We flew into the modern Ben Gurion airport at Tel Aviv. We caught the train to HaShalom station (€5) then a shared taxi to our hotel (€9). We were staying at the TLV77 hotel on Ben Yahuda street (€60 per night). The room was like a studio with a balcony and small kitchen; lots of space for us and a king-size bed. Great location, just 5min to the beach, next two supermarkets and many restaurants.
The next morning we woke up early and went to the beach. We wanted to make the most of it before the midday sun. Such an amazing, long city beach, with powdery sand and clear water. We had a dip in one of the safe-swimming areas and walked along the boulevard, which was very energising. In the afternoon we took the bus to the old town of Jaffa on the hill. There we enjoyed the old, orange stone buildings. The view down to Tel Aviv seafront was outstanding, with the white skyscrapers stretching out along the beach.
On the way down Mark found a fantastic ice-cream place and had a huge plate with 8 balls, four different flavours, cream, chocolate sauce and a hot waffle for €10. On the walk back to the centre we met some young people who showed us how to find the area around the HaTachana (old train station), which was pretty with shops and restaurants. We then strolled all the way back to the hotel. It was a very pleasant walk.
We spent the next two days doing organised tours of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Dead Sea (see other pages).
We were then up with the lark on our final morning and took a taxi to Hasalom station (€13 thanks to the grumpy taxi driver charging us extra for our four cases). We then took the metro to the airport (€3) and entered terminal 3 to be greeting by a board telling us to go to terminal 1. We then caught a yellow bus as instructed which took us to terminal 3. Unfortunately, by the time we had got there we were told that check in was closed. This was even though the plane wasn’t leaving for another 30 mins. We found another couple in the same position as us but after some calls to the desk they were allowed to pass, as they had no hold luggage. We eventually convinced security to let us pass, much to the annoyance of the check in staff, and they said they would check in our cases for the flight the next day. We got our cases back after a few days.