Tour Guide Diaries September 2016

When two large families from Canada and Israel join for a tour in Israel, WW3 is almost unleashed in Israel. The results of that almost major conflict are that the women take charge and the men wisely murmur “Yes Dear” and the kids have fun.


For the privacy for everyone involved, if I mentioned names, they are not their true names (except myself).


  1. The Tour from Hell (10/1/2016) - This tour was the tour from hell ... for me. For the group absolutely not, because they had loads of fun, costing me my hair of course. We are talking about a tour, which shows what Israel actually is, a mixture of culture, adventure, exploration and Israeli sights in all the major touristic centers of Israel. This article is part of the Tour Guide Diaries September 2016.
  2. Gate of the Chain Clair, the Red Headed Ghost of Jerusalem (9/26/2016) - Or the sick who became a ghost? The change of title depends on your perspective of a very funny and mysterious (at first) story I've to tell you about a recent so called low-budget tour in September 2016.
  3. Tour Guide Diaries September 2016 (9/24/2016) - When two large families from Canada and Israel join for a tour in Israel, WW3 is almost unleashed in Israel. The results of that almost major conflict are that the women take charge and the men wisely murmur "Yes Dear" and the kids have fun.
  4. Tour Guide Diaries August 2016 (9/23/2016) - Three stories for this month in the Tour Guide Diaries. One story is about chocolate and how it came back to the guide and bit him in his behind. The other story sounds like a soap opera, but truly happened. Our group rescued another guided tour group, who were lost in the middle of the Goat Market in Be’er Sheba. The third story is the continuation of the last one about two goats (smuggled from that market) on rampage in a hotel and its aftermath.
  5. Tour Guide Diaries July 2016 (9/23/2016) - Two stories here. One is about the relationship between a guide and a camel with the name of Fred in a tour, and the other one is about a tour with alternative transports with like trains, buses and camels! Further it describes the baptizing in Israel and renewal of wedding vows.

The ultimate battle during the tour
And it was indeed a battle!
This tour was a Family and Children tour for 12 days with a group of 30 (15 kids between 7-16 years, grand parents, parents, uncles and aunts), consisting mainly out of families from Canada and Israel. It was a joyful happening, because most of them knew each other, talked with each other, but most of them actually never met! The itinerary of our tour was traveling from Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Acre, Sea of Galilee, Golan, Safed (Tzfat), Jerusalem, Dead Sea, Qumran, Masada, Negev and Eilat. Because of the kids, I was accompanied by two other (‘junior’) guides.

I was waiting at the airport to welcome and pickup the families from Canada, and one of my juniors (as I love to call them, because they called me Sheik) were organizing part of the Israeli families at hotel Dan in Tel Aviv; the other part of the Israeli families were with me. One grandfather, several mothers and several kids from the Israeli families accompanied me.

We knew that the families from Canada had already landed and waited anxiously when they would appear. My other junior was inside the airport to assist the families from the airplane through the check-in. Then indeed the joyful moment finally had come, the families from Canada approached us with almost all of their luggage; my junior was dragging the rest! He, he.

The two families met halfway, and I expected that they would hug each other, yell, cry, slapping each other on their backs, shaking hands, kissing … the whole thing you do when you meet finally remote relatives … but nothing like that happened. They stopped moving and watched each other icily. Some of the Canadians were looking even angry, dark looks were exchanged and I really had no idea what to do or what was going on.

One moment I assumed joy, the other moment I expected to see Word War III being initiated. That was not what they said when they registered the tour with me. Bl**dy h*ll, only I have those bl**dy situations. The standoff continued for several seconds and I was already looking where the security was located, expected any moment blows to be exchanged.

But the whole standoff was resolved by holding a hand from the grand father to one of the Canadians and accepted the handshake. The tension lessened considerable, but was not totally gone. With stony, unhappy faces, the Canadians were moving to the exit of the hall, assuming (wrongly) that the bus was waiting for them.

It was time to interfere. I introduced myself to the Canadians and they looked displeased. I also proposed to eat and drink something, so they could relax a bit, while we would prepare everything for them. The Canadians said that they had no choice then, while in the background I saw one of the Canadian kids kicking an Israeli kid. I thought that it would be a good idea to move the whole group to a very public area, that in case they went to fight, at least I could get some good video and it would be short, hoping of interference of the police and security at the airport.

While I was suffering under the staring match between Canada and Israel, my junior in Tel Aviv was busy to eat and drink as she liked at the ‘walking’ buffet in the hotel. The mothers were exploring the spa, the kids in the swimming pool and the teenagers were staring at their mobile phones. What the junior didn’t realize was that the teens had live coverage of the stony welcome of the Canadians!

anger-management1In the meanwhile, the tensions between the Canadians and the Israelis at the small restaurant in the airport was increasing and I was ordering the bus to hurry up. At the moment the bus arrived at the airport, the first sandwich was flying towards one of the Israeli kids. Thank god that the grandfather was stopping escalation and we moved out of the restaurant to the waiting bus. Our driver, Ilan (or the Mule as I still call him that, because he also called me Sheik), was waiting for the group to arrive.

The Canadians refused to place the luggage with the Israeli luggage. The Israelis refused to sit with the Canadians. A Canadian mother refused  to allow her daughter to sit at the back, an Israeli mother refused to allow her son to sit at the front near the driver, the grandfather refused to speak, and two kids resumed kicking each other again.

What a joy.

Finally, after four bathroom stops, two times puking in the bus, an irritating mule behind the wheels, 5 fights between the kids, cursing, swearing, a really unhappy group arrived in Tel Aviv.

I phoned already ahead of time and asked the hotel to move the rooms reserved for the Canadians to another floor, preferable 5 floors down. They did, at least that was working. I talked with the grandfather to split the tour buses into two smaller ones, and he agreed (he pays for the whole trip, including that of the Canadians), so I did that too. Junior 1 (Andrey was his name) got the Canadians and I had the Israelis. Junior 2 (Lena was her name) would join the Canadians too, but later. That was the plan (the Juniors didn’t know it yet).

Dan Hotel Tel Aviv - desk
Dan Hotel Tel Aviv – desk

Arriving at the hotel, I almost forced the Israelis into the hotel itself (thanks to Junior 1), away from the Canadians. We registered the Canadians and showed them their rooms.

Dan Hotel Tel Aviv - Normal room
Dan Hotel Tel Aviv – Normal room

They were not pleased. Too small, too ratty (whatever that means), too shabby, the carpets were worn, the rooms were dirty, the TV was too small, too less channels, no Disney channel, no movie channel, everything in Hebrew (was not true), the remote was an universal one and didn’t work (it worked partly), the mattresses were bad, the room stinks, the bathroom was too small, no Fox news channel, no newspapers, no flowers (there were, but plastic) and the service was bad (huh?). That was only the first 20 minutes! Oof.

Dan Hotel Tel Aviv - Normal room
Dan Hotel Tel Aviv – Normal room

What they didn’t know was that those rooms cost $220 per night! I know that those rooms are not up to standard internationally speaking and I know that those rooms are indeed overpriced, but at least have the decency to stop complaining and speak with me to do something about it with the grandfather.

Well, I made a correction and assigned the juniors to the Israelis and I would try to handle the Canadians. But something drastically must happen before that.

If the mess was not already enough with the complaining Canadians, two couples started to yell between each other, and one aunt was already thinking aloud to return home and was seriously studying her ticket, playing with her cell phone (which did not work here).

Between all that chaos and fighting, screaming and again cursing, I asked if there was someone speaking for the family (at least the Canadian part), which set off a new round of arguing, fighting and cursing.

After ten minutes of arguing, they finally came to a decision. A man, an uncle I believe, two meters tall, was the spokesman for the family. I immediately called for the grandfather to come to a neutral place (an empty conference room). I asked one of the juniors to watch the Canadians; they might start a warpath with the Israelis if they knew where they had their rooms or they might kill each other.

We met and asked the two gentlemen to cancel the tour. There was no way that this could continue!

That was a shock for both men and they realized that they had indeed a problem. So they started to talk. I immediately left the conference room, locked it, and went to my favorite place, the kitchen, where I gorged myself with sweets. After 20 minutes I returned, opened the door and both men were smiling. What had they decided?

A family conference in that same room.

I was of course highly skeptical, but it’s their business and their decision, so who am I to interfere or offer my advise in this stage. The only thing I did was telling the grandfather that the rooms were not up to standard for this hotel.

Oof, that was a stupid move.

Within an half hour, the manager of the hotel was in the conference room, both part of the families from Canada and Israel joined them and I closed the doors and stood outside, together with my juniors. I had a killer of a headache, while the juniors had an nice time in the spa and swimming pool.

The next day supposes to be a light program with the Tel Aviv promenade, hitting the beach and in the evening we would all go out in Tel Aviv. The Mule (his name was Ilan), our driver joined us later, stinking of cheap perfume. He cleaned his bus, but the smell of the puke was overwhelming, so he gassed the bus with his ‘macho’ perfume. Grand! Great. But maybe we would be lucky to split the group into two buses and forget the large monster. Yes, it was luxurious, and yes, very comfortable, but stinking after Mule’s perfume!?

The doors opened and the harassed looking manager was speeding through it like he was on fire. He was followed by both families, chatting with each other, smiling and nobody was kicking anyone. Within a hour, the Canadians were moved to other rooms, and everyone joined each other to have finally dinner. No fights, no words, no staring and glaring, no kicking and no throwing food. Great.

The grandfather announced that they wanted to continue with the tour as it was originally intended and we could continue with the large bus. Later that evening I asked the grandfather what caused the change of mind and he grinned.

“It’s the power of money. I threatened everyone to revoke privileges and send the Canadians on a low-budged airplane, stopping 7 places all around the world before they finally could be home in Canada and the Israeli families with sending them home and stop paying for their bills and schools. And that worked,” he said, still grinning.

That was crisis number one and resolved. It took of course years from my life, but who cares, not? And I’m already gray.

Then the grandfather asked why the juniors were calling me Sheik and my day was complete.

The next morning started indeed much better. The families were mixing and nobody threw any breakfast and everything looked fine. The grandfather was still grinning at me. We were ready for the tour on the Tel Aviv Promenade.

Tel Aviv Promenade
Tel Aviv Promenade

The families indeed walked over the promenade, the kids went to the beach with both juniors. We continued walking towards Yaffo and it’s markets, narrow streets, and visiting the churches and even a Yaffa Railroad Museum.

In the evening I changed the itinerary and send them to the theater and the kids to a teenager friendly dance club with live music in the center of Tel Aviv. That was a success, because everyone came home happy, jolly and in a very good mood.

Ramat Gan Safari
Ramat Gan Safari
Luna Park 11
Luna Park in Tel Aviv

The next day the itinerary said that we would visit the Ramat Gan Safari in the morning and the Luna park in the afternoon. So far, so good and we survived this day with thanks to the two juniors.

Acre
Acre

Day three would be the test for our driver, the Mule. We would travel to Tiberias, but stop at Caesarea, Acre, Knights Halls, Al-Jazaar Mosque and The bathhouse (Hamam al-Basha), Montfort, Rosh Hanikra Grottoes & Cable Car and Nahal Kziv. Nahal Kziv is a water reserve and we will see if they like that. Also the rest are actually standard tourist attractions and see how the families react to that.

Rosh Hanikra Grottoes
Rosh Hanikra Grottoes

Everything went fine that day, until they came to Rosh Hanikra (you can find there the water or sea caves). At the cable car, one kid pushed the other kid, and from that moment, WW3 was unleashed. The conflict was resolved by an angry grandfather, dragging both kids on their ears outside and forced them to stay there under guard of the spokesman of the Canadians.

Nahal Kziv
Nahal Kziv

At Nahal Kziv, the grandfather almost drowned, the whole family almost wished that one kid would drown, and an Israeli couple started a fight between themselves.

Leonardo Club Tiberias
Leonardo Club Tiberias

We took quickly the bus and moved to Tiberias, Leonardo Club. That evening it went really well, they had their boat tour on the Sea of Galilee. Nobody fell in the water, nobody kicked each other, nobody had a fit, nobody was complaining, no screaming and no cursing.

Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee

Except the shipper, who wanted or tried to cut the trip short after 20 minutes to save his precious fuel. I forced him to stay on the lake for an hour, 10 minutes longer then that they paid for as punishment.

Manara Cliff
Manara Cliff

At day 4 we visited Hof Tzemach, a water park near Sea of Galilee, Manara Cliff, Mey Kedem Water Tunnel and in the evening an Old-Tiberias city tour. That went well, except in the evening we went into a small restaurant to eat old fashioned American steak, and the Canadians were looking perplexed at the small slice of meat, which suppose to be a steak.

Hof Tzemach
Hof Tzemach

That went well, and indeed a food fight started with one of the 16 year old kids was throwing his steak at the waiter. He was right on, because he hit him straight in his face, and a moment later fell on the floor, where he promptly slipped and dropped beer and cola all over the floor, washing the grandfather with it.

After loads of excuses and paying loads of money, they changed the mind of the restaurant owner, who wanted to call the police, the sad company went back to their hotel. The Canadians moved their rooms a couple of floors down and there was a cold truce between them.

Dan Hotel In Jerusalem
Dan Hotel In Jerusalem

At day 5 they visited Safed (artist-colony), Otzar Hastam (Jewish religious amusement park in Safed), Sorek (Avshalom) Cave or Bell Cave or Hariton Cave and Bloomfield Science Museum.

Bell Cave
Bell Cave

The armed, tense peace continued and at least they were not throwing around food and curses anymore in the evening during dinner in the new hotel in Jerusalem (Dan Jerusalem). Also a bit hard to do, because the Canadians and Israelis were sitting on separate tables.

In day 6 the armed truce continued and the official cold war between Canada and Israel continued in all its glory, but there were some people who were working to undermine the armed truce. The kids!

Biblical Zoo, Jerusalem
Biblical Zoo, Jerusalem

The itinerary for that day was visiting the Biblical Zoo, Time Elevator, Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, Wohl Rose Garden and in the evening the light show at City of David. That went spectacular and everyone was dutiful impressed. The Canadians were not admitting that they enjoyed the show with the fun day and the Israelis were acting like Canada didn’t exist.

Wohl Rose Garden, Jerusalem
Wohl Rose Garden, Jerusalem

That came to a the climax the next day when the families were visiting the Yad Vashem and Children’s Memorial. The started screaming at the Children’s Memorial! That was for me (and many others a very bad idea), so mount Sheik or William exploded and erupted! Enough!

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

Peace was back, but with me in the role of the UN (or what the UN suppose to be doing). We went to the next thing in Jerusalem and moved to the Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus 99. That was followed by the Mahane Yehuda Market and that was fun.

Mahane Yehuda Market
Mahane Yehuda Market

The families started to bicker and then to fight again and guess who was enforcing the peace? The Arab shop owners and the market!

Everyone was properly ashamed and the tour continued with the Bible Lands Museum. On our way back to the hotel, we canceled the evening city tour and everyone went to their rooms cursing each other.

Jerusalem Scavenger Hunt
Jerusalem Scavenger Hunt

The whole thing exploded straight in everyones faces during the Old City Scavenger Hunt. It was hilarious! The families went against each other and were accusing each other of cheating (indeed they did), started to curse each other until one of the fathers punched the other on his nose and then it became worse. The police arrived and interfered; the gentlemen with black eyes, split lips, bruises went to the police station and the women came together with the kids to discuss what needs to be done. Junior 1 went with the gentlemen and police and junior 2 and I stayed with the women and kids.

Cinema City Jerusalem
Cinema City Jerusalem

We continued with the tour to First Railway Station, Haas Promenade, and Herzl Museum and had a good time, while the group of subdued gentlemen were caring for their bruises in their hotel rooms. In the evening we all (except the gentlemen) went to the Cinema City Jerusalem.

Kibbutz Ein Gedi’s botanical garden
Kibbutz Ein Gedi’s botanical garden

The next day (day 9), the itinerary had planned the Dead Sea, Qumran, Ein Gedi and Ein Gedi Botanical Garden. I planned my revenge! This was the most stressful tour I’ve every seen or heard off.

Dead Sea
Dead Sea

At breakfast, the last one in Jerusalem, there was a very different group then usual. All males of the group sat subdued at a table in a corner, hardly having the courage to stand up to get food. The other part of the group, the females, we amusing them selves immensely and had an obvious good time. It seemed to me that they had a ‘talk’ that evening or night! Great.

At the Dead Sea I sold the story to the group (in the bus before we arrived) that they all needed to be covered with Dead Sea mud, because it sucks the aggression out of the body. The women were looking pointedly at the uneasy looking men, including the kids and grandfather.

And indeed, after 15 minutes at the Dead Sea the men were totally covered with mud. And I took care to use a beach without public showers nearby. So if they wanted to get rid of the mud, they must go into the Dead Sea itself, he, he.

The women were not so stupid and immediately saw that there were no showers and asked me about it. I answered them that there were indeed showers, but in the nearby hotels for NIS 5 per person they could use it.

After the gentlemen suffered enough under the mud and trying to wash it from their bodies in the salty Dead Sea, each wound would sting doing so! The women were looking at the scene with satisfied expressions on their faces. That would teach them, not?

Qumran
Qumran

The women demanded spa instead of Qumran and so it went. The ladies went to a hotel nearby for their spa and the gentlemen were eating dust at Qumran. Feeling sorry for the gents, we moved quickly (without the ladies) to Ein Gedi.

Ein Gedi National Park
Ein Gedi National Park

All the unease, dust, and dirt was washed away in the waters of Ein Gedi. I called the juniors to collect the ladies for a nice tour in this amazing oasis.

We finalized the day with the beautiful Ein Gedi Botanical Garden.

In the evening, they had amusement of the belly dancer and his d****d so called magician, who still called me Sheik. The belly dancer was explaining to the women why her husband (the magician) was calling me Sheik, but I didn’t know that at that time … yet.

When the women and the kids went to bed, the men stayed behind. The grandfather asked how I manage to have so many wives and 20 kids, while he had always such problems with one wife! Before I could answer that, I saw a grinning belly dancer leaving the Bedouin tent, where we all ate before. So I told him that everything was a lie, but ended up with telling them the story again, because they heard it already from the so called d****d magician.

Before anyone could drink too much (and face the wrath of the women again), I told them to go to bed, because tomorrow we drive to Eilat after Masada. That helped … somewhat. Almost everyone went indeed to their (separate) rooms (the women moved to separate rooms before), except the grandfather and the spokesman of the Canadian families. They stayed awake until I found them next morning snoring. One of the kids drew a sun on the bald head of the grandfather. I decided not to say anything.

At the Bedouin breakfast, we had some amusing scenes, where the grandfather had no idea what was drawn on his bald head and answered the question if he had already a shower. “Of course I had!” he exclaimed. Everyone promptly laughed.

At Masada I went all out. I planned to have a normal tour of Masada, but this time I went with the extended version of it.

When we left Masada finally, everyone was intrigued and properly impressed.

Timna National Park
Timna National Park

When we finally arrived at Eilat, before we went to our hotel, we visited the amazing Timna Park. and in the evening we were bowling at Eilat (that was after we checked in at Dan Eilat.

Dan Eilat Hotel
Dan Eilat Hotel

First thing we did, right after the breakfast, was greeting Fred our camel. We went with the Eilat’s Camel Ranch.

Eilat’s Camel Ranch
Eilat’s Camel Ranch

That was indeed fun for the kids, while their parents and the rest went with the camels. I insisted that grandfather went with Fred the camel. I choose to walk (I took the jeep from the many kids of the Bedouin man).

In the afternoon we went to the Dolphin beach, followed by Nightmare Eilat. In the evening we had Chinese theater at the Eilat’s Isrotel Theater.

I was happy, because the next day this dreadful tour would finally end. When I was thinking that, I heard load voices and screams and yells from the corridor next to my room, I shared with the Mule, the driver. There we go again, I thought.

I opened carefully the door to the corridor and what did I see? Complete strangers fighting and cursing each other in the fancy Dan hotel. I was so relieved and smiled happily. That one is not on me.

Ice Space
Ice Space

The next day, day 12, the final count down had reached its point of meltdown during the breakfast. It started so well and we were planning to go first to Ice Space. That idea was forgotten quickly, when grandfather was squaring against one of the formidable women from Quebec! Everyone took their sides and I started to call for  Mule and his bus, so we could get the Canadians quickly to the airport to avoid any further meltdowns and police.

After the woman slapped the grandfather in his face after loads of screaming  near the panicking hotel manager (fingering his mobile), I managed to drag the Canadians to the bus. The juniors helped the kids with the luggage and dragged everything down and straight into the bus. Without a word the bus left to the airport, where I was trying to calm everyone down. At the airport, we unloaded everyone and wished them a good trip back home.

That was one tour, never to forget and I really don’t want to have ever a repeat if I can avoid this.

In this month, we had several more tours, thank god they were normal tours without any drama. I met Fred the camel seven more times after that and it seemed that he was angry with me, because I sicked grandfather on him. Who could tell that a gay camel had such reaction and viciousness. Yes, he bit me in my behind and I could not sit very well for two days. And yes, the Bedouin man was laughing for the first time when Fred did that. And yes, I was too slow. And yes, that proofs that Fred the camel is a vicious camel with a bad temper and a long memory. But it doesn’t proof that Fred the camel is more intelligent then me, according Mule.

And yes, I met the belly dancer multiple times and do you know that she has a little pimple between her b … you know. It’s true. I saw it very clear during … when she danced close … very close. Thank god I’m old and have a belly and I’m gray.

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