Float The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea should be a ‘must’ on anyone’s bucket list to Israel whether you are looking for a Holy Land experience or just visiting Israel to experience its history, culture and see if the country lives up to its hype. Geographic location: The Dead Sea is located at the lowest point on earth, approximately 430 meters – 1410 feet below sea level. When you travel to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem you can expect to drive for apparently 45 minutes downhill until you reach the floor of the Jordan Valley. The Dead Sea is nestled south of Jericho and creates a natural border between Israel on its west bank and Jordan on its east bank. Though it’s referred to as a ‘sea’ it’s only about 12 miles wide and 40 miles in length.
Can you swim in its waters? Due to its high levels of salt which are almost 10 times higher than the ocean, it’s not a good idea to try and swim as the water can make contact with your eyes (could be dangerous-painful). Your best bet is to do what all visitors do which is to enjoy a unique floating experience as the salt in the water gives the water a thick consistency. Grab a paper or book so you can capture a photo and post it to Instagram just remember to #traditiontours
History: For centuries the Sea has been appreciated for its rich minerals which give it a very unique blue look contrasted by its white shoreline. People have been flocking to the Dead Sea for its health benefits and picturesque beauty dating back to King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and the Nabateans who extracted asphalt from the sea to sell to the Egyptians. In the bible: The Dead Sea is referred to as the Salt Sea in the bible, Ezekiel prophesied the in the future the sea will flow with fresh water, and fishermen will cast their nets from its shores. Today due to the high level of salt its almost impossible for fish to survive in its waters, though some bacterial species have been discovered living in sinkholes within the last 10 years or so.
Bottom line: If its good enough for the Queen of Sheba then its good enough for you! Make sure to include a visit to this unique location.
What’s up with falafel? It’s almost a given that your tour guide in Egypt, Jordan, or Israel will offer the option to grab a falafel for lunch while you are out and about touring.
The origins of this vegetarian sandwich are a bit of a mystery, though the common theory is that falafel originated in Egypt possibly by the Copts as a replacement for eating meat during lent. Some say the origins go back as far as to when the Pharaohs ruled Egypt.
Nowadays the food has become a common staple of street food throughout the middle east as a quick source of protein and is recognized as a national dish in many countries throughout the Levant. If you are to stop someone in the street and ask where to buy a falafel each person will give you their recommendation on the best restaurant/stand to enjoy this savory and very filling vegetarian sandwich.
Yes, its true falafel has made inroads into the global fast-food arena especially among the vegetarian crowd, falafel can be found in many food courts throughout the world and is known as a quick satiety dish, still, there is something unique, savory, and heavenly about the way its made in the middle east.
The bottom line: when your guide asks if you want to grab a falafel, go ahead and give it a try, enjoy the unique savory taste and smell of your freshly made falafel whether it’s stuffed in a pita or wrapped in a lafa and don’t forget the extra garnishes as well!
Rise & Shine
Rise and shine!
I am definitely not a breakfast person. I don’t usually feel like eating anything until I’ve been up for a while. But somehow, when I’m in Israel, all that changes. That first morning of your Tradition Tours pilgrimage, when you get up early to make sure you’re on time for a long day of touring ahead (no one wants to be the last on the bus), and everyone’s at breakfast! So you go into the dining room to check it out. Wow! There is station after station of food. An assortment of cheeses, salads, fresh fruit and vegetables. Special Israeli foods like Halvah, and even falafel! Hot foods, including the popular Middle Eastern egg dish, shakshuka. Teas and coffees… the list goes on. What I always find fascinating is observing those around me. There are people there from countries all over the world. Each has its’ own culture. For some, a breakfast buffet-like this is the norm, while for others, it’s mind-boggling. It’s interesting to see how some people are just trying to process the sheer amount of food and the variety, while others take it all in stride.
During the early days of the state of Israel, people living on a Kibbutz would eat their meals together in a communal dining room. They would have a large mid-morning buffet meal, similar to a brunch. By the 1950’s, Israeli hotels were promoting “Israeli breakfasts” in a style similar to the Kibbutz meals. One of the things I found interesting, was that many Israeli families came to the hotel for the weekend, as a mini vacation. Sunday morning, some lingered for hours over breakfast, sharing special time with family and friends. Even the children seemed used to it. This is simply just part of their lifestyle. There’s a special atmosphere in the room each morning, as everyone sits down to enjoy a few minutes as they begin their day. Whether you’re just sitting down with a cup of coffee, or enjoying something from every station! – it’s a special opportunity to pause and begin your day in Israel the right way. Looking for more information on the types of food you can expect on your tour?
Contact the Tradition Tours office on 855-958-6877 or email us at [email protected]
Visiting Apples & Oranges
First time travelers from the USA are often caught off-guard by the unexpected experiences, sights, sounds, and atmosphere of being in a whole new world… and not always in a good way....
Travelers to countries like Israel find that while personalities, cuisine, and architecture may be exotic, the country operates like any other first world country. Hotels are what you would expect, streets are well maintained, and one can almost be lulled into the belief that they are in Europe. But the reality is, that the local customs differ. So, for example, what may be perceived as being rude in America, is more than acceptable in Israel.
Understand Where You Are... While developing countries offer attractions and experiences that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, travelers often do a double take by some of the conditions when they arrive.
Take Egypt for example: Visiting the Land of the Pharaohs is an incredible experience, with the Nile River, the Pyramids, and more, history is all around you and the sites are overwhelming! The hotels, while dated, are also wonderful and luxurious, but you may be surprised at the state of Cairo, with traffic laws that are nearly non-existent and street conditions that are not what you would find in the USA.
Taking a tour that involves more than one country? It is important to remember that the standards that govern hotel ratings, the hotel star system in other words, are set by the country’s tourism ministry. This means that “5-Star” hotels mean completely different things in different countries!
It is not uncommon for us to hear that travelers are disappointed by hotel standards when traveling from a 1st-world country, to a developing or 3rd-world country. So, if you are visiting Jordan, for example, Petra will surely astound you, but a 3- star or 4-star hotel, while clean, may not impress you as much as those in Egypt.
Worlds Largest Vegan Festival
A True Vegan Destination
Vegan Fest 2019 is coming to Tel-Aviv this June! Tel-Aviv was names the “vegan capital of the world” in 2017, and this Mediterranean food haven is gearing up to serve the more than 50,000 participants expected to be in attendance.
There is going to be plenty of variety in store with more than 26 local restaurants and 37 vegan stalls attending! In all there will be 100+ Vegan Food & Product stands in attendance.
While I prefer the regional meat dishes such as Shawarma and Kefta, there is something special about a Falafel, and the myriad of other vegan dishes available all across Israel. A popular destination for vegans due to all the vegan-friendly restaurants all over the country, but Tel Aviv in particular is home to at least 400 vegan and vegan-friendly eateries.
Taste Of The Past – 3,000 Year Old Beer!
A Beer 3000 Years In The Making... Scientists found microbes that survived for thousands of years inside pores in the clay of ancient pottery used to make & store beer & wine
A Taste Of History
If you have taken one of our tours you know what it feels like to walk in history. You can see the sights that our ancestors saw, touch the stones that they held, and even read some of the texts they read... but never have we had the opportunity to taste what they ate and drank until now!
After finding yeast in the walls of broken clay vessels that were unearthed, a group of researchers from Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University and Ariel University, along with the Dead Sea Arava Science Center, and beer experts worked together to isolate the yeast and recreate the golden nectar that our ancestors actually drank 3000 years ago!
What They Learned
Beer was very important to ancient middle-eastern cultures. "Beer was an important beverage for the Philistines for its high caloric content and because it was safer to drink than plain water," according to Aren Maeir. The examination of the ancient pots led to other fascinating discoveries. Professor Yuval Gadot found that "They held not beer but mead, a fermented honey drink, meaning there was a beekeeping industry in ancient Judea”.
In a word:
While the taste of the beer they brewed was remarkably similar to the beer we enjoy today. The experience of tasting history is something that we at Tradition Tours dream of.
The processes they developed to create this beer offers promising prospects for the future. Could we one day taste dishes engineered from the remnants of an ancient unwashed dinner dish? We can only hope!
Petra Jordan’s Most Iconic Location
A question we get asked all the time: Is the visit to Petra worth it? – The short answer is YES!
Many Tradition Tours travelers add on a visit to Jordan following their tour in Israel and yes it’s definitely worth the visit just make sure you have good shoes.
About Petra: The city was built in the desert by the ancient Nabataeans who were a Bedouin tribe who roamed the deserts of Arabia, eventually, a group of Nabataeans decided to settle in the desert and built the city including an intricate water system to gather the winter rains. The city was the capital of the Nabataean empire and was an important trading city.
Petra The ‘Lost City’ was added to the list of the seven wonders of the world in 2007 and yes Indiana Jones the last crusade was filmed here. Once you arrive in Petra you will have the option to either walk through the canyon or to get a ride on a donkey or buggy (for a small fee). If time permits and you’re comfortable with the rugged terrain I would recommend walking this will allow you to spend more time appreciating the vibrant pink and red stonework cliff faces. As you leave the canyon you will come out to a large open area and will find yourself directly in front of the ‘treasury’. Fancy a camel ride, Petra is a great option for the experience (great photo op), looking for souvenirs there are no shortage of Bedouins hawking their wares. If you are feeling strenuous take a hike up to the monastery the views are awesome!
So yes your visit to Petra is 110% worth it!
Contact us on 855-958-6877 for more info on your Petra visit
Is Israel Safe? V 2.0
I have coined this blog post “Is Israel Safe 2.0” as a continuation of our previous safety blog where I discussed some of the safety measures Israel takes to protect her citizens and the millions of tourists that flock to the county each year.
Earlier this year, back in May of 2018, Jack Ma (CEO of Alibaba) made his first visit to Israel where he received an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University. During his speech, Mr. Ma mentioned he was initially nervous to visit, as he has been told you can expect to see missile launchers on street corners and feared he was flying into a war zone.
In truth he found the opposite, calling Israel “inspirational” Mr. Ma had arrived in a country which is open for business with a core focus on peace, prosperity, and security for its people.
Here’s a short excerpt of Mr. Ma’s Speech in Tel Aviv:
“I feel honored and inspired to meet you. There’s an amazing history here, and amazing things we have to learn. All human beings in the world should learn about history here.
When I stand here in this great land, with your vision, your creativity, and your wisdom, I feel so honored to get this [honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University]. This honor is on behalf of all the entrepreneurs fighting for their lives, fighting for the future on the way.”
Israel is a country that is focused on high-end technology, including their security techniques, which it shares with the world making them a global leader in the field.
Let’s face it, during the recent demonstrations on the Israel Gaza Border, Israel took measures to ensure it would not affect the communities that are in a close proximity to the border, with a special emphasis on the tens of thousands of tourists in the country at the time, including many Tradition Tours tourists. It is important to note, our tours avoid these “red-zones” as an added safety measure.
Most of Israel’s population have served in its military where her soldiers are trained early on on the importance of security and keeping an “eye” on your surroundings. This has created an “in-house” network of security personnel throughout the country who are constantly vigilant of their surroundings as they go throughout their day.
With this knowledge in mind, anyone who is thinking of traveling to Israel should feel happy and proud to visit and should keep in mind the words of Mr. Ma “Israel has proved that small is powerful, and it is on the way to small is beautiful. We think beautiful means peace and inclusiveness.”
So, with that in mind, why not come and visit the small, beautiful, and peaceful Israel? The first step? Contact Tradition Tours where we have tours designed to fit any tourist looking to visit a safe Israel.
Israel: A Fusion Of Old & New
When you travel with Tradition Tours regardless of if you choose a Christian, Jewish or private tour, you will come back from your tour in awe at what you have lived, breathed and seen during your Israel visit. This feeling may be due to a spiritual epiphany, a historical discovery, or because Tradition Tours made sure that all your travel needs taken care of with a smile.
The focus of this article is on the fusion of the new and the old and how they come together and as if dancing the tango with each other, which is one of the truly unique experiences that Israel has to offer. This is because, at Israel’s core the modern and ancient are one and the same, the struggle for survival and the ability to adapt to any situation.
The Ancient: No tour to Israel is complete without a visit to Masada this fortress nestled in the desert mountains overlooking the Dead Sea. It was at this site that Jews held out against the troops of the Roman Empire fighting for their survival and adapting to their surroundings to survive.
The recent history: Prior to the establishment of Israel as a sovereign nation the area was governed by a British Mandate. This was a very trying time for the Jews as they were constantly being attacked by their enemies and were unable to properly defend themselves. The Jew population decided that they needed to manufacture weapons in order to survive which they did successfully in an underground munitions factory today known as the Ayalon Institute. It is at the Ayalon Institute, (which is included on our many of our tours) where we again see the same history being played out, a group of people adapting to their surroundings in order to survive.
The New: Israel is a country which is continuously evolving. which is what makes it such an exciting country to visit. You may be sitting on the beach enjoying all that modern Tel Aviv has to offer while there are people working in offices close by working on the latest startup technology, working on a goal to increase Israel’s revenues allowing the country to survive and continue its trajectory of growth. Israel is the source for many technologies which we all take for granted today. From applications like Waze to the modern cellphone chip in your phone, that was also an Israeli invention designed at Motorola’s R&D located in Israel.
This fusion of new and old is taking place across the entire country including Jerusalem, a city which is home to thousands of years of history, is also a home for numerous research and development centers for both Israeli startups and multinational companies.
So if you want to experience this rare phenomenon be it for business or pleasure, contact us today on 855-958-6877 and begin planning your visit to Israel with Tradition Tours.