Sooo, when I decided to post a testimonial, the first thing I did was look through other testimonials on the TI website. Lo and behold, everyone who was posted there seemed to have the exact experience that the Hirsch's did. However, I believe that the Hirsch's had a most unique YTI experience not only with touring, but with the entire company!
Towards the end of 2012, we decided that a trip to Israel was to be planned for mid to late June of 2013. That was probably the easiest decision of the whole process. The last time I was in Israel was 1972 so my recollections, although vivid were rather limited. This was my wife Shelley's and my daughter Jess' first tip to Israel and I wanted them to have a fun filled, yet historically accurate and politically stimulating experience! We decided that private touring was the best choice for us, so I asked around for recommendations... friends, friends of friends, etc. For various reasons I kept coming up empty; I NEVER felt comfortable with ANY of them!
Flights were booked in March and now the pressure was on. So many questions to be asked and answered. How would we get from city to city? (rent a car, bus, tour group (not a chance). Hotels? Restaurants? Sites? (pre purchase or on site purchase of tickets). and of course a general itinerary. Everything was so so confusing to me!
Then, one day a search of the internet turned up a company recommended by Conde Naste Traveller, JOE YUDIN'S TOURING ISRAEL, "Luxury Tours"! Ok, the Conde Cast reco was cool, but we ALL know what "luxury" is code for... EXPENSIVE! However, we have always been a family that believes you get what you pay for, but still must "do your homework and tread carefully. Well, at first glance I noticed an 800#! Fantastic, I can speak with a human being... I called and got Jonathan. Very pleasant guy who explained the basic process and prices (a bit pricey... but I was still treading). We talked for perhaps 30 minutes. He also explained that he was in the sales and marketing department (cool, they HAD a sales and marketing department!) and the next step would be to chat with the Director of Guides and touring, Gil (I love speaking to Directors! <smile>). The next day Gil called me! (I love when directors call ME!). We talked for almost an hour. I believe that THIS was the most important step of all (I was wrong). During the hour, I was being "interviewed" as to my likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams for this trip! Gil said the next step would be for me to leave a deposit and he would get me a "1st draft itinerary and select a tour guide for us (we wanted to be on our own for a bit, guided for a bit, needed some down time as well as some time with Israeli friends in Tel Aviv.
Gil suggested Mordi to be our tour guide (altho he kept saying it would be OUR decision if we read bios and even contacted Mordi and were not comfortable... I liked that a lot!). The itinerary was a bit challenging (probably because I am challenging!) but was finally worked out (again with Gil saying... NOTHING is "written in stone", I liked that a lot and we did make changes along the way... <we later found out on an Archeological dig at Maresha that this was sort of a biblical expression, because most important things were REALLY written in STONE!>).
The next step was actually the most important! I was sent an email telling me from that point on, my contact person would be someone named Roni, and she would email me soon! She called me! (you KNOW how I liked that!). Roni became more than just a contact person, she became first our "handler" and now, I am sure is a friend! (we have never met face to face!) Every question from me in an email was answered within 15 minutes... in a professional, and friendly manner! If she did not know an answer, she would tell me she would find out and then got back to me within 24 hours! As you can tell from this testimonial I am not easy and yet Roni never cracked! The emails numbered in the hundreds, I am sure! Roni was ALWAYS there for us. Even calling DURING our trip to ask if we needed anything, and also to wish me and my wife a happy birthday (on the actual days of our birthdays!). Roni purchased site tickets (when necessary), suggested and made restaurant reservations, printed itineraries and reprinted when changes were made... and generally made me feel absolutely comfortable giving a large sum of money to an internet company that was based 6000 miles away from home!
The tour went without a hitch! Mordi was a FANTASTIC tour guide, offering incredible historical knowledge, political insights into this "very complicated" country as well as personal asides! Oh yes... he even personalized music in the van! ("Jessica" and Tom Waites <smile>). Again... a member of the company becoming a friend! When Mordi had a family event to attend we were given a second guide, Dror. This turn of events was a little unnerving at first, but in stepped Roni to make me feel comfortable. "you will LOVE Dror" she said. I believed her... and she was right! Dror, who was actually a friend of Mordi and Joe Yudin (they did guide training together), was a sweetheart! Although different than Mordi in style, he was just as knowledgeable and personable! As a matter of fact, while in Haifa we actually had to stop, pull over and greet his mom who happened to be driving by (one of the highlights of our trip!... what a moment!)
In conclusion, this trip was SABABA... for those who do NOT know this expression you need to learn it and use it appropriately during your trip! Earlier I said that we were a family who believed that "you get what you pay for". All things considered, I believe the value we got considering the price we paid was phenomenal. I would recommend this company to ANYONE thinking of taking a trip of a lifetime... to one of the most incredible and unique destinations in the world! When Jonathan followed up our trip with a call, and asked how our tour went, I told him he asked the wrong question. It should have been, "how was your experience with Yudin Touring Israel since March... the answer.........
Larry, Shelly and Jessica Hirsch
Suffern, New York
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.