Places to Visit in Israel. Tel Aviv and Around It.
Fly El Al, Israeli Air Lines.
Ben Gurion International Airport
If you are coming to Israel from overseas you will most surely land in Ben Gurion International Airport. It is not in Tel Aviv, like many would think, but in a small town of Lod (or Lud, as it is pronounced also), 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Tel Aviv. The airport was remodeled recently and now it stands apart from other international airports because of its special interior design which makes the visitors feel the spirit of the holy land from the moment they go through customs. The walls are decorated in traditional famous Jerusalem stone type tiles. It is very spacious and full of light and air.
After you pick up your luggage and go out of the airport building, you will be approached by many independent drivers who will heartedly express their complete and hot desire to take you anywhere you want to go. Don't be in a hurry to yield to their eloquence, as usually they charge much more than you have to pay. You may first check the prices with the official taxi service representatives who will be in the same area. Then you may bargain with your independent driver and make a good deal. Remember, that it is a usual way to make a good purchase in Israeli market places- don't buy anything by the first price, always make your offer and then you'll get a much better price. This is a warm country character, I suppose, the love for bargaining and hot discussions.
You can also use Egged bus service which is cheaper than taxi, or airport shuttle to Tel Aviv Central Bus station, or arrange a car rental.
You can look for Ben Gurion Airport pictures here.
How Drew got to go visit Israel
Ben Gurion International Airport is one of the world's most heavely secured airports, as well it may be said about Israel in general. In 2005 my son Reuven and I went to visit my mother in Israel and we invited to go with us my two sisters-in-law and Reuven's best friend, Drew. Drew's parents gave their permission to him, but their friends couldn't understand how they were not scared to let their son go to Israel. Drew's mother asked me to give a speech to the people in their church about Israel just to show to them that Israel is not a monster, but it is just another normal country.
I think I succeeded to help people understand that going to Israel is no more dangerous than visiting any big city in US. You just don't go to places where you are not supposed to be under the circumstances.
Later Drew confessed that though he even was not concerned about going to Israel, but in Israel he felt more secure that anywhere else. You see that you are being protected by preventive actions. You are checked when entering to the malls, cinema theaters, central bus stations. People understand the necessity of it and never show any displease.
More about security
Airport security operates on several levels. Security procedures for incoming passengers are not as strict as for outgoing flights, but passengers may be questioned by passport control depending on country of origin, or countries visited prior to arrival in Israel.
Security procedures for outgoing passengers are more strict. When you are entering airport region, all cars, taxis, buses and trucks go through a preliminary security checkpoint before entering the airport compound. Armed guards spot-check the vehicles by looking into cars and taxis, boarding buses, and exchanging a few words with the driver and passengers.
Armed security personnel at the terminal entrances keep a close watch on those who enter the buildings. Security guards are specially trained and they have to be good phycologists. If someone arouses their suspicion or looks nervous, they may strike up a conversation to further assess the person's intent. Plainclothed armed personnel patrol the area outside the building, and hidden surveillance cameras operate at all times. Inside the building, both uniformed and plainclothes security officers are on constant patrol. Departing passengers are personally questioned by security agents even before arriving at the check-in desk. Questions include all kind of things, from "where are you going", "where did you stay in Israel", "what did you visit in Israel" or "with whom are you travelling" to "did you pack your bag by yourself", "do you have any forbidden items". When they talk to you, they are very friendly and polite, and they look straight into your eyes, noting any sign of evasiveness or nervousness
The bomb squad
Suspicious objects and what they do with them
One of the first things we learned after we immigrated to Israel was to be conscious of seeing what they call a chefetz chashood (suspicious object). In countries where there is a history of bomb attacks, citizens know to look for suspicious objects; in Israel, this vigilance has saved MANY lives. People are encouraged to call police if they see any abandoned object, no matter how innocent it looks. You will never be penalized if you call to report "a suspicious object" and it turned out to be just a kid's backpack, forgotten by some goof.
It may seem frightening that I am telling about this kind of Israeli reality, but my purpose is not to scare you away from this beautiful country, but on the contrary, to show that people there will do all it takes to protect themselves and their guests from whatever "our step brothers" are plotting. There is a positive side of being over protective- there's never enough security if it concerns safety of citizens. Israel is not guilty that there are many of those who are not happy that Jews have their own country and that this country became the only spot of democracy and progress in that region. Under these circumstances Israeli security does their best to make the country more secure and less dangerous for people to be there. Remember what Drew said about feeling more secure in Israel than in any other place.
Pictures from Www.gallery.tourism.gov.il
Let's address Tel Aviv already
You will admire the beauty of Tel Aviv from your aircraft board no matter what time of a day you come. At night it will be an endless sea of lights, as they say, Tel Aviv is a city without stop (Ir le lo afsaka). During day light you'll see a long beach line with high hotels along the sea coast.
The city of Tel Aviv is located on the Mediterranean Sea and is a mixture of business and seaside resort. The city began with the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek in 1887 by Aharon Shlush 22 years before Tel Aviv was actually begun. Mr. Shlush was a businessman who wanted to get away from the crowded living situation in Jaffa. Another neighborhood was near by, Achuzat Bayit, which the two eventually joined forming the beginnings of Tel Aviv. The translation of the name from Hebrew is "Spring Hill" or "Hill of Spring".
Tel Aviv-Yafo makes the second largest city in Israel after Jerusalem. Bat Yam, Holon, Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Bnei-Brak,Petah Tikva,Rishon LeZion, Ramat Ha-Sharon and Herzliya are the other major cities in the coastal area commonly known as Gush Dan.
Tel Aviv is a colorful city which you either accept and love or reject and hate... Tel Aviv is completely different from Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is not characteristic of Israel, as New York is not characteristic of America.
Tel Aviv has an atmosphere of intense life - day and night. The sunshine, the beaches, the cafés and eating stands ( sometimes it seems that people in Israel are eating all the time), the gourmet restaurants, the sea that is within walking distance from anywhere in the city , bars, clubs, restaurants, convenience shops (which are open around the clock).
Tourists friendly city
Practically everybody there speaks English, on different levels. People are very friendly to tourists. Friendliness is the common characteristic of people in Israel. They always smile and are very generous for compliments. In spite of the impression that people might get from TV news channels, Israel in general and Tel Aviv in particular is very safe: you can safely walk around alone at all hours of the day and the night even if you are a woman; children walk by themselves to and from school; young girls return at night alone. I never forget my first time when I was returning home very late at night with my little then son. We had to go through a park with many dark spots. We just came not long ago from Soviet Union, where it was never safe to go alone late in the darkness. My heart was pounding and I was trying to walk very fast, as fast as my 3 year old son could take it. My heart sank into my heels when a stranger appeared in the alley. But the guy smiled a very wide warm smile, said "shalom" to me and waved his hand to my son and told me, "Eize yeled hamud" ("what a sweet boy"). By and by I learned not to be scared in the dark alleys. It even had a negative impact on me in a way, as my natural feeling of caution was lost and I was not careful in European towns, going freely at night in the streets, where you really had to watch.
In Tel Aviv you can wear whatever you like - the least the better - formal dress is seldom required. Israeli men never wear sandals with socks. You can easily spot a foreigner if he has socks when wearing sandals.
View of Tel Aviv from Azrieli Center
Tel Aviv- Yafo
Tel Aviv usually is tied with Jaffa (Yafo in Hebrew, Yaffa in Arabic). Jaffa is one of the world's oldest cities and ports. It was here that the prophet Jonah started the journey that left him in the belly of a whale and Andromeda was tied to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster, before later being saved by Perseus. It was also here where Peter the Apostle received a vision marking a significant ideological split between Judaism and Christianity
Places to go in Tel Aviv-Jaffa
- Tel Aviv travel guide - Wikitravel
Open source travel guide to Tel Aviv, featuring up-to-date information on attractions, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, travel tips and more. Free and reliable advice written by Wikitravellers from around the globe.