Likes & Dislikes

Opinions


“One of the characteristics of every town and city in Israel is tidiness. This is true even when the city’s layout and architecture is decidedly eclectic, giving at first a rather thrown-together impression. The streets are, in general, almost immaculate, and people don’t drop litter.

Their cuisine is a mixture of traditional kosher food with European and Arabian influences, which help diversify and enliven what is generally a very healthy range of meals. They eat a lot of beef, falafel, fruit and vegetables, and are especially proud of their dates. The sweets and pastries are delicious, as are the local wines.

Time spent in Israel is made still more pleasurable by the hospitality and kindness of the locals.”

------------------------------------

“Israel certainly deserves the epithet of ‘The Promised Land’! Whether you’re interested in nature, history, culture, religion, or just having fun and relaxing, Israel has it all. The people are friendly and helpful, the landscape is spectacular, and at the end of October the weather is perfect. What’s more, the sea is still warm, and it’s your best chance to see rain in the desert!

On the far side of the Negev Desert lies Eilat, where you can sunbathe, scuba dive, visit Timna Park, or take hikes through the desert), while a little further north it’s possible to visit both the Dead Sea and the ruins of Masada (a very memorable experience). Continuing northward will take you to Caesarea, whence it is easy to visit Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the River Jordan and Jerusalem, or to head to the beaches around Acre and Haifa.

There were five in our party, so renting a car worked out cheaper than using public transport, and also saved us a lot of time. Everything to do with the rental was entirely correct. On the main roads and in the cities the driving style wasn’t too much different from home, though on the highways they drive faster and more aggressively – sometimes downright dangerously. There’s a lot of traffic.

The shekel is the currency, and it’s worth trying to get hold of some before you leave home. (Many places accept payment in dollars, but of course the exchange rate they offer is very unfavorable). Tolls on certain sections of the no. 6 main road and on the tunnel which leads towards Nazareth should not be ignored (though the signs don’t give you much information on how to pay).

Given the number of people in our group, and our budget, the culinary delights we enjoyed were an unexpected surprise, with breakfasts, sandwiches and dinners prepared at our various accommodations. Store prices are extremely high. So are the prices of admission to various historic sights, but then, they’re often the reason someone travels to Israel in the first place.

In terms of dress code, there was none of the severity we’d been led to expect from comments we had read before setting off!”

x

Practicals

Transport

“Everything about the car rental process is very modern, and it’s a competitive (and expanding) market. They all seem to have realized that the key to staying afloat long-term is superior customer service.

Anyone planning to drive in Israel that the driving style here is pretty aggressive – try not to hesitate, or wave people out from politeness: it’s not the style here. That’s not to say it’s a chaotic driving situation – most drivers follow the rules, but energetically! Of course, there are the same road-rage addicts you find everywhere, but so long as you keep moving at the standard tempo you shouldn’t have any problems. They don’t always use their indicators, sometimes just preferring to honk the horn – kind of a mix of Eastern and Western driving styles, in other words.

The gas prices at various brands of filling stations differ only marginally, and there are filling stations everywhere…”

----------------------------

“The railway system is very good and much cheaper than taking a taxi. Still, it’s important to be aware that on Shabbat there are no trains, as it’s the Jewish day of rest. Shabbat begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday, which in public transport terms means that buses and trains run until about 3 pm on Friday, and start again at around 7 pm on Saturday evening.

During Shabbat, your only options for travel are either a hire car or a sherut driven by an Arab.

A sherut is a private minibus which can transport about ten people. In practice, it functions like a shared taxi, which runs both within and between cities. The price is a little higher than a normal bus but much lower than a traditional taxi.

During Shabbat, live in Jerusalem grinds to a halt almost completely, but this is less true in Tel Aviv. It’s important to keep it in mind, because in addition to transport, shops, malls, and restaurants also close. Sunday, on the other hand, is a normal working day in Israel.

Travelling between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is very easy, with buses departing regularly from both of Tev Aviv’s bus terminals. From the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station take bus number 405, while from the Arlozorov bus station it’s best to take the 480 (Egged) bus. The difference is that Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station is enormous – in fact, it’s the second-largest bus station in the world. It has six stories (and the 405 departs from the 6th story) so it’s not difficult to get lost. The fare is the same from both bus stations, at 18 shekels, and buses depart every fifteen minutes. All buses are comfortable and are equipped with working Wi-Fi. As I mentioned earlier, there are no buses during Shabbat – at such times you’ll have to travel between the two cities by hire car or sherut.” (2018)


Israel - the cities are full of such electric bicycles - d.j. photo

Israel - train - r.g.- photo

Food

“There are restaurants and diners to suit every taste and budget, and plenty of street-food vendors too. Some of the famous local delicacies which I’d particularly recommend include shawarma, hummus and tahini. It’s especially worth looking for these items at local markets.

The market in Jerusalem, for instance, is a fantastic experience. It’s called the Shuk Mahana Yehuda. It’s worth noting that in most places it’s not allowed to mix meat dishes with milk!!!

You can find regular, sit-down restaurants almost everywhere. These have improved a lot in recent years, both in hygiene and service, and you don’t have to worry about the famously informal Israeli style. It’s just worth bearing in mind that this is a very impulsive culture, and one which doesn’t stand on ceremony. You won’t find much in the way of airs and graces, but service is quick and polite.”

Shopping

x

Israel - old shop still alive - Krista photo

Public safety

“Many people are reluctant to visit Israel, on account of a false but widely-held belief that it’s a dangerous destination. In fact, however, with the exception of the Palestinian territories, I would say that Israel is actually safer than some parts of Europe. This is no accident: armed soldiers stand at virtually every street corner, and security cameras surveil all public spaces for signs of danger. Many people find the presence of so many armed security personnel alarming, but it didn’t bother me, and I think most people quickly get used to it. All the same, it is an odd sight to see so many young boys and girls on their national service, with machine guns slung across their shoulders. More than once I wondered what would happen if one of these teenagers were just to flip out and lose it… But I guess you just have to trust that they’ve been raised well, and that the education system has prepared them for this responsibility… 😉” (2019)

Israel - Chinese tourists ensure their security - k-t.g. photo

Israel - soldiers - d.j. photo

Israel - soldier girl - d.j. photo

Israel - Guns n Moses - T-shirt - d.j. photo

Israel - soldiers of African origin - y.m. photo

Background

Israel - national flag

Israel - national robe - Krista photo

Destination in brief

Israel in brief 

Despite Israel being a Middle Eastern country, its sports clubs play in the European continental cups because of political and security reasons. Its neighbors are Lebanon (north), Syria (northeast), Jordan (east), Egypt (west), Palestinian Territories (east). Its borders with Syria (Golan Heights), Lebanon (maritime border, Shebaa farms), and the Palestinian Territories (declared as the State of Palestine) are still disputed

Israel has a Mediterranean coast and a small access to the Read Sea at the Gulf of Aqaba, at the southernmost tip of the country.

Capital city: Jerusalem (with limited international recognition) 

Size: 22 072 km² (8 522 mi²) - Israel is so small that you can run through it from west to east in two hours and from top to bottom in nine days.

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth.

Population: 8.6 million (2020) – 80,2% Jews, 14,6% Muslim Arabs, and there are Christian Arabs as well

Religions: The majority of the population follows one of the main streams of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. The Arab population is Sunni Muslim. 

Languages: Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages.

Israeli direction signage is usually trilingual: Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

18% of the population speaks Arabic and 15% speaks Russian.

Currency: Shekel (ILS)

Average net monthly salary: 2,300 USD (2020)

People who keep the Shabbat in Israel can buy car insurance that doesn’t cover Saturdays, making it cheaper.

Israel was the first country to ban underweight models.

Most frequent surname: Cohen 

Best timing for a tourist visit: April, May, October 

Israeli scientists have ruled that giraffe milk is kosher.

 

Nowadays

“In general, Israelis are very willing and able to cooperate with one another. Whenever there’s a problem, their levels of creativity increase exponentially, and they have an unshakable determination to fix it, come what may. They’re also quick to spot a business opportunity, a quality which in many cases makes them successful, and of course, many ‘non-Israelis’ look upon them with envy and even enmity.

Most successful Israelis are not ashamed to flaunt their wealth, and indeed in recent decades, individual success has taken the place of the loftier social ambitions that animated previous generations. Even the kibbutzim no longer actually want to work the land and have created the world’s most advanced system of intensive agriculture, they are content to employ foreigners to do the manual labor, while the technology can be sold for good money to wealthy buyers in China and Africa. Most Israelis, therefore, live comfortably, though this doesn’t stop them complaining about things which go wrong, or seeking even better opportunities.”

Israel - mix - i.h. photo

People

“I asked my Israeli acquaintances why it is that so many Israelis behave in such an uncouth way, at least to our more traditional European eyes. One of these acquaintances explained that at the time of Israel’s foundation, and during a subsequent period, many Jews who had emigrated from Europe still held to European ideas of politeness and decorum, but that the first generation to be born and grow up in Israel rebelled against these European habits, not simply as an act of youthful rebellion, but as a means of forming a unique Israeli national identity. To this younger generation, the formal courtesies of their parents seemed an anachronism amid this harsh, barren landscape. In addition to the usual cheekiness of young people, a culture of dafke (just because) developed, wherein people would behave in a disrespectful, even boorish way. Their children, in turn, did not rebel, but rather aped their parents’ behavior…”

Another explanation given by this acquaintance was that the population of Israel is composed of people originating from many lands, which made it impossible to establish universally accepted standards of behavior. Nor could schools draw a clear line of conduct, according to which a system of etiquette could be taught. Today, Israelis tend to see politeness as a sign of servility or weakness, and young people tend not even to say thank you – though this is increasingly the habit in Europe as well.”

-------------------------

“Israelis are proud, abrasive, and good-hearted, all at the same time. While in matters of business they are careful and conscientious, in other matters they can be impatient, hot-tempered, and rude, though without any real malice. They’re all like that, so there’s no cause for anyone to bear a grudge.”

---------------------

“A few things I learned from Israelis:

Be direct! You don’t need to beat about the bush – just say your opinion! Whether you’re upset, or grateful, or want something, just say it!

Enjoy life! Don’t take everything so seriously, and don’t worry! And if it’s time to take a break, really relax!”

Travel, see the world, and get to know other cultures! I hardly met anyone who had never left the country. They told me stories and showed me pictures that were genuinely inspirational. No doubt you’ll say ‘ok, great, but not everyone has the means to travel – a ticket to Thailand, for instance, is way too expensive.’ Still, let yourself dream! I think if you really believe you can do something, and work towards it, more often than not it comes true!

Get active! In Tel Aviv, I had the feeling that almost everyone worked out or played sports, even if they didn’t have much free time. I knew someone who could only make it to the gym at 11 pm, because of his work commitments. So there’s no excuse!

Eat more vegetables! In Israel, salads form part of almost every meal. There are many possible variations, often including fruit. Experiment with different flavors!”

Israel - orthodox - i.h. photo

Israel - Yaffa - play - d.j. photo

Israel - young girl - g.l. photo

Tourist etiquette

1.    It’s polite to greet locals with ‘shalom’ (peace)
2.    Try not to offend people (especially Orthodox Jews) by doing things on a Saturday which break Shabbat, such as smoking.
3.    At holy or religious sites, and at certain historic locations, visitors should wear appropriate and respectful clothing. Men should wear a head covering (a kippah or yarmulke), while women should cover their legs and shoulders. Exposure of the upper chest is a definite no-no. Of course, faith-appropriate clothing should be worn at Christian and Muslim holy places, as well as national monuments (the Wailing Wall, Temple Mount etc.) In general, it’s handy if women bring a thin scarf or shawl, which can if necessary be used to cover their shoulders.
4.    When it comes to dining there are no strict rules – Israelis are fairly informal in this regard
5.    It’s appropriate to tip waiters if you are satisfied with the service. Service staff often rely on tips as a major part of their income
6.    Israelis are, in general, happy to discuss local politics with a foreigner, but not really as a discussion between equals. They tend to suppose that when it comes to issues of national survival, those directly affected by the matter in their day-to-day lives have the right to an opinion which outweighs the musings of an uninformed foreigner. They may themselves be highly critical of many domestic policies, but still don’t like it when a visitor presumes to do the same. Ergo: it is best to listen politely, rather than to argue. That way you can avoid unpleasant conflicts. Israelis themselves argue constantly, and if we have the chance to witness this it may be an interesting experience. They are capable of passing quite rude judgements on one another at the drop of a hat, but again, foreigners should not expect their views to be warmly received if they decide to offer their two cents on, say, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nor should you attempt any ‘jokes’ on sensitive local subjects (e.g. terrorism).
7.    The typical Israeli speaks loudly, with forthright expressions and much passion, but newcomers shouldn’t interpret this too literally, or thing someone is genuinely mortally offended.
8.    Don’t be surprised or offended if an Israeli asks quite openly about your private circumstances: how much you earn, your marital status, and other ‘confidential’ matters. They are more open and less restrained in their conversation, and to a European this may appear forward or even rude. Of course, they’re perfectly aware of this themselves, but that doesn’t mean they’ll adapt their normal manner to accommodate you. Rather it is for the foreign visitor to acclimatize to the local culture.
9.    Punctuality isn’t such a holy virtue as in certain Northern European cultures, but nor are Israelis, as a rule, atrociously late.
10.    Due to a spate of bomb attacks, security measures are, of course, extremely strict. Do not leave packages, bags, backpacks or suitcases unattended, because they are likely to be taken away or even destroyed – just like in most of the world’s airports
11.    If you get into trouble with the police, don’t whatever you do try to bribe them. That doesn’t work in Israel – or at least so I’ve been told.

“In general, locals are happy to help tourists, and the vast majority speak and understand English. It isn’t advised to visit Arab villages without a guide or local friend, and you should always check with a local whether your planned route is, from a security point of view, safe or not. If you wish to visit religious sites, you should always wear a head covering (kippah for men and scarves for women – this should cover both the head and shoulders). Dresses, whenever possible, should not be ‘provocative’.
 

---------------------------------


“In general, the level of tolerance for verbal profanity is low in Israel. […] Anyone visiting the country should bear in mind the extreme sensitivity of Israelis to virtually any criticism of the state of Israel or any aspect of Israeli life.”

Attractions

Haifa

Haifa - Bahá'í Gardens - Krista photo

Haifa - Bahá'í Gardens - k-t.-. g. photo

Haifa - r.g. photo

Haifa - r.g. photo

Dead Sea (Israel)

Israel - Dead Sea - k-t. g. photo

Israel - Dead Sea - water ballet - z.a. photo

Israel - Dead Sea - mud pack - j.v. photo

Israel - Dead Sea - wellness mud bath - a.f. photo

Israe l- Dead Sea - salt - k.s. photo

Israel - Dead Sea - Kalia Beach - n.k. photo

Related posts

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *