Luxury Travel Blog

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September 17, 2012

Just Back: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

Artisans of Leisure founder and CEO Ashley Isaacs Ganz recently returned from touring Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel. Read about the highlights of her trip, including Jewish and Christian touring, incredible cuisine, and fascinating historical sites.

We began our tour of Israel in Jerusalem. The King David Jerusalem Hotel is the perfect place to relax after a busy day of sightseeing. For our travelers, we book rooms with excellent views over the gardens, pool and Old City.

This prestigious hotel regularly hosts royalty and heads of state from around the world.

These boys were playing in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

This is one of many decorated doors we saw in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

We walked along the Via Dolorosa. Christians believe that Jesus carried his cross on this path on the way to his crucifixion. The Stations of the Cross are marked along the route.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the holiest Christian site in the world.

It’s built atop Golgotha, the hill on which Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The oculus in the church dome lets in light.

The Western Wall is one of the holiest sites in Judaism. Many Jews come here to pray.

These women are praying on the female side of the Wall. Many people place prayer notes into cracks in the Wall.

The Mount of Olives offers a panoramic view of the Old City, including Temple Mount…

…and the Dome of the Rock.

We love Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market, especially on Fridays when it’s particularly busy and festive with Shabbat preparations.

This shop sells colorful varieties of halva, the sweet made of tahini (sesame seed paste) or other nuts and sugar.

Bread deliveries are a common sight at the market.

Freshly baked bread, including challah and Jerusalem bagels, is everywhere on Fridays.

Yarmulkes are also for sale.

Chocolate rugelach is especially decadent when it’s fresh out of the oven

For travelers wanting an in-depth culinary tour of the market, we can arrange private tours or cooking classes with a well-known local expert.

The children enjoyed learning about the Knesset Menorah, which is decorated with stories of Jewish history.

A massive scale model depicts ancient Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.

Visiting the excellent Israel Museum is a highlight of any visit to Israel. The Dead Sea Scrolls are kept inside this building, which is known as the Shrine of the Book.

The Scrolls are displayed in a glass case inside the Shrine.

A visit to the somber Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum is an incredibly moving experience. Inside the museum is the Hall of Names, a memorial to every Jew who died during the Holocaust.

Back in central Jerusalem, we visited a local artisan who creates custom, hand-painted tiles…

…and the studio of a noted local artist who sells her artworks around the world.

After a traditional dinner at a fashionable local restaurant, we enjoyed a dish of knafeh, an Arab dessert made of goat cheese, shredded wheat, sugar and pistachios.

En route to Tel Aviv, we stopped in Ein Kerem. Regarded as the birthplace of John the Baptist, it’s now home to boutiques, galleries, ice cream shops and restaurants.

These grapes were growing in front of a house in Ein Kerem.

Near Tel Aviv, we toured the fascinating Ayalon Institute, formerly a secret ammunition factory hidden under a kibbutz.

We also visited the Design Museum Holon. The distinctive building is by renowned Israeli designer Ron Arad.

We also saw many of Tel Aviv’s famous Bauhaus buildings.

The Dan Tel Aviv Hotel has a rainbow exterior designed by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam.

The hotel is close to the beach, a great place for strolling after dinner or relaxing at one of the beachside cafes.

The Eretz Israel Museum, a history and archaeology museum, is especially good for families with kids. In addition to interactive displays, artisans often give demonstrations showing how to make traditional Israeli crafts.

The museum gift shop is an excellent source of Israeli design and crafts.

We browsed boutiques in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood, including one of Israel’s most famous jewelry boutiques.

We continued to Old Jaffa, the oldest neighborhood in Tel Aviv…

…to explore the ancient backstreets…

…and visit wonderful shops selling unique items.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch overlooking the sea, with extensive complimentary mezzes before we even placed our order!

Contact an Artisans of Leisure travel specialist about planning a private luxury tour of Israel.

Destinations:  Israel, Middle East

Tags:  Ayalon Institute, Bauhaus, Christian tours, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, culinary tours, Dead Sea Scrolls, Design Museum Holon, Eretz Israel Museum, Israel tours, Israeli cuisine, Jerusalem, Jerusalem tours, Jewish history, Jewish touring, Jewish tours, luxury Israel tours, Mahane Yehuda Market, Mount of Olives, Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv tours, Western Wall