My Israel Trip-Part 2.

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Random musings about my first trip to Israel for 24 days this past August with 2 of my younger brothers.

Israel Trip Part 1 Linky

Conversion note: When I went to Israel in August the Dollar:Shekel exchange rate was about 4.3:1, it is now 3.9:1.

Planning the trip:

The trip was based around tailoring everything we wanted to see along with where the Starwood hotels were located!

This was where we stayed each night:

08/03-04: Friday-Shabbos: Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza, Starwood category 3. Upgrade: No.

08/05: Sunday: Le Meridian Haifa, Starwood category 1. Upgrade: Yes.

08/06-09: Monday-Thursday: Sheraton Tiberias, Starwood category 2. Upgrade: Partial.

08/10-11: Friday-Shabbos: Rented an apartment in Tzfas for $150.

08/12-08/14: Sunday-Tuesday: Herod’s Vitalis Spa Eilat, Starwood Category 3. Upgrade: Yes.

08/15-16: Wednesday-Thursday: Le Meridian Dead Sea, Starwood Category 1. Upgrade: No.

08/17-18: Friday-Shabbos: With relatives in Rechavia, Jerusalem.

08/19-23: Sunday-Thursday: Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza, Starwood category 3. Upgrade: Yes.

08/24-25: Friday-Shaboos: With relatives in Ramot, Jerusalem.

08/26: Sunday: Boeing 777.

Getting from TLV/Ben Gurion To Jerusalem:

We arrived in Israel on Friday morning, however I didn’t rent a car at the airport for a few reasons:

-You must be 23 to rent at the airport at most agencies (I am only 22.)

-We were leaving Israel just over 3 weeks later, on a Sunday, so the extra 2 days would add a not insignificant sum.

Everyone that I spoke to before the trip told me not to take a regular taxi but a Sherut, or shared taxi, from the airport. With 3 passengers I was quoted a cost of US$75 for the shared ride. With a little bit of negotiating our regular taxi to the Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza was just $47, and we didn’t have to wait for 9 other riders to join in…

Car Rental:

There’s no way around it, if you want an automatic car you’re gonna pay for it! There is an agent called Chayat at 011-972-3570-5102 that has OK rates for Avis and free underage rentals.

Don’t rent a Hyundai Getz-the Mazda 3 is worth every penny for the upgrade over the Getz.

Only the World Mastercard covers CDW in Israel. As far as I could tell no other AMEX/Mastercard/Visa that covers CDW in Israel.

Driving:

I hate to downplay the risk factor, as I know the statistics for Israeli car accidents are among the highest in the world. However I honestly didn’t find driving in Israel to be much worse than in NYC. Yes, driving in Jerusalem is not easy (and parking is even harder) but overall it wasn’t too bad.

Getting around Israel-Maps:

I came to Israel equipped with 2 great maps that I bought from Amazon:

Streetwise Jerusalem

and Globetrotter Israel

Both were very good, but not quite good enough for navigation in unfamiliar territory.

Being in Israel and having a rental car for nearly a month coerced into buying a GPS for Israel.

GPS:

Yes, I do own a GPS, the excellent Nuvi 680 courtesy of Sam’s Club. Unfortunately Garmin apparently does not make Israeli maps, and the Nuvi can only use Garmin maps…

So on our first day in Israel we went to the Office Depot in the Kenyon Malchah shopping mall in Jerusalem. I bought a small Mio GPS on my Starwood AMEX. It is light-years behind the Nuvi. The satellite lock took forever and the maps were passably accurate at best. It didn’t know that many of the streets in Jerusalem are one-way or only for taxis and buses. (We learned the hard way that the yellow arrows mean taxis and buses only. We were flagged over by 4 cops before we finally got off of the offending road)

However without the GPS we wouldn’t have accomplished half of the things that we got done. It was very helpful in many places where signage was spotty and best, but the most helpful part was the POI section. By just typing in “Tomb” we were instantly informed of the final resting place of every tzaddik ever buried in Israel. We always knew where the nearest gas station was. Best of all you could just search all POI’s and it would spit out tons of neat places that we didn’t even know existed!

All in all, the GPS wasn’t perfect, but I can still strongly recommend it.

To be continued…


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21 Comments On "My Israel Trip-Part 2."

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Bz

boy oh boy $75 for a ride from the airport!! I have done it numerous times and its well known that ~ $10 (40 – 50 shek) is the going rate. So I really am surprised they gave you such a quote.

However, a difference of $17 most likely was worth it to take a cab… the sherut will drive you ALL over the city before u get to ur place so it can suck sometimes…

Dan/Ctownbochur

Don’t forget the $75 quote was for 3 people, whereas the cab is a flat rate.

Bz

I mean $10 per person so $30 for 3 people not $75

and also, cabs charge a per person surcharge for every person above 2.. (it might only be 3 or 4 shek but when the whole ride costs 20, splitting it 4 ways means 28 /4 instead of 20/4

Mordy

Yeah, Dan, $75- you got taken for a ride! And at $47, he still stole your money as an uninformed tourist!

9 out of 10 people that I know who visit Israel occasionally don’t rent cars. You can really get around just fine by cab and by bus (the buses really go EVERYWHERE of significance).
Much cheaper, and you don’t have to deal with parking / GPS.

Basically, after helping all of us out for so long with all your deals, you really should have let your readers give something BACK for a change and help you out! Some of us know Israel, and we could have saved you some time / money!

Milhouse

Yes, sherut from the airport to J’m is about $10 per person, probably a bit more now because of the falling dollar, but no way is it $25 a person. Unless you wanted him to leave right then and not wait to fill up the extra seats.

chaim

Dan, The DINERS club master card also covers for CDW, that and the world card are the only two that cover.pLUS THE RENTAL AGENTS HERE AND IN iSRAEL QUOTE BASED ON FACT THAT YOU NEED cdw. sO IF U MAKE A RESERVATION tell them at that point that you have either of these two cards and you will get the lower rate. You must use one though whern you return the vehicle

DANFAN

thanks for thepricelessupdates!
keep ’em coming!
🙂

Dan/Ctownbochur

Obviously the sherut guy was dishonest-but then again at this point I was asking for the price in dollars, so that’s kind of asking for it.

At any rate, I would still pay an extra $17 to get a private cab.

Mordy-I asked for Israel advice on multiple occasions… Regardless, I am 100% confident that I could not have done half of the things that we did in our time period via public transportation, and therefore it was worth the added cost.

me

Great post!!

Did you get a ticket on the bus/taxi roads? or just a warning?

Credit Card Currency Conversion Fee

Hi Dan,

Just wondering if you found any credit cards to use that did not charge the 3% currency conversion fee. I heard that Capital One is the only bank that does not charge this fee but I have yet to confirm this.

Dan/Ctownbochur

The cops had sympathy for us “dumb americans”…so no tickets for that fiasco!

I don’t have any Capital one cards, so I can’t confirm/deny that. Personally, I despise how much they push their super-crappy “no hassle rewards” system…

I did bring a good amount of cash, and got an excellent exchange rate-I’ll include that info the next Israel post.

first class

I hope you found someway of getting yourselves Bus-First on The Continental 777…. Definitely the best premium service nonstop to Israel from the US

AsherO

Dan,

I wouldn’t recommend people travel with lots of ca$h on them. Besides, using a CC earns miles / SPG points…

Anonymous

Dan,
Thanks for all the Israel info. Can you give us your itinerary? What places not to miss? Mistakes not to make as a first time traveler? Tips?

Anonymous

Any tips on getting the best fares for January? Is El AL the safest way to fly?

buzz

Where the directions given from the gps , thru the safe routes? Did ever give you directions requiring you to travel thru Palestinian territory etc…

Dan/Ctownbochur

The GPS had an option to not allow travel into PA territory.

buzz

Thats great ! How about in Israel itself, Lets say going from Yerushalaim to Teveriah did it take you the normal way, or did take you thru all the small arab villages etc…Please respond .Thanks Dan

Levi

Hey,
I was just in Israel. 8 day car rental from sixt shlomo for $187 usd. that included insurance and an extra driver and it was for an automatic.

(dan email me ill get you the info)

me

I was in Israel in December last year and I rented a automatic car through a travel agent for 2 weeks for $300 including insurance!!

baruch

is there any good, low cost gps for the holy land that can be enthusiasticly reccomened?

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