Maybe you’re still just considering making the trip to Israel (what are you waiting for?!) or maybe you’ve already booked with us – regardless, it’s not unusual to have some questions about traveling to the Middle East, particularly if it’s your first time! We’ve compiled this list of information and tips so that you can rest assured and feel completely comfortable with your travels to the Holy Land.

Electricity:

Electricity in Israel operates at 220 volts. Depending on what you are bringing with you to Israel, you may need a converter or you may just need an adapter. An adapter simply changes the plug shape so that it will fit into the electrical outlet. A converter, however, changes the voltage level of the appliance. Anything with a motor such as a hair dryer will require a converter, otherwise it may overheat.

Weather

Even though Israel is a very small country (roughly the size of New Jersey), the weather can vary tremendously. The summers tend to be very hot regardless of where you are in Israel. The winters in Tel Aviv can be mild (although rainy), but there can be snow in Jerusalem and the north even features as ski resort. The Negev desert in the south can also get cold at night. Wearing layers is often a good idea so that you can adjust as the temperature may change throughout the day.

Currency

The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). Shekels come in bills (for example: 200, 100, 50, 20) and coins (10, 5, 2, 1). An agora is 1/10th of an Israeli shekel, but it only comes in 10 agorot and 50 agorot (1/2) coins.

Temperature

The temperature in Israel is measured in degrees Celsius. 24 degrees Celsius is about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Language

The official languages in Israel are Hebrew and Arabic, but most people also speak English. There are also many French and Russian speakers in Israel. Some basic Hebrew phrases that you may like to use during your travels:

Shalom – Hello/Good-bye

Todah – Thank you

Bevakesha – Please/You’re Welcome

Kamah Zeh Oleh? – How much does it cost?

Mayim – Water

Mazgan – Air Conditioning

Eifo Ha Sherutim? – Where is the bathroom?

Ken – Yes

Lo – No

Ma nishma? – How are you?

Besder – Okay

Tov – Good

Slicha – Excuse me

Lehitraot – See you later

Security

Some people are taken aback by seeing soldiers with guns on the street in Israel, but you have nothing to fear. This is typical and should reassure you of the safety of traveling within Israel. It is normal to have your bag checked when entering shopping malls, bus terminals, museums, and holy sites.  Israel is an expert in maintaining security.

Shabbat

Shabbat (also called Shabbos, or the Jewish Sabbath) occurs from Friday at sundown to one hour after sunset on Saturday (25 hours). During this time, public transportation stops, though taxi cabs and the sherut (shared taxi) service continues. Depending on what city you are in, you may find that many establishments also are closed. As Tel Aviv is a very secular city, you will not have any difficulty here finding restaurants and supermarkets that are open, and things mostly continue as normal. In Jerusalem, however, there is a siren that can be heard signaling the start of Shabbat, and most things are closed. In certain neighborhoods of Jerusalem, it is best to avoid driving during Shabbat.  At some hotels, there may be a “Shabbat elevator” which will stop at every floor without you needing to push a button.

Kosher

Isn’t every place to eat in Israel kosher?  It may surprise you, but the answer is no. If you keep kosher, keep an eye out for the kosher certificate displayed at kosher restaurants.

What to Wear

In general, you can probably wear what you are accustomed to wearing in your home country. When visiting religious sites, however, it is best to make sure that your shoulders are covered and to dress conservatively. Head coverings may also be appropriate.

 

We hope this guide is helpful to you! For any other questions you may have, we are more than happy to answer. Please feel free to email us at info@mazadatours.com .

 

 

 

Though you can see stars from anywhere, stargazing in the Negev desert in Israel is especially breathtaking. There is far less light pollution here, which means the night sky seems particularly astounding.

 

Mitzpe Ramon is a town in the Negev with the small population of about 5,000 people. It is situated on the edge overlooking the 500-meter-deep Ramon Crater.During the four weekends in August, Mitzpe Ramon hosts an unforgettable Summer of Stars Event.  On those Thursday and Friday nights, all street lights will be turned off to allow for even greater viewing of the stars. There are activities suitable for the whole family, and each weekend has a special theme.

 

The first weekend, August 3-5th , is known as “Love Among the Stars”, as it celebrates the Jewish Valentine’s Day of Tu B’Av. There will be moonlight tours, stories of love in nature, and bonfires with marshmallows for roasting. If you are looking for some romance this weekend, you can enjoy a special meal, jazz concerts, and lectures on love and the stars.  August 10-12th is the “Water and Sky” weekend featuring a solar telescope that allows viewers to visually study the sun safely during the day.  Water and pool activities will also take place, rounding out the “water and sky” theme. The third weekend marks the spectacular viewing of the annual Perseids Meteor Shower. The fourth weekend is dedicated to bidding farewell to the summer holidays and recharging for the new school year.

 

If you are planning on attending the event this summer, please reach out to us so that we can assist you with your transportation and accommodation needs. Not going to be around this August but still want to do some stargazing during your vacation to Israel? Mazada Tours has got you covered! Simply contact us, and we will arrange a private tour in Israel that will suit your every desire.

 

 

If you’re like most people, your smartphone is never far from you. You would never leave it behind on your trip to the Middle East, so now that you’ve booked with Mazada Tours from our mobile site, what’s next for your phone? We polled native Israelis, new immigrants, and seasoned travelers to determine the must-have apps you should install on your phone prior to travel.

 

WhatsApp

Everyone agreed this is the most important app you’re going to want on your phone.  WhatsApp is a free messenger service that operates on wifi. You can also use it to make voice and video calls. There are over 1 billion users worldwide. When you book with Mazada Tours, your personal travel expert will provide you with his or her WhatsApp number so that you can be in touch with us 24/7.

 

Moovit

While we highly recommend taking advantage of our convenient airport pick-up and drop-off services, you may find yourself wanting to utilize Israel’s public transportation. Enter Moovit. Moovit is a free application that will guide you from point A to point B using Israel’s buses and train service. Once you enter your destination, it will offer you several public transportation lines to choose from, provide you with walking directions to the nearest bus stop, and once you are on the bus, it will alert you to when you are approaching your stop so you can press the button in plenty of time.

 

Google Maps

If you are in need of walking directions, Google Maps is always a safe bet.

 

Google Translate

Need to brush up on your Hebrew or Arabic? Google Translate not only lets you type text that you want to translate, but you can also use the camera to translate signs and menus. There is even a voice tool that you can use to directly translate speech.

 

Gett

It’s late at night and you need a taxi? Not a problem with the Gett app! You can also hook it up to your credit card so you don’t need to worry about having enough cash on you to pay the driver.

 

BonJournal

If you want to keep track of your adventures but don’t have the space to lug around a travel journal, consider getting the Bonjournal travel journal app. You can tag your location, upload photos, and record your vacation on the go.  Keep it private or choose to share with friends – it’s up to you! You can also export your journal to PDF form after your trip so you can save it forever.

 

Instagram

This is our favorite way to share holiday pictures! We don’t think you need a filter for any of your Holy Land pictures, but we won’t tell if you choose to use one . Mediterranean sunsets, the shuk on Friday morning before Shabbat, the Old City of Jerusalem, pyramids of Egypt, the best hummus you’ve ever had, or the amazing nightlife in Tel Aviv – all deserve to be shared on Instagram! Don’t forget to include #MazadaTours.

 

Researchers claim that fountains flowed into the annals of history more than four millennia ago. How many are there in Israel? It’s hard to determine since new ones are created all the time. And should a census include archaeological finds, ancient fountains that no longer function like the unearthing of the remains of a wealthy estate, with a mosaic fountain in its garden, dating back to the early 11th century? And then there are the temporary fountain installations like the water shows in the Port of Tel Aviv and the light-water projection at Ben Gurion Airport. What about a simple drinking fountain?

 

Fountains remain ubiquitous in a desert country that thrives on the free flow of this most basic elixir that sustains existence. Water is vital to life and fountains, a purveyor of this sacred commodity, also play a role in a country’s culture and art. Initially, fountains had a more practical purpose such as watering plants and animals. Additionally, many folk legends describe the magical healing properties of certain fountain sources. Take the enigmatic fountain of youth for example. As art appreciation grows, the fountain’s place in the canon of art and culture remains steady, stands the test of time and style consciousness.

 

A fountain can be defined as an architectural element which pours water into a basin or spurts it into the air to supply drinking water and said structure usually evinces a decorative or dramatic effect. Fountains were originally just a functional outlet for water stored in springs and transported via aqueducts and used to provide drinking and bathing water. At the close of the 19th century, fountains sustained a dramatic change. Prior to this time, most fountains were driven by gravitational forces, governed by varying heights.

 

As the 19th century came to a close, modem plumbing began to replace the functional precedence for fountains and they evolved, in the main, into purely decorative endeavors. Mechanical pumps replaced gravity and allowed fountains to recycle water and to force it to spurt to new, previously unheard of heights. The Jet d’Eau in Lake Geneva, built in 1951, shoots water 140 meters into the air. The strongest fountain currently extant in the world is the mechanism built in Saudi Arabia and known as King Fahd’s Fountain in Jeddah, which spouts water 260 meters high and uses the Red Sea as its receptacle.

 

Fountains have various uses today, almost all of which are decorative or making a statement in some way. They add an aquatic dimension to city parks and squares, as well as serve as a method to commemorate individuals or events. Fountains have also evolved into tourist attractions providing recreation and for entertainment.

 

A modern iteration of the fountain is called a  “splash pad” or “spray pool” and these are very prevalent and popular with children during the hot summer months. They allow for visitors and city residents to enter and play in the water, offering a brief respite from a hot summer day. Another modem fountain combines additional sense stimulation and the musical fountain combines cutting edge technology in conjunction with moving jets of water, colored lights and strong music to enhance the audience’s dramatic experience.

 

In Israel, fountains abound and are found all around the country. Here is a healthy sample of fountains that are worth visiting on your next trip to Israel. If you are traveling during the summer months, you can visit one of the grand scale water shows that take place at different points along the coast each season. However, there are permanent fountain exhibitions which are ready and always available for a quick visit.

 

There are an indeterminate number of fountains sprinkled across the cities and outlying areas, and these are the most popular ones. So get your selfie-stick and bus pass ready.

 

The largest fountain found in Israel is Eilat’s musical fountain, opened in 2015 and spanning 1.5 kilometers and boasting a whopping 350 jet sprays augmented by 400 colored lights that dazzle visitors 4 nights a week in the early evening.

 

Jerusalem has several fountains but the Teddy Fountain is the most famous and also provides entertainment for both children and adults. There are other fountains that grace this majestic city and new ones continue to be developed.

 

Tel Aviv’s Fire and Water Fountain, steeped in controversy and currently located at Dizengoff Square, is slated to be torn down along with the multi-level square, and all will be transferred to a ground level square where a smaller version of Agam’s iconic, kinetic statue fountain will be rebuilt. Construction begins in a month, so go now to see the old, dilapidated version.

 

Beer Sheva is the home to the Globe Fountain. This is just one of 30 outdoor fountains extant in the city. Although there is a great deal of disagreement about which fountain is the best, residents praised Mayor Rubik Danilovich for launching his 2011 plan for implementing light and water shows, and he went on to build a new fountain every six months. The city offers visitors a self-guided water fountain walking tour which is recommended as an evening activity when the lights are brighter, and the temperatures cooler.

 

Ashdod has its musical fountain, and Rishon Lezion offers visitors a fine fountain known as the Leaders Garden Fountain. Netanya presents its many visitors with the Artistic Fountain in Independence Square. So contact Mazada Tours now and book a tour, and take in the lure and romance of Israel’s fountains.

 

By Brent J. Mitchell

After more than three decades of serving countless satisfied customers, Mazada Tours confidently uses the branding tagline: the Middle East Experts. Our experienced team of experts has put together an unprecedented, albeit it complex and intriguing, tour package aimed at nature lovers and in particular those who love bird-watching.

The mid-winter season is the ideal time for bird-watching in the Middle East, and we have put together a trip that will include bird observation in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt for one week. The ideal synchronicity of mild climates and seasonal bird migration will complement an already outstanding itinerary.

Travelers will fly into Israel‘s Ben-Gurion international airport, and proceed directly to the north for an authentic stay in a kibbutz guest house in close proximity to the Hula Nature reserve. After an in-depth visit to this site, you will cross over to Jordan via the Hussein bridge and proceed to the Azraq Wetlands Reserve in the Eastern desert. After exploration at this spot, you will transfer to Aqaba, then a brief transfer through Eilat en route to the Red Sea Beach at Wadi El Gamal National park. After this majestic venue, travelers will transfer back to Eilat for a return flight to Tel Aviv.

This seven days tour will provide you with unique birdwatching opportunities in fully developed nature reserves, with all the modern amenities to make travelers feel comfortable while going deep into wilderness areas.

The Hula Valley is a rural agricultural region in northern Israel replete with fresh water. It is a major stopover for birds migrating along the Syrian-African Rift Valley between Africa, Europe, and Asia. An estimated 500 million migrating birds now pass through the Hula Valley every year.

The Hula Valley lies within the northern part of the Syrian-African Rift Valley at an elevation of about 70 meters above sea level and covers an area of 177 square kilometers.

The Hula Valley boasts an Eastern Mediterranean climate typified by hot dry summers and cool and wet winters. This is a major draw for the large flocks of migrating birds that stop here to enjoy plentiful food sources and favorable weather. The crops are so desirable that farmers oftentimes suffer major crop damage from the feeding birds.

The Hula Lake Park is located in the southern part of the Hula Valley, north of the nature reserve and distinct from it. It was established as part of a JNF  project. In the early 1990’s, the valley was partially flooded as a result of heavy rains. Reserve managers decided to leave this flooded area untouched. The new location has since served as a rest stop for thousands of migrating birds who pass through the clear skies in the autumn and spring.

The lake encompasses an area of one square kilometer.  There is a smattering of miniature islands that serve as protected bird nesting sites. It has become a major stopover for migrating birds flying from Europe to Africa and back, and this venue has also evolved into a world-class birdwatching site. In 2011, through the use of tagging and tracking technology, Israeli ornithologists confirmed that Lake Hula is the stopover point for tens of thousands of cranes migrating from Finland to Ethiopia every winter. In Israel, farmers set out food for them to keep them from damaging crops near the lake.

The Azraq Wetland Reserve can be found near the town of Azraq in the eastern desert of Jordan. It serves as an aviary oasis for migratory birds. Azraq was established in 1978 and covers 12 square Km. After a severe drought, the springs dried up in 1992 and this served as an unfortunate catalyst for a geographical shift by the migratory birds who were forced to search out a more accommodating landing and rest area. Artificial springs are maintained today in order to maintain this site as an attractive tourist destination.

The Azraq Marsh Trail is a raised platform going through the reserve that is approximately 1.5 km. Sections of the trail are on land going through the reeds. Halfway through the trail is the mud-brick “rustic bird hide”, overlooking one of the reserve’s lagoons, which is used for bird watching.

Migratory birds come from Anatolia, Scandinavia, Siberia, and Africa, stopping in Azraq during the long journey. The partial restoration of the wetlands by RSCN have resulted in the return of several migratory species, such as the hoopoe lark, Cetti’s warbler, the desert finch, and the marsh harrier. Among the 280 recorded migratory species in Azraq are the ruff, avocet, little stint, and the little-ringed plover.Additionally, several birds of prey stop in Azraq, such as the European honey buzzard.

Wadi El Gemal National Park includes five islands which are a breeding ground for 13 bird species. Wadi El Gamal National Park is a national park in Egypt. It is nestled adjacent to a majestic Red Sea Beach. It is 7,450 square km.

The coastal area features coral reefs with 450 species of coral and over 1200 species of fish. It also includes five islands, including Wadi El Gamal Island. These islands are a breeding ground for 13 bird species, and local seagrasses are important sources of food for the endangered dugong and green turtle.

The inland area is home to many animals, including the Dorcas gazelle and the Nubian Ibex.

The park is the site of prehistoric rock art, as well as Ptolemaic and Roman ruins, and the mountain Mons Smaragdus is the site of small mining communities that date back to ancient Egypt. Wadi El Gamal is an IUCN Category II park, established in 2003.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a new trail”

 

By Brent J. Mitchell

It’s time to take a vacation. None of the standard packages catch your eye. Wouldn’t you like to enjoy an amazing trip abroad to an exotic destination with modern amenities and ancient attractions in a land filled with abundant seas, sunny days, with countless spots for exploration? Israel is the destination that will accommodate all your vacation needs. From basking on pristine beaches to visiting the actual sets where the Biblical narrative actually took place over millennia, Israel truly lives up to its moniker – “The Miracle on the Mediterranean”.

 

The cradle of civilization, located on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean, smack dab in the middle of everything is the place for you. The reasons why people choose to spend their vacation in the Holy Land are quite varied and as perennial as the history that was made in this special place. Many travelers are inspired by the notion of spiritual tourism, while others come just for the fun, and there is plenty of that for everyone.

 

Taking a tour package in Israel is an option popular with tourists from across the world. The cultural variety adds an eclectic taste to your tour and enriches it. Israel tour packages are available every day with guaranteed departures, and there is a whole host of different itineraries available, enabling every tourist to find a tour that meets their requirements and budget.

 

Tour packages tend to simplify the entire experience and are particularly auspicious for first-timers in search of a quick taste of the wonders that can be found in Israel. The majority of Israel tour packages include everything you will need in Israel, from pickup at the airport upon arrival, all hotel accommodations and touring excursions, and then you will be transferred to the airport at completion of your trip.

 

With a tour package to Israel, you will have no worries other than deciding how much shopping to do. Everything is coordinated for you. You won’t have to waste time planning the itinerary, arranging hotels, or dealing with daily logistics, as it will all be taken care of, and you will be accompanied each day by a seasoned guide who is supported by a back-office operations’ team, who can handle all your needs.

 

Taking a tour package of Israel is usually a very economical way to travel if you intend to visit the main highlights of Israel. Most tour packages, such as our most popular 8 day highlights package, include the major things to see in the country such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Dead Sea, Galilee, and also Petra in Jordan. You will enjoy deep savings when working with a seasoned tour operator who knows the market and will get the best deal for you, and it will usually be significantly cheaper.

 

When you choose a tour package to Israel, you are never alone, and even the most insignificant question can be addressed immediately without having to boot up your laptop. You will receive real-time solutions, cultural insight, and a plethora of other benefits that you would never find if you were traveling independently.

 

Daily tours in Israel also offer their own set of advantages and are right for travelers who don’t want to commit to a full-time tour. You will have the freedom to customize and experience greater flexibility. You are the one who decides where you want to go, and when you want to go there.

 

Budget travelers often find the right fit with daily tours. You can pick and choose options that will include a few daily tours when visiting the places that are really difficult to reach on your own like the Dead Sea or Petra, and other areas where public transport options are sparse or non-existent.

 

The daily tour provides you with a much greater diversity of experience whereby new people are encountered daily and you will hear from different guides providing a more rounded perception of the given site and its history.

 

The decision to go completely solo, participate in daily tours, take a private tour or an organized tour is a very personal one based on a myriad of factors like budget, time, and interests. In the end, it is completely up to you. We have found that people should just go with their instinct combined with practical considerations. We have very positive feedback from all types of packages, so contact us now to learn more.

 

By Brent J. Mitchell

 

 

 

 

Israel is about to open its newest airport near the Southern city of Eilat. The new Eilat Ramon Airport is slated to open in April 2017 and will replace the two airports currently servicing Eilat – one in Ovda and the other in the town of Eilat proper.

Anyone who has transited through these airports has most definitely noticed that they are aged and in disrepair. The shortcomings are not acceptable to modern travelers, and therefore the move was made for the construction of something better back in 2010.

It is estimated that approximately two million visitors will pass through the new Eilat Ramon Airport in its first year of operation. They will enjoy the wonderful natural sights that add color and ambiance, not to mention comfort and convenience for all those visiting Israel’s “deep south”.

Eilat Ramon Airport is named after Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, a famous air force pilot that participated in the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osiriaq, who died in the February 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and tragically, his son, Assaf Ramon, perished six years later when his F-16 fighter jet crashed during a routine training flight for the Israeli Air Force.

The airport is the first civilian airport to be built in Israel since the country first gained its independence in May 1948. All the other airports were already in place and simply underwent renovations. The new airport may have taken six years to construct but the result is truly stunning. It will also open up an international gateway for direct flights from Europe and the Americas.

When the Israel aviation authorities concluded that the two airports currently serving Eilat were not sufficient, they spared no costs when choosing the design team that would create something functional and aesthetic. A committee chose the renowned architectural firm, Moshe Zur and Mann Shinar.

They have created a terminal building that completely melds with the natural atmosphere and seamlessly blends into the surrounding terrain of the Negev desert. The architects claim that their purpose was to create a structure that resembles, in a sense, the large, beige-colored boulders from the local desert. The arrival and departure areas merge into a single hall and are not separated as is usually the case in most modern airports. This provides travelers with a greater sense of wellbeing in the enlarged space.

Many have asked which airlines will be using this airport for regular air service. It’s reasonable to assume that Israel’s domestic airlines, Israir and Arkia, will continue to offer daily flights to Eilat from Ben Gurion Airport and Haifa Airport.

It also seems likely that Monarch Airlines will continue to offer its London-Luton – Eilat route from the new airport. Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost air operator, offered low-cost flights between Eilat and four European cities (Krakow, Bratislava, Kaunas and Budapest) during winter 2016 and can be expected to transfer these flights to the new Eilat Ramon Airport for the coming winter season.

However, the possibilities do not end here. The new airport’s 3,600-meter long runway will be big enough to handle Boeing 747 jets and other wide-body aircraft serving long distance routes. This could be a great base for North American travelers looking for direct flights to Israel’s premier resort town – Eilat.

The terminal building features a commercial area of 13,320 square meters, including a wide range of duty-free shops and facilities including restaurants, luggage storage, lost and found, prayer rooms, foreign currency exchange, and a tourist information center.

Eilat Ramon Airport in Numbers

  • 9 B747 capacity parking space.
  • 29 total parking places for planes.
  • 32 check-in desks.
  • 46-meter control tower.
  • 300 new workers will be employed.
  • 3,600-meter runway length.
  • 34,000 square meters of terminal space.
  • 1,700,000 NIS construction costs.
  • 1,800,000 passengers estimated in the first year.
  • 5,000,000 passenger maximum capacity.

 

By Brent J. Mitchell

Turbulence has caused many travelers to shy away from Middle Eastern destinations.

However, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt still remain as viable and sustainable places to visit. Israel, as the Middle East’s only true democracy, and the freedoms enjoyed in this country have to lead to leading innovations that have a positive influence on the traveler’ s overall sense of delight and well-being. Jordan offers tourists unique forays into majestic deserts as well as affordable resorts on the Dead Sea and the Red Sea.

Egypt’s pyramids have attracted visitors for eons.

As the so-called low season comes into full force after the recent cycle of Jewish Holidays, and prior to Christmas, travelers can enjoy two major incentives: the extremely mild weather conditions and reduced prices. This is the ideal time to take advantage of outdoor adventures in a tolerable clime. This is the time for a trek along Judean Desert trails or biking along Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade.

Jordan is also particularly attractive at this time of year because one of the primary in-country destinations is the famed Petra (red rocks) world heritage site that is one of the most popular points of interest in this place. You can pair this with a jeep tour in Wadi Rum or book a spa package at the Dead Sea.

Although Egypt was tossed about a bit in the waves of the shifting political climate all over the Middle East, the current administration is very similar to the pre-Arab spring ruling government, and this is good news for tourists who want to travel in this time-honored destination. Year round rates have fallen and excellent deals can be acquired for all the major destinations in Egypt. If you want to just hop across the border and see the pyramids, contact Mazada Tours, and we will help you plan your journey.

Here is a breakdown of the seasonal and meteorological changes that occur across the four seasons. As you will see below, the fall and early winter seasons are the ideal times to visit Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

If you choose the fall season for your Mideast vacation, you will enjoy moderate temperatures everywhere. This is a good time to explore The Near East where the climate is perfect in the Mediterranean and you will discover a pleasant sojourn despite some rain in October-February. Israel also offers a beautiful light during all daylight hours of this season and the effects are particularly acute at sunrise and sunset, and Jordan also boasts preferred temperatures, especially in its eastern plateau.

In winter, you will enjoy pleasant breezes and Cairo has nice temperatures around 27°. The Jordan Valley in Israel also enjoys mild winters and pleasant temperatures while in the rest of the country mild winter modalities appear intermittently. Israel enjoys mild winters on the coast except in the mountains, and across a very sunny coastal plain, which makes it a favorable site for practicing winter water sports. It is dry and mild in Eilat, but the Golan mountains are then covered with snow.

In the spring, the weather is still hot in some areas, especially desert areas. Countries that are likely to be softened by the presence of the nearby sea, such as the Eastern or Southern Coast of the Mediterranean, and one finds a plethora of meadows replete with flowers in May, and you enjoy more pleasant temperatures. This is the same scenario for Jordan, and it is much more pleasant to visit in the off-season to enjoy temperatures that are more bearable. Mazada Tours is offering it’s valued clients a rich selection of options for traveling in this ideal and low-cost season.

In summer, the entire Middle East exudes a unified temperature regimen together with weather conditions typified by scorching temperatures and this season is not particularly conducive to outdoor exploration. This is the season where you might want to take advantage of the seashore resorts where you can lounge in the shaded sands and cool off with a quick dip in the glistening Mediterranean.

Don’t hesitate. Autumn vacation specials await. Contact us now to learn more about the best season to travel or any other inquiry about travel to the Mideast in the Fall.

By Brent J. Mitchell

This year’s holiday season boasts an interesting coincidental twist since, in 2016, Channukah commences on Christmas Eve. The first night (Jewish holidays begin at sunset) of the Jewish festival of lights falls on Christmas Eve and the first day lands on Christmas.

The full dates for Hanukkah 2016 are the evening of Dec. 24 to the evening of January 1st. This us another interesting twist where Christmas and New Years fall within the parameters of the miraculous eight days of Chanukkah.

These two major holidays usually fall in close proximity, but only four times per century do we get this kind of special mix. Be on the lookout for an abundance of latkes, chocolate gelt, and jelly doughnuts to directly coincide with the usual eggnog, sugar cookies, ham, and gingerbread houses. Since the holiday begins so “late” this year, the eight-night Chanukkah celebration won’t wrap up until New Year’s Day.

So why has Hanukkah become a late-December affair? The variable Gregorian dates for holidays of the Jewish calendar, which marks its New Year in fall, can be attributed to the fact that it is a lunar calendar, as opposed to the standard Gregorian calendar. The changes emerge from the fact that neither the Gregorian nor lunar calendar succeeds in encompassing an exact entire year, though the margin of error is minuscule. The result is a strange hybrid known as Chrismukkah. The following quote defines it quite accurately.

Chrismukkah is a pop-culture portmanteau neologism referring to the merging of the holidays of Christianity’s Christmas and Judaism’s Hanukkah. The term was popularized by the TV drama The O.C., wherein character Seth Cohen creates the holiday to signify his upbringing in an interfaith household with a Jewish father and Protestant mother (although the holiday can also be adopted by all-Jewish households who celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday). Chrismukkah is also celebrated as an ironic, alternative holiday, much like the Seinfeld-derived “Festivus”. USA Today has described it as “the newest faux holiday that companies are using to make a buck this season”.

Long before “Chrismukkah” entered the popular lexicon in the early 21st century, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations have been informally merged with one another. A Christmas celebration with a tree, songs, and gifts became a symbol of being a part of the general cultural norms in Western countries.

Some Jews celebrated Christmas as a secular “festival of the world around us” without religious meaning, or they transferred Christmas customs to the Hanukkah festival. In the 1990s, the popular sitcom Friends portrayed a universal acceptance of celebrating Christmas regardless of religious association. Many contemporary American Jewish households often celebrate Christmas in the strictly secular sense.

These hybrid holiday celebration concept is nothing new and has been around for decades. In December 2004, Chrismukkah was listed in Time magazine as one of the buzzwords of the year. It was also reported in a Scottish newspaper, that Chrismukkah had been added to the authoritative “Chambers” dictionary. In 2005, Chrismukkah.com founder Ron Gompertz authored a humorous book of Chrismukkah recipes called Chrismukkah! The Merry Mish-Mash Holiday Cookbook. Gompertz’s follow-up book, entitled Chrismukkah – Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate the Hybrid Holiday (published by Stewart, Tabori, and Chang) was released in October 2006.

A rival book by Gersh Kuntzman, Chrismukkah: The Official Guide to the World’s Best-Loved Holiday (Sasquatch Press), came out at around the same time. In “A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis the Season to Be Jewish,”(Rutgers University Press, 2013) author Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, Ph.D. discusses Chrismukkah and the creation of Festivus and other hybrid holidays among Jews in America during December.

On the local scene, this hybrid celebration has been adopted especially in light of the coinciding dates. There are loads of fun events going on for Christmas and Channukah in Tel Aviv this year! Here are a few of the more attractive attractions.

Christmas Tree Lighting in Jaffa has already occurred at the Jaffa Clock Tower The huge Christmas Tree at the Jaffa Clock Tower will be there until 20th January 2017.

HaTachana HaMercazit 4th Floor Christmas market is where you need to go for supplies. If you are looking for Christmas decorations, your best bet is the 4th Floor of the Central Bus Station (HaTachana HaMercazit). If you are looking for places to do some cool Christmas shopping, check out the Winter Market at TEDER on Saturday 24th December and A Burner Christmas Market at Sputnik Bar on Sunday 25th December.

Bethlehem Christmas Eve Tour from Mazada Tours

Bethlehem-Christmass-Mass

Go to where it all began! Mazada Tours have organized a special tour to Bethlehem on 24th December, the day before Christmas. Pick up from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

OneDay Israel is having a huge Chanukah Party. OneDay Social Volunteering Management is celebrating Chanukkah with their volunteers. candles, dance, drink, eat tons of donuts (And more delicious food) and a few more surprises for you as one would expect for the holidays.

Light Up Tel Aviv will occur at Independence Park on 26th December 3.30pm. You can Celebrate Chanukkah with friends and family at Gan Ha’atzmaut with Chabad on the Coast.
Feel the warmth of the Festival of Lights as they light the Menorah with live music, donuts, crafts for kids and more.

Doughnuts are an unbreakable tradition for the Jewish holiday.You can find outstanding donuts across Tel Aviv, and some of the city’s trusted favorites are available to all at varying price levels.

When Chanukkah and Christmas merged together it is a time for unity and celebration, so book your door now so you can experience this holiday where it happened.
By Brent J. Mitchell

Like any other modern industrialized country underpinned by an ethos of artistic freedom, Israel boasts a modicum of fringe outlets, street performances, as well as musicians of various styles and flavors, jugglers and clowns and the odd panhandler.

As the Middle East’s sole, de facto democracy, coupled with the fact that the country evinces a mosaic culture, renders an inspirational creative cauldron that produces talents that shine with splendor. Many of these artists take to the streets with a deep need to share their gifts to passersby in impromptu venues along the amorphous cityscapes nestled on the coast and in the hills. The change the pick up along the way should not be ignored.

Performances in public places, or Busking, for modest remittance spans all major cultures across the globe. Traces of this ubiquitous phenomena can be observed all the way back to antiquity. Although it would be safe to assume that artistic drive brings these performers to the street, but no one would be naive enough to believe that money wasn’t the prime motivator.

For many musicians busking served as small but steady revenue source since it was the most common means of gainful employment prior to the advent of modern sound technology and storage mediums. Additionally, fringe or street theater was oftentimes the only venue available for struggling actors and playwrights.

Medieval France embraced busking with welcoming arms and even added a dash of artistic legitimacy by coining the terms: troubadours and jongleurs. These birds from the Middle Ages served as the precursors to today’ buskers found anywhere people gather together across all of the world’s major cities. In Romani, the Gypsies are adroit street performers, and the Baltic states have their fair share of public spectacles. The City of London has a prickly past vis a vis the legitimacy and legality of busking.

Historical discussions of busking and street music in the City of London focus on the way in which various residents of the City responded to the ‘street music problem’ of Victorian London. With the growing middle classes, there were those who perceived this phenomenon as a disruption of the quiet tenor of their bourgeois lives.

Street performances can emerge in myriad forms from the protean contortionist to the sly and cunning psychic. However, scholars have pointed out four basic categories of busking which can appear as follows according to the ubiquitous researchers:

Walk-by acts are typified by a musical busker, or a living statue or other act that does not have a distinct beginning or end and the public usually watch for a brief time. A walk by act oftentimes evolves into a circle show if the act is unusual or very popular.

Circle shows are gigs that tend to serve as a catalyst for the gathering of a crowd that forms a circle around the performers. They peruse a distinct beginning and end. This is the true street theater and also includes puppeteering, magicians, comedians, acrobats, jugglers and sometimes musicians. Circle shows can be the most lucrative. Crowds sometimes swarm around the event and are quite capable of obstructing foot traffic.

Stoplight performers present their act right on the crosswalk while the traffic lights are red. This artificial element of tension adds to the attractiveness in this spectacle. As the light remains red, they walk by the cars to get contributions from drivers and passengers. This style includes Juggling, BreakDance, magic tricks and even window washing. The performance and money collection must be brief not spanning more than the time it takes for a traffic light to change. Central and South America are countries where this version of busking flourishes.

Café busking is done mostly in restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes. These venues were the proving grounds for many celebrity musicians. Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez all used this type of venue early in their performance careers.

As mentioned earlier, it would be naive and disingenuous to ignore the financial motivation that drives these performers out into the cold and rain. Buskers collect cash in various ways. There are various types of containers and the collection method varies according to the type of busking that is at hand.

For walk by acts, instrument cases or any other container is used. For circle shows, the performer solicits a contribution at the completion of the show, using guilt as a motivator to encourage revenue.

Legitimate performers as opposed to scammers and panhandlers and the purveyors of the scamming trick, three card Monty usually collect money for themselves. Occasionally, a performer will employ a bottler, hat man, or pitch man to collect money from the audience. The term bottler is a British term. It emerged years ago and originally referred for the bottle, cloth bag combination that allowed for coins to enter the bag but prevent them from being removed with ease.

The Pitch is the actual location where Buskers perform and these can usually be found anywhere large groups of people gather for whatever reason. A modern adaptation of this method is to set up shop near an ATM machine in the hopes of catching a punter just as he has withdrawn funds, an oftentimes mistaken strategy since these machines do not dispense coins.

The primary pitches are Tel Aviv would include The beach promenade, entrances to the Sarona neighborhood. Basel street, especially around Basel square is occasionally used. Allenby street near the entrance to the Carmel Market. Rothschild boulevard and the Nahalat Binyamin are also typical “Pitches”. Other areas include the plaza area in front of the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, Rabin Square, Meir Park, Dizengoff Square and others.

Hit the streets with a camera close at hand and enjoy the wide range of performances that are always available, rain or shine. For more information kindly visit Mazada Tours.

By Brent J. Mitchell