IHRT e-mail, 25th January
Astonishingly (it's been brewing for such a looong time), the trip is actually going ahead. And it should be surprisingly affordable! If you are interested in coming, please read this message carefully and act quickly.
The outline itinerary is (unchanged for some time) on the website, at http://eljc.org/index.php/ihrt-itinerary. None of the arrangements there are final, however, so expect some changes.
1. Travel arrangements: details are on the website for Edinburgh (sorry, I haven't researched any other airport, but would be happy to put the results of anyone else's research on to the website). For Edinburgh, as of today, the total return fare on the web page (ie including taxes) is £366. I expect the majority of Edinburgh people, therefore the majority of the tour, to take this option. Using it we arrive early morning Fri 17th May and leave early morning Sunday 26th May. If you are making other travel arrangements, please note that I expect the most or all of the group activities to take place between these dates.
2. Accommodation: I have been in discussion with the manager of House 57, a Jerusalem guest house a couple of km north of the Old City. You can see TripAdvisor reviews here. They are very favourable; TripAdvisor ranks House 57 as no. 2 for all Jerusalem guest houses. I have put his e-mail on the website, but the short version is this: the house is currently empty that week, and of its 8 rooms most will accommodate two people in separate beds. One room is big and would accommodate five people. He's offering a group rate of 150 NIS per person per night, about £26, ie £260 for the week. Obviously the rate will be higher for people who don't want to share, but it will still be reasonable. If you don't like the look of this, the Jerusalem Hotel, also highly rated and run by East Jerusalemites, is not far away.
3. Tour costs: I intend to hire a minibus and driver for the week. I'm expecting the cost of that to be about £1000, split across the group, hopefully about £100 each.
4. Other costs: You should also factor in the cost of meals (House 57 includes breakfast in the price), incidentals, and any independent travel you want to make. I also haven't ruled out the possibility of home hospitality with Palestinian families, which would add on the equivalent of a night's lodging. There's a possibility that some of the tour activities will carry a cost, but I won't accept any that add significantly to the price.
Overall, if you are on a tight budget, it looks, for people travelling from Edinburgh, as though the ten days will cost about £750 + meals and incidentals.
I'm pretty excited about having got this far, and getting what looks to me like a very good price at this late date. But if it's going to work, we will have to be quick now! Please take a look at the details of House 57 on our website and theirs, and tell me whether you want to go with it. And if you want to catch travel at today's relatively favourable prices, book that. Let me know once you've committed; there is a maximum capacity on the minibus.