Newsletter - January 2014
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Happy New Year!
With every best wish for a happy & healthy New Year – may 2014 bring you all that you wish for.
Our November/December educational tour to Israel was one of our largest; with 33 participants. Jan our guide was great and I am sure we made many new friends during our spiritual journey in the Holy Land. The time seems to fly by and no sooner are we leaving Heathrow – we are back here again!
Every time I visit I always notice changes and improvements for example, Capernaum has undergone a complete revamp and looks great.
The most important change is when you arrive and leave Israel – they no longer stamp your passport. This is a huge bonus for those travellers who intend to visit countries that penalise visitors with an Israeli stamp in their passport.
The value of the pound versus both the dollar and the euro is quite high at the moment and it should help us absorb some of the seasonal increases for 2014.
From April 2014 easyJet will commence a new schedule from London Gatwick to Tel Aviv – this will make it much easier for passengers flying to Israel to benefit from the services of a low cost airline who reside in the in the south east of England.
Great news for the city of Jerusalem – Trip Advisor has named it as one of the one of the ‘cities on the rise’ under traveller’s choice for 2013.
In this day and age of wanting to be on line and free WIFI – did you know that in Israel we use the services of Maya Tours, who have just purchased 60 news coaches all of which has free WIFI on board?
We have a very active Facebook page and last month we gave away a number of prizes for short quizzes. They included a CD of biblical songs and a book titled The Holy Land – lithographs by David Roberts R.A.
We have updates daily that include travel-orientated information, news about our destinations, quizzes and last month we posted daily pictures from our educational tour of the Holy Land.
To ensure that you do not miss out click here and then click on ‘LIKE’
What to expect of an Israeli breakfast?
Israelis like their breakfast. While the term "breakfast" is identical worldwide, an Israeli breakfast is slightly different from what you had in mind. This article will try to provide you with more details about what an Israeli breakfast is all about.
Fresh Vegetables are everywhere
Israel is blessed with a variety of fresh vegetables. As such, you will find sliced fresh vegetables on every breakfast table. It might be a 5 star luxury hotel or a plain bed & breakfast motel, all of them will serve you some fresh vegetable salad or "Israeli salad" as we would like to call it for breakfast.
An Israeli salad will consist mostly of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and some spice herbs like parsley or coriander. Unlike our salad – this salad needs no dressing what so ever; if you insist you might use some pure olive oil as a dressing for a perfect salad.
Breakfast portions are huge
This probably relates to the local mentality and the breakfast portions are simply too big. If you are not aware of that you will find yourself eating more than needed and that might lead you to gain some extra pounds during your stay in Israel. Take your time, this is only breakfast, and during the rest of the day you will find out that Israeli street food is even better, so you should save some room and appetite for it.
No meat please!
For Jewish dietary reasons it is impossible to find any meat at breakfast in Israel. A "Kosher" kitchen will need to separate between dairy products and meat products, so unless "English breakfast" is explicitly specified, don't expect to find breakfast in Israel with any kind of meat. However, there are a small number of excellent hotels in Israel that do not have a kosher kitchen; here you will find a totally different cuisine.
Something for everybody
It really depends where are you going to eat your breakfasts in Israel, but you should expect a huge variety of food on any breakfast table. If the breakfast is a continental breakfast, it will consist of coffee, juice, toast, jam, honey, and a pastry of your choice.
If this is an "Israeli breakfast" you will mostly find coffee, orange juice, fresh vegetables salad, goats/cows cream cheese, fresh bread or toast, olives, butter, and fried eggs of your choice.
If you are staying in a luxury hotel you will find that on top of the regular variety you can expect some fish, cereals, and many kinds of different dairy products, as they are very popular in Israel. All in all – there is something for everybody in any Israeli breakfast.
Following is a short summary of what the weather is like in Israel during every month of the year, plus some useful tips on what clothes you should take for your next journey to Israel.
Generally speaking, Israel splits into three geographical areas. The Galilee, Dead Sea, Negev, Arava and Eilat as one, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and the last region are the coastal plains – Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean coastline. It is a ‘sandwich’ with the 1st region enjoying dry warm and comfortable winters, and very hot summers; the 2nd region cool, wet and sometimes with snow during the winter. The summers are very pleasant will cool evenings and in the main very dry climate with light breezes throughout the year. In the third region it enjoys very high humidity, which you would expect along the seashores. Winters can be mild but also they can be stormy and summers can be very hot and humid
December – January – February: Winter
General weather Description: This is what we call winter. That means temperatures of between 5-18 Degrees centigrade in Tel Aviv, which are 41 to 65 Degrees Fahrenheit. It may get colder around the Jerusalem and Ramat Hagolan mountains to a level of 0 (34 Degrees Fahrenheit) Degrees centigrade at night.
What to wear: a good fleece jacket will do the job. Those of you who are always cold (like my self) would want to bring a wool coat. If you are planning your stay for Tel Aviv, and plan on taking walks there - don’t forget to bring water resistant shoes because it does get rainy there.
March - April – May: Spring
General Weather Description: The nicest season of the year, with very comfortable weather. Temperature in Tel Aviv is usually between 16 to 24 Degrees centigrade, which are 61 to 75 Degrees Fahrenheit. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are approx. 3 degrees centigrade colder (5.5 Degrees Fahrenheit), and Eilat is usually 3 degrees centigrade warmer.
What to Wear: On some of the days you may want a long t-shirt and light jacket, while on other days a short sleeve t-shirt will do. So, Bring a good range of generally light clothes.
June - July – August (and sometimes September): Summer
General Weather Description: Summer is hot in Israel! We usually speak of the heat in terms of temperature + humidity, not only temperature. As for weather conditions: Temperature in Tel Aviv is usually between 24 to 35 Degrees centigrade which are 75 to 95 Degrees Fahrenheit. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are approx. 3 degrees centigrade colder (5.5 Degrees Fahrenheit), and Eilat is usually 3 degrees centigrade warmer.
Keep in mind that in very hot days, which we usually get during the month of August, the temperature in Tel-Aviv may rise to 42 degrees centigrade which are 108 degrees Fahrenheit mixed with 95% humidity. In Jerusalem those days are as hot, but without the humidity, and in Eilat temperature may even climb up to 50 degrees (122 Fahrenheit), but without the humidity.
What to Wear: Short, light, no sleeve, anything you can think of to cope with this mad summer.
September - October – November: Autumn
General Weather Description: Some will argue and say that this is the nicest season of the year in Israel. Temperature in Tel Aviv is usually between 16 to 24 Degrees centigrade, which are 61 to 75 Degrees Fahrenheit. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are approx. 3 degrees centigrade colder (5.5 Degrees Fahrenheit), and Eilat is usually 3 degrees centigrade warmer.
What to Wear: Long sleeve shirts and a light Jacket will do the job.
The sixth international light festival at the Old City
June 11th-19th, 2014
The best of light artists from Israel and worldwide present: spectacular 3-D light exhibits, artistic sculptures and structures, massive light stars and impressive video projections on the Old City’s buildings and walls. These features, combined with outdoors and onstage performances, light and sound, will be displayed at the picturesque alleyways, unique sites and central trails around the Old City of Jerusalem.
The “Light Festival 2014”, a large-scale, fascinating international light-art event will take place for the sixth time at the Old City of Jerusalem. This artistic event is now part of a prestigious list of light festivals around the world (Lyon, Glasgow, Lisbon and additional cities).
The festival will host various internationally renowned artists. The most fascinating creators in the world will present the best of their artwork during the week of the festival.
Leading Israeli artists will present light exhibits and additional works unique to the festival, lighting the Old City in a colourful and artistic manner. The artists will change the Old City's appearance for the week and enhance the nightly atmosphere with a magical, artistic and dramatic dimension.
For further information:
"The Book of Books" - The Bible Lands Museum
For the first time in Israel, the Bible Lands Museum presents a new exhibition named "The book of Books", which will showcase the world's most important biblical texts. Among these texts the Septuagint - the first translation of the Bible into Greek, the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament, illustrated stunning manuscripts, rare pieces of Cairo Genizah, and original pages of Gutenberg Bible- the first printed Bible. The exhibition will follow the development of the biblical text, the Jewish roots of Christianity, and the spread of monotheism.
The exhibition reviews the development of the Bible, along with the spread of Judaism and Christianity from Israel to the rest of the world.
The exhibition premiers in Israel at the Bible Lands Museum, and thereafter will be presented at the Vatican.
Exhibition opening: October 2013
Closing of the exhibition: May 2014
For further information: http://www.itraveljerusalem.com/
Tips for the Best Main Dining Room Experience
The Ultimate Guide to Cruise Dining
Cruise Ship Dining - can you still have an outstanding experience in a cruise ship's main dining room? That's the question on many cruisers' lips as cruise lines focus their attention on myriad extra-fee, upscale specialty restaurants. These venues promise gourmet dining with menus crafted by celebrity chefs, exotic cuisine or novel eating experiences, and the exclusive feeling that comes with intimate, exclusive venues. With all the hype, some cruisers might feel they're missing out if they don't try all the alternative restaurants -- associating the once-beloved main dining room (or MDR, as it's affectionately known) with lower-quality or mass-market meals.
However, the MDR is far from a cafeteria with chandeliers; it's a chance to take advantage of a slightly formal (and free!) meal. You don't need an iPad menu or world-class chefs to dress up a little, try new and different foods, and have a fun and fancy three- or four-course dinner. And while we've all had a dish or two that fell flat or tablemates who we didn't love, we've also had yummy food and made new friends over many an evening meal. Besides, where else can you order three entrees or desserts and no one bats an eye?
If you've been overly dazzled by specialty dining or suffer from MDR ennui, try some of the following tips to help you customize your own dining room experience and solve problems before they escalate. From befriending your waiters to experimenting with new foods, you might find a few changes give you a new perspective on tried-and-true cruise-ship dining.
Mention dietary needs before you embark (and after).
More than ever, people are altering their diets due to food allergies and intolerances, as well as personal preferences and healthy lifestyle choices. Alert dining staff to any dietary restrictions and food needs well before your ship sails, as this will enable them to best accommodate you at each meal. Once onboard, keep gluten or peanuts off your plate with a friendly reminder to the maitre d' and dining room service staff. Your requests might have been processed, but attaching a face to a food allergy will help prevent disappointing or hive-inducing dinners.
Request changes early.
Don't like your seating time? Want flexible dining but got set seating? Your dining preferences can usually be accommodated once onboard, but the earlier you inquire, the better the outcome. Embarkation day is the time to request a dining time change or a romantic two-top instead of an uber-social table for 10. (Be sure to mention if you're celebrating a special occasion, such as an anniversary or honeymoon, or have particularly compelling reasons why you need a change.) If you discover the first night that you'll be dining with the Adams Family, you still can contact your maitre d' and propose a different seating arrangement. If you're not the type to make a fuss, just think to yourself: "Speak now, or forever eat too early with that couple who think cats are their children."
Tip before the meal.
That's right -- before. Tip your waiter on the first night in the main dining room for the service you would like to be given, and chances are he'll respond to that courtesy by living up to your service expectations. You might feel a bit awkward slipping bills into the palm of a relative stranger, but considering this waiter is assigned to you for the length of your cruise (unless you choose the flexible dining option), establishing a quick connection is encouraged. It doesn't take a cruising kingpin to understand the concept of "money talks."
Get to know your waiter (and trust his or her judgment).
Whether you gift the cash at the beginning or end of the cruise, don't miss a chance to become acquainted with your waiters. If they're doing their job well, they will become acquainted with you, your likes and dislikes, and translate all of that into a pleasurable dining experience. The service staff are familiar with the menu, the likes and no noes and the crowd-pleasers, so don't hesitate to ask for recommendations before deciding between the fish or the steak, selecting the clam chowder or the bisque, and, perhaps most importantly, choosing a dessert.
At a certain age, we might feel that we like what we like, and we aren't compelled to try new foods. However, a vacation atmosphere -- one where you're out of your everyday element -- might serve as the perfect backdrop for some new culinary excursions. Not only can you order multiple starters and entrees in a cruise ship dining room, but also there's no fee for dishes -- even extra ones. So try the escargot, the caviar, the sushi, the tofu ... or all of them. If you don't like what you've chosen, just order something else. You can't go hungry on a cruise. And who knows? You might discover a new favourite food.
Embrace the quirks.
Nightly dress codes, forced socialization and semi-obligatory clap-along numbers might have turned you against MDR dining before the food ever hits the table. However, the advice for anyone not entirely thrilled about the prospect of gowns, gossiping and group numbers is: let loose. Quiet your inner sceptic, and get into the cruise spirit -- take your Sunday best out for a spin, use your new tablemates to unload your old stories and jokes on an unsuspecting public, and wave your napkin in the air as the Baked Alaska comes parading by. You might find dinner is more fun than you expected.
Don't be afraid to make special requests.
It's your birthday, and your favourite thing is fish and chips with mushy peas – it might not be on tonight's menu, but that doesn't mean it's dinner impossible. Cruise-ship kitchens are working with plenty of ingredients, and they're suited to most requests. You'll find that if the maitre d' can accommodate you in any way possible, he will. So while a nightly menu customisation might be a tad much, don't be afraid to make tweaks or ask for a special dish if it will add to your eating enjoyment. Just understand that your service team is quite busy, and make any requests as far in advance as you can.
Use your concierge/butler.
If you don't want to take time out of your cruise vacation to go over meal plans with the maitre d' or wait in line to change your dinner seating, get your concierge or butler -- if you have one -- to do it for you. These staff members are employed for whim catering, so don't be shy; relay the special requests and food fancies that will make your cruise more special. Then go off and have fun while they take care of the details.
Slightly literal this month – the nasty ‘T’ word – TIPS
Do I hear a sigh? Well I know we Brits do not like tipping – but we only have our American cousins to blame. Try walking out of a restaurant in New York without tipping and you will soon find out. All diners are expected to leave a tip of around 20%. If you leave any thing less it will be understood that you were unhappy with the meal!
The Americans have brought this culture with them to where ever they have travelled.
In Israel gratuities are expected and even hotel general managers have whispered to me – Do not forget the guys on reception!
Now lets look at it carefully – assuming that the reader of this Newsletter in the first instance is a tour leader.
Let me tell you what I do – this does not make it law or that I am right – but it works for me
$1.00 per day per person per dinner/main meal to the restaurant staff. So if you eat dinner at one hotel for say 2 nights and your group is 20 people then anywhere in the vicinity of $40.00 is acceptable.
Reception staff in my opinion is optional and if you feel you must then they should get 50% of what you give the restaurant.
Chambermaids leave to the individual clients- unless your group is over 100 passengers – then you should give them a similar amount as you have given to the reception staff.
*Coach drivers – This should be between £1.50 - £2.00 per person per sightseeing day. This should depend on how the driver interacts with you. If he gets out of his seat to help the passengers on and off the bus - tip higher. If he never moves off his seat – this should be reflected in the gratuity he receives. You should reward good manners and politeness.
*Guides – the guideline figure is between £3.50 - £4.00 per person per sightseeing day. The majority of Israeli guides are freelance and are paid a minimum wage when they are working. No sick or holiday pay – hence gratuities are a major and vital part of their income.
*Guide/driver This should be around the £5.00 - £6.00 per person per sightseeing day. This job is much harder than just being a guide or a driver and by the very nature of his job servicing a smaller number of tourists –his income potential is much lower.
If you do not tip or tip substantially lower than recommended be prepared for a confrontation, either privately or in front of your group! Does not always happen but if it does it can cause you some embarrassment.
One thing for sure – tip low – the guide will never guide for you again.
*SEAT ON A BUS PILGRIMAGES*
Prices fluctuate owing to the supply and demand. With Israeli hotels enjoying the highest rates of annual occupancy t
hat they can remember and ‘off season’ becoming a term of the past – we have had to hold rooms and negotiate special rates in order to obtain the rates below.
Early booking is advised.
The lists of groups below are groups made up of individuals and not from a specific church or organisation. Dedicated brochures are available please click here to request more details.
*Profiles of the tour leaders can be found by clicking here
** All prices are subject to airline fuel surcharges and UK & Israeli Governments imposed taxes and airport charges, that to date are an additional £260.00 per person – with flights from London Heathrow on El Al Israel Airlines
HOW YOU CAN LEAD YOUR OWN GROUP
We arrange tours to the following destinations: - Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, Portugal, Spain and France – to name a few. We have sent groups to South America, India, South Africa and Poland. So our portfolio is truly global.
We organise educational trips for clergy/lay leaders – who every intention of one day leading a pilgrimage group of their own through ITS Pilgrimages. These tours are heavily subsidised by the suppliers, from the airline to the guide. Hence, we only allow one representative per church. We do allow a spouse/companion to join the participant for a supplementary charge. The cost of the tour is refunded to the participant when he/she leads his or her own pilgrimage tour. Details this year’s tours can be found by clicking here.
We can design your itinerary to suit your needs, duration, hotels and sites to visit. Or you can select one of our many suggested itineraries. Nothing is too much trouble.
Once booked, we are only too pleased to help you promote your tour. We can make a presentation at a location of your choice and if you so wish, produce a brochure along with a booking form.
Please do not hesitate to telephone me should there be need for any clarification of the above, or simply if you wish to discuss any further point – nothing is too much trouble. See a selection of group itineraries – click here
Please use our free phone 0800 0181 839.
This months important dates for your Holy Land calendar
For more groups click here or call us on Freephone
0800 0181 839
We can arrange musical tours in Israel – both for choirs and orchestras.
FOR A NEW AND EXCITING HOLIDAY IN ISRAEL, BIKES, SEGWAY, CULINARY ETC GO TO www.thingstodoisrael.com
We are the only pilgrimage tour operator in the UK to give free gifts to all our pilgrims in Israel - a beautiful piece of jewellery from Caprice
A SAMPLE OF AHAVA’S DEAD SEA PRODUCTS!
Missed the Ahava shop in Israel – no worries buy on line by clicking here
SEE US ON FACEBOOK AT ITSPILGRIMAGES
We are only too pleased to visit any location in the UK to arrange a promotional evening to support our leaders, once your group is booked.
We will also prepare, if you so wish, a brochure along with a booking form.
For travel to Israel and to book your flights, hotel accommodation, car hire, airport car parking and travel insurance click here.
Educational Tour Programme 2014
Call 0800 0181 839 for a booking form to be sent to you
We are presently working on two educational tours to Turkey for 2014 – one land based 10th – 17th November and the other a cruise Turkey & Greece 20th – 28th April
Christian Resources Exhibition Calendar
SEE US AT THE ABOVE
THEY WILL BE FORWARD TO YOU AS AN ELECTRONIC LINK
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
OUR CONTACT DETAILS
Free phone 0800 0181 839- office hours only*
*08.00hrs – 16.00hrs
Mobile telephones numbers: -
Hilary Sheldon - Director of Operations: 0776 6743 400
Adrian J. Cohen - Managing Director: 0781 0333 032
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