|Time||Money||Food, glorious food|
|Shopping||Culture & Dress||Religious Holidays|
|Tipping made easy|
220 Volts, 50Hz AC. Sockets are of the Continental or European, 2 small round pin variety. If taking a mobile phone, MP3 , hairdryer or camcorder, be sure to pack a power adaptor.
It is recommended that you be vaccinated for Tetanus and Polio, if you haven't had a booster in the last ten years. Food and waterborne diseases are more common, so we recommend vaccinations for typhoid (valid 3 years) and Hepatitis A (validity varies). Additionally, we recommend you be vaccinated for Meningococcal Meningitis. However this information can change regularly and is intended only as a guide. For the most up to date and accurate information please consult your local healthcare professional.
Sunstroke and upset stomachs and diarrhoea can be a common occurrence among travellers in foreign countries. We recommend that you pack a high factor sunscreen and a personal first aid kit containing anti- diarrhoea and headache tablets, plasters, antiseptic cream, handy antiseptic wipes etc. If you are currently prescribed medication, take an ample supply. Some dispensary items may not be available in Israel.
Coastal cities, such as Tel Aviv and Haifa have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers. During the summer (June to early September) temperatures range from 27°C – 32°C and it is very rare to encounter rain. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are approx. 3 degrees colder at this time of year and Eilat, located by the Red Sea is usually 3 degrees warmer.
March, April May and late September, October and November are also pleasant for sightseeing, with temperature in Tel Aviv averaging between 16°C – 24°C with a small chance of rain. Again, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are approx. 3 degrees colder at this time of year and Eilat, usually 3 degrees warmer.
During the winter (late November through to February), the more mountainous regions can be windy, cold and sometimes snowy; Mount Hermon’s peak is covered with snow most of the year and Jerusalem usually receives at least one snowfall each year. Temperatures at this time of year average 10°C -15°C in most places, (Jerusalem and the Galilee being colder) with a high chance of rain.
Israel is 2 hours ahead of GMT. Daylight saving time starts on the Friday before the 02 Apr. The move back to standard time occurs late September/early October according to the Jewish calendar falling on a Saturday night between Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur. During this period, Israel is 3 hours ahead of GMT.
Pound Sterling, US Dollars, Euro and other major currencies can be exchanged into Israeli New Shekels (ILS) upon arrival. ATMs and exchange facilities are available everywhere.
Food in Israel is extremely diverse and generally very good. A well known favourite is falafel – small fried balls of mashed chickpeas, usually served inside unleavened pita bread with houmous (a cream of chickpeas, tehina, onion, lemon and olive oil). Another popular dish is Shawarma, sliced turkey meat which is also served in pita bread. Also try Me’orav Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite mix) which contain several types of meat, or Schnitzel. Fresh fruit and salads are very popular in Israeli cuisine and a Fatoush salad is a must try - chopped onions, cucumbers and herbs are mixed together and topped with fried bread and sometimes feta or grilled halloumi cheese.
Kosher food means anything that is allowed by the Jewish religious laws concerning food. In short, pork and shellfish are forbidden and meat and dairy products must not be cooked together or eaten at the same meal. Most of the hotels in Israel are Kosher (including those we use on our group tours), so breakfast is dairy, and during lunch and dinner it is not possible to have milk in tea or coffee. In religious cities like Jerusalem many cafes and restaurants are Kosher.
Regular Western style food and drinks are readily available for the not so adventurous. Fast food chains like Pizza hut, McDonalds and Burger king are readily available.
Israel tap water is regarded as safe to drink, though bottled water is recommended for short stays. Alcohol is available at many hotels and restaurant (excluding the Palestinian territories). Maccabee and Gold star (costing approx USD$5 a bottle) are both palatable pale lagers and certified kosher. Israeli wine is produced by hundreds of wineries, ranging in size from boutique enterprises to large companies producing over ten million bottles per year. The modern Israeli wine industry was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, owner of the Bordeaux estate Château Laffite-Rothschild. Much of the country is suited for viticulture, prices are a little high though still a top drop can be enjoyed with every meal.
Israeli wine, kosher products, t-shirts and diamonds are some of the best souvenirs on offer. Israel is one of the best countries for purchasing Judaica and Christian pilgrim trinkets.
Bargaining is common in most modern areas in Israel. Usually it’s easier to make a deal if you are buying multiple items rather than a single item. Bargaining is also common in bazaars and the more rural markets, and when buying second hand products. Prices in tourist areas such as the Old City of Jerusalem can routinely be haggled down to as low as 50% of the asking price. Prices are fixed in restaurants, large stores and shopping malls.
Despite the inevitable ups and downs of travelling abroad, you will generally be shown great hospitality in Israel. Israel is generally a very relaxed country with a western-oriented outlook. Respect for religion is important to most Israeli’s and there are a few situations when this should be kept in mind.
Visitors to some synagogues, most churches and all mosques should be aware that entry will normally not be permitted to those with exposed legs or women with exposed upper arms. Women may be asked to cover bare arms and legs in both mosques and synagogues. Carry a wrap or bring along long sleeve shirts for these occasions. Further, men should cover their heads when entering a synagogue with a hemispherical shaped skullcap called a kippah or yarmulke (often provided by the synagogue) though a normal sunhat is also acceptable and in mosques both men and women will be required to take off their shoes before entry.
Israeli people are generally quite direct in what they have to say. Openness and honesty are often valued over politeness and projection of niceness. Direct personal questions are common and should not be taken as offensive. Israelis are also very kind and hospitable. When you make a friend here, they will do their best to take care of you while you’re in their country. Foreign visitors are deeply appreciated and are generally shown the utmost respect by locals.
The origins of various Jewish holidays generally can be found in Biblical mitzvot (commandments), rabbinical mandate, and modern Israeli history. Shabbat is the Jewish name for the Sabbath and is observed weekly. It begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. Israeli Jews observe Shabbat in different ways. For example, in Tel Aviv you will see cars on the road and shops open for trade, whilst in Jerusalem Conservative and Orthodox Jews may deem that no work should be done at all. This may include by definition, turning on a light, driving a car or cooking. If staying in Jerusalem on a Friday evening near all restaurants and cafes are closed. Hotel resultants still remain open and room service is often also available.
National Jewish holidays in 2011 where work is not permitted (in addition to Shabbat) starting from sunset the day prior include Purim – 20 March, Passover - 19 April, Yom Ha' Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) - 8 May, Rosh Hashanah (New Year) - 29 Sept, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) - 8 October. Chanukah the festival of lights is celebrated from 20 Dec to 28 Dec, where many businesses remain open at this time.
At the start of any group tour, we collect a nominal tipping kitty from all tour participants to cover tips en route. This saves you the hassle of when and how much to tip bellhops, luggage luggers and other support staff through the tour. This amount doesn’t include tips to your tour leader or driver. We will offer a recommended amount on our tour Go Guide, though ultimately the choice to tip, how much or not at all is up to you. Tipping is an entirely personal gesture.
If travelling on a tailor-made journey, in place of ‘tipping made easy’ we recommend a certain amounts per couple/two people per day, be allocated to cover tips paid directly by you to - bellhops, luggage handlers, your driver and local guides. A detailed breakdown of amounts will be outlined in your tailor-made documentation issued prior to departure.