So I think I mentioned in the previous entry that since we're not paying for airfare or hotels, we decided to splurge on a private guide. What I didn't mention is how we found our guide.
Back in 1986 (87), when my parents took me to Israel as a college graduation present, my Mom had a friend who as a side business, organzied trips and tours to Israel. She arranged for our hotels in Israel, our stay in a kibbutz and our private guide who drove us around the country. I was totally uninvolved in the planning of that trip; I just showed up. So as far as I could tell, everything went fine.
Fast forward to about nine months ago. I thought it would be neat if we could get the same guide for our trip, as my parents and I used twenty years ago. So I contacted my mother's friend. At first we thought we were all set, but then a few weeks later, he backed out. He had sold the car he used for groups and didn't think the five of us would be comfortable in his car.
Not a problem, my Mom's friend said, she also works with an agency in Israel, and it will be a bit more money but we could go through them. Inundated with Bat Mitzvah planning, and who knows what else, I agreed. I have a sense of forboding about that decision, as a potential mistake on my part. Why? Well because I didn't do any cost comparison and I feel perhaps we are paying a bit two much. Second, because I like to plan trips. I like to plan them down to the minutest detail and not having control over this situation is driving me bonkers.
See here's the thing. Chris is Catholic, so unlike other Jews, we don't want a trip solely devoted to Jewish historical/theological sites, we want a mix. When I expressed it to Mom's friend, well, when I express any concern to Mom's friend, I get a standard don't worry response. Sorry, that doesn't cut it for me. I worry. Specifically, when I mentioned our desire for what we would like to do and see, and our desire to not be run ragged, I get the "You'll work it all out with the guide when you're there." Except, I don't know this guide. I don't know if it's a man or a woman. And I don't know how knowledgable this guide is about things, not "Jewish."
As a matter of fact, other than a tentative itinerary sent to me months ago, which looks like a pretty standard itinerary and a phone number for the woman who runs the agency, I have no information. I do not know the company's name, I do not know the guide's name, and I have no way of getting in touch with anyone Israel-side if something should go wrong, or if we get delayed.
So, as I'm sitting here writing this, I'm getting more and more perturbed. So you know what, I'm going to call her and get a bit more information out of her b/c I just am not comfortable having so little control over this situation.
Anyway, at this point, I'm not going to tell you what we paid, b/c if people read this and tell me I way overpaid, I'm going to feel horrible. So let's do this. I'm going to list what's included in our price. Feel free to comment as to what you think it's worth.
- Executive Escort Service through Ben Gurion Airport
- Transfer from BGA to our hotel in Jerusalem
- Eight days private guide with car (itinerary to follow in anothe post)
- All entrance fees
- Two nights at Hagoshrim, including two breakfasts, and two dinners
- Transfer back to Ben Gurion.
So that's it. Itinerary to follow as well as any other information I receive.