian cities.
But you can do otherwise. If you are interested in cooking as such, then surely you have at least some idea of what attracts your attention. From this and push off. When planning a trip, refer to the tourist forums, blogs and reviews of tourists, the benefit is that in the case of Italy there is no shortage of information. As a result, you can make an approximate list of dishes, wines and products that you definitely need to try in a particular region. And then go to the free swimming – travel around the country, wander through the cities, alternating sessions of contemplation of the beautiful with a visit to the points of the public catering that you like along the way, and try, try, try. With this approach, of course, not only gastronomic discoveries, but also disappointments await you. But, comparing what and how they cook in different establishments, you can form your own idea of Italian cuisine and its regional specialties. In the end, nothing is more valuable than personal experience. At the same time, it is not at all necessary to ignore the experience of other people. No one has canceled Google Maps and Tripadvisor – on these resources there are a lot of reviews about various institutions in all of the more or less noticeable cities in Italy. And, of course, before going to a particular restaurant, pizzeria, trattoria, etc., it is worth a while to read what is written about them.
In addition, do not forget about the existence of books and travel guides. Of them, too, can draw a lot of useful information. In Russian there is, for example, the book by Elena Kostyukovich “Food. Italian happiness “, which can be used as a gastronomic guide to Italy. (Essentially the same book, only in a slightly different layout, was previously published in two parts – “A Taste of Italian Happiness” and “Roads of Italian Happiness.”) There is a book by Andrei Bilzho “My Venice” – again, almost ready-made guidebook institutions of Venice. There is another literature.
Finally, you can focus on numerous gastronomic fairs and festivals. For example:
- Florence Pitti Taste fair is held annually (in March);
- in Perugia – Eurochocolate fair (in October);
- in Alba – the Tartufo Bianco d’Alba fair dedicated to white truffle (October-November);
- in Ladispoli, near Rome, – Sagra del Carciofo Romanesco in honor of the artichokes (in late March – early April);
- in Montefiascone, also near Rome, – the wine festival Fiera del Vino (in early August) …
The list can be continued indefinitely. By and large, any cultural event in Italy, be it a city carnival or a celebration in honor of some saint, is accompanied by a fair of traditional local products: somewhere there is more, somewhere less, but it is always interesting and tasty.
We should also mention the organization Slow Food (see www.slowfood.com) and, in particular, the annual gastronomic feast Terra Madre Salone del Gusto held in Turin (in September). The organization’s website regularly publishes information about other events.
Also pay attention to the network of Eataly gastronomic centers (see www.eataly.net), conceptually combining a market where you can buy high-quality Italian products (cheeses, cold meats, seafood, etc., etc.), and a restaurant where you can taste dishes made from these highest quality products (which is remarkable, prices are not exorbitant). The geography of their presence is extensive and has long gone beyond the Apennine Peninsula. If we talk about Italy, the offices of Eataly are represented in the same Turin, as well as in Milan, Bologna (here in November 2017 a huge agro-gastronomic park FICO was opened – see www.eatalyworld.it), Florence, Rome, Bari and some other cities.Read More
In recent years, more and more residents of stone megalopolises tend to go to nature, to relax from the hustle and bustle. In Italy, there is a great way to accomplish this task – to go to the countryside on an agricultural farm. This type of recreation is called agritourism, and it is in Italy that it is extremely popular, there are a huge number of available farms in each region.
According to the legislation, this kind of recreation has existed since the mid 70s, and special conditions are even prescribed in the laws. According to these conditions, farmers are obliged to accept tourists. Initially, everything was very strict with this: the farmer undertook to prepare food, at least 50% consisting of products grown on his farm, to conduct tastings of his own or local wines, to organize sports and didactic activities for children (teach them to milk cows, etc. ., that is, to live a full farm life). There are also certain requirements for guest accommodation, which must be as authentic as possible.
Now the concept has changed a bit, and along with the growing demand for this type of recreation, more and more “quasi-agritourism” began to appear, with swimming pools, spa areas, massages and other things. They feed there as in a restaurant (thawed food), but the air is basically the same. The real life in agro-tourism is quite simple: stone modestly furnished houses, wooden tables in the dining room and its own, cooked food by the owners.
If you want to do agritourism, you must live on a real farm, in an authentic place.
Agritourism is not necessarily all located in the mountains, but often. Firstly, there is cheaper and more suitable for agricultural needs the land, and secondly, it is easier to embody the idea of privacy. In general, there are no agritourism right on the beach, of course. But in compensation you can enjoy the beautiful and spectacular views of the mountains.
In addition to world-famous attractions, beautiful beaches and traditional cuisine, Italy is also famous for agritourism. In the cultivation of this type of recreation, Italy, along with France and Spain, is considered one of the recognized world leaders. And what other visiting format will allow to penetrate the Italian way of life and traditions better than a holiday in the countryside?
Throughout the year, over 10,000 Italian villas, farms and estates are ready to host agrotourists. Here you can ride horses, stroll through the fragrant flower fields, visit the vineyards and, of course, enjoy plenty of gastronomic delights.
The history of agrotourism in Italy
According to one of the local legends, a foreigner set up agrotourism in Italy, who went to live on an Italian farm in order to diversify his too calm and full life. The case was in the post-war period, when the Italian villages impoverished as a result of the Second World War were just beginning to “come to their senses”. The farmer who sheltered the eccentric foreigner was satisfied, having received a good reward for his labors. Stories about excellent rest, wonderful natural food and Italian hospitality quickly spread out of the country, and soon they began to travel to Italy not only for its rich architecture and history, but also to taste all the delights of the colorful village life.
Entrepreneurial Italians, seeing in this niche market, began to equip their homes and farms, to create all the conditions for a decent holiday visitors. By the 70s of the 20th century, agricols began to appear in the country — existing farms that, in addition to producing wine, olive oil and other products, provided rooms for tourists in their homes.
Since 1985, agritourism in Italy has received official recognition and government support. Some projects even provide special grants. In the countries of the European Union there is a decree, which clearly states the rules of doing business for farmers who want to provide their farms for agritourism. To get permission to engage in this type of business, Italian farmers are required to complete a special course, designed for a hundred hours. In the course of the training program, farmers acquire knowledge of the basics of law, management, accounting, sanitary and hygiene standards, etc.
Today, agritourism in Italy is an already formed market. Every year, about two million people come to farms and farmsteads, which gives a considerable profit to the country’s budget.
The most popular regions of Italy for agritourism
Agritourism in Tuscany
The first position in the list of the most popular regions for agro-tourism in Italy is rightfully occupied by Tuscany, where a quarter of the country’s agricultural chips are concentrated. Tuscany is a paradise for travelers. Her villages and small towns are saturated with the spirit of the Middle Ages.
In addition to the picturesque nature, olive groves and wine plantations, agrotourists have a great opportunity not only to taste the dishes for which Tuscany is famous, but also to learn how to cook them under the guidance of Tuscan hostesses.
In the Tuscan cuisine are widely used fish, flour and sausages, and, of course, a variety of vegetables. However, an essential element of Tuscan cuisine is olive oil, which is considered one of the best in the country, and also Florentine steak, which is made from bull meat marinated in olive oil with spices. In addition, Tuscany is also the land of winemakers. Therefore, agritourism in Tuscany without wine is simply unthinkable.
Agritourism in Trentino – South Tyrol
Together with Tuscany in popularity in agritourism there is another equally famous resort –Trentino (South Tyrol). The key to the popularity of this province is the fact that Trentino is one of the largest European centers of mountain and ski tourism with a well-developed infrastructure. Agritourism in Trentino is an explosive mixture of picturesque landscapes, mild climate, mountain “crystal air”, sights, wine and, of course, excellent Italian cuisine.
If you go to Trentino – be sure to try the local pizzocheri paste, made from buckwheat flour with potatoes and savoy cabbage, generously seasoned with cheeses and herbs. Beef tenderloin called tagliata, pickled in spices and grilled, and also dried bresaola beef (Italian bresaola), cut into transparent slices.
Agritourism in Piedmont
The region in the north of Italy has glorified the country for its gastronomic delights. In addition to fine wines, cheeses and other gastronomy, it is in Piedmont that the world famous white truffles grow. Agrotourists who decide to go to this region of Italy will have the opportunity to stay in the agrikols of the legendary “hunters” for delicious mushrooms. If you’re lucky, you can even take part in the search for truffles or visit the famous truffle festival. Fans of “mushroom hunting” should be headed to the province of Lange, where, near the town of Alba, these agro-tourist estates are located.
Agritourism in Piedmont is also a wine tour, since winemaking has a special place in Piedmont. It is Piedmont that is the birthplace of the famous Asti Slumante wine and the wonderful sparkling Prosseco. While serving local Barolo wine, in addition to bread, butter, vegetables and several types of sausages, the guest is sure to be treated with white truffles.
And Piedmont is one of the largest producers of cheese. Indeed, in addition to the recipe, in the production of Italian cheese, one of the key roles is played by the vegetation that feeds animals, and the climate in which cheese matures. Only in this region can you try the real cheeses of Castelmagno, Gongorzola, GranaPadano, Taleggio, Robiola, Bra and TomaPiemontese.
In addition, agri-tourism in Piedmont is an opportunity to swim in hot springs, which the region abounds in. The thermal spas of Piedmont such as the Terme di Acqui, Terme di Agliano and Terme di Bognanco are famous for their sources throughout Italy.Read More