We found the best licensed tour guide ever. Her name is Asnat Cohen, and she can be reached at +972 505 340681 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her rate for the full day tour (8:30am - 3:30 pm) is $375, not including entrance fees and lunch. But she is highly knowledgeable, personable, and flexible, all the qualities necessary for a good guide. If you are in need of a tour guide in Jerusalem or know of someone in need, I can't say extoll her praises enough. Please pass along her name. There. Protectzia Managed.
Actually, I started my day by walking to Eldan Car Rental to pick up our rental. I had originally rented a small minivan, but I obviously didn't read the small print when I reserved online, and I discovered when I got there that I had rented a manual transmission. The last time I drove a manual, I was younger than Lurch. The time to relearn, I decided, was NOT in the middle of Israel. Luckily, they had a Kia Sorento available which has served us pretty well. In fact, I have only three minor complaints. First, the right passenger seat in the back was busted and wouldn't recline properly, so Pugsley had to sit in the middle seat propped up against his big brother. Second, since the owner's manual is entirely in Hebrew, I couldn't even check to see if I was doing something wrong in getting the seat to recline (spoiler alert, I wasn't...it was just busted). Third, Israel is not made for big ass cars. Parking is a challenge when you literally can't see the parking lines or curbs. However, Israel is a country built upon faith, which may be why I did so much davening in the car. Who needs shul? Just try to navigate an SUV through Akko. I swear I started growing payot the moment we hit Highway 1.
But enough of that. Today was all about the Old City tour. Remember Alice? This is a song about Alice.
Asnat started by taking us up on top the ramparts near the Jaffa Gate. My eldest son vigorously opted out of the rickety spiral staircase to the top of the wall, so the rest of us had an abbreviated tour of the top of the wall before we came back down to collect Lurch.
Asnat took us to the Kotel, the edge of the Temple Mount, the Arab shuk, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and countless other spots throughout the city. We had lunch at a moderately pricey but nice restaurant somewhere in the Old City where I got my first falafel of the trip. We learned about the history of the city from ancient to modern times, learned the difference between a Crusader's and an Arabic arch, learned about the ancient tunnels in the city...frankly it's all a bit of jumble right now. Go to Wikipedia and look up Old City Of Jerusalem. Whatever it says, we probably touched it.
Lurch was most interested to learn that Asnat used to live in The Netherlands and spoke fluent Dutch as well as Hebrew and English. Lurch has plans to move to the Netherlands as soon as he is financially able, so he naturally asked more questions about the Netherlands than about Jerusalem.
I hope you are all highly impressed. I had to find a Dutch tour guide to keep my teenager engaged in the family tour of Jerusalem. They never talk about THAT in the guidebooks.