Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tour de Force

Not done this way today...

"If it's Tuesday, This Must be Belgium" was a 1969 comedy starring Ian McShane as a tour guide taking a busload of Americans across Europe. 

Fast forward to 2018 starring Mark Deckelbaum as the guide and a busload of Americans touring Israel. I had a bit part as "woman covered in sunblock, seat two, left of aisle."

My husband and I love to travel and usually hitch ourselves to day or half-day tours of places we are visiting on our own. The rest of the time we like to wander, meeting locals and tourists from other parts of the world. We also like to sleep late.

We realized two weeks in Israel to see everything we wanted meant being part of a full-fledged tour. The thought of someone else planning the details was very compelling. We had some help finding Which Tour, and in the end chose wisely.

Now group tours are very much like family: you don't have a choice who's with you, you have to get along, and you forgive a lot in the process. There is a group mentality that will color your experiences as much as what you see. Despite a (very) few hiccups, it was a wonderful trip. 

A lively group though not mine

Here's where the gist of this post kicks in. I packed all wrong. 

When I travel I like to put myself in context to where I am visiting. If it's a city, I like to dress city-style. If it's the tropics I'll give free reign to my Bohemian side. Seaside and the white pants and striped T will come out. You get the idea.

I packed for Israel much the same way (after checking out Eva Marie Saint's wardrobe in "Exodus"). Desert colors for daytime sightseeing, utility clothes like khakis for active touring, a few dress-up dresses for dinner in the cities...and corresponding shoes, jewelry, handbags, etc. As someone else would be lugging the suitcases I figured "Why not?".

Eva Marie Saint (left) in "Exodus"
However, I discovered what veteran travelers know: Touring with a group is a different animal. Many of the women thoughtfully put together what I would call a Basic Group Tour Wardrobe: simple t-shirts, pull on jersey pants, zip up jackets, baseball cap, practical sneakers, the all-important nylon cross-body bag. They dressed TO TOUR, to be part of that phalanx of 20 or so who go from A to B with headsets and name tags. They mean business

If I were smart I would have done the same. It made no sense to dress according to place so I would "fit in". We were so obviously a bunch of tourists. There was no way I could have been mistaken for anything else. 

Some days we would meet in the lobby dressed, fed and ready to go for the day as early as 6:45 AM. When we returned to the hotel at 7PM no one "dressed for dinner". It was head to the dining room then straight to bed. 

No one cared about hair, makeup or accessories. Our concerns were sunblock, water and the right shoes. Guess who wished she'd brought her all-terrain Brooks GTS Adrenalines? I thought it would be chic to wear olive and tan in the country and learned how to deflect jokes about looking like the Israel Defense Force.

With a new friend at the border

Although it's taken a week to recover from that 28-hour flight home, it was all amazing, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat—with a carry-on.

1 comment: