By the end of January, Chris realized that he had 10 days of rest holidays left over from last year, which he had to take until the end of march or else they would be lost. The beginning of march has a bit of a travelling tradition in our family, because it’s the perfect time to get away from the final breath of winter, go somewhere where it’s spring and come back in the middle of march, when spring is just arriving to Berlin as well.
So we were looking for a destination that was warmer than Germany but not too far away and that would provide opportunities to be out in nature as well as soaking up some culture in the city. These have been our criteria for the last ten years, which usually means that we end up somewhere in southern Europe. Two years ago we went to Andalusia, a few years before that to Portugal and we’ve also visited Greece, Italy and the Balearic Islands in spring. So this time we were really craving something new. Still, I doubt we would have ended up in Israel, had it not been for a really good offer on flight prices and some Israeli friends that persuaded us that Israel is really far less dangerous than the Media make it sound. They connected us to some of their friends in different Israeli cities, who helped us with planning our trip.
Despite booking everything pretty last minute (we decided on our final schedule a week before leaving) the trip was perfect. It was definitely one of the best holidays we’ve ever taken and that’s including the ones we took before having a baby. Actually, travelling with the kiddo is much less different (and much less difficult) than I expected before becoming a mother. Of course, there are a few things you have to take into consideration when travelling with a baby or toddler (I wrote about that here) but on the whole, we were pleasantly surprised how easily we could keep up with our travel passion.
So, Israel in march. If you’re looking for a country with pleasant spring weather, a country that offers mountains as well as beaches as well as the desert, culture as well as nature and a country that is not extremely far away, you should really consider visiting.
Reasons for going to Israel (with a toddler):
– flight time from Germany between 4 and 5 hours
– pleasant spring weather in march, with average temperatures of 15 Degree (Celsius, so about the same Los Angeles in march)
– very diverse nature with beaches as well as mountains as well as the desert
– incredibly interesting history and culture and history sites in abundance
– the whole country can be travelled by car in less than 5 hours, so you really get to see lots of different things without having to switch base too often
– Israel is a super child-friendly country
How many different beds can one toddler take in 2 weeks?
When we planned our schedule, we had planned to sleep in no more than 3 different places, so as not to “uproot” the little one unnecessarily. But then we got invited to stay over night by two different friends of friends. We decided to take the chance for two reasons: First, for us it always enriches a travel experience so much if you get to stay with locals and second: Israel is not a cheap place. Not having to pay for two nights of accommodation saved us at least 150 Euros, which were very welcome in our travel budget. We were a bit weary about this sleeping situation but it turned out to be fine. After spending the whole day outside, running around and eating great food, the kid slept quite well every night – much better than we expected. One thing caught us a bit by surprise though: In Germany, the kiddo sleeps from around 7:30 til 6:30. But instead of sticking to her schedule and going to sleep at 8:30 Israel time and waking up at 7:30 (which we had anticipated and I agree it was a bit delusional), she woke up every morning at 5:30. On the clock! Therefore her nap was also much earlier than at home, so when we left home with her every morning in the stroller or carrier, it didn’t take long for her to fall asleep again, which gave us a break of an hour every day around noon.
Needless to say that by 6 pm, she was out.
We adjusted our schedule and started the days very early and took care that we got back home around six. More often than not, we were so tired from all the new input that we also didn’t make it past eight ourselves. So, all things considered, the whole family was incredibly well rested during this whole trip.
Travel time: Thursday, March 2 til wednesday march 15, 2017
Travel Day (Thursday)
Leaving home at 7:30 am by taxi
Flight at 11:00 am with El Al to Ben Gurion
Arrival at the apartment at 7 pm via train and bus (1 hour from the airport)
Tel Aviv (4 nights, Thursday to Monday)
Location: Airbnb apartment in Yafo, 5 minute walking distance from the flea market
Cost: 416 Euro/ 104 Euro per night
Getting around: We walked everywhere with the stroller
Highlights: Jaffa, Banana Beach, Newe Tzedek, The old train station, the Promenade, the old town, the fleamarket area and the food
Haifa (1 night, Monday)
Location: friend’s house
Getting around: We rented a car that we picked up on Monday morning right before leaving Tel Aviv (we tried to avoid driving in the cities as traffic can get a tad crazy and parking is very scarce)
Highlights: The beach, Baha’i Gardens, lunch at Fattoush and family dinner at my friend’s place
Akko and Tiberias (Galilee region) (2 nights, Tuesday til Thursday)
Location: Tiberias Hostel (private 3 bed room)
Cost: 130 Euro/ 65 Euro pro Nacht
Getting around: We took the car to get to Tiberias and stopped in Akko for a few hours on the way. The north is a great place to hike and there’s lots of religious places to see. For getting around in the north with a toddler, a car was really the best option, it made us so much more flexible.
Akko: Old town and port, the Souk and Lunch at hummus Said
Gallilee Region: Yehudia National park (waterfall hike and hexagon pools), Greek orthodox church of the loaves and fish, especially the garden, Canoo point near Yardenit
Dead Sea region and Arad (1 night, Thursday til Friday)
Location: friend’s house
Getting around: By car. We took route 90 that goes straight from the north to the Dead Sea through the West Bank. It’s entirely under Israeli control and deemed safe even by the German Ministry of foreign affairs. It’s also very scenic.
Highlights: Hike at Wadi David, Dip in the Dead Sea, doing a Yoga Session with our friend in Arad, looking at the desert landscape and sunrise at Masada
Jerusalem (5 nights, Friday til Wednesday)
Location: Airbnb apartment right across from Mahane Yehuda market in Nachlaot
Costs: 470 Euro/ 96 Euro Pro Nacht
Getting around: We took care to get rid of the car as soon as we entered Jerusalem because my friend from Haifa described traffic there as “not just a bit crazy, it’s ‘I don’t care if I die’ kind of driving’”. It wasn’t quite as bad as we expected but it was also very early in the morning on a Friday. For the rest of our time in Jerusalem we either walked or took the tram. Visiting the Old Town, we usually took the carrier as it can be hard to navigate a stroller through the tight alleyways especially when you arrive in a more crowded season.
Highlights: The old town, Mahane Yehuda market, the Souk, Israel museum, Yad Vashem, the rooftop of the Austrian hospice and maaan the food is awesome!
Here’s our detailed travel guide for Jerusalem with a toddler