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Israel The Holy Land

Israel is a small country, with the sea on one side and the desert on the other, but never has such a small place meant so much to so many.  
To millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims this is the Holy Land where King David ruled, Jesus died and Muhammad visited. As we visit places we’ve heard about all our lives, and see the ruins scattered throughout the country by the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders and Turks, we will be thrilled by the depth of history we encounter. 

Israel today is a modern, progressive country where English is spoken everywhere. The warm, friendly people have come to Israel from over 100 countries, producing a potpourri of custom and dress that is reflected in the panorama of everyday life. 
These diverse cultures and beliefs co-exist in a land full of scenic contrasts. There are mountains, subtropical valleys, lovely beaches, fertile farmland and arid deserts. Furthermore, everywhere you look there is the abundance of flowers that Israel is renowned for.

A highlight of our visit here will be the Golden City of Jerusalem, sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. With all of the excavations of the past few years, the City of Peace has never looked more awe-inspiring. 

We will also spend time in vibrant Tel Aviv, the beautiful Golan Heights and Sea of Galilee, mystic Safed, historic Nazareth and Bethlehem, dramatic cliff-top Masada and the buoyant Dead Sea. Also included in our tour will be some unique experiences to connect with the local people and various cultures as we enjoy a Shabbat dinner in Jerusalem, take part in Bedouin hospitality and see a lively folklore show.  

*Those participating in any of our tours to the Middle East must be able to walk fairly long distances.

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for Tel Aviv on our direct non-stop flight from Toronto.
We arrive in Tel Aviv and proceed on a brief orientation of the city with a stop at Sarona Market. The rest of the day is at leisure until this evening’s Welcome Dinner.
Our city tour shows us modern Tel Aviv and its lovely seafront promenade. Included is a visit of the Museum of Diaspora - a multi-media depiction of the history of the Jewish people.
Today we explore Caesarea, the Roman capital of Judea for 600 years and now an important archaeological site, where we see the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre, aqueduct, hippodrome and the Crusader's City. Then we depart for Haifa - Israel's largest port, where we stop for a view of the famous Bahai Gardens and Shrine, and the Carmelite Church of Stella Maris where the prophet Elisha is said to be buried. We continue to the Galilee for a 3-night stay.
We take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and see the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered three significant speeches. We stop at Capernaum where Jesus stayed during his ministry, and then Tabgha to visit the church, mosaics and site of the "bread and fishes" miracle. This evening we will see (and participate in) a cultural dance demonstration
Today we ascend Mount Bental for a panoramic view of the Golan Heights. We will visit the city of Qazrin, enjoy a wine tasting at the Golan Heights Winery and visit the modern olive oil mill to learn about skin care products made of this Mediterranean culinary staple.
Our first stop is Nazareth (where Jesus spent his boyhood) to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation and Joseph's Workshop. We then proceed to Jerusalem for a 4-night stay. This evening we enjoy a special “Shabbat” evening, including a festive homemade Shabbat dinner and ceremony, hosted by a Jewish family.
We first visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity where pilgrims have come for centuries. Then we visit the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Our tour of Jerusalem's Old City begins at the Mount of Olives for spectacular views over the city. We visit the Garden of Gethsemane, Church of All Nations, Mt. Zion to see the room of The Last Supper and Tomb of King David. We will walk through the winding streets to David's Tower, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the “Wailing Wall” and the Via Dolorosa (His path to the crucifixion). There will be free time to shop in the Old City bazaars or relax at one of the many coffee houses.
Further touring of Jerusalem brings us to the Hadassah complex to view the impressive Chagall Windows. We then continue to visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, where we will walk along the Avenue of the Righteous and see the Children's Pavilion. On the way back to the hotel we will drive through the Mea Shearim for a glimpse of the ultra-orthodox area.
We drive through the Jordan valley to the Dead Sea, passing Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, and follow the shores of the Dead Sea to Masada. It was here at the site of Herod the Great's Palace that the Jewish Zealots held off the Roman army for three years before committing mass suicide. We ascend by cable car to tour the ruins and take in the breathtaking views. After our visit we continue to our Dead Sea hotel for a relaxing dip and perhaps a regenerative mud bath!
We first stop at the huge and beautiful Ramon Crater, a unique geological formation. Then we enjoy Bedouin hospitably with a hosted lunch and a chance to learn more about this unique desert-dwelling Arab tribe. An optional camel ride is available, before we continue to Tel Aviv.
This morning we visit old Jaffa for a walk through the ancient streets, the restored artist's quarter, the central plaza and the Franciscan Monastery of St. Peter. The afternoon is free until our Farewell Dinner this evening.
We transfer to the airport for our direct, non-stop flight back to Canada.
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