Staff Review


by The Kirker Team

Israel was promised in Jewish tradition as a land so abundant and welcoming it flowed with milk and honey. The full Israeli breakfast that greeted us from our overnight flight was a picture of plenty with bread, cheese, fish and fruit stretching as far as the eye could see, all testament to the sun which joined us on the terrace outside, yawning its way into the day, wiping away the last few clouds from its eyes, as were we. 'Saving the buzz of Tel Aviv for a later date, we made a beeline for neighbouring Jaffa. Despite its name, the sleepy streets are home to just one orange tree and it is suspended from the roofs of a few of the local artisans’ workshops in a concrete bowl. The panoramic view of Tel Aviv’s high-rise coastline from the entrance to Jaffa was an impressive vista, showing how a century’s development in the young country has made 2000 years of difference. 'Driving – or rather being driven – north, we stopped at the well-preserved Roman ruins of Caesarea, where the restored theatre was staging rehearsals for an elaborate balletic performance. By our next stop above the Bai’a Gardens in the port town of Haifa our friend the sun was so low it was performing its own dance on the Med between the shore and the ancient harbour of Akko, on the hazy horizon. There’s no better way to cover the distance between cities than by air-conditioned private transfer with a knowledgeable English-speaking driver/guide. The guides are happy to suggest points of interest along the way or these can be arranged in advance when booking your holiday. 'Our destination for the day was the Sea of Galilee, home of many a biblical episode and now the areas premier wine-growing region. Our base at the excellent Scots Hotel in Tiberias allowed us to unwind and learn a bit more about both. Well rested and after a stroll through the beautiful gardens to the Scots’ pool, we took a short boat trip across the Galilee to Capernaeum and Tabgha with their relics and shrines. Despite being called a sea, the Galilee is about the size of the average Scottish loch and makes for a gentle journey even for those lacking seafaring legs, like myself. 'The drive South to Jerusalem took in Nazareth and a quick visit to the Church of the Annunciation. Bethlehem and its Church of the Nativity is also a possible stop en route that we took the following day. Both these beautiful monuments are steeped in history but also in pilgrims from all corners of the world. Bypassing the ancient capital briefly, we took to the desert as far as the lowest point in the world, the Dead Sea. Floating here is a high point of any itinerary. The salty waters literally sweep you off your feet and have you floating away blissfully – until some gets in your eyes or mouth and shocks you back to reality. After a float and a falafel refuelling stop, we headed up to the top of Masada, by a quick and efficient cable car, rather than the rocky route taken by the local ibex and some intrepid travellers. The remains of the stronghold built there by King Herod and then held by the local rebels who overthrew him until they were sieged by the invading Roman army are well preserved and give a clear feel for the life of the isolated community on top of the mountain. 'Our first full view of old Jerusalem came from our rooms and the swimming pool at the Mount Zion hotel. Decorated inside with an eclectic yet comfortable array of North African and Middle Eastern furniture the Mount Zion is a worthy alternative to the world famous King David hotel, both offering stunning views in a historic setting. 'Ambling through the winding, undulating streets of Jerusalem’s old city we got a real taste of the way life has been for thousands of years. Exploring the souks we frequently discovered churches, synagogues and mosques – the juxtaposition of the city’s main religions, mixing now as well as ever. Our excellent guide, Naftali, was able to take us on various routes to better understand the different eras and cultures, taking in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Western Wall. 'Tel Aviv has it all – we strolled the wide Bauhaus boulevards and the sandy beaches in the Mediterranean paradise which doubles up as one of the region’s financial powerhouses and one of its most liberal cities. The city runs 24 hours a day, the seafront bars alternating with the central cafes and restaurants to fuel locals and tourists. We stayed at the Sheraton, which offers traditional luxury with all the modern trappings of a top hotel in a city where cutting-edge is de rigeur. Seeing the sun set over the beach from our ample balconies was the highlight. We also explored Tel Aviv’s fine array of boutique hotels to fit all budgets. 'On the early morning drive to Ben Gurion airport we passed revellers returning home on foot at the same time as commuters were hitting the motorways. We were met from our car by an airport assistant who accompanied us through the numerous passport and baggage checks, ably translating where necessary, smoothing our departure and wishing us a speedy return.

Speak to an expert - 020 7593 2288

Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.


Join our mailing list to receive the latest updates and travel inspiration.