As for the experience itself . . . absolutely incredible. With the VIP service at the airport, we were able to avoid the long lines and confusion that the rest of the travelers faced because we were whisked to exactly where we needed to go with priority access. The hotels that you recommended for us were exactly what we had requested: nice, clean, with free wifi in the guest rooms. And how we loved those massive buffet breakfasts every morning that were included with our stay!! We also truly appreciated you giving us complimentary access to the hotels’ VIP lounges! (On several evenings, we weren’t hungry enough for a full dinner, and the food offerings in the VIP lounges were sufficient to meet our needs!)
Our tour guide Beja, seemed to know everyone, no matter where we went in Israel! His engaging personality, knowledge of history, and never-ending stories kept us riveted and made us laugh. I can’t tell you what our favorite activity was; we enjoyed them all! The archeological dig at Tel Maresha and the crawl through the Bell Caves were both instructive and fun. We all were captivated by the story of Machon Ayalon, the underground munitions factory hidden from the British under a kibbutz bakery and laundromat and run by teenagers that were essentially our kids’ ages. Our bike tour of Tel Aviv revealed more of the architecturally diverse city than we ever would have encountered on our own. The ancient port of Caesarea was beautiful (thank you for gifting us with snorkeling tour!), as were the grottos at Rosh Hanikra. During our visit to the Upper Galilee, our kids found the Jeep tour very exciting while they simultaneously gained a deeper understanding of the past wars as well as the current political climate. Despite how close we were to Syria and Lebanon, I felt completely safe and protected the entire time. In fact, I felt safer in Israel than I do in some American cities. Finally, no first-time visit to Israel would be complete without spending time at ancient sites like Masada, the Dead Sea, the Western Wall (and the excavated tunnels underneath the Wall) and the Old City of Jerusalem. We also found time to tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and the Israeli Supreme Court. At the end of the trip, we were disappointed that we had to leave Israel and sad to say goodbye to Beja, who became like an additional family member!
Susan, I have been singing your praises to everyone who asks us about our trip to Israel. I hope to return again in the not-too-distant future, and I look forward to revisiting some of the places that I wanted to explore more extensively and also discovering different sites that time didn’t allow us to see. Of course, you will be the first and ONLY travel agent I contact!