Is there time for the Western Wall tunnel tour?

I'm working on free time itinerary for the Israel/Jordan tour starting Nov 3, 2019. I've been told that the Western Wall tunnel tour shouldn't be missed.

Appears that we arrive in Jerusalem on day 5, Thurs, Nov 7. Can anyone who has done this tour tell me what time you arrived? If you did this tour while in Jerusalem, on which day?

Seems to me that day 5 and day 8 are the only options, as the tours conclude at noon on Fridays and don't run Saturdays (days 6 and 7). Thanks.

Comments

  • BKMD - we went on this tour in October 2018. It is a fantastic trip and number 2 on our list of best ever trips. Our TD told everyone the trip included about 39 miles of walking so be prepared. We arrived in Tel Aviv a day early, walked along the beach and the Carmel market, and estimate doing other walks on our own we did about 50 miles total. We did not go on the tunnel tour but we did spend time at the Western Wall as part of our itinerary. As I remember it was a very hectic day and super crowded as you might expect. We spent 4 nights at the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria but there was very little free time. You certainly can bypass a scheduled day or half day of events to do the WW tour on your own if that's what you really want to do. It's your trip and an advantage is being in one hotel for 4 nights - a rarity. While in Jerusalem, one late afternoon we bypassed dinner and the light show to do something on our own and it wasn't a problem for the TD. We just had to let the TD know. If you need to buy tickets ahead of time that's a tough call depending on the cost, reimbursement policies etc.

    While you are working your free time list be sure to include a visit to Jerash, Jordan. It is an outstanding Roman ruin city. While staying at the fabulous resort in Jordan on the Dead Sea, travelers are given the option of staying at the Dead Sea Resort and Spa or visiting Jerash a 90 minute trip away. By this time many are exhausted and chose to stay behind, swim, rest and get spa treatments. Note: if you want to get spa treatments book it very early even before leaving home as they book up quickly. Some were out of luck since they were totally booked. In our group of 38, 7 decided to go to Jerash. Five men and two gals. Those staying behind had a great respite but those going saw something unbelievable. Check it out on the web. Glad to help with any other questions.

  • We did the trip earlier this year and our group didn't arrive in Jerusalem till late afternoon/early evening. Many of us did go out that night, tagging along with the TD (on his free time) to the Church of the Sepulchre (when lines were shorter), and then for a light dinner at a good falafel place.

    We did not visit the tunnel, but there was ample free time to explore Jerusalem sites not included in the tour. We found Old Town (and the neighborhoods outside the Old Town gates) very safe and easy to maneuver by foot.

  • Thanks. I don't know if all tours start the same day of the week, but 2 of our 4 days in Jerusalem are Friday and Saturday, so lots of Jewish sites are closed Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. I'm currently out of the country and when I return will call Tauck to see if I can get more details .

  • To provide some follow-up... Just got off the phone with Tauck. Looks like this isn't going to work on my particular tour because, as I mentioned above, 2 of our 4 days in Jerusalem fall on Fri/Sat when lots of things are closed, including the tunnel tour (open Fri morning only, then closed).

    I just got back from a leisurely cruise and while on the ship, I planned out the trip's free time. Just got the green book in the mail and see that lots of things are shifted around to different days, meals listed as not included online ARE included per the green book, etc. Moral of the story is wait for the green book before planning outside activities.

  • BKMD, We just booked this tour for 2021 so would love it if you would post a review here when you get back.
    One of our past tour directors told us he often led the Israel and Jordan tour and how great it was, that was what piqued our future interest and as we have no interest in visiting Egypt, it sounded perfect.
    Our upcoming tour is China Hong Kong which we cannot get too enthusiastic about in case it gets canceled. Mr B has been wanting to take me to HK forever since he used to travel there for work when our children were young, he would call me and tell me all about it, the great hotel and meals and I’m at home with two young children and we were missing him like crazy.

  • British - this trip was spectacular! I did a 110 page Shutterfly album off of 2,300 pictures. I certainly can share it with you via email if you are interested.

  • We did this trip in 2017 - life changing! We did do the tunnel tour in Jerusalem on our last day there. We bought tickets at the tour desk and went on the tour within about a half hour - not an issue at all.

  • edited November 2019

    Killing a little time in the early AM, waiting to leave Petra for our final day in Amman. Per British's request here are some comments regarding the trip.

    Great trip. TD Mark is excellent. Also ran into TD Stephen, who I had on my Central Europe trip 2.5 years ago and he was fabulous. I believe there's one other TD currently running trips here, so you're likely to have a great experience, TD-wise.

    We left Israel for Jordan 2 days before the recent rocket fire and we were told it had no impact on tours currently there.

    The food in Israel is great. For breakfast, try the Shakshuka. It's poached eggs mixed with a very tasty tomato sauce.

    I rented a bicycle on my extra pre-tour day in Tel Aviv and biked around Tel Aviv and Jaffa. There are plenty of bike paths. Actually covered more territory than we did on the tour. There are some very nice restaurant/shop streets in Jaffa that you won't see otherwise. Same for Tel Aviv, skipping Dizengoff St. and HaYarkon Park (the Central Park on the city). Beware the Lime (electric) scooters. They are everywhere, silent, and going ~25 mph.

    British, presumably you already have your tour booked, but for anyone else, I suggest NOT doing a tour that goes through Jerusalem on Fri/Sat. Being the Jewish Sabbath, much is closed Fri after 2 PM (at least this time of year when sunset in 5ish) and Saturday. Tauck adjusted the itinerary to do Bethlehem on Saturday, but still... Due to this, I was unable to book the Western Wall Tunnel Tour, but did manage to get in on their Behind the Scenes tour, which was very interesting. It's about an hour, costs about 10 USD and takes you underneath the old city to see recent and ongoing excavations that predated the current Old City. Highly recommended.

    It was HOT at the Dead Sea. While it was a comfortable 75-80F for most of the trip, around the Dead Sea it's very hot and dry (90-95ish), similar to Vegas in May. Fortunately, there's not much walking around there. Floating in the Dead Sea was a blast.

    Petra is fabulous, as in the pictures. If you are up for it, do the hike/walk up to the Monastery. It's about an 800 ft vertical rise with 800 steps. Speaking of which, there is a LOT of walking on the trip. I would guesstimate 3-5 miles/day and at Petra I covered10+ miles (foregoing the camel and cart ride to hike up to the Monastery). The ground is uneven in a lot of places. I wore my daily sneakers for the trip. No hiking boots, poles, etc. are needed. If you are mobility limited, this trip is not for you.

    While the dress on this trip is fairly informal. modesty (no bare shoulders or legs) is required at the Muslim sites. The age-old question of do you need a jacket or tie, absolutely not. At the farewell dinner last night, there were no jackets or ties. Some woman wore dresses and heels for the dinner.

    Regarding security, we get a jaded view through the news in the US. I felt safer walking around at night in all the cities we visited in Israel than I do at home. Jordan was surprising, as well, but in the other direction. Security is tight. Everywhere you go, bags are screened, you walk through metal detectors, and guards use mirrors to check the undercarriage of vehicles when parking at hotels, malls, etc. We had an armed member of the Tourist Police on our bus and with the group everywhere.

    P.S. to British - note how much more readable longish posts are when there are line spaces between paragraphs. Just sayin'...

  • I just posted a long review of this trip and it disappeared after editing a typo. I'm not going to do it again. Maybe IT Tim can recover it?

  • BKMD, How frustrating, I have had that happen😟 try emailing Tauck, there is an [email protected] that could be forwarded to the correct department and another email, something like [email protected] that might help.
    When I am writing reviews of my tours these days, I use the ‘Notes’ app and then cut and paste it into the forum. It means I can also add to it as I go along when I have time so I don’t forget anything I think might be useful to people....Then when the tour is over, I post it, you might notice I post as soon as I get home, which I would not have time to do otherwise, until the laundry is done. ..I don’t remember times and things like that though, I’m too busy enjoying it all. The app is also useful because it can be used without Wi-Fi. Also, in places where Wi-Fi is intermittent or might crash without an email being saved or a posting you are doing on the forum, it’s useful indeed.
    Please do post your review again, I love to read peoples reviews, they have helped me so much in my travel plans and of course if I‘Ve been to the place, you know I always put in my two peneth!

  • British - Just finished this tour. There are many highlights on this trip. Unless you are completely fatigued, take the Jerash optional excursion. As opposed to Virginia_Travelers experience, the majority of our tour opted for the Jerash excursion vs additional time at the resort. Jerash has Roman ruins that rival Ephesus in Turkey. Even with doing the Jerash excursion there was time for swimming in the Dead Sea, a unique experience in itself.

  • Email sent to esupport as a last ditch effort to recover lost post. Agree with Sam about Jerash.

  • BKMD - thank you for your very helpful review. We are going on this tour next April, so much appreciated.

    What are your thoughts about the food in Jordan?

  • Yay, my post is back. Emailed IT and Tim said it got caught in the spam filter when I tried to edit. He brought it back.

    Lotusgirl - Jordanian food was typical mideastern food. It was good, but repetitive. That's why I, and others, opted for Chinese, Italian, etc. on occasion :-)

  • BKMD So glad you got your great review back. Ah, so it’s you who doesn’t like my none spaced paragraphs.English isn’t my strong point. I just never think about making space for paragraphs especially when I am sending actual news letters to friends and I want it all to fit on on as few pages as possible because of extra postage.

    😀yes, yes, it was Mark who was our TD on the Warsaw, Vienna, Prague, Budapest tour that piqued our interest to do this tour. We would so love to encounter him again. You, Virginia Travellers and now Smiling Sam have been so helpful. We will be sure to save energy for Jerash. I hope it’s not removed for lack of interest as I know that can happen. When we went to India, the wonderful optional tour that we took with just one other, Fatipur Sikri was removed soon after we took the tour for lack of interest I guess from people who did not arrive pre tour date and were too pooped by then. We are cautious to book anything extra during a tour until it begins because the advertised itineraries can be changed by the time the green book arrives, and even when the tour begins as the TD makes changes to better suite local timing and days. I will have to figure out if we are in key places on Fridays and Saturdays, more tours to do before this one. Packing right now for our next tour, Africa, the easiest trip to pack for as far as we are concerned.

    Happy travels all and better reading dear BKMD

  • Thanks for your review, BKMD. I'll be taking this trip in March. We arrive in Jerusalem on a Saturday and leave the following Wednesday, so I hope there will be time to take the Western Wall Tunnel Tour and the Behind the Scenes tour. Did you book the latter tour once you got to Jerusalem?

  • British - I seem to recall someone else commented on your lack of line spaces, too. It's such an easy thing to do and makes it so much more readable.

    MCD - What I tried to do was book the tunnel tour before leaving on the trip. I called Tauck to find out what free time we had that would work. Unfortunately, it didn't. Here's the link: https://english.thekotel.org/western_wall_sites/ As it turned out, a dinner was switched from one night to the other at the last minute which freed up Sunday evening for the tour. The tunnel one often fills up quickly, so I'd suggest booking in advance.

    The biggest downside of this trip is just about all the flights leave Amman between 1-3 AM, so just finished dinner (excellent Italian restaurant at the Rotana, after a traditional middle eastern lunch today) and killing time in the hotel room awaiting pickup. It's 9 PM here now and my airport shuttle is at 11 PM.

  • Thanks, BKMD. My flight will leave Amman at 2:40 a.m. I'm not looking forward to that part of the trip. Safe travels!

  • That's the one I'm on. Sitting in the lounge right now. Then, a 4+ hour layover in FRA. Ugh.

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