Trip Planned: Israel, Jordan, and [EDIT] Cyprus
#1
(EDIT---The original thread title is "Trip Planned: Israel, Jordan, and One Country in Eastern Europe." Members were giving tips on which E. European country to visit before the OP decided on Cyprus)

I found an extremely cheap round trip ticket to Tel Aviv at the beginning of July. It's a 44-day itinerary in total and I'm looking to hit Israel, Jordan, and one country in Eastern Europe.  Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Greece, and Cyprus are the leading candidates at the moment but I'm open to other ideas. I'd do two weeks in Israel, a week in Jordan, go back to Israel to fly to Europe for two weeks, then return to Israel for one week before catching my return flight.  I've never been to the Eastern Mediterranean or any of the aforementioned European countries.

Does anyone have any experience in these countries? Any can't miss destinations or experiences?  Tips on local women or tourist women (From what I've read, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus get lots of Russian tourists in the summer)? Hotels or Airbnbs? 

I've got a very rough itinerary for Israel planned that includes doing some diving in the Red Sea at Eilat and maybe crossing into Egypt to do the Blue Hole in Dahab. Of course, I'm going to try and hit a lot of historical sites in the Holy Land. My itinerary for Jordan is basically just Petra, hiking Wadi al Mujib, and exploring historical sites around Amman. 

[Edit]: As for the European destination, I'd like to just pick one city or beach/mountain destination and post up for 14-18 days. Any suggestions for late July/early August?

I'm still a little more than a month away from my departure date, but I plan on updating this with some data once I touch down. I'm just posting to see if there's any info out there.
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#2
I'd recommend Varna or Burgas in Bulgaria if you speak intermediate or better Russian and can get an apartment in your price range. Hotel and nightclub staff usually speak basic or better English, but most visitors are Russians, who often don't speak much English. Both very pretty towns with active nightclubs along the beach in summer. Not sure which town I prefer more. Most people think Varna nicer, though for personal reasons I always end up in Burgas. Sunny Beach is a hideous extension of Burgas, which I hate but some people swear by it.
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#3
(05-25-2019, 08:41 AM)shemp Wrote: I'd recommend Varna or Burgas in Bulgaria if you speak intermediate or better Russian and can get an apartment in your price range. Hotel and nightclub staff usually speak basic or better English, but most visitors are Russians, who often don't speak much English. Both very pretty towns with active nightclubs along the beach in summer. Not sure which town I prefer more. Most people think Varna nicer, though for personal reasons I always end up in Burgas. Sunny Beach is a hideous extension of Burgas, which I hate but some people swear by it.

That's good intel. Thanks for responding. I don't speak any Russian, having not been there yet. However, I think I could probably learn about 150-200 words between now and then. I usually try to learn about 50 or so verbs before going into any culture where I'm going to have more than a couple weeks of down time. I know that's not enough to effectively sweet talk a girl, but it's enough to engage in basic communication for whatever the purpose.

What are the pluses and minuses of Varna vs. Burgas? Why do you prefer Burgas over Varna? I did a quick search on Airbnb and both have tons of studios and 1 or 2 BR apartments in the $20-45 per night range, which is what I'd be looking to spend.  

At the moment, the flight into Sofia is about $300 cheaper than Varna. If I bussed it or rented a car to get to the Black Sea coast, is there anything worth seeing along the drive? Like I said in the OP, I'd rather post up somewhere, so 2 or 3 days would be the most I'd want to be on the road in Bulgaria. I plan on moving quite a bit in Israel and Jordan. 

Cheers!
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#4
The two cities are similar in that both have this long park with trees paralleling the beach, with cafes and benches here and there. Use Google maps satellite to visualize. Both have nightclubs along the beach, both have good beaches. I end up in Burgas in October because of hiking in the central mountain range (whose termination at Cape Emona is between the two cities). Burgas is just more convenient for me, and  a slightly shorter bus trip to Sofia.

If you are thinking you might meet a girl and take her home, then regardless of city, try to get an apartment not too far from the beach nightclubs. Those tend to be the most expensive apartments, however.

As for sites to see, it depends what you're looking for. I'm interested in mountain hiking and wild camping, and Bulgaria is great for that, but you need the gear of course. If you want a taste of mountains, you can ascend Mount Vitosha, which is just next to Sofia. Tons of people of all ages do it every day in summer. Dragalevski ski lift takes you most of the way up, then another 500m by foot. Bring bottle with water. Hut at the top serves food, then walk down (versus using the ski lift again) by a trail shaded by beech trees. There's also other interesting stuff in Sofia. So I'd stay there a few days then the rest of the time at one of Burgas/Varna.

Also, Bulgaria is starting to see more British/German tourists because of the low prices, so lack of Russian probably not a big problem. If you've never studied Russian before, I recommend the 90 unit Pimsleur course (new lesson each evening, repeat that lesson next morning unless you're a whiz at languages, actually they now have 120 lessons but I'd recommend switching to Assimil after 90, they offer free 7 day trial I think), followed by the 100 unit Assimil Sans Peine course, which you can order from the French publisher, with tracked shipping to the USA in a week (use PayPal to pay by credit card, since they sometimes have problems with US credit cards used directly). You won't have time for Assimil this year, but something to remember for the future if you're interested in Russian. Please don't ask me about Duolingo since I'm not in the mood for ranting today Smile

Now that I think about it, Dragalevski ski lift might no longer be working in summer. As I recall, last time I used bus 66 from Vitosha metro station to get to the top.of the ski lift, not the ski lift itself. That bus only runs weekends. On weekdays, hire a taxi.t

Another thing, if you decide to stay at Burgas, be sure to take a day trip to Sunny Beach just so you know what it is. You can also spend most of time in one of Burgas/Varna then last 2 night in the other so you can compare.
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#5
I live in Tel Aviv. I think it's a great city for a short visit, if you are willing to spend some money. There's a good combination of beach, good food, nightlife and a lively atmosphere in general. 
However, it's not a great city for game imo. It's small enough for girls to worry about their reputation. There are relatively a lot of aggressive guys who either approach or catcall, which together with widespread feminist attitudes leads to bitch shields. There used to be a PUA school in Dizengoff Center (a centrally located mall) and the area became known among girls for the PUA students who clumsily hit on them or ask them for the time.
Having said all that, it's definitely not impossible to get laid, and local girls will probably worry less about their reputation when interacting with a tourist. 
Tourism here has been on the rise for a few years, and it's more and more young European people, including Russians. You can find them along the promenade and the nearby streets, as well as Rothschild boulevard, Carmel Market and Nachalat Binyamin. 
At night you can check out Kuli Alma, a bar-club with several spaces and a 50-50 Israeli-foreign crowd. Down the street from it is Abraham Hostel, the largest in the city, that has its own bar. Another interesting place, with a more Israeli crowd, is Teder.fm.


As for sightseeing in Israel, I guess the obvious places are Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Akko (Acre) is an ancient port city you can visit on a day trip. The country is very small so you can cover a lot of it in two-three weeks.
If you're interested in hiking, there are many nice gorges in the Golan Heights and near the Dead Sea. Crossing to Egypt sounds like a great idea - Sinai is beautiful and it's much cheaper than Eilat and the rest of Israel. 

Let me know if you want to know anything more specific
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#6
(05-25-2019, 11:24 AM)shemp Wrote: The two cities are similar in that both have this long park with trees paralleling the beach, with cafes and benches here and there........
.........
.......Another thing, if you decide to stay at Burgas, be sure to take a day trip to Sunny Beach just so you know what it is. You can also spend most of time in one of Burgas/Varna then last 2 night in the other so you can compare.

There's a lot of great info in that post. Thanks. I'm researching the places you mentioned as I write this.  I'm going to book the ticket sometime this week, so Bulgaria is now the leading candidate. 

Also, I didn't see your message about likes and reps until I'd already liked the posts. I won't do that in the future.

(05-25-2019, 11:01 PM)Tribunus Wrote: I live in Tel Aviv. I think it's a great city for a short visit, if you are willing to spend some money. There's a good combination of beach, good food, nightlife and a lively atmosphere in general. 
However, it's not a great city for game imo. It's small enough for girls to worry about their reputation. There are relatively a lot of aggressive guys who either approach or catcall, which together with widespread feminist attitudes leads to bitch shields. There used to be a PUA school in Dizengoff Center (a centrally located mall) and the area became known among girls for the PUA students who clumsily hit on them or ask them for the time.
Having said all that, it's definitely not impossible to get laid, and local girls will probably worry less about their reputation when interacting with a tourist. 
Tourism here has been on the rise for a few years, and it's more and more young European people, including Russians. You can find them along the promenade and the nearby streets, as well as Rothschild boulevard, Carmel Market and Nachalat Binyamin. 
At night you can check out Kuli Alma, a bar-club with several spaces and a 50-50 Israeli-foreign crowd. Down the street from it is Abraham Hostel, the largest in the city, that has its own bar. Another interesting place, with a more Israeli crowd, is Teder.fm.


As for sightseeing in Israel, I guess the obvious places are Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Akko (Acre) is an ancient port city you can visit on a day trip. The country is very small so you can cover a lot of it in two-three weeks.
If you're interested in hiking, there are many nice gorges in the Golan Heights and near the Dead Sea. Crossing to Egypt sounds like a great idea - Sinai is beautiful and it's much cheaper than Eilat and the rest of Israel. 

Let me know if you want to know anything more specific

In terms of costs, what's a night out at a place like Kuli Alma or Teder.fm going to run? 

If I start out the trip by getting an airbnb in Tel Aviv for a week, which neighborhoods should I try to stick to?  I like the idea of being close to nightlife and the beach. 

I looked at the wikitravel page for the Golan Heights and noticed there is a winery: https://www.golanwines.co.il/en/
I'm going to rent a car to do some touring, and was thinking a trip out to a winery, potentially with a girl, sounds like a good time.  Do you know of any other places in a similar vein that would be good for a two-day trip?

Also, what do travel workout options look like in Israel? Are there parks that have pull up bars and that kind of equipment? Do people jog out on the streets?
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#7
I mentioned Bulgaria because that's where my mind was focused on lately. But Greece/Cyprus might actually be better if you don't speak any Russian, since English levels are very good in Greece/Cyprus. Parts of Greece are super expensive, but other places very reasonable. I spent 6 weeks hiking in Crete a few years back (very nice mountains BTW), and also stayed at some of the beach towns there, and prices were not at all bad.
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#8
(05-26-2019, 10:43 AM)shemp Wrote: I mentioned Bulgaria because that's where my mind was focused on lately. But Greece/Cyprus might actually be better if you don't speak any Russian, since English levels are very good in Greece/Cyprus. Parts of Greece are super expensive, but other places very reasonable. I spent 6 weeks hiking in Crete a few years back (very nice mountains BTW), and also stayed at some of the beach towns there, and prices were not at all bad.

Crete looks to be a good size for two weeks. So does Cyprus. There are direct flights to Heraklion from Tel Aviv. Are there any other islands or areas of Greece that you'd recommend? I'm open to beaches and/or mountainous areas where it's possible to get in good day hikes. I'm open to camping a night or two but I think the European part of the trip would be more about posting up with an Airbnb, getting some good sleep, drinking some quality wine, eating good meat and fish, and trying to pull some girls. In other words, nothing extremely over the top.
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#9
I think Crete/Cyprus are best for beginners to Greece. Big enough that you won't feel island fever. Probably plenty of cheap apartments on both. You mentioned AirBnb. I'm starting to see lots of places in booking.com as well.
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#10
(05-26-2019, 09:37 AM)jdreise Wrote: In terms of costs, what's a night out at a place like Kuli Alma or Teder.fm going to run? 

If I start out the trip by getting an airbnb in Tel Aviv for a week, which neighborhoods should I try to stick to?  I like the idea of being close to nightlife and the beach. 

I looked at the wikitravel page for the Golan Heights and noticed there is a winery: https://www.golanwines.co.il/en/
I'm going to rent a car to do some touring, and was thinking a trip out to a winery, potentially with a girl, sounds like a good time.  Do you know of any other places in a similar vein that would be good for a two-day trip?

Also, what do travel workout options look like in Israel? Are there parks that have pull up bars and that kind of equipment? Do people jog out on the streets?

Entrance is free for both of those places. Drinks are $8.5 - $13 for the basic ones (a pint of beer, gin and tonic etc). 

For a combination of nightlife, beach and food options it would be best to stay in the area between the beach, Bugrashov/Ben Tsiyon street, Rothschild blvd and Neve Tzedek neighborhood. Nightlife is not limited to this area though. For example, there are a lot of bars along King George and Dizengoff streets and in Rabin Square. Possibly cheaper options if you're staying in an Airbnb are the Florentin and Levinsky neighborhoods. A lot of bars and some clubs there (Mondo 2000 is worth mentioning), though I find the area visually unappealing, and it would put you at 20+ minutes walk from the beach.
I wouldn't worry too much about the exact location because the center of Tel Aviv is compact. Most places of interest are within a walking distance from each other, and there are plenty of shared scooters and bikes everywhere. It would be good to avoid using a lot of taxis since they are expensive and some drivers may try to scam tourists who hail them off the street and don't insist on using a meter (the only type of scam I would worry about in Israel). Uber is limited to using licensed taxis and has low coverage, and the main taxi hailing app is Gett.
Regarding workout options - there are many exercise stations with pull and dip bars in Tel Aviv, including a few on the beach promenade. They exist in the rest of the country as well though harder to find. People do jog, bike etc.

The Golan is a good place to spend a few days. The winery you mentioned is the largest and most industrial, and there are many other smaller ones that offer tours and tasting. I see that some are listed on TripAdvisor. In that area there are also a lot of other things to do. You've got nice hiking trails, Muslim and Crusader castles and an abandoned IDF bunker if you're into military history. And then if you look over the Syrian border you might actually see some military history taking place...

Another area that can be nice for an overnight trip and has a few wineries is Makhtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater). There's beautiful desert landscape and you have good chances of seeing wild ibexes.

Keep in mind that July and August are high season for domestic tourism in Israel, and this is a densely populated country. This shouldn't make a big difference in the cities, but expect to encounter crowds also outside the cities.
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#11
Crete would be a great choice.

If you're looking to meet Eastern Europeans, Agios Nikolaos is basically an EE vacation enclave and there's plenty of talent there, as well as plenty of English-speaking in the tourist infrastructure. I don't know your budget/social scene but Lato Hotel is close to the beach scene, cheap, basic, and popular. However, it's a hike to town, the real action is around the lake and there are some hotels there. If you want R&R, this city might be ideal for you. There are some cool ruins and things near there, too. Spinalonga has a real Indiana Jones vibe because of the layers of abandoned history.

Chania is a more beautiful and romantic city than Heraklion and might be better for daygame, Heraklion will have more options for nightgame and is close to smaller party cities. Rethymno is luxurious but skippable unless you're looking for married MILFs who are bored of their husbands and you also want to see Arkadi.

Knossos is the obvious must-do on the entire island. Samaria Gorge is a legendary day hike you can hook up from Chania, but you should start very early and keep up the pace to beat the crowds and be in the deepest, shadiest part of the gorge before the sun is high overhead. It can be brutal at the end.

Another alternative would be to spend some time on the south shore. Paleochora is small and may not have many game options, but it's beautiful and peaceful. IF you do Samaria, you can take the ferry in either direction - to Paleochora or over to Sougia, which is very tiny. If you're fit for it, you could backpack your gear into the gorge and camp at Sougia.

Alternatively, the jet ferries from Crete can get you started in the Cyclades if you want to island hop. Again, if you really want to relax and this is your first time, skip Mykonos and Santorini and look into Naxos. It's the biggest island, so it has rural countryside to explore and plenty of places to rent ATVs and scooters, and you can skip across to Paros on the morning ferry for some more rugged terrain. (Delos is worth visiting, too, if you can arrange a daytrip by boat. Basically an open-air museum of a vast, ruined sacred city.) It might be harder to find single women, though, since it's not a party destination. If you decide to go to Naxos, PM me and I'll give you a tip for a place that has a great beach one side and the town on the other.
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#12
(05-27-2019, 03:11 PM)Jetset Wrote: Crete would be a great choice.

If you're looking to meet Eastern Europeans, Agios Nikolaos is basically an EE vacation enclave and there's plenty of talent there, as well as plenty of English-speaking in the tourist infrastructure. I don't know your budget/social scene but Lato Hotel is close to the beach scene, cheap, basic, and popular. However, it's a hike to town, the real action is around the lake and there are some hotels there. If you want R&R, this city might be ideal for you. There are some cool ruins and things near there, too. Spinalonga has a real Indiana Jones vibe because of the layers of abandoned history.

Chania is a more beautiful and romantic city than Heraklion and might be better for daygame, Heraklion will have more options for nightgame and is close to smaller party cities. Rethymno is luxurious but skippable unless you're looking for married MILFs who are bored of their husbands and you also want to see Arkadi.

Knossos is the obvious must-do on the entire island. Samaria Gorge is a legendary day hike you can hook up from Chania, but you should start very early and keep up the pace to beat the crowds and be in the deepest, shadiest part of the gorge before the sun is high overhead. It can be brutal at the end.

Another alternative would be to spend some time on the south shore. Paleochora is small and may not have many game options, but it's beautiful and peaceful. IF you do Samaria, you can take the ferry in either direction - to Paleochora or over to Sougia, which is very tiny. If you're fit for it, you could backpack your gear into the gorge and camp at Sougia.

Alternatively, the jet ferries from Crete can get you started in the Cyclades if you want to island hop. Again, if you really want to relax and this is your first time, skip Mykonos and Santorini and look into Naxos. It's the biggest island, so it has rural countryside to explore and plenty of places to rent ATVs and scooters, and you can skip across to Paros on the morning ferry for some more rugged terrain. (Delos is worth visiting, too, if you can arrange a daytrip by boat. Basically an open-air museum of a vast, ruined sacred city.) It might be harder to find single women, though, since it's not a party destination. If you decide to go to Naxos, PM me and I'll give you a tip for a place that has a great beach one side and the town on the other.

This is a great rundown of Crete. It definitely needs to be copied onto a future thread about Crete and/or Greece. It makes me want to go all over that island. Thanks for the response. 

With that said, I decided to go ahead and book a ticket to Cyprus. Tel Aviv-Paphos was less than half the price of flying into Heraklion, Crete so it seemed like the way to go for this trip. Maybe Crete and some of the other Greek islands can be the destination for next summer. 

As for Cyprus, I think I'll stick to one or two towns when choosing an airbnb. Probably do 8 or 9 days in one and 8 or 9 days in another. I'd like to rent a car and drive around a bit, as well.  I know there are some mountains of reasonable height that should be nice and pleasant in the summer, so I'd like to head up there for a day trip. However, I think I'd like to spend most days at or near the beach. 

What would be the best towns to stay in Cyprus? Are there any can't miss places or things to do while there?  Where would be the best places for day and night game?

What's the deal with the Turkish side? Is it worth going to? Do they party at all over there?
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#13
>>there are some mountains of reasonable height that should be NICE AND PLEASANT in the summer,

Carry a couple liters water.
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#14
(05-28-2019, 07:12 AM)jdreise Wrote: This is a great rundown of Crete. It definitely needs to be copied onto a future thread about Crete and/or Greece. It makes me want to go all over that island. Thanks for the response.

That's how I felt typing it. Crete datasheet will definitely get built out as soon as I can. Cyprus should be very cool, great that you found a deal!
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