Nuts-and-bolts about Israel

by Mario
Travel
It will probably be the first and last cheap thing in Israel. Flights, particularly operated by low-cost airlines are able to tempt the biggest penny-pincher. We flew from Cracov to Eilat for c.a. 120 zl per person. In this price one piece of luggage was included. Unfortunately, we still do not have the skills for packing into a wash bag, so luggage, even the smallest, is a must for us, especially when in hand luggage we carrying several lenses and camera. About what you can take in Ryanair when traveling with child we wrote here.
Check-in, visa stamps at airports in Israel are already enfold in legend. Apparently, some still are in questioning room :-). But one after the other. At the airport in Tel Aviv, during check-in we get blue piece of paper instead of stamp. In Eilat, if you do not want to get a stamp, you should before approaching the check-in desk fill short form (without it you will get a visa in the passport). Why is it so important (for some), not to have a stamp with Hebrew inscriptions in the passport? It’s simple: this stamp may close possibility to entry to countries which are in conflict with Israel. That mean, in principle, almost all Muslim countries. Almost 100% chance of getting stamp is during crossing the land border with Jordan.
During passport control, when arriving, we were interviewed about our plans for the next two weeks, we were asked to show our booking at the hostel and an explanation the purpose of our trip. We also had to explain what it is couchsurfing :-). The whole process lasted less than 5 min. The lady who interviewed us, all the time kept a poker face.
Departure from Israel sometimes is actually worse than arriving. Several times we were asked about whether we packed the luggage  by ourselves or anyone had access to it. Absurd questions also were asked, like: “Is this scarf particularly important for you? Does it mean anything special? “(Scarf bought in Warsaw). Check-in in Eilat took us more than 30 minutes.
Ovda Airport is 50 km from the Eilat, is literally in the middle of nowhere. To get out or get to the airport (except taxis, which price comes to € 100), you have two options – bus: private and state. Buses are synchronized with flights, so there is no fear that you will be late. The first option (not necessarily recommended by us) is the Shuttle Bus, the second is the national carrier Egged. Unfortunately, in this case the reservation is possible only in Hebrew.
Money
Currency of Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). Conversion is very easy – almost 1: 1 to polish zloty. Therefore, we can see very easily, how expensive Israel is. Basically you can exchange money almost everywhere. One important issue, please remember that in some of the money exchange offices charges a commission. In Warsaw also you find a currency that will exchange NIS directly to PLN (Klonowa street 22).
Prices
All what is necessary for survive by tourist is expensive public transport, accommodation, food, entrance fees. In Israel, in force is clearly the principle of “the farther from the tourist attraction, the cheaper.” Noticeably cheaper is in the West Bank. In turn, the prices of products which are not the basis for survival, for example diapers cost similar as in Poland.
How can you save? By buying a card to most of the national parks (from approx. NIS 80). You might save a lot of money with this card. Just two examples which almost cost you as cheapest card: for a single entrance to Masada (29 NIS), or for a ticket to the Banias and the Nimrod Fortress (38 NIS). Please note that the card is not valid before 8 am for Masada (important for those who want to watch the sunrise).
To check a prices in Israel you can look at this website: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Israel
Transport
Distances in Israel are not large. The longest journey is from Eilat to north parts of the country: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Acre. Before our trip to Israel, we couldn’t decide whether we want to relay on public transportation, or car, or perhaps even hitchhiking. However, since we have started partnership with Abraham Tours, we decided on a couple of trips by bus. However, if you would like to travel from the top of Israel to bottom, we recommend renting a car – on kayak.com we had found a very good offer (necessary switch over to the American version of the page).
Safety
Let’s face it, Israel hasn’t got good PR. The conflict, bombings, intifada of knives, the occupation is not conducive to the make decision about visiting Israel. The only question is whether after the attacks in Brussels wherever we can feel safe?! Probably not, but travel in Israel in our opinion is less risky than traveling during this difficult time for us, eg. in Europe.
We despite traveling with a child and survive bomb threat evacuation didn’t feel unsafe. Of course, the landscape looks a little bit different (barbed wire, soldiers, military posts), but due to the fact that, unfortunately, is a natural in this region of the world does not arouse in us anxiety and even cause us a sense of security.
People
We get used to the fact that if we travel with Mania people are  more open-minded,  it’s easier to establish contact, she opens for us different gates that normally remain closed. Unfortunately, not in Israel. Many times in our posts we stressed the fact that the Jews are mistrustful, sometimes even deliberately misleading. Of course we generalize, because we met many people who greeted us with a smile (the whole team in Abraham or Fauzi Azar). On the other hand,  completely different approach to us was presented by Arabs (Muslims). Open, smiling, helpful. But this is the story of a completely different story :-).

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