So clearly my plan to blog about Israel isn't bustling along. I've been home for nearly three weeks without posting a word. So let's do this in bits.
Bit No. 1: Instead of touring on our own or with a group, we splurged and had a private tour guide. A cousin recommended a guy named Nir Nitzan, who owns a company called Nirtours4U. The name doesn't appeal so much in America, but Nir does. (Note: I do not and did not get anything for this endorsement. I paid full price.)
Nir is not imitating Jesus on the cross. He was making ancient ruins interesting, which is tough to do with my family. The cross bit fits right in, though, because Nir pointed out a cross-shaped tree on a mountain above the ruins.
As it turns out, that tree is a fake. It was bolted to the ground during the filming of the movie Jesus Christ Superstar. One Christian group didn't believe that so Nir actually took those faith-focused doubters up the hill so they could touch it and learn for themselves.
And that's the thing about Nir. He knows cool stuff.
We had a set itinerary. We asked for your basic American Jewish tour, but he will tailor every tour. In fact, he swings through the United States two-three times a year to meet potential clients and find out what interests them.
Once you get going, your trip is stress free. Nir held the itinerary, and beelined us to the most interesting parts of each site and museum. Then he entertained us with the big facts and the fun ones, such as the tale behind the random dramatic tree peering down at the partly unearthed ruins of a Roman city.
Not all our stops were serious, though many were. We canoed, we swam in the Dead Sea, we shopped at markets. More on that as my energy surges.
The banter continued along the way. We traveled in Nir's minivan, which is equipped with WiFi, FYI. As we drove, he talked about "cultural differences," politics, architecture, military matters, and on and on. Nir is a third-generation Israeli, a long-time tour guide, and a 30-year active/reserve military veteran. He knows his country and the people who comprise it. The conversation was so fascinating that I could have skipped Israel's intriguing must-sees and just listened.
That's it for now. In my next blog, I will share an Israeli miracle potion.
Travel safely, Rona