Does anyone who has used 206 Tours (www.206tours.com) before have any feedback/comments about the pilgrimage they can pass along?
Thanks in advance -
I'm not familiar with them at all.
My husband and I went on the Israel segment of the tour (the same group tours Jordan / Petra earlier in the week and then meets up near Tel Aviv). It was AMAZING. They take you to many Catholic religious sites: Cesarea by the Sea, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Mensa Christi and Nazareth (Annunciation, Visitation) in Galilee, and, of course, Jerusalem and surrounding areas: Holy Sepulchre, Gethsemane, Via Dolorosa, Upper Room, Mount of Olives, Ascension Chapel, Bethlehem, Jericho and Lazarus' tomb in Bethany. There is also time for a float in the Dead Sea, which is not a Catholic site but certainly worth trying! The tour is a great value for the money and it is definitely the trip of a lifetime.
Two things I want to share, though: First, part of what made our particular trip so amazing was our specific guide and spiritual director. From what I understand, the guide and the spiritual director change each tour. Our guide, Rimon Makhlouf, is a local Palestinian Catholic, and incredibly knowledgeable and insightful (he daylights as a university professor). Our spiritual director was Fr. Daniel Kampschneider from Nebraska, USA. Both added incredible value to the trip and gave the sites a new dimension by connecting the historical with the spiritual. In each site, we read the Bible passage that mentions that site, which was particularly meaningful to me. However, it is possible you may not get quite as amazing of a guide and spiritual director as we did, which would detract some from the value of the trip. I do think 206 Tours chooses their leaders carefully, though, so it's not exactly "luck of the draw," either.
One note about 206 Tours: The tour does not go to the Dome of the Rock. They say that since it is a Catholic pilgrimage, not a tourist crawl, that the site is not of general interest to the group. To us it was of interest, so we went early one morning to visit it (non-Muslims will not be permitted to enter the actual mosque, and also please check that when you go you are not interfering with the Muslim prayer time, but it is worth it to see it close up and visit the former Temple Mount). Also, 206 Tours stops off very briefly at the Kotel / Western Wall / Wailing Wall during a visit to a nearby museum, but it really is worth it to go on Friday evening to see the whole Jewish community in their widely varying cultural garb turn out for Shabbat to sing and pray and study together.
There were many elderly folks on our tour, but they all held up incredibly well and kept a fast pace the whole tour. There was a wonderful camaraderie among all the pilgrims (mostly American and Canadian) who had met just days before. We were able to cram in dozens of sites, but there are still dozens more to be seen. Either way, a trip to Israel is the trip of a lifetime, and a must for any Jew, Christian or Muslim at some time in their life. If you are Catholic, 206 Tours will provide a wonderful Catholic perspective on all the holy sites. I highly recommend their Israel tour based on my experience with them.
Please feel free to message me through my profile with any other questions. Enjoy the journey!Edited: 01 September 2010, 17:12
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