Israel abuzz with tourists

  • BenitaLevin
Israel is brimming with tourists at the moment. The two-month school holidays kicked off on July 1, and the scorching temperatures see thousands of visitors flocking to the beaches.
by BENITA LEVIN | Jul 20, 2017

There is no shortage of popular tourist spots, both along the coast and inland, with a range of buses regularly ferrying holidaymakers around the country. Throw in the fact that the Maccabi Games sees 80 countries competing in the space of a few weeks, and you can play your own games guessing the different languages you hear when walking down the street.

It’s an exciting time for new olim because we get to catch up with family and friends who are visiting from around the globe. Our many conversations with visitors on the many student, family and women’s tours here, have prompted the following potentially helpful list: 

Five fun facts that seemed to surprise some visitors to the country: 

1.         The buses here leave on time. Drivers won’t wait for you to finish your phone call.

2.         The price of a shawarma at a restaurant on the sand on Tel Aviv beach, can reach up to 70 shekels. (About R280). It will be a huge portion. It will be delicious. It will cost the earth.

3.         The price of parking in Tel Aviv over lunchtime could be more than the cost of said shawarma, on the sand. (Around R300)

4.         Taxis aren’t cheap either. Mobile Apps like “Moovit and Gett” can help with travel plans. Shuttle services are also useful.

5.         The bill for lunch on the beach could well be brought to you on an iPad. The tip options are also available on that iPad. 

Five fun tips to think about before staying at people’s homes: 

1.         If you leave a towel on the floor on Wednesday night, it will still be on the same spot on Thursday morning.

2.         There is no Woolworths here. We cut our own vegetables. Ourselves.

3.         Disposable dishes are said to be increasingly popular here. The reasons will become clear as your stay progresses.

4.         If you - or your children - are making a lot of noise between 14:00 and 16:00, there is a slim chance a neighbour may arrive to ask you to keep quiet.

5.         Neighbours can pop in for a drink at 22:00. It does happen. Often. 

Five fun incidents that will leave you wanting to come and visit again: 

1.         People here will travel the length and breadth of the country to catch up with old friends and people they haven’t had contact with in decades.

2.         The impatient taxi driver will veer through traffic at a ridiculously dangerous pace, while sweetly smiling as he corrects your Hebrew grammar. A friend of mine was once offered dating advice in a taxi on his way to a first date.

3.         The food here is beyond delicious, including the far more affordable “humus”, schnitzel and shawarma take-out places.

4.         There is an electric “cosmopolitan” feel to the country, with so many olim and visitors here from around the globe.

5.         People here are incredibly proud of this country. They want you to love the visit, whether it’s a religious and spiritual experience or a family holiday at the beach. 

So, consider your next trip. 

Meanwhile, does anyone know if Woolworths is wanting to expand to the Northern Hemisphere? 

New word of the week - Sharav - heatwave.

New phrase of the week - Chatich or Chaticha - good-looking man or woman - spotted often on Tel Aviv beach… and all over the country!

Smile of the week - parking next to a pole with a sign that gave three simple instructions in Hebrew: "Hug, Kiss and Go". Thought it was a rather unusual “instruction”. Took me a while to realise it was a "drop and go" area outside a primary school, with the sign encouraging parents not to linger outside when dropping their children at school!


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