Tour Guide & Storyteller
So nice to have you here, may I make you an offer?
I want to invite you to join me on my special story-tours. These are unforgettable tours that include funny, witty unique and emotional stories from the Jewish and local tradition, which bring the sights to life by connecting you to the chronology of the place.
My name is Oshik Achinoam. I am a Tour guide, a storyteller and a survival instructor and my speciality is "story-touring", a combination of tour guiding and storytelling.
Read below for more information and then contact me to set up a story-tour.
Hope to hear your story soon.
stories that make places come alive
Top quality tours of Israel for English speakers based in historical, traditional and folk stories.
Tours of old cities and markets.
Join me for a tour of, following the hidden footsteps from centuries of everyday life.
A tour of Akko\ Acre
Why is Akko is my favourite place to guide in Israel?
My first ever guiding job was in Akko. An elder guide passed the job on to me because he didn't speak English very well and wanted to give me a start.
I had only been to Akko once before, during the two-year certification tour guide course, and this time I fell in love with it instantly.
Imagine a sunny day in an old Mediterranean Arab town. Just walking through the colourful market smelling the mixture of sea air, fish, fresh vegetables, coffee and spices made my senses dizzy as if I saw my love for the first time.
My group was multinational- psychotherapists at an annual convention.
I brought four different sets of gas burners and asked a Canadian, European, American and an Israeli to make a cup of coffee just before entering the market to have coffee with traditional knaffeh.
We sat in the sun on concrete benches by the Turkish bazaar and the Arab juice seller was so amused by our presence he forgot to sell us something...
it was absolutely enchanting! The things you can tell about a person and a culture from an innocent looking cup of coffee...
We then had a taste of humus and I told them of the consequences of not eating properly from a central plate, as is customary, in the Middle East. We had a great tour, the mosque, the port, the walls Napoleon failed to breach. I had such a good time that in the end I felt like I should have paid them and not the other way around.
And it has been the same ever since, I love seeing people's faces as they tour old Akko with me.
A tour of Caesarea
The first Roman public report on the land of the Jews was written by Pliny the Elder during the first century. He was an Army commander, a philosopher and a naturalist. Listen to this, in his report he wrote that there are three unusual things about this place: “...a day you do not work in, a sea you cannot drown in and a temple empty of gods...” This simple short sentence encapsulates the great clash between the Hellenistic and Jewish cultures – east and west.
The Romans saw Jews not working on the Seventh day and considered it lazy. The Temple built by King Herod was one of the greatest monuments of the old world and the Romans could not understand the notion of an abstract God, they needed great statues and images of many Gods in a temple. And while they admired the physical body and watched nude athletes compete, the Jews were covered and viewed the body as a temporary vehicle.
As such, the stories from Chazal exemplify this culture clash in the everyday life of a Roman-Jewish city and that is a most interesting thing. It all taking place in the theatre, hippodrome, bath house, market and streets.
And there is also the Christian dimension of the story. All is right in the world on the beach of the blue Mediterranean while I make you a nice cup of traditional tea as you sit on two thousand year old rocks and smell the sea air.
A tour of Jaffa
Did you hear about the fisherman from Jaffa who tried to catch fish with a picture of a worm? Well he caught a picture of a fish...
I used to fish in the sea when I was a boy, so when in Jaffa I bring my fishing rod and explain how it works and what it is fishermen do all day just standing there waiting. Then we go to the waterfront and stand among the fishermen who are eager to talk and show off their catch.
The sea was the most important element of Jaffa throughout history, Jaffa was such a well known port there were stories and myths about a monster living in the water and terrorizing seamen and fishermen.
One of those stories is from Greek mythology and it is the only story that takes place outside of Greece.
In the end they caught the monster, so it's safe for us to walk around the fishermen port and the Ottoman town, as well as the cool flea market.
Recently the famous Israeli-British psychic, illusionist and spoon bender Uri Geller opened a Museum In Jaffa and just outside it lays a huge spoon for which he received a Guinness world record. Once I walked by it with a group of young, talented people who came to Israel for the international physics Olympics, and Mr. Geller himself introduced himself to the group and spoke with us. It was spontaneous and interesting and in the end everyone asked him to do a trick so he asked for a Ten agorot coin and bent it in front of thirty pairs of highly inquisitive eyes. The coin was mine.
The unexpected happens when you walk around places...
A tour of Zichron Ya'akov
Baron Rothschild's model town.
Why Did the Rabbis journey here? And why did they refuse to pray in the synagogue?
The Baron's liaison to Palestine tells the settlers he trained as a gynaecologist.
Before long there is running water.
Then oil drilling at the centre of town.
The settlers decide which gift to give the Baron for his Birthday.
The struggle against malaria and the Arab village of Jisr A- Zarka
And what to eat? this is wine country and land of smoked meat.
The bodies of the Baron and his wife Ada are brought to Ramat Hanadiv.
And many other places.
I am a storyteller.
For many years, I was unaware of this fact.
When I was young I wanted to meet someone who lived in nature just like the stories I read in the books I borrowed from the public library and the inspiring photographs from National Geographic.
They were stories about people who discovered new territories, about native American and people who found themselves isolated in nature, forced to survive with their skills.
I admired all those people and envied them.
But there wasn't much I could do about it except daydream and try to make crafts based on photos without anyone to teach me.
As the years passed, I grew up, finished school, then high-school, and eventually I joined the Army and my service buried all of those dreams. By the time it was over, I could not even remember that there was something special I wanted to remember, so I did the regular thing and became a lawyer.
But this path was so clearly not for me that it forced me to remember those childhood dreams that were so powerful.
And so, after working as a lawyer for a year and a half I realized I was not doing what I wanted to do all my life.
I left the office and started a nature skills instructor course. It was the first ever course of it's kind in Israel and I was in it. At the end of the course, I lived alone in nature for six months, just me and nature, just like the stories. I had to do it, to see and feel what it was like.
I published a storybook about those six months. I learned and experienced how to find food, start a fire and build shelter in any weather and even started teaching children and teenagers, worked with juvenile delinquents and many different people.
And all those years I found myself telling stories as well.
For me the bottom line is this:
I became the person I wanted to meet when I was a child. I just never realized this kind of person was a storyteller first and foremost.
Stories remind us who we really are for a brief few moments. They remind us, first of all, that we are all going through the same things so we are never really alone. They also remind us that we are all here together sharing the same world. Stories remind us that we are deeply puzzled about this world and that we love to feel.
When I tell a story I wear it like a robe, I feel it and tell it from the inside – I am not talking about the story from the outside. Maybe it sounds odd but it makes a big difference.
It is a magnificent feeling to tell a story and I always half joke about it and say that it is the storyteller who should be paying the audience and not the other way round.
I have been collecting my stories for many years now. A lot of them are real and personal, there is a couple I invented myself and the others and liked so I adopted them.
Today, I am a certified tour guide and a registered storyteller and I have been guiding tourists through places using stories of those places and times and things related.
You are welcome to travel with me all over Israel and experience places through wonderful stories that will leave a mark on you.
Read about my story-tours to learn some more, and I hope to meet you.