Israel Mystery Photo #21

Carved Bells

Where can you find this in Israel?

Apparently, the last Israel Mystery Photo was fairly easy, as I expected it would be (and not just for tour guides). All four people who answered got it right, and I’m sure that if more people saw it, they too would have responded correctly. It is located on a major street in Tel Aviv, in front of an important historical landmark. So many people see it on a frequent basis. But more on that shortly.

First, I want to introduce the current mystery photo, featured at right. This too will likely be somewhat easy, though a drop harder than the last one. Fewer people will have actually seen it, but the combination of the style, the subject, the background, and other ancillary information might make it easy to guess, even if you’ve never actually seen it.

So if you don’t recognize it, try to put on your thinking caps and figure this baby out! As always, you can click on the image to view a larger version of it.

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Top 12 Apps For Your Israel Trip (Part 1)

Silhouettes in the Old City of Jerusalem

Don’t get lost in Jerusalem’s Old City. Use the official walking tours app!

For starters, I am currently recovering from shoulder surgery, which is why I haven’t posted in a while. But now, some four weeks into my recovery, and back to typing with both hands, I’ve decided to address some topics I have been wanting to write about for a while.

I love my iPhone. I don’t often buy expensive things, but for me, this has been one of the tools that was most worth the expense. I have come across some great apps that can aid me as I explore this country, and so I wanted to share with you some of the best. I recommend you download them before you visit this country.

Many are apps that will help you on a visit to any country, or even while traveling at home. But some others are specific to Israel and touring here. And while a couple might even be seen as “competition” for me as a professional tour guide, we all know that they can’t possibly compare. So I am including them here anyway for the time you are on your own, or if you are someone who can’t afford to hire a guide.

So, here they are. My Top 12(+) apps for a trip to Israel! These are all available on iPhone, and I don’t know if all are on Android as well. But if not, maybe they can give you the idea to search for a similar app. Best of all, they are all free!

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A Photographic Tour of Tel Aviv

Pagoda House with convex mirror

A view of Tel Aviv’s famous “Pagoda House”

I find niche tours to be interesting, and it is for that reason that I offer a few specialty tours of my own. For example, being a big foodie, and knowing many of the unique food-related sites in this country, I love giving culinary tours. But while I have been taking photos virtually my whole life, and have even been paid for this work a bit, I would not say that I am an expert in the field of photography. I have more knowledge and skill than many, but not nearly as much as a true professional.

Thus, while I’d heard of people offering photography tours before, I never really offered one of my own. I’m sure I could do a decent job, but some things are better left to others. Thus, when I heard about Rinat Halon‘s photography tour in Tel Aviv, I decided to join her to see what it was all about.

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Israel Mystery Photo #20

Statue of a man on a horse

Who is this gentleman, and why is he here?

Time for another of my Israel Mystery Photo posts — a series of photos in which you as tourists try to recognize where in Israel each photo was taken, and I as tour guide explain and give more information on the previous mystery photo! I knew the last one would be a bit tough, since it is fairly new and not in a big tourist destination. But I wanted to use the photo to create an opportunity for me to tell you about a cool project.

But before I tell you about it, leave a guess about the current picture that you see to the left. It should be a fairly easy one for many of you, as it is in a well-trafficked area. But even for those who recognize it, I might still be able to give you a bit more info about it in my next such post!

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Israel Mystery Photo #14

Israel Mystery Photo. Tourism. Tour Guide. Joel Haber.

This one shouldn't be THAT hard...

I am shifting into serious study mode now, and the Jewish holidays are also affecting my schedule, so please bear with me if my posting is slow! Still, I am trying to get some posts out, and view them as review for my studies as well.

I thought that since the last Mystery Photo was of a somewhat famous building in Tel Aviv, that more people would’ve guessed right. But alas not. I guess most of my Tel Aviv friends don’t make it into some of the quieter parts of the city, preferring to focus on the hustle and bustle of the party life there! But there is a lot to see in Tel Aviv when exploring this country’s modern development.

So I hope that you’ll at least know that I am trying to make these somewhat less challenging! I think that the current photo should be recognizable to those who have been there, and also might be something that people could figure out due to contextual details.

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Israel Tourism News Roundup

Israel Ministry of Tourism logo. Tour guide. Eshkol. grapes.

Logo of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism

I’m going to try to start doing regular posts where I summarize recent news stories with relevance to the tourism industry in Israel. These might have to do with plans the Tourism Ministry is making, events or news about hotels or airlines, or anything that might affect the tour guiding business directly. If any of you come across relevant news stories that you think I might not have seen, please feel free to forward my way! Thanks! And as always, I’d love to hear any responses or opinions in the comments section.

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The Final Itinerary

Inside one of the natural grottoes at Rosh Hanikra

In my last post of a few weeks ago, I asked for some advice in helping my friend Lara to plan a great itinerary for her first trip to Israel. Many of you here, and on my Facebook, made wonderful suggestions of things to do, places to go, and even food to eat. In total, Lara was here for 16 days, and I spent a large portion of that time with her. Your collective assistance was a great help, and I wanted to share with you the bulk of her trip, so you can see the kind of balance we included.

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Take Me to a Better Place

Electric Cars by Renault being recharged at Better Place's Visitors Center

Many industrial facilities offer interested fans of their products tours of their production facilities. Probably the most common are wineries and breweries, and we have no shortage of either here in Israel.

But many places also have tours of facilities when the product is unique to that area. Whereas there may not be a ton of tours of ice cream production factories, many visitors to Vermont will pay a visit to the Ben & Jerry’s factory. Atlanta has the World of Coca-Cola. And does anyone go to Hershey, PA without paying a visit to Hershey Park? (Okay, some of these are more than just factory tours, but that’s how they all began!)

Well, Israel now has a new tour to add to this general variety, but it is also unique in many ways. It is not a food or beverage facility, and is a great advertisement for the high-tech, start-up style endeavor for which Israel has become so well known.

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More Progress

A tour group at the theater in Caesarea, Mediterranean in the background.

Finding a bit more time now, so hope to post some tour updates and more news stories soon. But just a quick summary for now. Tours that I’ve taken but not yet written about: Ein Gedi, southern Dead Sea area (Mt. Sodom), Modiin vicinity (Tel Gezer and stuff related to the Maccabees) and Sharon/southern Carmel region (Apollonia, Dor and Atlit).

And some of the class subjects I may want to discuss here: Geography and Geology of Israel (and how they relate to each other) and fauna. But first…

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By the Numbers

"Light around the Bend" - Roman amphitheater at Beit Guvrin

There’s been plenty of coverage, of late, about the latest Israeli tourism numbers in 2009. And anytime there is a drop in the number of tourists from the previous year, it will be at least somewhat worrisome to people who make their living (or hope to down the road) within the industry.

At the same time, however, there seems to be a lot of good and/or hopeful news in the figures as well. That, and the fact that I am still two years away from fully depending on this industry for my income, give me reason to remain my typically optimistic self.

So let’s examine some of the numbers, as well as a number of trends and changes in the Israeli tourism industry.

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