Welcome to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, a region steeped in spirituality and legend; a rich tapestry of the many cultures, religions and nationalities that call it home, be they Palestinian Muslims & Christians, Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Armenian Christians, Ethiopian Copts or Greek Orthodox monks. Your food adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it’ll take place. If you can’t arrange a flight that will arrive in time, maybe arrive a day early so you’re able to attend. We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We’ll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. After this meeting, take a short taxi ride to the Jaffa area and get to know your fellow travellers over dinner at a local institution famous for the North African dish, shakshuka – a delicious concoction of eggs poached in tomatoes and chilli with Mediterranean vegetables. The group can decide to either take a taxi or walk back to the hotel.
Pay a brief visit to Jaffa, then continue through Zichron Yaakov and stop in at one of Israel’s finest wineries. Enjoy a wine tasting and perhaps make some purchases to accompany a picnic brunch in the nearby Rothschild Gardens. Continue up to Akko to visit the Old Town and explore the Templar Tunnels built during the Crusades. Reach Haifa by late afternoon. Perhaps catch a glimpse of the Bahai Gardens, containing ornate works of landscaped art. Retire to your hotel afterwards for a well-earned rest. For dinner, perhaps take up the option of a home-cooked meal or join your leader at a charismatic local restaurant.
Drive up to Golan Heights to visit a Druze village called Buq’ata. Historically, the Druze have been an agricultural people, tending olive groves and fruit orchards (mostly apples and cherries). Many families also grow their own vegetables, bake their own bread and live on a largely vegetarian diet. Here you will be greeted by a lovely host family. Be invited in for a cooking demonstration and a delicious Druze lunch. Afterwards, head to Tiberius and take a stroll along the famous Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest freshwater lake. Travel to Nazareth and settle into your hotel for the evening.
After breakfast, visit the Church of the Annunciation and Mary’s Well. Continue on to Jericho and catch a cable car up to the Mount of Temptations and visit the Monastery. Then travel to the Dead Sea, the lowest-altitude place on earth, where you will experience what it’s like to float in the world’s saltiest body of water. Overnight in Jericho. This slow-paced West Bank town is considered by some to be the longest inhabited city in the world. Tonight dinner will be Maqlubeh, which means upside-down, a rice and vegetable dish which can also include lamb and will be served on the terrace overlooking the pool.
Drive to Nablus, one of the West Bank’s largest cities, most famous for the Arabic sweet knafeh. Start at Mount Jerazim and meet some local Samaritans – a Jewish minority group living in Nablus (the only group to hold Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian passports) to learn about their culture. Visit the tahini factory below the Samaritan Museum and see how the sesame seeds are crushed and made into the finished product. Next, visit the local chapter of the ‘Slow Food’ network for a cooking class. Accompany the chef to the kasbah to collect your ingredients, then learn to prepare some classic Palestinian dishes. Enjoy your creations over lunch and discover what life is like for women in this small Palestinian town. After lunch, visit a knafeh producer for an insight into the production of this much-loved sweet and, of course, to enjoy a taste. Afterwards, drive to Jerusalem via the famous Mount of Olives, an important pilgrimage site and home of the Garden of Gethsemane. For dinner, why not hunt down a delicious plate of musakhan, a much-loved Jerusalem dish.
Feast on a delicious breakfast of kaek and falafel. Enjoy a full-day tour of Jerusalem, starting with a walking tour of the Way of The Cross (Via Dolorosa) in the Old City. Stop at one of the city’s favourite eateries and watch a master prepare mutabbaq (stuffed pancake of Yemeni origin). Continue to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to visit the Golgotha (where Jesus was crucified) and then down to the Tomb where he was buried. Walk through the spice market to the Jewish Quarter and witness the Wailing Wall. Finish at Machane Yehuda and lose yourself in the amazing food market. If you buy a Machane Yehuda Bites card here you’ll be able to sample a broad selection of market flavours. Alternatively, grab some lunch in one of the neighbouring restaurants. Say goodbye to your leader at the market, and enjoy free time for the rest of the day. Return to the hotel on your own on by foot or taxi.
Jerusalem (Day excursion to the Negev Desert)
After breakfast, head south into the Negev Desert to meet some food producers. Our first stop is a goat cheese farm. Next, be welcomed into the home of a Jewish resident of the Negev. Here we will gain insight into the life and food traditions of an Israeli in the desert. Lunch will be a feast of vegetarian dishes. After lunch, drive up to visit the Tomb of David Ben Gurion – the first prime minister of Israel and one of its founders. Before the drive back to Jerusalem, visit an ancient winery that dates back to the Nabatean era. In recent years, an Israeli couple replanted the winery along with other fruit trees, producing an interesting selection of wines and jams that are only sold in that farm. Arrive back in Jerusalem by evening for a well-deserved rest.
Jerusalem (Day excursion to Bethlehem)
Enjoy breakfast in one of the Old City’s most beloved hummus restaurants. Take a short drive to Battir (recently listed by UNESCO) where villagers continue to practice ancient agricultural methods. The village is surrounded by an impressive Roman-era system of stone-walled terraces and a unique irrigation system fed by seven springs. Next, head to the holy city of Bethlehem. The route passes through a gap in the controversial security wall that separates Israel from the West Bank. Take a walking tour of this famous city. Opposite Manger Square is the Church of the Nativity, the world’s oldest continually operating church, which also marks the birthplace of Jesus. Enjoy a final meal at a local restaurant well-known for its fabulous barbeque. Have a go at mincing your own meat. You’ll have two huge cleavers to get the job done the authentic way! Return to Jerusalem for the evening.
Your real food adventure comes to a close this morning after breakfast, yet the Levant still has so many flavours to offer – why not continue your journey on a Real Food Adventure to Jordan? Just search with the trip code EEZF or book both as one longer trip under EUZJC.
Tel Aviv - Welcome Dinner
Haifa - Baha'i Gardens
Zichron Ya'acov - Winery visit
Akko - Old Town Walk, including Templar Tunnels
Golan Heights - Druze Cooking Demonstration and Home-cooked Meal
Nazareth - Visit to Church of Annuniciation & Mary's Well
Jericho - Maqlubeh Dinner
Jericho - Mount of Temptations visit
Nablus - Samaritan & Tahini Factory visit
Bait Al-Karama - cooking class
Negev Desert - Desert Producers Tour
Battir - Guided Village Walk
Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity & Shepherds' Field