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EUROPEAN JEWISH HERITAGE TOUR Spring 2000
This was to be a new experience for us - going on an organized tour. As you know, we are committed independent travelers but a few compelling factors caused us to make the big leap.
Our long-time Toronto friends, Carrol and Larry, told us they were taking this tour, which was being led by Rabbi Erwin Schild, the Rabbi Emeritus of their synagogue, Adath Israel. As we had always wanted to travel with Carrol and Larry, we decided that this might be the right opportunity.
Rabbi Schild was well known to us as a prominent and highly-regarded member of the clergy, author, lecturer, scholar and, as we were to discover, tremendously respected and admired for his efforts in building inter-faith relationships in his native Germany. With this caliber of leadership and guidance, we felt it would be worthwhile sacrificing a bit of our independence in exchange for a meaningful cultural experience; the thoughtful itinerary had sufficient time built-in to enable us to wander off on our own and to explore our personal culinary desires, as most meals weren't part of the tour.
KLM would fly us round trip Toronto/Amsterdam and we also used KLM for the second part of our trip, when we went to Switzerland after the organized tour was over. We were delighted with the high level of friendly service both at check-in and in flight. It's so pleasant to find smiling faces and a desire to help at all stops along the way. Of course it didn't hurt that when I asked if it would be possible to move closer to the front than our pre-assigned seats in the last row of the plane that they accommodated us by moving us upstairs into business class!
It didn't take long for us to learn that being with a tour group requires patience. After quickly exiting the arrivals area with our customary carry-ons, we waited well over an hour for the checked luggage of our tour mates to arrive and be hauled by porters to the waiting bus. We were grateful for the small size of the group (17) and can only imagine what the wait might have been if the tour had been fully subscribed (double that number).
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