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Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

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Follow in the footsteps of Jesus on a customized tour of Israel and Jordan

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One of the best things about working in the group travel business is the ability to put together customized trips for specific groups who are looking to experience the world in a new and exciting way. And a popular request for trips are customized tours of the Holy Lands. We often have churches, youth groups, pastors, and parisioners reaching out to us to help them plan a group tour that will bring them closer to the experiences they’ve always read about in the Bible.

The Friendly Planet Travel office sent out this press release last week, and I thought I’d share the news with you here too. Of course, we don’t only cater to Christian groups. You are talking to the traveling yenta, after all. We offer an array of customizable options for any group looking to get back to their religious roots or experience their faith in a new way. Just ask!

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Friendly Planet Travel Makes it Possible for Christians to Follow in the Footsteps of Jesus on a customized tour of Israel and Jordan
 
Tour leaders or accompanying pastors can often travel free as part of the group tour
 
JENKINTOWN, Pa.—October 1, 2009—Christians throughout the world do their best to figuratively follow in Jesus’ steps every day. Now discount tour operator Friendly Planet Travel is making it possible for Christians to literally follow in Jesus’ footsteps in ways most relevant to their beliefs.
Friendly Planet Travel, the Internet’s leading group travel site, can help Christian groups plan and enjoy customized tours of the Holy Lands at tremendous savings when churches, congregations, or Bible study groups travel together. Customized by destinations, sites, and length of travel, these tours are led by carefully selected teacher-guides who deeply understand and appreciate the religious significance of each location. Tours include as many destinations and as many days of travel as a group chooses.
            “Every denomination has different beliefs and traditions,” says Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel. “Our specialty Holy Lands tours embrace these differences and wrap them within an itinerary that blends the breathtaking natural scenery, incredible historical sites, and awe-inspiring religious significance for the perfect journey of Biblical discovery and spiritual renewal for each group. It is the true definition of pilgrimage, where travelers experience the land of the Bible, and literally watch it come alive through the tour—because those places where the events of the Bible took place still exist, and travelers get to experience them in context.”
Friendly Planet Travel’s most recent Israel and Jordan tour featured nine days of touring for just $2,380. Costs can be less or more, depending upon the itinerary and number of countries visited. And as with every Friendly Planet Travel vacation, the tours don’t skimp on the details. They include roundtrip airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, many meals, touring, expert guides, and more. Tour leaders and/or accompanying pastors can often travel for free as part of the group tour.
            Popular sites visited on these customized Israel/Jordan tours include the four distinct quarters of Jerusalem with the Way of the Cross, the Western (Wailing) Wall, St. Anne’s Church, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Garden Tomb, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Upper Room, and many other sites. Most tours also visit the Dead Sea region with Masada and Ein Gedi; as well as Qumran, where the dead Sea Scrolls were found; the Galilee region, including a crossing of the Sea of Galilee by boat; Capernaum; Tabgha (site of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes); the Mt. of Beatitudes (site of the Sermon on the Mount); Beit She’an, one of the best preserved and comprehensively excavated Greco-Roman cities in the Middle East; and Caesarea, the amazing Roman City built by Herod, on the shore of the Mediterranean. Other sites, such as Bethlehem and Mt. Carmel, are also often included. In Jordan, the most popular sites visited include Mt. Nebo which, according to tradition, is the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land before he died; Madaba, where the oldest known mosaic map of the Holy Land is found; and of course, Petra, that mystical lost city built by the ancient Nabateans as a commercial and cultural capital.
For individual travelers who want to go to Israel on their own, Friendly Planet Travel also offers a nine-day Classic Israel vacation with set departure. It includes airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, most meals, comprehensive touring, and more for just $2,199 when booked by October 9th. Every hotel has been selected for its location, comfort, and service, and every day of the program has been carefully designed to ensure travelers’ Israel experience is the very best. Friendly Planet Travel’s comprehensive itinerary features the most important Biblical sites throughout the country, such as Mount Carmel, Mount of Beatitudes, Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea.
As with all Friendly Planet Travel packages, prices includes airfare from New York City, fuel charges, all group transfers, superior hotel accommodations, many meals, touring, and more. Other gateway cities are available upon request. To book or for more information on any Israel/Holy Lands tours, please visit the Friendly Planet Travel Web site, or contact us.
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Customer testimonial from a certified globetrotter

I’m sure by now you’re all aware of how much I enjoy getting feedback from our customers, and how important that feedback is in making Friendly Planet Travel the best company we can in terms of service, value, and overall experiences for our customers.

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All feeback is important, but it’s especially gratifying when an experienced traveler gives us the stamp of approval. That’s why the following testimonial, from Jim Villalpando of Taylorsville, Utah, meant so much to us here at the office. Jim and his wife Gloria have gone on numerous Friendly Planet Travel tours, including Egypt, Israel, Petra, Thailand, and Cambodia, as well as tours throughout Europe.

"What can be said that has not been said? Price, value, your tours are an exceptional value. We have been on five friendly planet tours to date and wil be going on our sixth trip to India, Nepal next month. What ever you’re doing, don’t change the formula until we’ve finshed the seven wonders of the world thru friendly planet tours. Great value on all the tours we’ve taken thus far.
 – Jim & Gloria Villalpando Taylorsville Utah"

 

 

 

 

A step through time: Classic Israel

Last week I told you about our customized tour options through the Holy Lands. Well, we also have a set tour through Classic Israel. On this nine-day vacation, travelers can see, touch, and experience the land of the Bible, as it was in ancient times, and as it is today.
This trip’s itinerary features all of the most important Biblical sites. And unlike many of our other vacation packages, there aren’t any optional tours on Classic Israel, because everything “must see” is already included in the program and part of our low price of $2,199.
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Every tour is escorted throughout by a certified Friendly Planet Travel teacher-guide who knows and loves the land and will make the Land of the Bible come alive. Every hotel has been selected for its location, comfort, and service. And every day of the program has been carefully designed to be sure that our vacationers’ experiences in Israel is the best.
The journey begins in Tel Aviv, and travels north along the Mediterranean Sea to Caesarea, the Roman capital of Judea. There, travelers have a chance to explore the beautifully restored theater and extensive and ongoing excavations of the ruins of the ancient town, its harbor, and aqueduct.
Next is Megiddo, Biblical Armageddon. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, Megiddo’s 20 major strata contain the remains of around 30 different cities and holds a central place in the biblical narrative. Continue to Mount Carmel, where Elijah defeated the priests of Ba’al then on to the Sea of Galilee.
The next morning, set sail through the Sea of Galilee aboard a wooden fishing boat built to represent vessels used during Bible times, and arrive at Capernaum, once a simple fishing village, where Jesus was often a guest of his disciple Peter. Here, vacationers can visit the ruins of the ancient synagogue and house of Peter, then continue to Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and the Mount of Beatitudes, site of the Sermon on the Mount.
Travelers will drive south via the Jordan Valley to Beit She’an, an extraordinary excavation of an ancient Greco-Roman city. Located some 30 kilometers south of the Sea of Galilee, Beit She’an was one of the major cities in the land of Israel, due primarily to its location at the intersection of the road to Jerusalem and the road to Transjordan. Next is Qumran and the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947.
Next, travelers can enjoy a cable car ride over the historic fortress of Masada. After a tour of the extensive excavations at Masada, continue to Ein Gedi, David’s waterfall and a pristine nature center.
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On to Jerusalem and everything the fascinating city entails, including the Mount of Olives, Mount Scopus, Mount Zion, the site of the Upper Room, the Kidron Valleyn and the Garden of Gethsemane. Within the walls of Old City lie the Via Dolorosa, the restored Jewish Quarter, the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Rabbinic Tunnels under the Wall, the Temple Site on Mount Moriah, and the Garden Tomb.
The final destination of the nine-day journey is the new city of Jerusalem, outside the walls of Old City. Here, travelers will find the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed, the Memorial to the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, and a model of the city during the Second Temple period.
If you’ve ever dreamed of understanding and experiencing more about the origins of faith — whether that be Christian, Jewish, or Muslim — this journey of Biblical discovery and spiritual renewal in Israel, Land of the Bible, will be an unforgettable adventure. For more information or to book now, please visit the Friendly Planet Travel Web site.

Travel News: Ancient chamber found in Israel

You might have already heard about the incredible ancient underground chamber that was recently found in Israel. Archeologists discovered the chamber this past March, which they believe might date back to the Roman period around the first century A.D. I came across this National Geographic article about the chamber, and wanted to share it with you because of the stunning photos included. Extraordinary!
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Where did Jesus really walk?

If you’re a spiritual person, you understand how deeply religion permeates the lives of people throughout the world. Imagine then, being given the chance to put down the Bible and physically experience the sights, smells, and sounds described on those very pages.
In addition to our popular international destinations that sell out quickly, an equally popular traveling experience is our journeys to the Holy Lands. Christian groups in particular contact us to help them design the perfect trip for their congregation or church group, to experience the lands where Jesus once walked and ministered.
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As you probably know, every Christian denomination has its own unique way of observing its faith. For example, Catholics believe Jesus was resurrected from Calvary, which is now within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Many Protestant denominations want to visit the Garden Tomb, widely considered to be Jesus’ burial place. Seventh Day Adventist groups schedule their worship services on the Jewish Sabbath, rather than on Sunday. And so on.
Every denomination experiences Jesus’ life in the Holy Land differently. That’s why, while we’ve carefully designed our tours to include the all relevant places to Christian travelers, we also give our pilgrims the chance to customize their trips. We understand completely the commitment and emotional investment a traveler makes in choosing a pilgrimage, and we go to great lengths to design and operate our tours so that they provide an experience that is at once deeply spiritual and rewarding, as a vacation should be.
At the same time, we calculate prices with a razor sharp pencil, knowing that we must be excellent stewards of our passengers’ resources. A Holy Land group tour that is booked with Friendly Planet will be as inexpensive as it is rewarding. That’s a commitment we’ve kept for 30 years, and we’ve got plenty of pastors and their congregations who’ll vouch that we keep our commitments.
Our specialty Holy Lands tours center around a nine day itinerary that typically begins in the north with a night in Tel Aviv or vicinity upon arrival, then continues through the Galilee and then up to Jerusalem, usually the highlight of the trip. The program encompasses the perfect blend of breathtaking natural scenery, incredible historical sites, and awe-inspiring religious significance. A perfect journey of Biblical discovery and spiritual renewal is the goal for every group, where the Bible comes alive for all.
Here’s how it works. We help each group plan its ideal itinerary. While nine days is the most popular tour length, the itinerary can be extended to include more of Israel or other countries in the region, such as Jordan, with visits to Petra and Mt. Nebo, and Egypt. Once the details are clear, we will prepare a costing based on all the desired features, including the most convenient gateway for the group. Once everything is agreed upon, we’ll create an attractive web page which we post on our website, so that the group can easily provide information to everyone who is going and for those who are just considering.
Pastors and tour leaders typically value this free exposure, and they use the Web page as a promotional tool to help recruit travelers. A special, personalized registration form is provided for every group, and group members have the option to book on line, by mail, or by telephone.
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Our group tour leaders especially appreciate our service to them in every phase of the tour. We collect deposits and final payments, arrange for everything from flights, transfers, hotels, meals, special requests, even tipping. Group leaders can look to us to take care of all the details, so that they have plenty of time to recruit their group and then enjoy the tour.
The most recent Israel and Jordan tour took advantage of nine days of touring for just $2,380. And as with every Friendly Planet Travel vacation, the prices don’t skimp on the details. They include roundtrip airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, many meals, touring, and more.
Destinations and tours for a personalized Israel/Jordan tour include Bethlehem; the Church of the Nativity; the Church of the Visitation; the Church of John the Baptist; Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found; the Shrine of the Book, and the newly restored model of Jerusalem from the Second Temple Period; Mount of Olives; the Garden of Gethsemane; the Church of All Nations; the Old City of Jerusalem; the Western Wall; the Byzantine Cardo; St. Anne’s Church; the Crypt of Mary; the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; Mount Zion; the traditional burial site of King David; the Room of the Last Supper; the Garden Tomb; Calvary; the Dead Sea; Galilee; the Church of St. Peter; the Mount of Beatitudes, the site of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount; the Heptagon Church at Tabgha, where Jesus performed the Miracle of Loaves and Fish; and many, many more
As with all Friendly Planet Travel packages, prices includes airfare from the group’s gateway city, fuel charges, all group transfers, superior hotel accommodations, buffet breakfast and dinner daily, comprehensive touring, and more. To book or for more information on any Holy Lands tours, please visit the Friendly Planet Travel Web site, or contact us.

Customer Testimonial: Coordinating care abroad

Here at Friendly Planet Travel, we work with groups of all shapes, sizes, and causes. And one group in particular that we’ll be focusing on in the weeks to come is religious groups.
There are a number of Friendly Planet Travel tours that cater specifically to religious pilgrimages, excursions, and fundraising trips, such as our Classic Israel – Land of the Bible tour. Our decades spent working with different groups of all faiths has given us the experience to know and understand the interests, sensitivities, and even diets of different religions.
But I’ll expand more on that soon. Because besides giving us our strong religious knowledge, our 30 years of experience has also made us experts in reacting to an emergency. Now, I’m not saying that emergencies happen often, but when they do, we know how to handle it. As I said in one of our previous customer testimonials, when you’re abroad, anything from someone getting sick on the trip, to losing a wallet or passport, to a snafu in the itinerary, could turn into an emergency. And if it does, rest assured that we are going to take care of you.
We recently received a testimonial from a Friendly Planet Travel vacationer who was on a religious group tour with his pastor in Israel, when something no one had planned for happened: He broke his ankle. Here’s what he had to say about that experience, (as always, unedited).
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Excellent trip. Over two years ago I went with a pastor and his wife on a Friendly Planet tour of Israel. About half way through the tour, I fell and broke my ankle. Friendly Planet and their associates really went out of their way to take care of me and to coordinate my care in Israel and to orchestrate my trip home. I highly recommend taking any tour arranged by Friendly Planet and, also, purchasing the very reasonable trip insurance.
– Gene Haury, Simi Valley, CA

If Gene broke his ankle and still calls his Classic Israel vacation an “excellent trip,” then I’d say we did our jobs well!

My family story in National Geographic

As part of a Mother’s Day special, National Geographic published a short story I wrote about a wonderful trip to Israel with my family in their Intelligent Travel blog. This was certainly a belated Mother’s Day gift for me! I hope you enjoy.
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A look at Herzlia, Israel

Earlier this spring, I was fortunate enough to be able to go on a trip to Israel with my husband. For me, trips to Israel are not only about visiting family and learning about the timeless history of my people, but they are also a time of fascinating culture, luxurious spas, and dazzling coast lines.
Herzlia, Israel is the perfect vacation target. Herzlia is a small resort town outside Tel Aviv, situated along the stunning Mediterranean coast, and just a short trip from some of the oldest cities in all of civilization. Most of the town’s hotels offer elegant spa packages, and are a short walk from the breathtaking Mediterranean Sea.
Cities such as Caesarea, Megiddo, and Tiberias, among others, are close enough for day trips, and offer fascinating glimpses into our ancient past. See the beautifully restored theater, and extensive (and ongoing) excavations of the ruins of ancient Caesarea. Travel inland to Megiddo, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. And discover Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee.
You can see all of this and much more on Friendly Planet Travel’s Classic Israel vacation. But I don’t think our Web site could do Israel complete justice. So while I was there, I shot some videos to give you a little peak at the beauty and culture found in one of my favorite countries. I’ll be posting the videos here on the blog, starting with this one: a video of a beautiful beach on the coast of Herzlia. Enjoy!

Customer testimonial: Walk where Jesus walked

Customer feedback is always important to us at Friendly Planet travel. But we received a customer testimonial over the weekend that simply tickled us pink, because it came from a group leader.
This particular group wanted a custom tour to Isreal with an added Egypt extension to the program. We managed to route the tour for them so they could also visit Jordan, while keeping the price at less than the best price they were quoted by other agencies for the Holy Land alone.
We worked with them to create an experience that I hope they’ll never forget, and judging from the feedback from the tour leader, they were a very happy group. Here it is, verbatim:
"The best travel tour I had so far. Friendly Planet made it so easy for all of us 53 tourist. The way they put it together with all the connections between countries, the hotels, buses and different tourist guides was so impressive and we felt pampered the whole time. We really had a grand time. Thank you very much for making it an experience of a lifetime.
– Emmanuel Lacson, Group Organizer, Hinsdale, Ill."
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About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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