A good old friend of mine is finally making her first trip to Israel next week. She’ll be here for 2-3 weeks, and I am excited to be showing her around a lot, and helping her plan her time here. Someone else (a friend of a friend) contacted me to suggest places for her to visit when she comes here in the Fall. And many other times people ask me similar questions when they hear I am studying to become a tour guide.
Itinerary planning is a job and skill in itself. And it is a major task in the tour guiding profession. But it is not yet something which I have studied or have a lot of experience with. And yet, I am going to have to get started on it now to help Lara have an awesome fun time here! So while I’ve started to think about it, I’d love to hear from you guys as well.
The two people who have asked me for this help recently (my friend Lara and the other friend of a friend) have some different needs and others that overlap each other. For starters, Lara is Jewish and the other woman is not. To my knowledge, neither is particularly religious, but I suspect that there will be more emphasis (though not to the point of exclusion) on Christian sites for the friend’s friend, and more on Jewish sites for Lara. Additionally, while both are on somewhat limited budgets, they seem to me to be in slightly different ranges of the lower end. Finally, with Lara, I will be spending a larger portion of the time, whereas with the other person it is more advice, or perhaps a single day that I will be with her.
Itineraries in Israel need to incorporate such a huge variety of sites/purposes. There are historical sites from well over 3000 years (thus both ancient and modern history) and numerous cultures. There are religious sites of many varieties. There are museums of all stripes and activities of many kinds, from hiking, to beaches, to historical reenactments, to archaeological digs, etc. There are also cultural and experiential activities: culinary sites, music events, festivals of all kinds and just good bars, restaurants and nightlife.
What do you think is a must-see for a first-time visit to Israel? Both for a Jewish traveler and a Christian one? A few of the must-sees I have are obvious: Western Wall, Masada, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Kinneret, Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, etc. But what else?