Galilee 2010

DAY ONE  

We flew from Portland, OR to Newark, NJ on Continental, then Newark to Tel Aviv.  We do not usually fly Continental but were quite pleased with the flight.  We had a seven hour layover in Newark, and despite the fact that many people said to just stay in the airport, we ended up renting a car and having a nice dinner in the Ironbound District of New Jersey with plenty of time.  We arrived in Tel Aviv and were greeted by someone holding up our name who took us directly to our guide who was waiting outside.

Like I said we usually do not travel with such great service – but it was not hard to get used to – and there were more great services later on!  We hopped in our guide, Menachem’s,  Mercedes SUV and drove to the Galilee.  We were already learning interesting things about Israel.   It was early evening when we arrived at Nof Ginossar, our hotel,  so we just settled in and had dinner. Read my review of Nof Ginossar here. Read More →

Jerusalem 2010

After spending two nights in the Galilee we drove to Jerusalem.  We arrived at the Harmony Hotel about 5:30pm.   Read my review of the Harmony Hotel here.  We rested up and then went to a fabulous dinner at Chakra – just about a five minute walk from the hotel.  We ordered beef stroganof, seafood risotto, gnocchi, ravioli and eggplant – everything was delicious!!

 Day 4

Our first day in Jerusalem was packed with a lot of sites – and our first big introduction to all the many large bus tours – sorry, but I would refuse to wear that yellow scarf or blue hat!!  This is a list of what we accomplished this day:

Mt. Scopus

Mt. of Olives – while we were here, Menachem took us to the cemetery that is right near the entrance to the Dominus Flevit Church.  The tour groups seemed to be skipping this – but we found it quite interesting and moving.  This area also has great views of the city and the Dome of the Rock. Read More →

Petra, Jordan & Eilat, Israel 2010

Day 9

This was our free day in Eilat.

The plan had been to simply rest on the beach or by the pool, but when we woke up it was overcast and cold.  As I mentioned earlier, it was Shabbat and the workers in the hotel kept insisting that nothing would be open, but we ventured out anyway along the boardwalk and found most things open there as well as at the mall.   I have to say Eilat was not my favorite place –  crowded, noisy and the big hotels reminded me of Las Vegas minus the gambling.  However, it is a great location for seeing Petra, and I am sure we would have enjoyed it a bit more if the weather had been better.  The kids and I ate at Giraffe, an Asian Noodle Bar, for lunch which was quite good.  For dinner we all ate at Ginger, another Asian restaurant, located across the street from the IMAX theater.  Isrotel Royal Beach (click here to read my review) is in an excellent location and we were able to walk everywhere we needed to go (I think we could have also walked to the airport).   After dinner we headed to the mall because when we were there earlier that day Zara was one of the few stores that was closed, and Lauren really wanted to shop there.  So, we got there about 9pm and all the stores were packed – not sure how late they all stayed open until. Read More →

Tel Aviv 2010

Day 11

We had an 8:45am pickup for a 10:25am flight to Tel Aviv.  The airport in Eilat is literally five minutes away  – you could walk if you were willing to lug your luggage.  This airport is completely undersized for the number of people going through there, but they had a lot of security people working so the process was quick.  We flew on Azira – no problems.

We arrived at Sde Dov airport –  were picked up by a driver (that VIP service again) and driven straight to the Melody Hotel.  Read my review of the Melody Hotel here.  Tonight was going to be the first night of Passover but things were still open and bustling when we arrived in Tel Aviv.  We made a reservation for lunch at Orna & Ella in the Shenkin neighborhood.  It was a bit of a walk so we took the bus in order to get there in time for our reservation.  We had a fabulous lunch – and the tip for the Sweet Potato Pancakes I got online, was spot on – incredibly delicious!!  When we were done it was 2pm and things were still busy outside so we decided to do some shopping in the many interesting boutiques. We went into a bathing suit store and Lauren started trying on suits.  The employees were extremely nice and helpful and she purchased a bathing suit she liked.  We walked out of the store at 3:15 – and what a difference!!  Everything was closed and the streets were empty as everyone had headed home to prepare for their Seder.  We decided to take a leisurely walk back to the hotel and enjoyed the quiet streets. Read More →

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Argentina: Trip Planning and Hotel Reviews 2009

In March of 2009 we spent two weeks in Argentina.  We had so many people asking why we chose to go to Argentina, so I thought I would answer that here.  We were trying to decide where to go when Stephen said , “How about Argentina!”  (he had been bringing this up for awhile but I was really not interested in going anywhere in South America).  However, after a trip last  summer back to Europe when the Euro was at its height, we were all looking for someplace a bit cheaper that would also allow us to do some shopping without feeling like we were paying 1.5x more than we would need to in the states.  So, I headed to the bookstore to check out Argentina.  As soon as I started reading about Patagonia and how you could go “minitrekking” on an ice glacier I was hooked!!  I am always looking for some sort of unique thing we can do while traveling (riding camels in Morocco or elephants in Thailand) – it always makes for a great experience/adventure and an awesome Christmas pic.  Then I started reading on Fodors about how everyone loved Buenos Aires and soon I was booking plane tickets there!! Read More →

Buenos Aires 2009

Our overall impressions of Buenos Aires were that the food was fabulous, the people really nice and the shopping fantastic.  We had a wonderful time there but Stephen and I agreed we would not rate it above any European city we had been to.  Stephen described it as “shabby chic”!!

We stayed at Miravida Soho in the Palermo Soho neighborhood and really loved it (read my review of Miravida Soho here).   Had a great feel to it and tons of excellent restaurants and the best shopping in town.  We had planned on using the subway, but we ended up either walking or taking taxis everywhere.  Taxis were really inexpensive, particularly with four of us.  Sometimes we had the hotel or restaurant call one, but we often hailed them on the street and never had any problems with them.   Just note that if you have someone call a taxi  for you then the minimum cost is eight pesos.  We learned this the hard way when the fare came to 6.50 so Stephen handed him 7 pesos as he got out of the car.  The driver started yelling at him.  I went and retrieved the hostess in the restaurant to help interpret and she explained that if you call the taxi it was a minimum of 8 pesos – ahhhh!!!  Lesson learned.  Also, note that the driving is absolutely crazy in Buenos Aires.  Those white stripes to delineate the lanes are apparently merely a suggestion, and keep in mind the pedestrian NEVER has the right of way!!! Read More →