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Israel Travel Tips

5.0 stars

Insider advice for your Israel vacation

Traditional Shabbat experience 4 stars
Once our deeply religious Jewish friends invited us for a Saturday night dinner in their house in Tel-Aviv. We have just arrived to Israel and didn't know what to expect.
First problem was that no public transport was functioning (at least in this direction), because of the Shabbat. We didn't want to drive a car as we were going to have some drinks later, but there was no choice.
We arrived to friends' house and took the elevator to the 15th floor of the modern building. A great surprise was that we had to wait for other guests for like half an hour because they couldn't take an elevator for the same Shabbat reason (it is considered to be something you don't do on Shabbat). They were taking the stairs all the way to the 15th floor, even the oldest lady was about 80 years old and ill.
Stupidly I was wearing jeans and tight top (which although covered all the skin and didn't leave any part of the body opened). Later I've heard that mother of the family had to make up the explanation to her children that I am was a poor girl who has no long skirts and nice blouses.
We were eating from paper plates using plastic cutlery because it is forbidden to use the dish washer or wash the dishes manually on Shabbat. I didn't know that either and washed my glass in order to have another drink from the same glass, which was a little upsetting for the family.
The whole evening was very nice, but I wish I was more prepared and informed about the dress code in order not be so confused and to show more respect.


Driving through Negev 5 stars
Negev desert covers 55% of the territory of the country. We were driving from Tel Aviv to Eilat. The big part of the road goes through Negev. The scenery is hardly changing during hours, only the colors from white to yellow to red. Nothing is catching the eye so it is really hard to stay awake. Our local friend, who was driving, told us that we need to keep talking to him all the way, but we were all so tired of the heat that we just fell asleep one by one. The desert is kind of hypnotizing, so even if you are not tired you may fall asleep. Finally the driver also closed his eyes for a moment. Luckily nothing bad happened. We've noticed that, stopped for some time to exercise and kept on driving with very loud and cheering music for the rest of the way.


No more visa problems 5 stars
Good news for Israelis who would like to visit Russia and for Russians who wish to visit Israel! In December 2007 both countries decided to cancel visas, which means that for example people like me who have Russian passport (although living in EU) can spontaneously visit Israel without any boring and time consuming preparations of documents, applications to the embassy and so on. The same works for Israeli citizens. For example, tours to Russia will cost lower, as there will be no need to pay for visa related issues.
The idea belongs to Israeli minister, who this way wants to increase incoming tourism in the country.
At the moment there is no exact date of agreement validation, but the information states it can happen in about three months (so some time by the summer of 2008).


Tel Aviv Markets – Fresh & Spicy 5 stars
Tel Aviv's markets are the best show in town, and they're bustling all day long. A Middle Eastern mélange of tastes, scents, sounds, colors – and lots of people.
The Carmel Market, Bursting with life, with surprises tucked away. For those who are mad about markets, this place is heave. And for fans of freshness, there could be no better destination – perfect parsley, the juiciest melons, the most marvelous mangoes. Not to mention the meat, the fish, the cheeses, the flowers – a true cornucopia of flavors and aromas.
Don't miss the shops in the tiny alleys behind. That's where you'll find the genuine gems: the cheese and smoked meat delicatessens, the barrels full of herring and other salted fish, all varieties of pickles, halvah and other sweets, even clothing and fabric shops. Your nose will guide you to the bakeries, spice shops and coffee-roasters.
The Carmel Market is a feast for senses, an anthropological and gastronomic adventure. For visitors who are marketplace aficionados, a captivating two-hour exploration of this truly authentic bazaar will add a memorable dash of spice to their stay in Tel Aviv.
Open every day except Saturday, from 8 a.m. until evening (shops close earlier on Friday afternoons, before Shabbat). Located between Allenby Street and the seashore.

The Flea Marker- Bargains and hidden treasures in Jaffa. Antique furniture, hand made carpets, wooden statues, china dolls, colorful pillows, swords, narghiles, silver and copper items from the East (both Near and Far) – you can find here everything! The bustling partially covered market is packed with bargains to suit every taste and pocketbook, especially for those who have time and patience.
The young – and the young at heart – will find clothing and accessories, much of it Indian-style: sharwal pants, bright tunics and ponchos, scarves in every hue, as well as jewelry made from silver, wood and plastic. Most of the merchandise makes their long way here from the Far East.
You can find here tiny cafes, simple workers' eateries and fresh juice, but the jewel in the crown is the legendary Abulafia bakery on Yefet Street. Don't miss the freshly baked pittot topped with eggs, cheese, za'atar (a local herb) and olive oil, or the piping-hot sambusak, a pastry stuffed with delicious fillings.
Open Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays until 2 p.m. Located near the Clock Tower at the beginning of Yefet Street.

The Nahalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall
Twice a week, in the laid-back, urban atmosphere, Isreal's main crafts fair showcases an amazing array of unique, locally made items. The bustling bazaar along both sides of the pedestrian mall in one of the city's oldest shopping precincts has earned a reputation for striking original designs in jewelry, ceramics, home décor and more. Along with the fine crafts on offer, the welcoming cafes and fresh-juice stands, you'll also find street theater, musicians and palm readers. You can even get future foretold by a readers of the coffee grounds that sink to the bottom of a cup of Turkish brew. It's a treasure trove of trinkets that can transform life into one big smile!
Tuesdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located on Nahalat Binyamin Street, starting from Allenby.

Creative Artists Fair
A twice-weekly happening that gathers together artists and craftspeople to sell their unique works, along the city's premiere shopping street, Dizengoff. The bazaar features works in wood, glass, ceramics, metal, as well as jewelry, painting, sculpture and illuminated blessings, New Age items and crafts of all kinds, plus imported works. Romantics will be happy to browse among the second – (third –and fourth-) hand clothing, including some finds from Sixties. The prices are reasonable, and so are the hours.
Mondays from noon until 8 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located on Dizwngoff Street between Dizengoff Circle and Frishman Street

Antiques and Secondhand items fair
A wonderful alternative for those who have done the flea Market and are looking for bargains in the center of the city. This quality antiques fair, featuring about 100 different vendors, offers private collections of rare items in the fields of Judaica, old photographs, original and reproduced paintings and drawings, antique tools and musical instruments, rare books, household items, toys, vintage clothing, props for theater and film productions and more. Don't miss this mobile museum!
Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located at Dizengoff Circle.

For more information, please visit Tel Aviv's Web site:


Fashion And Shopping In Tel-Aviv 5 stars
Israeli fashion design is known for its unique urban fashion trend and its all-round daring and creativity, as in the juxtaposition of different cultures and sources of inspiration. Tel Aviv is rich with fashion centers. You can go for crazy shopping on Dizengoff Street, where you'll find the boutiques of the most talented and successful designers. You can also find bride's dresses on that street that will make you want to find your sweetheart and get married a.s.a.p.

Also there are Shenkein Street, Yermiyahu Street and if you are into Haute couture there's Kikar Ha'Medina (the "Medina" circle) where you can find the world's biggest brands.

Anther Tel Aviv fashion center is blossoming in the area around Hehashmal (Electricity) Street, which has become a magnet for young designers who cannot or will not pay the high rentals charged on Dizengoff Street. Mirit Singer Rodrig. Who opened her shop Closest in the Hehashmal Street area, explains: "it was important to me to be right in the middle of the action, in the place where things are happening."

If you're lucky enough to be in Tel Aviv in February or August, you can find the city's most talented designers gathered together in one place with the best of their collections on display – and for sale. Twice a year, for three days each time, a giant fashion fair called City Designers' Market is held in Tel Aviv. Whatever you do, don't miss this colorful carnival of cutting-edge fashion!


Safety in Israel 5 stars
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Although it's never completely safe to travel in Israel, there are ways you can feel more secure.

If you do guided tours, you will usually be accompanied by an armed soldier. It's a good thing to do because they know when to be alert and when it's okay to relax.

Don't go to East Jerusalem and call a lot of attention to yourself as a tourist; better yet don't go there at all if you aren't sure about the safety.

Don't take public buses, especially in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. In smaller towns or over long distances (when the bus makes fewer stops) you don't have to worry as much.


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