Ask Joan: Camino and Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in autumn and Camino from Burgos to Sahagun via Madrid
I’m interested in doing a city/sun break in Tel Aviv in September for a week to include a day-trip or overnight to Jerusalem. Is there an easy way to get there from Dublin? Have you any recommendations for places to stay? – FOC, Kildare
Tel Aviv is a good place to combine a beach and city break and is rising in the ranks of popular cities. There are lots of new nightclubs, restaurants and fun events. Getting there is a little complicated as you have to take two flights and some depart late at night or leave very early in the morning. The Air France timetable is not too bad but using a travel agent might work out easier as they can combine the flights from two different airlines, try ebookers.ie and budgetair.ie for options. Expect to pay around €400 return.
If your budget stretched to it, the Dan Hotel (danhotels.co.il) on the promenade, from €220 per night, is one of the classier hotels with great sea views and service, or for boutique hotels see atlas.co.il, particularly the Shalom, Cinema and Center from €170 per night.
Moving down a notch, three-star hotels are around €110-€150 per night by the sea, a bit less away from the coast. The Dinzengoff Suites Hotel at Gordon Street is from €115 and in a great location for exploring the city, dinzengoffsuites.co.il.
In the economy under €100 bracket, is the Prima Tel Aviv, 100 metres from the beach, prima-hotels-israel.com and good hostels from €20 per night are on hostelworld.com and hostelbookers.ocm.
Getting to Jerusalem takes around an hour by bus, see timetables on egged.co.il/Eng/ Dan.
If you wanted to blow the budget, the American Colony is one of the finest historic hotels in the city, americancolony.com. See goisrael.com for tourism information.
In September, a group of five friends will be walking the Camino from Burgos, through the Mesata to Sahagun. Our best option for flights seems to be Madrid but I am having trouble finding a timetable for trains from Madrid to Burgos and Sahagun to Madrid. Can we book train tickets in advance? We hope to stay in Madrid for two nights and would welcome advice on affordable but central accommodation and some restaurants? – KQ, Waterford
Daily services with Iberia, Aer Lingus and Ryanair are a good proposition for Madrid. The direct train from Madrid to Burgos leaves from Chamartin station three times a day and can be booked online on renfe.com, for around €41 return. It takes about two and a half hours. The train from Sahagun is via Burgos or a direct bus takes four hours, see Alsa.es.
Madrid is a big city and for a short stay it is best to stay in the centre. There are some modest hotels around the Plaza de Santa Ana, a lively place with great restaurants and bars. The Hotel Vita Ingles on Calle Echegaray, hotelvitaingles.com, has rates from €63 per night with breakfast. Close to the Plaza Major, the Hotel Catalonia costs from €100 per night for two, hoteles-catalonia.com.
On the corner of Plaza Santa Ana the Taberna la Fragua de Vulcano (Calle Alvarez Gato, 9) serves tapas and traditional dishes. For a fun experience try El Botin (1725) on Calle Cuchilleros in one of the oldest areas of the city.The speciality is suckling pig cooked in wood fired ovens and it gets busy so you may need to book, botin.es. In Madrid it is traditional to drop napkins and shells on the floor of tapas bars so don’t be surprised if you see busy places looking very messy. The messier the floor, the better the food.
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