There were times in the process that it seemed almost too easy. We would email a question to Susan and she would reply – remarkably within a minute or two! We would raise a concern and she’d say “Oh, I’ll take care of that” – and she did.
We had visited Israel twice before and knew some things we wanted the rest of our family to see and experience, but we knew of other places we would like to visit; we told Susan we wanted to incorporate elements that were Christian, Jewish, archeological, historical and places of natural beauty. The itinerary she put together did all that – and a part of each day was spent on something we had never seen or done before, including a thoroughly enjoyable jeep ride with Schulman in the Golan Heights that was a trip highlight for every one!
Susan’s special touches were very much appreciated. Each family received a leather-bound notebook with a copy of our itinerary, travel documents and restaurant suggestions in the cities where we were staying; this notebook was a handy travel companion and a nice-looking keepsake. Best of all was the “VIP assistance” provided arriving and departing Tel Aviv. When we arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, dazed after the twelve hour flight and unsure where to go, Susan’s “special representatives” appeared out of nowhere, guided us through customs and passport control, loaded our luggage onto a big cart and shepherded us to a minibus that took us to our hotel. It was delightfully effortless. We had similar help escorting us as we departed. What a treat!
Susan told us she had arranged for our group to have the best guide in Israel – and she was right! Our guide, Eilon, was flawless in his leadership, timing, and execution of the itinerary. We have had other wonderful guides on other trips – but Eilon was special, a unique combination of kind generous good guy and tough ex-soldier, with an electrifying personality. He quickly established a rapport with each member of the group – which ranged in age from 76 to 21 – and every one adored him. We learned something about everything we saw – e.g., the Lions Gate has lions on it, Herodian building stones have a border around them. He was thoroughly knowledgeable and somehow maintained a constant flow of information that was infused with energy, good humor and wonderfully entertaining stories.
As we visited various places, Eilon related elements of his own history and experience, and that of some of his family and friends. Most memorably, he introduced us to an acquaintance who had survived a terror attack and we were able to hear of his experience firsthand and how he has been able to move on with his life. We also want to recognize our driver, Oded, who always greeted us with cold water, candy and a smile as we boarded the bus and took good care of us, including caring for one member of our group who was feeling under the weather on one morning of the tour. With these personal touches, Eilon and Oded left a lasting positive impression on our group and enhanced our individual experiences and memories.
Quality makes a difference. The itinerary, arrival and departure assistance, accommodations and guide were all perfect for our group – we would not have changed a thing. When we first got the itinerary and pricing, there were some travelers in our group who thought we were paying too much. After the first tour day, those same people said “worth every penny.” And at the end of the trip everyone said they wanted to stay longer! If you want a personalized “trip of a lifetime”, we highly recommend Susan Weissberg and Wylly’s Travel for top-quality advice and expert planning --and be sure to request Eilon for your guide!