The trip was fantastic and everything that Estelle and I had hoped for.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of places we were able to see each day. Although we were unable to spend a lot of time at any one place in particular, the tour let us absorb and appreciate the essence of Israel and the Jewish history in the area.
The hotels were perfectly fine and although I am unable to eat a lot of the food available at breakfast, I was amazed at the number of offerings as well as the excellent service.
However, in my opinion, the true standout of the trip was our tour guide Doran. The breadth and depth of his knowledge regarding all facets of Israel including history, archeology, geology, politics, culture, religions, military. etc., was only matched by his eagerness to share it with the tour group. He had a lot of responsibility in keeping everyone together, getting to the stops on time, and dealing with the assorted personalities, all of which he accomplished with great humor and professionalism. Also, I need to mention the driver who was able to maneuver the bus through many tight and awkward spaces without incident. In fact some of his moves actually elicited applause from the passengers.
As you know we arrived in Israel a day late due to the unexpected snow storm but the driver that met us at the airport brought us directly to the tour which allowed us to only miss the first half hour or so. On our last day at the Carlton in Tel Aviv we were supposed to vacate the room by 12:00 PM but were scheduled to be driven to the airport at 9:00 PM for our 12:30 AM flight home. However, the staff at the Carlton allowed us to stay in the room until 2:00. We called Moshe Eitan to see if he could get us to the airport earlier and he was able to pick us up at 6:00 which allowed us to get through the VAT line and spend some time at the EL Al lounge before our flight home.
Lastly, I want to thank you for your excellent advice (hotel choices, staying at the airport, etc.) and quick responses to my emails. You essentially saved our long awaited trip when you were able to quickly rebook us on a flight the day after the storm caused our original flight to be canceled.