It’s been 4 months since my trip to Israel – so here are the commonly asked questions when I told people that I’m going / I went.
Thanks again to Vibe Israel for having me! Much apprecaited! What you're doing for your country is amazing!
Is it safe?
I felt safe the entire 2 weeks I was in Israel. Honestly!
Even with my adventurist nature which found me walking past gravesites at 9pm or having to file past a bunch of loud demonstrators – I still felt safe!
Yes, there does seem to be a bit of tension in a few places, but it was a little bit like I was an observer looking in. Most locals seemed to understand the value of tourism – and so I don’t think anything would intentionally happen to tourists.
In high tension areas – there is a defence force presence there to ‘keep the peace’ if needed. Not that they seemed to be needed in the places I saw.
I heard no bombs. Saw no crying. No wars, craters in the ground, smoke from the buildings – nothing!
I did see guns though! That was exciting for this Australian!
Israel has a compulsory Army service when you turn 18 (2 years min for females, 3 years for guys) so it was common to see uniform wearing teens with weapons. Unusual for me, but common there.
In the Bangkok airport on the way over, I had a lot of questions asked of me. Understandable, considering I was flying to somewhere I had never been, to see people I had never met, with a new passport, all on my own – but like the lady next to me at the airport said while our luggage was being checked “at least you know that it’s safe”
How long did it take you to get there?
From Australia – it was about 2.5hours from Cairns to Brisbane. Then 9ish hours Brisbane to Thailand (Bangkok) – and then 10ish hours to Israel! Lots of movie watching time! Yeay!
Thanks to a good well-travelled friend, I took Jetlag tablets – so didn’t feel the effects.
I arrived in Israel about 8am – and went straight on to explore the markets (by myself!) while waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive.
Is everyone in Israel Religious?
Ha ha! No. Definitely not!
One local said a lot of religious people seem to live in Jerusalem, but in Tel Aviv – they’re almost the opposite and against rules or restrictions.
Yet some religious traditions seem to be embraced by most – the streets on a Friday night are strangely empty, as it’s Jewish custom to rest from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Some stores close too - a bit like Australia’s ‘Sundays’ I think. Not a rule, but humans really need to rest!
The Vibe Israel group seem to embrace both religious and non-religious members of Israel - But they also know they have so much more to offer the world, besides religion, which is why I think we didn’t visit a lot of the usual ‘religious sites’ on the tour.
I visited some, for my own interests, in the 2nd week once the Vibe Israel tour was over. I'm planning on writing up another post on 'Places where Jesus went' if you want to know more about my 2nd week exploring in Israel...
Would you get a hire car next time?
When I booked my travel insurance, a good friend told me to ‘up it’ if I was planning to drive.
At that time I contemplated it for a moment. Hiring a car would be a better way to see all that I wanted to.
But since visiting Israel, driving in the city – no thanks! The public train service and taxis will be good enough for me!
Besides the obvious confusion of the driver’s side of the car being on the ‘wrong’ side (they drive on the right in Israel) the drivers here are quite aggressive and fast for such tight manoeuvring in my opinion.
And the horns! Oh, how they love to beep at you!! Eeekk!
Maybe when (not if!) I go back to Israel with the family, we will hire a car for the places that are of some distance away. There is a lot of desert to drive through to see some of the sites, so maybe I would drive then?
If I had to live in Israel, I think one of the battery powered bikes would be my preferred mode of transport. Ok on the footpaths, and (if you’re brave!) no helmets!
Also totally ok to take along a friend – although me and 4 kids on a bike may get some looks! ha ha! These guys were travelling a pretty fast speed to pass our bus!
Was there a language barrier?
For my first international experience, I felt a little cheated (and SO SO thankful!) that English in Israel is really common!
Over the entire two weeks, I only met one non English speaking guy (who did my laundry!) and even then, he ‘phoned a friend’ and I had excellent English service.
It was fun hearing Israelis translate uncommon words, as most use Hebrew as a first language. I found banks, money exchange places, food, laundry, eating places all by myself with no trouble.
What were the bathrooms like?
Yes, I have had a couple of people ask me this.
As I said earlier, tourists are well looked after, and hotel bathrooms looked like…. Hotel bathrooms!
I ran into a McDonalds to wash my hands once, and was surprised they didn’t have a bathroom. That was strange to me. I think every McDonalds in Australia has bathrooms.
(I will continue to test this theory for your benefit and my research ;-) ha ha! )
The toilets flush. The water goes the opposite direction to Australia (yes, I tested it!) – and they even have toilet paper, towels, hot water, free soaps and all the other little luxuries in life we take for granted.
If toileting has ever stopped you from visiting Israel – then may this information put your mind at ease and now you can go! Hooray!
Were the people nice?
One of the hotel staff at the Tel Aviv Diaghilev Hotel where we stayed asked where I was from.
“Ah, Australia!” He said “My friend says everyone there is blonde and happy!” ha ha!
While I take the happy part as mostly true, my hair colour proved his friends statement false.
Of course, I can’t generalise an entire population based on just the people I met - But, if I did that, then YES! Yes they are!
Most people I met in Israel like to speak their mind, they are ok with you having a different view to them and no need to make you believe theirs, they are diverse and I can’t even distinguish them as having a certain ‘look’ as they all look so different!
But yes, I have made some lifelong friends who I wish lived closer as I thoroughly enjoyed their company.
Got a question about Israel? I’ll be happy to try and answer – or find someone in Israel who can! Let me know below!
Want to hear more about Israel? Just click the links below!