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A Visit to Israel – The Land of Mysticism

Israel can be considered as one of the world’s oldest countries having many revelations about three great monotheistic religions namely Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It is the home of the Bible and the place where the most exciting archaeological and historical research has occurred. An immense experience can be acquired by spending a few days at the various holiday resorts with an almost endless variety of things to do and see. The visitor gets an opportunity to enrich his / her knowledge as far as the religious and historical aspects of the country are concerned. The curiosity of the tourist is aroused by the snow- capped Mount Hermon in the north, dominating historic Galilee with its exuberant valleys and lake Kinneret down through the industrialised and urban coastal plain through the empty mountainous Neger desert, to the tropical Red Sea coast with the sparkling part of Eilat- Israel and its diversity are within low reach. Several flights are scheduled and tours are organised from London via the British Airways. Options also exist for travelling from Paris in Air France and Nairobi or Johannesburg by the South African Airways.

Throughout the year there is a Mediterranean climate with almost daily sunshine guaranteeing a great holiday. In winter there is moderate rain and January is accompanied by snow in Jerusalem. Spring starts in April whereby there is warm season and lasts till October where relief can be acquired through the cool evenings in the hilly areas. A passport valid for six months is required to enter Israel. A visa will be issued after justification of your visit. Some rather strict formalities are practised by the immigration authorities to control the influx of illegal immigrants The visitor may well be requested to show proof of a return ticket, hotel reservations or other accommodation arrangements, necessary finance for the duration of the stay. Hence everything must be carefully planned before departure.

Appropriate dress is required to visit holy sites,otherwise informal dress is suitable and comfortable. It is advisable to wear a hat, sunglasses, sunblock and specially a flask of water when out on tours. One should not forget the camera to fix on pellicle the sites, sights and the various monuments that can be immortalised. There are no restrictions concerning photographs However, the devotee who prays at the Wailing Wall and the inhabitants of the Mea Shearim quarter dislike being photographed on Saturday ( Jewish Sabbah). Hence, it is preferable to respect their wish. Certain regions cannot be explored due to the Israel- Palestinian conflict.. So keep away from the Gaza strip, Hebron Ramallah and so on.

Israel offers more that three hundred supervised hotels that handle the yearly influx of one and a half million visitors of all faiths from the five continents. Moderate prices are charged for accommodation but there are some four and five -star hotels for clients seeking luxury in all the big towns and cities… Otherwise prices are adjusted for all budgets. The more informal structured stays can be sought from Christian Hospice, youth hostels, holiday villages, kibbutz guest houses and camping sites. As regards food there are dozens of first class restaurants serving the most cosmopolitan cuisines which cater for the palate – European, North& South American and oriental. Food at cheaper rates are also available in numerous snack bars and cafe serving a variety of dishes to suit all tastes at reasonable prices.Whenever you stop for a meal, Jewish and Arab specialities supplement the more conventional or exotic dishes. Since the Ministry of Tourism encourages the visitors to’ Meet an Israeli in his own home ‘, it is possible for the tourists to have dinner with an Israeli family who are accustomed to receiving and entertaining foreigners- the best way to get acquainted with the Israelis.

As far as travelling is concerned the visitor can move in the intra urban area and throughout the country by means of bus and train which are very low- priced and shared taxis (sheraf) charging reasonable fares. Ro- cars can be hired at international rates. The traveller can also derive maximum benefit from sightseeing by hiring professional guides with the availability of transport facilities.Also a camel ride is a rich experience which you will never forget and regret.

The main highlights include the Mediterranean coast, Tel Aviv, the most modern dynamic city in Israel which is the gateway to the rest of the country with the international airport. The largest port of Israel is Haifa where together with other ones crusaders and pilgrims embarked the Caesarea Aleko and Ashkelon. The site of most Christian pilgrimages is the North Nazareth, the cradle of Jesus Christ’s family and where he spent his childhood. The capital of Galilee, Tiberias, is a tourist resort. Muslim, Christian and Jewish pilgrims flock to Jerusalem,the city of peace. The little town of Bethlehem is of great significance to Christians where Mary placed her newborn son in a cradle. A monument has been built in dedication to the six million persons who died in the holocaust called the Yad Vashem. After Mecca and Medina, the third place of sanctity for the Muslims is the magnificent dome of the Rock. In the South one comes across the rolling desert of Negro with its strong craters and great sand domes of Elliat and the delicious Red Sea.There is also the Dead Sea where one can swim with assurance.

Once in Israel, the visitor can visit a multitude of sites and sights. Many archaeological sites open to volunteers willing to uncover past heritage. Visit Oumran to see the careers where the Dead Sea scrolls have been preserved for 2000 years. It is also worthwhile to visit the ancient remains of synagogues, 3000 years old, the ruins of Consadur castles. Nature lovers can admire the national parks and nature reserves which are accessible by the bus service “Egged” and all programmes for picnic areas in forests, gardens and beaches. For those seeking religious shrines, there is not more enriching land elsewhere: Bethlehem, Jesus’s birthplace, Nazareth where he grew up and performed his first miracle, the site after Multiplication of Bread and fish, the Garden of Gethsenanee where he spent the last hours of his freedom, the Wailing Wall which has spiritual importance and thrill for Christians and Muslims. The Monasteries seated over the land for centuries have resisted ages standing stunted and tough.They include museums and galleries with a wealth of viewing- classical paintings, modern sculpture, archaeological and religious treasures. Other touring sites are Tel Dan, Ein Gnedi,Cuesacea,Akhziv and Hummust Gowdee.

The visitor has the opportunity to shop from large departmental stores to open markets and bazaars. Speciality shops, exclusive stores and boutiques offer a variety of merchandise covering daily necessities, high fashions and unique souvenirs The ‘souks’ in Jerusalem, Jaffa Akko, Bethlehem and Hebron exhibit hand- made crafts, jewellery and glass. In the major urban areas goods, diamonds and fashion clothing are available Do not hesitate to shop around for commodities in the ‘souks.’ Avoid hogging with the sellers as they usually win.

While returning home from Israel not only your luggage will be packed with the country’s souvenirs and goods but your mind will be imprinted with the Israeli cultures and mode of living.Having been to the different holy sites the, visitor will undoubtedly achieve peace of mind,serenity and stability in life..

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