When Lawrence Davis, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of Splash Magazines Worldwide, looks back at his visit to Israel with Rent-a-Guide Tours, the memories leave him smiling. It all started when Davis and his Aunt and Uncle were picked up by a tour guide and taken to meet with the man who created Rent-a-Guide Tours, Reuben. But before they even approached Reuben’s office, the fantastic driver Offer filled the drive with information about the company, Tel Aviv, and Israel. Offer is a 56-year-old Israeli who has been in the hotel and tourism industry for 37 years. At the time of the tour, he had only been with Rent-a-Guide for less than a year, but one would never know. Offer even says that a concierge from one hotel in Tel Aviv calls him up whenever he doesn’t know anything, and even though the concierge is supposed to know, he will ask Offer to find the information for him.
Reuben, the owner, says that Rent-a-Guide does about 700-1000 tours monthly, but Offer thinks that Reuben is underestimating himself and that it’s even more than 1000 per month. Offer is confident in the company and has only fond words about Reuben. He believes that since they work with the Israeli aviation and military industry, they would not receive one day of work if they weren’t good. Offer says even if they were the cheapest company, they would not get a day of work unless they were 100% a solid company. Right away, Davis’s group can tell that this is true, and that Rent-a-Guide is a fabulous tour company that made a visit to Israel 10 times better than it would have been without them.
Offer shows Davis’s group the Tel Aviv airport, Ben Gurion International. This airport is for local flights and is also a military airport. The group sees the northern part of the old city of Tel Aviv, which is filled with restaurants and clubs. Offer explains that in the old harbour, there’s a lot of nightlife, bars, restaurants, clubs and clothing stores. It’s a hip place, he says. In Tel Aviv, Thursday and Friday nights are the happening nights. The southern part of Tel Aviv is also a very hip and happening club area.
Offer tells the group that the area with all the hotels is called the German Wall, because after World War II the Jews after came there with money from unknown places. They put up the hotels, spent a lot of money and generously gave a lot of money to hospitals and charitable situations. Offer points out the Mosk of Jaffa, where many Muslims still come to pray from time to time. He shows the group where the industry buildings are located and explains that to the side, that is Tel Aviv and looking forwards, one can see Jaffa. Today the group is going to the Southern part of Tel Aviv, which is the old part. It is a beautiful neighbourhood with many small houses. Offer says that when a big building was built in the middle, it destroyed the neighbourhood feeling. He describes that the area is popular with wealthy people who like to buy land and build there. Since they started to build around, there are lots of different kinds of homes and not just old ones anymore.
Speaking of architecture, Tel Aviv was awarded by UNESCO for being one of the most important cities with a unique type of architecture. Tel Aviv is known for its white houses and buildings, called Bauhaus. This style is found in Jerusalem as well as Tel Aviv.
Davis’s group passes by some graffiti, and when they ask Offer about it he tells them that there isn’t too much graffiti around but there is in some places, just like everywhere else in the world.
Offer confesses that he’s been in the industry so long, he’s found that sometimes it’s hard to trust people’s honesty. He says that he’s been faced with many jokes and people calling him asking for things and saying they’re big name people, and he’s learned that one needs to really learn about who he is dealing with. “When you go to a war, you need intelligence, you need to learn about the other side,” he states.
Once, Offer got a call from a man in England. The man said he was coming a certain date to the hotel Offer was working at during that time. The man said that he owned hotels of his own in England, and wasn’t calling to ask for any discount because he had enough money, rather he was calling because he wanted to be treated properly. So Offer told him to introduce himself when he arrived, and promised to take good care of him. The first day he arrived, Offer couldn’t give him a suite but the next day he upgraded him to one. Offer found that the man was really nice. They used to “sit at the bar and drink together,” and they became great friends. Over the last 25 years, whenever he came to Israel he did everything through Offer, such as setting him up at hotels or restaurants.
Now the reason he wanted to be treated well at Offer’s hotel was because he had a kosher hotel in England, and his hotel was on the sea. Since he owned this hotel, most of the Jewish wealthy people used to holiday there. At the time that he was coming to Offer’s hotel, a bunch of people that stayed at his hotel were at the hotel where Offer was working. This is why the man thought it was important to show them that he was an important person. “He was really a good friend of mine,” reflected Offer. The man is not alive anymore.
As the group gets closer to Reuben’s office, they pass the Shalom Tower. Offer comments that it used to be one of the highest buildings in Israel but it is not anymore.
Then Davis and his group spot Independence Hall. This is the building where Ben Gurion declared Israel an independent state in 1948. He did it in Tel Aviv because he could not find anywhere to do so in Jerusalem, explains Offer.
Offer says that the area around Independence Hall is also full of nightlife, restaurants and pubs and bars and clubs. He describes a typical night out, and tells the group that if an Israeli goes out at 10 or 11 p.m. they are not finished partying before 6 in the morning. When work starts at 7 or 8 that morning, they have to be at work so they go to work.
And so ends the drive with Offer and the car stops outside of Reuben’s office, leaving the group eagerly anticipating many more tours ahead.
To find out what happens next, read an article about Rent-a-Guide in Jaffa and Tel Aviv by clicking here.
To read about Rent-a-Guide Tours, click here.
To read about Davis’ ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, click here.
To read about Davis' interview with the Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza Hotel's Executive Chef, click here.
To read about Davis’ trip to Jerusalem, click here.
To read about Davis' trip in the Old City of Jerusalem, click here.
To read about Davis' trip to Jerusalem from his Uncle's perspective, click here.
For more information at Rent-a-Guide Tours