Monday, Jun. 07, 2010

Need to Know

Cabs are plentiful at Ben Gurion International Airport — about 20 minutes southeast of Tel Aviv — and found directly outside the arrivals terminal. Journeys into town should run between $32 and $40. Limousines and SUVs are available from Tal Limousines, found in the arrivals hall.

Although public transport is plentiful, unless you're in town for the long haul, it's not really worth the hassle — with the exception of the shared taxis known as sherut. Priced at roughly $1.50 per journey, these small vans provide hop-on, hop-off service along Tel Aviv's main drags. In the main, though, visitors will be taking regular taxis, which are everywhere and affordable, with most intracity journeys costing less than $10.

Tips of 10% are standard at Israeli restaurants. Cab drivers do not expect to be tipped. For bellboys, tips of $2 to $3 are adequate.

Israel's troubles may make the headlines, but Tel Aviv has been peaceful in the past few years. Pat-downs and bag searches are standard at public buildings and entertainment venues, and you should never leave a bag or parcel unattended. But besides traditional traveler common sense, few special precautions are required. Petty crime is also low. Outside Tel Aviv, particularly in Jerusalem, visitors are wise to keep abreast of news and any civil unrest.

The Sabbath
The Shabbat, or Sabbath, is the local day of rest and observed from sundown on Friday to Saturday night. Shops will close, although convenience stores and kiosks known as pitzutzia will remain open for essentials. Buses and trains cease services, but restaurants and bars are open as normal.