Judean Desert Jeep Tour – A Day Trip to the Israeli Desert

Judean Desert Jeep Tour – A Day Trip to the Israeli Desert

Middle East

I already traveled to Israel three times to explore these extraordinary lands. On my last visit, I was traveling with Abraham Hostel to write a City Guide about Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Since I also write about tourist destinations, I knew I had to explore Israel a little more. A day trip to the Israeli Desert was on the top of my bucket list, since I did not manage to do it on my previous travels.

 

The Israeli Judean Desert

Between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea lies the Judean Desert. Theoretically, it is just a semidesert, since it has greater precipitation than a desert. Terraces and steep cliffs lead up to the Jordan Valley and 600 meter deep Wadis (dry river beds) make their way from west to east through this fascinating landscape.

Wüste Juda – Judaean Desert

The Judean Desert lies in the rain shadow of Jerusalem’s mountains. That means that clouds, coming from the Mediterranean Sea going east, rain on the windward slope of the mountain – and, therefore, the desert only receives little rainfall. This geological constellation benefits the creation of a desert. However, according to the University of Jerusalem, there is a huge reservoir of water below the Judean Desert, creating oases such as Ein Gedi.

Wüste Juda – Judaean Desert

Wüste Juda – Judaean Desert

Bedouin tribes live here with camels, kids and everything else. They do not live in tents, however, as you might imagine at the moment. Since they are not nomadic anymore, there is no need to be able to pack up your belongings in order to move on. They currently live in accommodations that I would describe as barracks. Walls and roofs are mostly of metal sheets or other light materials. Sometimes even blankets are used.

 

Mount Asasel and the Scapegoat

Did you ever wonder why someone is called a scapegoat when he gets blamed for the misdeeds of others? It is because once upon a time people symbolically transferred the entirety of their sins to a goat and then threw it down a mountain as sacrifice. This mountain is called Asasel and lies in the Judean Desert. It is also the name of the demon that the goat was sacrificed to. Asasel is mentioned in the Bible and is known as a demon or even the devil.

Wüste Juda – Judaean Desert

We stand on Mount Asasel and listen to the wind. Nothing else disturbs us. The Bedouins living in the surroundings are invisible from up here. An old well, however, that is still in use, gives away their presence.

We use this stop for a hot tea. With herbs and a lot of sugar. As is the custom of the Bedouins.

 

Mar Saba – One of the Oldest Continiously Inhabited Monasteries in the World

We go on. Up and down through the Wadis. I see nothing but barren desert landscape. It is beautiful, but at the same time gloomy. I cannot help but think what would happen if we had our car breaking down here and I’m glad our guide is driving a brand new Jeep.

And then, it appears between the rocks – the monastery Mar Saba. It was founded over 1500 years ago and has been inhabited ever since. This is remarkable and only very few other monasteries can claim the same.

Mar Saba

Mar Saba

Only men are allowed to enter the Mar Saba, so I make a joke about our tour guide distracting the monks while us women explore the monastery. We laugh as we return to the car and go for our lunch break.

 

Ein Prat

Feeling good after our lunch we move on to the last stop – the oasis Ein Prat at the Wadi Qelt. I already knew this kind of oasis from my trip to Masada, where we explored Ein Gedi. Simply amazing, how a little stream of water turns the otherwise barren desert into a small paradise. Parents sit on rocks in the shadows and watch their children playing happily in the waters.

Ein Prat

Also the girls of our group are happy for the refreshment. I normally avoid cold waters and after checking the temperature with my pinky toe I decide to not make an exception this time. Instead, I take my camera, leave my backpack with the group and go exploring. A small trail leads me to old ruins.

Ein Prat

Ein Prat

Remains of settlements, monasteries and palaces await the daring explorer, that battles the heat and traverses the trail. The ascend to the Faran monastery, originally founded by Haritoun monks in the 3rd century, takes 10 to 15 minutes. It is said to be the first monastery in the Judean Desert. Close to Jerusalem, monks had been looking for a remote and quiet location. The oasis with its natural caves, springs and abandoned strongholds was perfect.

Barbara in Ein Prat

Nowadays, the area is a popular recreational area, ideal for hiking, picnics and swimming in the natural pools.

 

Accommodation in Jerusalem

Point of departure for the Jeep tour to the Judaean desert is normally Jerusalem. Here you can find numerous accommodations for every budget.

I was in Israel because I followed the invitation of Abraham Hostels. I stayed at Abraham Hostels in Jerusalem first and then moved to Tel Aviv and Nazareth. I lived in private rooms. For my vacation and for exploring Jerusalem and the surroundings, the hostel was perfect.

For digital nomads who plan to stay longer I recommend the Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv, as the facilities and the whole modern interior and exterior is simply better suited. In Jerusalem for example, I did not have a wardrobe or had to set a timer for the water heater in the shower and then wait before actually showering. For me personally, this is not a viable solution if a digital nomad wants to stay in a place for longer.

 

Conclusion

The Jeep tour in the Judean Desert was one of my highlights of the Israel trip in 2018. On top of that our tour guide was very knowledgeable and even combined rather boring facts with a few jokes and made everybody laugh. I would love to take the tour again, as I almost can’t remember all the interesting details.

 

PS: This post was sponsored by Abraham Tours and I was invited to the Jeep tour. I did not get paid and my opinion was in no way affected by this collaboration.

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Petra and Jerash – A Trip from Israel to Jordan

Petra and Jerash – A Trip from Israel to Jordan

Middle East

Petra is one of the Seven World Wonders and is located in the south of Jordan. On my first visit to Israel, I already wanted to make a quick trip to its neighbor Jordan. However, it did not work out due to my scheduling. In the following year, I had more luck. With Abraham Hostel, I now made a trip to Jordan with an overnight stay in a Bedouin Camp.

A little advice before I start… should you decide to begin this trip from Jerusalem, be prepared for a totally different climate and temperature. Keep in mind to bring sunscreen, a hat and clothes that protect you from the sun even if you feel cold in Jerusalem.

 

Departure from Jerusalem and Crossing the Border to Jordan

Precisely at 7am, the tour starts from Jerusalem to Jordan. The highlight of the tour is one of the Seven World Wonders, Petra. Two more stops are on our list – Jerash and Amman. We drive for around two hours until we reach the Jordan River Border Crossing. Here you will have to pay, as the border crossing fees are not included in the tour.

Exit fee for Israel: 107 ILS (around 25 Euro) and you can pay in ILS, USD or EUR

Entry fee to Jordan: 40 JOD (around 50 EUR) and you can only pay in JOD

The process at the border is rather non-transparent and no one exactly knows where to go. Even though there are only a few travelers, every process takes forever and you have to wait a long time at the check points. It takes us more than an hour until we are finally back in the van and heading to Jerash.

 

Jerash

Jerash is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the country. This antique city, named Gerasa in ancient times, is located on a plane, surrounded by hilly wood areas. In 63 AD, it was conquered by General Pompejus, came under Roman rule and was one of the 10 big roman cities of the Dekapolis – a union of 10 cities that were built according to Greek model in the time after Alexander the Great. Getting conquered by the Roman Empire ushered in a golden age. This excavation site is one of the best preserved provincial Roman cities in the world.

Jerash

We enter the excavation site through the pompous Hadrian Arc. This arc was meant to be the new city gate, but after a couple of years the project was dismissed due to a lack of financing. Nowadays, it impresses with a height of 21 meters. At the end of the 2000’s, it was rebuilt with original rocks from the surrounding area.

Hadrian Bogen Jerash Hadrian Door

Jerash

Temple of Zeus Jerash

Theater Jerash

Jerash

The paved main road, Cardo Maximus, is 800 meters long and connects the market and the northern city gates. Even today, 500 of the pillars that lined the street are still intact and in good condition.


Kardo Jerash

Jerash

Temple Jerash

Temple of Zeus Jerash

Temple of Zeus Jerash

While I was freezing in Jerusalem, the heat here is overwhelming. I’m glad the tour goes on.

Next stop – the Jordan capital.

Amman

Our next destination is the citadel of Jordan’s capital Amman. It is only a short stop, however, and it is not included in every tour. Depending on when the group leaves from Jerash, the citadel might be skipped.

We are late, since we took so long at the border. But it is enough for a short visit.

At sundown we walk through the elevated temple complex and enjoy our view overlooking the city.

Citadelle Amman

The hill had already been inhabited during the early Bronze Age. The fortifications in the south east are the oldest and have been built around 1500 AD. In the fourth century before Christ, the Greeks held dominion over this area for about 100 years. During this period, the city was called Philadelphia. Afterwards, it was taken over by the Romans and later by the Arabs in 661 AD.

Citadelle Amman

Sunset Amman

Next to the excavation site, the archaeological museum is waiting. Everyone who likes to get lost in details and loves vases and ancient sculptures will feel right at home. We can’t spend a lot of time here, as the museum closes shortly after our arrival. But we are able to get a short glimpse.

Citadelle Amman Jordan Archeological Museum

Sunset Amman

Soon after the sun sets, we make our way back to the mini van, as there are still three hours of driving ahead of us.

 

One Night in a Bedouin Camp

We made our way to the Bedouin camp Seven Wonders close to Petra. Tired and hungry we are welcomed by a traditional meal and sit down at a bonfire until midnight. The atmosphere is breathtaking and especially the surrounding hills, illuminated by uncountable candles, are an absolute highlight. An unforgettable evening.

Seven Wonders Camp

In the morning, we have a local-style breakfast buffet and then continue our trip. There is not a lot of time to explore the Wadi surrounding the camp, as our next destination awaits us.

 

Petra

Even though we arrive early in the morning, the sun is already burning mercilessly. Our tour guide picks up the tickets that are included in the tour price, and we begin our excursion.

If you want to explore Petra by yourself, be prepared to pay around 65 EUR entry for one day and 5 EUR more for every following day. Therefore, a prolonged trip is definitely worth it, not only from a financial perspective. Actually, one day in Petra is far too short.

Welcome To Petra

From the entrance to the actual red rock city, you have to cross the Siq. The Siq is a deep rock valley created by a natural geological split and smoothed out by water over hundreds of years. The Nabataeans that built Petra redirected the water from the river in order to create a safe passage and to avoid getting flooded.

The gorge is 70 meters deep and 1.5 kilometers long. I choose to walk the distance. Theoretically, there are carriages. However, I cannot recommend them as the horses are not treated decently and I do not condone this kind of practice. But this is my personal opinion and in the end it is up to you, your conscience, and of course the situation.

Roman Street Remains Siq

And after countless curves in this winding valley I arrived to Petra. The treasury is the first thing you see when you arrive at the rock city.

The Treasurey

Kamele in Petra

It feels a bit like time traveling. Sadly, this day trip leaves little time for extensive exploring. I had to make a quick decision – I could either climb the hill in front of the treasury and take pictures from above. Or traverse the valley, climb the other side and explore the second highlight – the monastery. I choose quantity over quality, as I wanted to see more of the red city.

The following pictures show the highlights of the ascend – the holy graves, the grand boulevard with its numerous pillars and the theater.

Petra

Street Petra

Theater Petra

City Gate Petra

Soon we start to go uphill and an exhausting ascend begins. After a while, we are not alone anymore. The Bedouins that still seem to live in the rock city open their stalls. They sell cheap souvenirs, but also actual treasures such as old coins or ceramics. Sadly, non-professionals have a hard time telling the difference. Of course, you can also buy beverages so you don’t need to worry about getting dehydrated.

Stairs Petra

Stairs With Bedouins Petra

Selling Bedouins Petra

View Petra

Once you reach the top, a bar selling snacks and drinks awaits you. If you have more time to spend than me, you should take in the phenomenal view for a little while!

Bar Monastery

The Monastry Petra

Barbara Monastery Petra

I really have to hurry back though, as we have to make our way back to Jerusalem in the afternoon already. Or at least, the rest of the group goes back. I talked to the tour guide beforehand and they will let me out in Amman. I spend another night in the Jordan capital and go to the airport the next morning, from where I go on to Dubai for my first House Sit.

 

Conclusion

Petra is really a magical place. Looking back, I only regret not staying longer. At least two full days at Petra and one more at the Wadi Rum should be a good start to explore the area a little. I’d also love to visit Little Petra, another Nabataean city close to Petra, entry-free (!) and an “off-the-beaten-path” secret with less tourists. And also my heart is bleeding because I missed the light show at Petra. On several evenings a week, the main building – the treasury – gets surrounded by candles and the resulting play of light is said do cause goosebumps.

So – I was there, but Petra still remains on my list. On my second visit I will take more time!

Have you been to Petra? How many of the Seven World Wonders have you visited already? Leave a comment!

PS: This post was sponsored by Abraham Tours and I was invited to the tour. I paid 50% of the cost by myself. I did not get paid and my opinion was in no way affected by this collaboration.

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Best Things to Do During a Layover in Dubai

Best Things to Do During a Layover in Dubai

Middle East

A few decades ago, no one in the tourism industry had heard of Dubai. It was an obscure city; but today, it is one of our world’s most glamorous metropolis with an incomparable futuristic skyline. Nearly 20 million tourists travel to the city every year, whether it is for shopping for some of the best global brands or for business or for sheer entertainment. Dubai is home to some of the best airlines in the world. The Dubai Airport is a class apart, worthy of exploring by itself. People travel through this giant hub every day, and layovers in Dubai offer the perfect chance to explore the city. Here’s what you can do in Dubai if you’re there on a layover.

 

The Grand Mosque: Total Time: 1 Hour

The Grand Mosque of Dubai is located very close to the airport. The building is a magnificent piece of artwork. It can contain about 1200 worshippers at a time. If you are not a Muslim, you won’t be allowed within the mosque, but you can explore the outer section of the mosque and take pictures of the incredible design.

 

Burj Khalifa: Total Time – 4 Hours

The Burj Khalifa should be your first stop. It makes no sense to have a layover in Dubai and not visit the Khalifa. You’re your tickets in advance so that you don’t waste time in the queues. Best to take a taxi straight from the airport to the Khalifa. Be sure to take in the view of the building from the bottom and from the observatory deck on the 124th floor. The views from up there are simply amazing.

Dubai Fountains: Check out the Dubai Fountains, just below the Burj Khalifa, from the observatory deck. The fountains leap up to a height of 152 meters and are very clearly visible from the observatory deck. If you have time, take a walk around the Burj Khalifa to admire the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Fountains and the Burj Khalifa from the ground.

Dubai Mall: No point in visiting the Burj Khalifa is you don’t check out the Dubai Mall as well. It’s after all the world’s largest shopping mall by area, with more than 1,200 shops. Even if you’re not a great shopper, the sheer grandeur of the Dubai Mall is just not to be missed. The lobby with the fabulous waterfall with its sculptures of divers suspended in their dives is fascinating. There’s an Ice Rink, the VR Park, a 22-theatre multiplex, and the fabulous Underwater Zoo and Aquarium that beg to be explored.

 

Dubai’s Souqs: Total Time – 2 Hours

After admiring the Burj Khalifa, be sure to take a taxi to Dubai’s Souqs. The two main souqs are in Bur Dubai and Deira, which are separated by the Dubai Creek.

Dubai Creek: If you want to enjoy Dubai’s majestic skyline in a completely different way, cross the Dubai Creek. You can do this cheaply on a wooden vessel called the abra. Or, if time permits, you can take a dhow cruise along the Creek, passing under the many bridges and past supertall towers that overlook the water beside beautiful gardens. The creek bustles with locals and tourists and is seamed with a number of eateries, souqs, and vibrant people. If you want to feel the soul of Dubai, visit the Dubai Creek.

Dubai Souqs: The most popular market is the Gold Souk, which is a covered part of the bazaar with many shops selling gold jewelry. You can see the shine of gold from a distance. There’s more gold here than you’ve seen at any one place in your lifetime. If you want to pick up some exotic spices on the cheap, visit the Al Sabkha Souk. You’ll see baskets and baskets of fragrant saffron, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and a horde of other spices. You’ll also find many baskets piled up with the finest nuts. You are allowed to haggle at these souqs. Some of the merchants will quote outlandish prices the moment they realize you’re a foreigner. Be sure to check with a few stalls before you commit to purchasing from one. Enjoy the colors and smells that are sure to take you back to Old Arabia.

 

The Dubai Museum: Total Time – 2 Hours

If you want to understand how Dubai has transformed from being a pearl-diving and fishing village, visit the Dubai Museum. Dubai was once a small Bedouin village but today it is this magnificent entertainment hub that everyone wants to visit. The Dubai Museum is located at the Al-Fahidi Fort that was built during the 17th century. Explore the beautiful gallery of the museum which houses a wide range of military artifacts, a number of clothing and other local antiques of the Arabic culture plus old weaponry. Some of the exhibits are outside, and it is best to visit this museum from August to April, as it can be incredibly hot during other months.

 

Jumeirah Beach: Total Time – 2 Hours

Get to the Jumeirah beach next, from where you can enjoy the most magnificent views of the Burj al Arab hotel in the background. This is the world’s tallest and the only seven-star hotel. You cannot go inside the Burj al Arab unless you are a hotel guest or you have booked a table in one of the restaurants. If you are able to do that in advance, nothing like it. For now, enjoy the terrific views and be sure to take pictures of yourself against the backdrop of the Burj al Arab. The Jumeirah beach is best relegated to the last part of your day, so you can enjoy the sunset with the Burj al Arab in the background, before returning to the airport. Also check out the nearby Jumeirah Beach Hotel, with its iconic wave-like design.

 

Some Tips

  • It takes about an hour and a half to be done with immigration and customs, so take this delay into consideration.
  • We suggest you use the taxi system and forget the Metro, in the interest of saving time.
  • For a short layover, you don’t need to book into a hotel. Just store your luggage at the Dubai airport luggage storage facility for up to 12 hours at terminal 1 & 3.
  • At the airport, be sure to obtain your transit visa for Dubai so that you are able to sightsee.

 

Conclusion

If you are a frequent traveler who’s passing through Dubai on business or pleasure, be sure to factor in layover time whenever possible. This will allow you to formulate itineraries that’ll help you see a bit more of Dubai each time you travel. It’s a great way to see everything this grand city has to offer, in bits and pieces.

About the Author

An avid trekker, explorer and a true foodie; Neha finds happiness in small endeavors of life and loves to pen them down as a cherished memory. A firm believer that “we have just one life to live and so much to do”, Neha lives every moment to the fullest.

The Dubai Guide for Digital Nomads

Dubai Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in the Middle East? You should check out Dubai!

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!

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Day Trip to the Lake of Gennesaret and the Golan Heights

Day Trip to the Lake of Gennesaret and the Golan Heights

Middle East

On my prior trips to Israel, I only managed to spend a couple of days in the Golan Heights. It was a cold week in January, three years ago, and I hadn’t seen much of the region. I merely drove past the Lake of Gennesaret, so it was definitely still on my list. The lake goes by several names like the Sea of Galilee, Lake of Tiberias, or simply Kinneret, the Israeli name.

On my last big trip, in order to write the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem guide with Abraham Hostel, I spent five days in Nazareth. Since I also cover sightseeing spots in this guide, I made sure to explore the region and get to know all the good spots. After Haifa and Acre, I definitely wanted to see the Lake of Gennesaret. So, this day trip to the north of Israel was more than welcome.

 

Stop #1 Capernaum – Lake of Gennesaret

Capernaum lies directly at the Lake of Gennesaret and was an old fishing village in Galilee. It is said that Jesus might have lived here for several years, as well as some of his Apostles. Peter is said to be from Capernaum and was also hosting Jesus during his stay.

At the suspected former position of Peter’s house, you can find a memorial site. Below the house, the archaeological excavation site is open to visitors. There, you can see the remains of an old private house from the 1st century. Two churches were built on top of it and therefore it is suspected to be Peter’s former residence.

Further archaeological findings indicate a synagogue from the 4th century. Even though Jesus could not have possibly interacted here in any way, it is still one of the oldest in the world and it is breathtaking to walk through the old ruins.

And the scenery of the Lake of Gennesaret and the Mediterranean vegetation is spectacular.

My advice – bring a Sarong! Since this is a holy site you may only access after covering your knees and shoulders.

 

Stop #2 Mount of Beatitudes

We went on to the Mount of Beatitudes. I don’t know about you, but this didn’t ring a bell for me – at least not the English term. Only when I was told that this is said to be the place where Jesus made his Sermon on the Mount, I understood its significance.

We took a relatively long break here, even though it is only a small church. Anyway, enough time to relax in the sun and get some refreshments in the shop.

 

Stop #3 Banias

In the Golan Heights, at the base of Mount Hermon – the highest mountain on the Israeli border to Syria and Lebanon – there is an antique site built around a fresh water source: Banias. As you can see in the shrine, this place was formerly connected to the Greek god Pan. It is also a sidearm of the river Jordan, that is important for the fresh water supply of the country. Archaeologists also discovered traces of an ancient city dating back to the time of Alexander the Great. It was also mentioned in the Evangelions of Matthew and Mark under the name of Caesarea Philippi.

We took an hour break here as well. We used this time to take a walk along the river. There is also a waterfall. Sadly, I couldn’t take photos.

At the entrance, you can find a small restaurant.

 

Stop #4 Mount Bental

For this one, you will need some background information. Until 1967, the hillsides in the south west of Mount Herman belonged to the neighboring country Syria. Israel conquered this area on the 10th of June, 1967, and it got annexed in 1981. Since then, the mountain became a strategically important position for Israel. There are several observation posts that the Israeli secret service uses to survey vast areas of the west of Syria. It is also the highest manned outpost of the United Nations.

Mount Bental is a war site. You can get a good impression of how a military base looked like back in the days – bunkers and trenches are open for visitors.

The valley at the bottom of Mount Hermon is named “Valley of Tears” in memory of the fallen soldiers. Nevertheless, Mount Bental offers a fantastic panorama and it almost impossible to imagine the events of the time of the Yom Kippur war.

Today, this place is a tourist attraction. There is also a small café offering warm drinks and snacks.

 

Stop #5 Wine Cellar in the Golan Heights

The next stop was a wine cellar in a small kibbutz. A kibbutz is a small countryside village, most closely described as a commune. People share property and have basic democratic structures.

In the kibbutz Ein Zivan, you can find said wine cellar, where they produce up to 10,000 bottles of wine – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and also Shiraz. Even though I don’t drink, I still found it interesting to follow the processes from harvest to corking the bottle.

The wine tasting was included, although I declined with thanks.

 

Stop #6 Swimming in the Lake of Gennesaret

At the end of our trip, we were allowed to take an hour of rest at the lake. We stopped at a beach at the Lake of Gennesaret in order to take a swim and simply relax. Luckily enough, there was almost no one else around so we could really be by ourselves and enjoy the stay.

 

Final Thoughts

The Lake of Gennesaret and the Golan Heights have a magic charm and fascinate me personally. Already on my first trip, three years ago, I realized the special energy of this place. And this time, it was the same. I think this region is very interesting and beautiful.

Have you ever been to the Lake of Gennesaret or the Golan Heights? Did you like it? Leave a Comment!

PS: This post was made with the kind support of Abraham Tours. I was invited to the tour around the Lake of Gennesaret and the Golan Heights. I did not get paid and my opinion was not affected by this collaboration.

The Tel Aviv Guide for Digital Nomads

Tel Aviv Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in the Middle East? You should check out Tel Aviv!

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!

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Nazareth – A Muslim City in Israel

Nazareth – A Muslim City in Israel

Middle East

I’ve been to Israel three times already and I did two trips to Nazareth. On my last visit, I was collaborating with Abraham Hostels in order to write a City Guide about Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Since I also address sightseeing trips in my guide, I made sure to absolutely explore Israel further and get to know all the good spots. Therefore, I spent five days in Nazareth.

 

How to Get to Nazareth

There are different possibilities for getting to Nazareth. The easiest is staying in the Abraham Hostel (or Fauzi Azar in Nazareth) and taking their shuttle service. It might be a little expansive, but you don’t have to take care of anything. You will get picked up and dropped off at your accommodation. Easy! Negative – the shuttle is not available every day.

The next possibility is a Sherut. Sheruts are minivans, which travel fixed routes back and forth. You can either enter at one of the stations or just hold up your arm as soon as you see one passing and hope for the best. If there’s room they definitely take you in, otherwise they’ll give you an according signal. Positive – they are available every day, even on Shabbat.

The third possibility is taking the bus. It’s called Egged Bus and easily recognizable by its big green X. Negative – only available on Shabbat. To find out, when exactly that Shabbat is, you need to ask around, since it depends on the time of sundown.

 

The City of Nazareth

Nazareth and its 69% Muslim citizens are known as the Arabic Capital of Israel. 30% are Christians, so it’s no wonder the atmosphere of the city is quite different. I always had the feeling of being in the Middle East, more than in other cities. Also due to the fact that the population speaks predominantly Arabic.

Nazareth is famous for being the village where Jesus spent his youth. The city is riddled with churches and with the so call Jesus Trail – 65km of hiking and pilgrimage trail to various sites where Jesus is said to have lived and worked or simply was present. Therefore, this trail could have been walked by Jesus itself. It begins in Nazareth and ends in Capernaum

If you want to take a deep dive into the history of Nazareth, you definitely shouldn’t miss the free tour around the city. You can join daily – just ask at your accommodation what time it starts. The beautiful thing about this tour is that it not only covers the historical highlights, but also gives you a glimpse into modern everyday life.

 

Religious Sites in Nazareth

The city offers numerous religious sites. These are my personal highlights:

At the edge of old town, you can find Mary’s well. At this well, Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she is pregnant with the son of God.

Weirdly enough, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus regarding the location of the „Annunciation of the birth of Jesus”, as the archangel Gabriel is said to have appeared to Mary at other places as well. Not far from the well, a church was built, where Mary and Joseph supposedly had their house. It is named Church of Annunciation. Sadly, I don’t have a proper photo of the church since the surrounding area is rather narrow and the church itself is rather large. And by the way, this is the biggest Catholic church in the Middle East.

If you follow the Jesus Trail from old town uphill (yes, 15 minutes of walking up stairs but well worth it!) you will reach the Basilica of Jesus the Adolescent, where Jesus supposedly spent his youth. Not only is the church beautiful by its own standards, but you can also find a magnificent panorama across the city. In my opinion, this is the best view you can find in Nazareth.

 

Accommodation in Nazareth

During both of my stays, I was at the Fauzi Azar. When I first stayed here, it was not yet part of the Abrahams chain, but it was on my second visit. It is a beautiful Arabic building in the middle of the old town. The rooms are a direct portal into the Arabian Nights. Or rather, they were. This time I was in a newer part of the building and it felt like was accommodated in a cave without windows or any interior decoration that goes beyond the bed itself. So if you book your stay at the Fauzi Azar, ask for an older room that looks like this:

Similarly, the outdoor area is beautiful as well. As the surrounding old buildings also have a cooling effect, you will not start sweating and can enjoy the outside at a comfortable temperature. For my part, I really like sitting and working outside with my laptop. However, I have to add that Nazareth is not a big city and therefore, travelers don’t gather at bars or pub crawls. They rather spend their evenings in the cozy atmosphere of the hostel, which might not be acceptable for some Digital Nomads.

The real beauty of the Fauzi Azar is, that the collaboration (!) of Jewish and Arabic Israelis together created what it is today – a gathering place for people from all religions.

Sadly, I cannot give any information about other accommodations in Nazareth.

 

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, Nazareth is always worth a visit and you shouldn’t miss it during your stay in Israel. It is a special place – not only interesting but also very photogenic. I can definitely imagine going there for a third visit and even stay a little longer. Maybe I will even walk the Jesus Trail to really set the mood.

Have you ever been to Nazareth? How did you like it? Put it in the comments!

PS: This post was sponsored by Abraham Tours and I was invited to stay at the Fauzi Azar. I did not get paid and my opinion was in no way affected by this collaboration.

The Tel Aviv Guide for Digital Nomads

Tel Aviv Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in the Middle East? You should check out Tel Aviv!

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Haifa, Acre and Rosh Hanikra – A Day Trip from Nazareth

Haifa, Acre and Rosh Hanikra – A Day Trip from Nazareth

Middle East

I already wanted to visit Haifa on my first trip to Israel 3 years ago, but somehow it did not work out. That’s why, on my third trip, I absolutely wanted to visit Haifa on my research trip for the  Tel Aviv Guide for Digitale Nomads. So I immediately booked a tour once I arrived in the  Abraham Hostel in Nazareth. A tour to Haifa, Acre and Roch Hanikra.

 

Stop #1 Mount of Precipice

Our first stop of the day was a biblical sight – Mount Precipice. These are supposed to be the cliffs, where the angry mob of cititzens of Nazareth wanted to kill Jesus, because they did not approve of his teachings at the synagogue (Luke 4, 16-30). Mount Precipice is located south of Nazareth on the cliffs of Mount Kedumim.

The panorama of the Jezreel Valley and Mount Tabor is fantastic and is said to be very picturesque at dawn. I couldn’t make if for sunrise, however, as I didn’t have a private transportation.

Barbara in the Galilee

We stay here for half an hour to take photos and marvel at the scenery. After that, onwards to the port town Haifa.

Stop #2 Haifa

Haifa is the third biggest city in Israel, after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Here, you can find the Bahá’í Gardens, that are a UNESCO world heritage site and also the most beautiful spot of the city. It is the spiritual and administrative centre of the Bahá’í faith. The gardens are on Mount Karmel and include i.e. the shrine of Bab, where the keep the mortal remains of Bab, the founder of Babism. It is the building with the golden dome on the following picture. Many travellers and pilgrims come here.

That’s why we come here, as well. There are several levels. First, we have a look at the gardens itself. Beware – as this is a holy site you are required to cover your shoulder as well as your knees. After about 30 minutes we take a car to the upper levels, where you can enjoy the view. Strangely enough, you don’t have to cover up here.

 

Stop #3 Acre

Acre (or Akko/Akkon – very confusing) is also a port town at the north coast of Israel. Findings from the bronce age show, that already 3 millenias before christ people where settling there. Acre is famous for its old town, situated at on a peninsula on the northern end of the bay of Haifa. It is surrounded by old military fortifications.

The people living here are mostly Israeli Arabs and Acre is one of the most oriental cities of Israel. Visitors can experience this on the big Shouk – the huge Arabian market offering clothes, local gimmicks, spices, fruits and vegetables.

For centuries, the city’s port was important in the eastern Mediterranean area. Nowadays, it’s mainly used for the ferry rides between Haifa and Acre, round trips and other boats tours.

Also famous is the 350 meter long tunnel from the Templar fortress in the west to the port in the east, discovered in 1994. The tunnel is carved into natural stone and is one of the attractions of Acre. I decided against walking the tunnel, as I did not want to pay entry for those 250 meters and rather take pictures in the streets and by the sea.

We had two hours to explore Acre. That is barely enough time to see the old town and get lunch. Then, we went on to the caves of Rosh Hanikra.

 

Stop #4 Rosh Hanikra

The grottoes of Rosh Hanikra are directly at the border to Lebanon. At the top end of the road, there’s even a (tightly locked) gate, separating Lebanon and Israel.

This spot has become a tourist attraction because the sea had carved beautiful grottoes into the limestone. The grottoes can be accessed and are connected by an easy path.

From the parking area, you can take a cable car down to the entrance of the grottoes or drive there by car. Since we had been late already this day, our minivan took us there. Using a staircase, you can then go deeper into the cliffs.

In the grottoes itself, you can hear the water crashing against the limestone walls. If you’re (un)lucky – like me – you might catch a splash of the waves and get soaking wet, which seems to be peak entertainment for attending children.

All in all, the path seemed very short. I expected more. Nevertheless, Rosh Hanikra is a beautiful place and the moment you leave the caves is breathtaking. The white limestone is a stark contrast to the turquoise of the Mediterranean Sea and blinding after the darkness of the caves. I admit that was an unexpected highlight.

 

Final Thoughts

The tour to Haifa, Acre, and Rosh Hanikra was a highlight of my Israel tour this year. As I mentioned before, Haifa was on my To Do list since my first visit and I had also heard about Acre. Rosh Hanikra was new to me but is now definitely on my Israel Must See list. I am really glad I took this day trip!

Have you been to one of these spots? Leave a comment!

PS: This post was sponsored by Abraham Tours and I was invited to the “Haifa, Acre, and Rosh Hanikra” tour. I did not get paid and my opinion was not affected by this collaboration.

The Tel Aviv Guide for Digital Nomads

Tel Aviv Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in the Middle East? You should check out Tel Aviv!

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!

Nablus und Jenin Tour
MIDDLE EAST
NABLUS AND JENIN
Masada
MIDDLE EAST
MASADA
MIDDLE EAST
BEST OF THE WESTBANK