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Israel first-time, 9 nights in May 2014

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My wife and I are planning a first trip to Israel for 9 nights in latter May 2014. Our interests are in art, history, archeology, culture, and all religions. We're fairly well-traveled and have fun planning an itinerary, exploring, and finding sights and areas of interest. We've also gotten a lot out of having guides for certain museum and cultural experiences (ie Ephesus), and are considering how important/critical it would be to invest in guided experience for our time in Israel. Again, we normally travel pretty well on our own. Is everything all-or-nothing as far as guided tour experiences or could we benefit, for instance, in having a guide for a day here, a day there? Aside from advice on not having a car in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, is it advisable to simply rent a vehicle and plot our way around for the 9/10 days? Thanks for your thoughts.

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