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Illuminating Israel

Written by  Stacey Marcus

AFRICA IsraelWe asked the team at the Dan Hotels (www.danhotels.com) to share some insights about traveling to the beloved land of Israel. In 1947, The Federmann brothers (two recent immigrants to Israel) purchased the “Kaete Dan”, a 21-room guest house on the Tel Aviv sea shore. Then, in 1953, the “Dan” hotel (i.e. The Dan Tel Aviv) was opened next to senior “Kaete Dan.” The hotel included 120 modern design rooms. Each room had wall-to-wall carpeting, colored bathrooms, telephones and a radio.
Today the Dan Hotels are located all along the Mediterranean from Ashkelon in the south to Haifa in the north. The collection features four hotels in Jerusalem and two in Eilat. All the hotels along the coast are in close proximity to the water - some are even on the beach, such as in Tel Aviv and Herzliya. Here is what the team told us about traveling to Israel.

Can you tell our readers some of the highlights of a trip to Israel?
A day in the Old City of Jerusalem is a must; The Western Wall, The Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and a leisure walk through the narrow alleyways. In modern Jerusalem; Israel Museum and Yad VaShem.
A visit to Tel Aviv can help a visitor understand modern Israel. I recommend: Neve Tzedek (first neighborhood) and the Israeli Museum at the Rabin Center. A trip along the coast with stops at: Caesarea, Haifa and the Bahai Gardens and Acco. In the Galilee, it is important to visit Safed, Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights.

Along with some of the well-known places and landmarks, what are 3 surprising things about Israel that our readers may not know?
How modern Israel is, that most Israelis speak English and are happy to help and that Israeli wines are fantastic. And, that security and personal safety is not at all an issue.

Is the destination appropriate for families?
Absolutely. Each city and touring region has something for families to do. In the north, white water rafting, jeep rides, rappelling and a visit to the “Biblical Village” are great family activities. In the desert, camel rides, jeep rides, rappelling and a visit to “Genesis Land.” And, in Eilat, swimming with dolphins is a must. Between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, families can participate in a hands-on archeological dig, and more.

What type of activities will people find in Israel?
Every conceivable one. Depending on the season: from bird watching, to cycling and from hiking to music and arts festivals.

How many days should travelers plan to stay in Israel?
We recommend at least five full days, but eight is ideal.

What is the best and worst time of the year to visit Israel?
We cannot think of a “worst time,” but the Jewish holidays of Passover and Sukkot (Tabernacle) tend to be expensive, as many of the hotels are full. Spring and fall are my favorites.

Tell us about the food in Israel.
Modern Israeli cuisine is simply amazing. “Farm to Table” is the reality in Israel. All the fruits and vegetables are fresh and seasonally served. Young and talented chefs offer a new, imaginative combination of traditional dishes that they ate as children in their mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchen with French, Italian, Yemenite, Moroccan and other influences from all over the world.

What is trending in Israel these days?
In addition to the traditional markets of pilgrimages and escorted tours, we see multi-generational family tours. The LGBTQ community has also recently “discovered” Israel and travel especially to participate in the Pride Parade every June. Culinary tours are very popular now as well. Active tourism, organized races and cycling tours too. For this, we’ve launched two programs to meet the needs of today’s traveler. With our Dan Active program, guests can bike the country while staying at Dan Hotels each night. Additionally, we offer culinary tours and cooking classes with our Dan Gourmet program in Tel Aviv, allowing guests to experience Israeli cuisine and the fresh markets hands-on.
www.goisrael.com

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