Heavy Rains Now – Snow on the Way

Israel has been blessed with an unusually wet winter already, and severe rain has been experienced all over the country since Saturday. However, the rain is expected to turn to snow beginning as early as Wednesday PM. That means you may see scenes like these:

mt hermon snow

Mt. Hermon covered in snow. Photo courtesy of BiblePlaces.com

One of the most common questions asked about the climate/weather in Israel is, “Does it ever snow?” Many are surprised to hear that it does actually snow in Israel, and that Israel has a ski area in the Golan Heights on Mt. Hermon, which is on the northern border that is shared with Lebanon and Syria. By the way, there is a clue in the Bible that Israel gets snow: Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made whiter than snow.”

You can find out more about this ski area, listed by Popular Mechanics as one of “The World’s 18 Strangest Ski Resorts,” at the Ski Hermon website.

Mt. of Olives cemetery with snow. Photo courtesy of BiblePlaces.com

Mt. of Olives cemetery with snow. Photo courtesy of BiblePlaces.com

Every other year or so, the higher elevations of the country also get snow, sometimes pretty heavy snows.

In this photo, the cemetery on the Mt of Olives has a nice blanket of snow. In the distance, you can see the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

If you are interested to know more about the weather in Israel, you can see The Weather Channel’s 10-day forecast here.

All of the precipitation is good news. Not only does it mean stunningly beautiful touring in the late winter and spring, it also replenishes the Sea of Galilee, which has reached dangerously low water levels.

What is included in the price?

Many people ask, “What is included in the price of the tour?” This is a great question because many companies have hidden costs that surprise passengers after it’s too late.

Discipleship Travel LLC offers an “all-inclusive” package. And by that we mean “ALL INCLUSIVE,” which includes:
1. Round trip coach airfare to/from Israel on a major airline. Upgrades to business class are usually possible at an additional cost according to airline availability.
2. Transfer to/from the airport/hotel in Israel.
3. Double occupancy rooms in a superior or deluxe hotel. (Certain groups may contract for other level hotels, but that is clearly stated in the specific group contract.)
4. Full Israeli buffet breakfast and dinner each day. Breakfast includes water, tea/coffee, milk and juice. Dinner includes water. Other drinks may be available at an additional cost.
5. All tour related transportation. Most of the transportation is provided on climate controlled motor coach, but travel on a boat, train, registered taxis, and licensed off-road vehicles are also common elements of our tours. Participants may choose to do extra activities outside the tour itinerary, and any transportation costs for such activities is not included in the tour price.
6. Entry for all sites on the published itinerary. Participants may choose to do things not on the itinerary (e.g. ride a camel or donkey, or use certain pools or spas, etc.), and any related fees are not included in the tour price.
7. Tips for the driver(s) and guide(s) and hotel staff.

Please note that personal items, health related costs, travel and/or health insurance, passport fees, souvenirs, lunch and certain drinks at meals are NOT included in the tour price. It is important to read the disclaimers in the “fine print” section of your tour brochure for information on other possible additional costs.

What are the hotels like?

Hotel rooms in Israel are typically smaller than average hotel rooms in the United States. And in some cases, significantly smaller. In fact, our ground company in Israel has told us that certain hotels are “off limits for Texans because they will feel too cramped and not enjoy their stay.”

The specific amenities at each hotel vary by chain, location, age of the building, and rating. All of our hotels have dining halls and provide breakfast and dinner buffets. Additionally, you can expect a clean comfortable room. Though some hotels have spas or fitness centers, you should not expect one except at the Dead Sea. If the hotel does have a spa or fitness center, it usually requires a day membership. The hotels along the Dead Sea offer free access to pools, but charge for massage/therapy treatments.* For those groups who are staying at the Dead Sea and are interested in massage/therapy, please speak with your guide early in the trip so the appropriate reservations can be made.

Many hotels provide hair dryers, and most offer access to an iron. If you MUST have a hair dryer, the safest course of action is to bring one with the necessary converter. Each hotel provides bath towels, but no wash cloths. If you require a wash cloth, please bring your own. However, make sure to keep your wash cloth separate from the towels in the bathroom because room service often unknowingly gathers them with the towels. All hotels provide a laundry service for an additional fee. Like in the United States, some hotels offer free wi-fi and others have fee based access to wi-fi. All of our hotels have a 24-hour front desk, luggage service, and provide wake up calls upon request.

Usually, we will not know the specific hotel your group will get until a few days before departure, and that is subject to change up to the last minute. The hotel managers often “trade” groups between comparable hotels in order to accommodate the flow of traffic based on group size and number of nights. Sometimes availability is limited to specific nights, which might require a group to stay a couple nights at one hotel and a couple nights at another hotel in the same city, or even to split their time in Jerusalem to the beginning and end of the tour.

*Massage/Therapy treatments are NOT INCLUDED in the tour price and are the responsibility of those who use the service.

Electricity: Do we need adapters or transformers?

A tourist asked, “Do I have to use a transformer or adapter for my electrical devices in Israel?”

plugadapterElectricity in Israel is rated at 22ov (220v-240v) 50hz compared to the 110v 60hz in North America. That difference requires certain precautions when using North American appliances and electrical devices, including telephones and computers.

First, let’s clarify the difference between adapters and transformers/converters. Adapters affect the plug; they change the standard American flat posts to Israeli/European round posts. At the right, you can see the standard 2-pin plug used in Israel.Transformers/converters affect the electricity; in this case, they reduce Israel’s 220v down to 110v; transformers/converters do not affect the hz.

Today, many electronic devices (e.g. computers, battery chargers, tablets, phones, etc.) have an internal transformer and can operate safely on 110v or 220v. Check the specs label on your device to see if yours does. Click here for an example. If your device is rated to operate on 110v-240v, you should only need an adapter like the one in the photo at the top right. You can easily find a 6-pack available on Amazon for less than $3 (Caution! The customer reviews on this product are not good). Here‘s another adapter that has better customer reviews.

If your device does not operate on 220v, you will need a converter. The size depends on the type of device you want to operate. A 50-watt converter is usually sufficient for basic electronic devices like phones and computers. Heating devices (e.g. curling irons and blow dryers) usually require a more robust converter of at least 1600 watts. Many Israeli hotels have hair dryers and 110 electric outlets for shavers in the restrooms, which may be a better option than trying to get a North American hair dryer to work properly. Many travelers end up burning up their hair dryers when trying to use them in Israel. This hair dryer works in Israel (with a plug adapter) and has received good customer reviews.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the links provided in this post serve to illustrate the kinds of devices that are typically used by tourists and should not be construed as endorsement of the quality or dependability of any of the devices. Discipleship Travel LLC assumes no liability for your correct or incorrect use of any items linked or described in this post. The purchase and/or use of any of these or similar items indicates your acceptance of personal responsibility and liability for any damage that may result.

 

Is it safe to drink the water in Israel?

Israel is a world leader in water technology, and the water is generally safe to drink.

While in the hotels it is usually okay to drink the filtered water that is served at meals. Also, it is generally safe to brush your teeth with the water in the hotel rooms. However, the safest course of action is to drink bottled water because your stomach may not be ready for microbes that are common for Israelis. (Likewise, Israelis may not be ready for microbes you have become accustomed to in the United States.)

We definitely recommend drinking only bottled water (i.e. no drinking fountains) while out touring. This will help ensure that you don’t need to stay behind for a day or more due to an upset stomach. Bottled water is available on your bus for a reasonable price. This makes it easy to get a few bottles for use in the hotel when you arrive for the evening, and then to refresh yourself throughout the day as needed.

The cost of bottled water is not included in the tour price and is the responsibility of the user. Each person may react differently to the various water sources available in Israel and is solely responsible for their decision to use or not use bottled water.

If you are on an extension to Egypt or Jordan, we suggest you use only bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth in those countries.