I had to drink a second glass of the best orange juice that I had had in a long time! And it felt all the more better after our wonderful dip in the Dead Sea, thanks to Freddy, who is Moshe Barak's associate.
This is a review of Moshe Barak's service that helped us visit Masada, Dead Sea and the Tunnel tours. Short answer is that it was a memorable trip and I wish we had booked his services to see more of Israel.
I read about Moshe Barak on Trip Advisor, and decided to email him; looking at my emails, we exchanged 60 emails. In addition to replying quickly, Moshe gave me a lot of info that helped me plan our trip. For instance, (a) that we had to book in advance and online for the Tunnel Tours or (b) that there was no convenient bus stop near the Dead Sea resorts on the bus from Eilat.
I finally decided that we would book his services for a trip from Tel Aviv to Masada, Dead Sea and the Tunnel Tours in Jerusalem, and back to Tel Aviv. Since Moshe was with another client on the requested day, his associate Freddy drove us in a Ford Minivan.
We left Tel Aviv by around 0700 and reached Masada by about 10am. I had planned for about 2 hours at Masada and Dead Sea, and hoped to be back in Jerusalem well before 6PM. It was a hot day and the walk on the Masada fort was a tiring one; we explored the place on our own, although I would recommend a guide. We then drove to Dead Sea, and I thought we would be in and out in 30 mins after dipping our feet!
Two aspects that I had read about and thought would be problem turned out to be relatively exaggerated. (1) Recommendation to use shoes or sandals while entering the water due to sharp stones under water. Hence, we carried an extra pair, but found that it wasn't too difficult to walk barefoot and decided not to wet our footwear. And every other tourist around us managed fine without special footwear. (2) Recommendation to carry fresh bottled water as protection against salt water getting into the eyes. In our group, my father first experienced the stinging and I walked him to the shore; before I could find bottled/fresh water, the stinging reduced and he returned to float! I couldn't resist the temptation to experience the level of stinging, and lunged into the water as if it were a pool, and my eyes were stinging! But it vanished after a couple of minutes, and I was back to floating. And wishing we didn't have to leave soon!
I had initially made reservations at one of the resorts for access to their private beach followed by lunch; but learned a couple of days earlier that swimsuits were mandatory for access to the beaches, and hence dropped going to the resort.
We used the public access area to the Dead Sea, and boy, once we got in, I wish we had planned to spend atleast a day and not 30mins!! We ended up relaxing & floating in the water for more than an hour. And after a quick shower (open access), we changed and headed to the shopping area, where we found this place serving delicious orange juice.
We managed to leave the Dead Sea area by about 4PM, and based on Google Maps, it looked like we wouldn't reach before 6PM, which was the scheduled start of the Tunnel tour that I had booked. And then Freddy drove us through roads that weren't on the map (!!) and got us to the Western Wall entrance by 6PM; we made it as the tour was getting started.
The Tunnel Tour begins with a video on the history of the Temple, and then there is a walk through the tunnels. And this provided us a useful overview. And unlike a tour bus, Freddy found parking close to the exit gates and that helped reduce our walking after a long day. We returned to Tel Aviv by around 8PM, and overall a great trip of 13 hours!
Thank you Moshe Barak & Freddy.