Back from the trip to Israel. Here are some observations (some of them just for myself, some could be useful for other tourists).
It was a somewhat overwhelmingly social holiday, but it was awesome to see everyone we managed to see, and in fact we didn't even manage to see everyone who was there. Next time, I guess, or maybe they'll visit me here in sunny Finland.
Not surprisingly, there were a lot of historical sites, good restaurants, and awesome beaches.
I wasn't sure if the early November was a bit too late in the year, but it wasn't. The temperature varied from 16 (Jerusalem) to 32 (Ein Bokek), and there was just one rainy day. The water was warm (25 or so) both in the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea.
November is off-season, most national parks close early, like at 3pm.
Jerusalem is full of tourists, and Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea have quite a few, but the national parks are almost empty apart from some school groups.
There are a lot of public toilets, almost all of them free. The ones in the restaurants are often unisex. Although pretty much anywhere I've been in Asia, from Turkey to Japan, they had more public toilets than pretty much anywhere in Europe.
The public transportation doesn't work from Friday sunset till Saturday sunset. If you are not in a religious area, some restaurants and convenience stores will be open.
The stores appear to stop selling beer by 11pm. Not sure if it's a law, company policy, or Tel Aviv city ordinance.
They are building and renovating a lot.
Almost everyone speaks very good English, and a lot of people speak very good Russian as well, but most of the written stuff is written only in Hebrew, so unless you read Hebrew you will feel a bit lost while shopping for groceries. I generally asked some friendly local people for help, and they always helped.
The places we stayed at were Tel Aviv - Jerusalem - Ein Bokek - Haifa - Tel Aviv. Did day trips to Herodion, Sorek cave, Masada, Ein Gedi, Mamshit, Ein Avdat, Avdat, Beit Guvrin, Akko, Tel Megiddo, Beit She'an and Tsippori.
Here's place by place, with links to the pictures:
Tel Aviv: a big city with a lot of restaurants and the greatest beach ever. Lots of Bauhaus buildings but they didn't impress me. Some nice markets. Yafo old city. A very nice area in the old port.
Jerusalem: I am sure even a bad tourist guide will have more details than I can describe here. One thing that a bad tourist book might not mention: the Western Wall tunnels.
Herodion: Herod's palace. You can go up the mountain, and then down inside the mountain.
Haifa: many residential neighborhoods are on the mountain, which makes for pretty cool views on the city. The main tourist attraction is the Bahai shrine gardens. The area around Sderot Ben Gurion has a lot of nice cafes.
Akko: a very pretty Arab town reminiscent of a few medieval places in Southern Europe. An undeground tunnel, a pretty mosque, and the underground crusader city in the citadel. Don't miss the genuine crusader toilet seat.
Ein Bokek: a touristy place on the Dead Sea shore. There is nothing there, really, except some Russian tourists (not many, because it's out of season) and one decent restaurant, but the sea looks lovely at sunrise, and it's a good base for visiting a lot of sites. The biggest minus: the pool and the beach closed at 5pm. WTF is that?
Sorek (Soreq, Avshalom, whatever) cave: a little but beautiful cave with stalactites, beautifully lit. In a way you've seen one of them, you've seen all, but I still enjoyed it. Quite a way down from the parking lot. The tour was supposed to be guided and photography forbidden, but the guide didn't mind us wandering around and taking pictures without flash.
Masada: the famous fortress on a high hill. If your map app is showing you two entrances you really want to use the one from direction of the Dead Sea. This one has a cable car, the other ones doesn't.
Ein Gedi: we came there late and didn't see much besides the rock hyraxes. Loved watching the rock hyraxes though.
Mamshit and Avdat: old Nabatean towns. Very interesting. There are two more, but we didn't have time for that. If you have even less time, Avdat is the biggest of the four.
Ein Avdat, aka Avdat canyon, not to be confused with Avdat. A canyon right next to Avdat. Also a national park, with a separate ticket. The entrance about 4 kilometers north from Avdat (the only one Google Maps currently show) is the top entrance, from where you can look at the canyon from above, and are not allowed to go down (falling in is also forbidden). If you want to come in from below (that's where all the really nice pictures are taken) and climb up, use the entrance near Ben Gurion university (may the road signs be with you).
Beit Guvrin: that's a really big and great park, and when the park rangers tell you what to see in what order they really know what they are talking about. Bell caves (beautiful, unusual and easily accessible), Sidonian burial caves with paintings, the ruins of Maresha and much more.
Tel Megiddo: not really that much to see, except that you get to tell your friends that you've seen the real Armageddon site. If you do get up there, don't miss the Hellmouth, aka the water system. you can go down there. It's right on the way from Haifa to Beit She'an, so if you are going there you might as well.
Beit She'an: a huge and awesome Roman ruin. Don't miss.
Tsippori/Zippori: beautiful mosaics and lots of cactuses.