Tel Aviv in Israel
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Tel Aviv has a modern, regular and widespread bus network run mostly by a company called Dan http://www.dan.co.il/english/. A lot safer than the bad reputation it burdens, bus services start at 05:00 and stop at midnight, though some of the lines stop earlier, so do check. Single tickets within the city and the close suburbs (Bat Yam, Holon, Ramat Gan, Bney Brak, Givatayim) cost 5.20 NIS, around $1.3US (as of January 2008). Daily free-pass called Hofshi-Yomi is also available, and cost less than the price of three rides. Note that this ticket is only valid from 9:00. There is also 10-rides ticket (which cost the equivalent of 8 single tickets, so offering 20% discount) which could be used by several passengers. Visitors for long period would find monthly free-pass (Hofshi-Hodshi) the most economic transport ticket.
Tickets can be purchased either at the driver of any bus line, or at the New Central Bus Station. Exact change is not necessary, but a driver may refuse payment by notes of 100 or 200 Shekels.
Suburban lines are also operated by Egged (mainly to the southern suburbs) and Kavim (to Kiryat Ono region) companies. Multi-ride tickets are not exchangeable between companies.
The most popular bus route in the city is bus route number 5, which connects the Central Bus Station (departure from 4th floor, westernmost platform) in the south with the Central Train Station. It goes through Rotschild Boulevards, Dizengof Street (Including the Dizengof Center Mall), Nordau Boulevard, Pinkas/Yehuda Maccabi Street and Weizman Street or Namir Road.
Another popular bus route is number 18, connecting the Central Train Station with the southern neighbourhoods of Jaffa and Bat-Yam. It also has a stop in Rabin Square.
Like most Israelis, the bus drivers in Tel Aviv speak and understand English well, and in most cases will kindly answer questions about the destination of their bus.
Main line trains could be useful to travel between any of Tel Aviv 4 stations, for a price of 5 ILS.
The first line of a light (partially underground) railway is scheduled to be operative in 2012. The line will connect Tel Aviv to Petah Tikva in the east and Bat Yam in the south, and its route will go via Jabotinski road in Bney Brak and Ramat Gan, Begin road in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem boulevard in Yafo. The line will interchange with the main train line at Merkaz/Savidor station and serve important commuters destinations like the Diamond Exchange district in Ramat Gan, Azrieli towers and Hakirya (IDF headquarters), but will have little use for tourists.
As of November 2007, a contractor was chosen to build the line but work has not begun yet.
You can hail a taxi ( mo-NIT, מונית) in the street or call one (with extra surcharge). Taxis are obliged to give you a metered ride unless you settle for a price, so insist on the driver using the meter ( mo-NEH in Hebrew, pronounced like the painter Monet ), unless you are sure what the price to your destination should be. And no, the meter is never broken. A local ride without meter should be 20-30NIS in the downtown core, and up to 70 or 80 to the immediate suburbs. If you go for a price fixed in advance, haggle with your driver a bit, you can generally knock a few shekels off the price. Cutting a deal in advance is especially recommended on Friday night and Saturday, when there is a surcharge. Plus, if you get stuck in Tel Aviv's notorious traffic, you won't sit there watching your money tick away. Hakastel taxi service, phone +972-3-6993322, Palatine+972-3-5171750 or Shekem+972-3-5270404 (add 3.30 NIS charge for the call).
In addition to normal (called special ) taxis, there are 6-12 person van-sized taxis that supplement some bus routes ( sheh-ROOT ). This alternative is often faster, slightly cheaper, and more frequent than taking a bus, and they operate 7 days a week. If requested, the driver will stop outside the designated bus stops. Such service is available on bus routes no. 4, 5 (but note that these taxis don't reach the train station), 16, 51 and 66.
http://www.suzannedellal.org.il/view_page.aspx?p=76. Theater is mostly performed in Hebrew, naturally, but English interpretation is available is some of the shows for extra-fees in Habima National Theater (03-6295555) and HaCameri Municipal Theater http://www.cameri.co.il/eng/menu.asp. Underground music: hardcore, punk, ska, emo, club Patiphone (Yitzhak Sade st. 32) http://www.myspace.com/patiphone
Tel Aviv is an excellent city for people who exercise on a regular basis. On any given day, tens of thousands of Tel Aviv residents go out jogging, cycling and walking in the Yarqon Park and on the beaches. There are also many fitness clubs spread across the city, some of which include swimming pools. If you are fond of swimming, it is best to visit the Tel Aviv beaches in the early morning, before they become crowded with locals and tourists.
Tel Aviv also is home to many official sports clubs that compete in the national and continental levels. The local Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team is considered as one of the best basketball teams in Europe having won the European Championship five times in the last 30 years. Maccabi plays against leading teams from Europe every Thursday evening at the Nokia Sports Center. Tickets can be purchased any day of the week.
The most popular sport in Israel is soccer. There are three soccer teams from Tel Aviv in the Israeli Premier League: Hapoel, Maccabi, and Bnei Yehuda (Representing the Tikva district). Hapoel and Maccabi are considred as two of the best soccer teams in Israel. When one of the teams plays a home game in the Jaffa Stadium, thousands of fans arrive. The most popular sporting event during the year is the Derby match between the two. Watching a soccer game in Israel can be quite an attraction, but please note that often violence erupts among the large crowds attending.
When to go
Tel Aviv is a rapidly growing city in the midst of an exciting transition from medium-sized urban center to bustling international metropolis. It's the city that many Israelis think of as their New York. While the comparison was once a stretch-and indeed Tel Aviv is still a fraction of New York's size-Tel Aviv's booming population, energy, edginess and 24-hour life give the city a cosmopolitan flair comparable to few other cities in this part of the world.
The heart of Tel Aviv is the financial and cultural center of Israel. This part of the city is bordered by the Yarqon river to the north; the Central Bus Station area to the South; the Ayalon Highway to the east, and the sea to the west. You'll find everything in walking distance, and most of the districts below too close to tell.
Tel Aviv/Yafo Yafo — (Jaffa in English, Yaffa in Arabic) is one of the world's oldest ports. It was here that the prophet Jonah started the journey that left him in the belly of a whale and Andromeda was tied to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster, before later being saved by Perseus. It was also here where Peter the Apostle received a vision marking a significant ideological split between Judaism and Christianity (Acts 10). Tel Aviv/Neve Tzedek Neve Tzedek — the first neighborhood outside the walls of old Jaffa which is now a picturesque artists quarter and the location of the Suzanne Dellal Dance center. Tel Aviv/Kerem Ha'Temanim Kerem HaTeymanim — a densely populated neighborhood, older than Tel Aviv itself which was originally built by Jewish immigrants from Yemen. It is now situated right next to the Carmel Market. Tel Aviv/HaYarqon Street HaYarqon Street — a long street running alongside the coast, home to some of the leading hotels in the city, as well as the American and British embassies. Parallel to it is Ben-Yehuda street, famous for some of the best ice-cream parlors in Israel. Tel Aviv/Hatikva Hatikva — another Yemenite quarter located in the South with lively shish kebab restaurants. Hatikva is home to the singer Ofra Haza and in the last decade, has become home to many immigrant workers from the around the world, as well as into the area of the Central Bus Station. The largest immigrant communities are from China, The Philippines and West African nations. Tel Aviv/Florentin Florentin — said to be the Lower East side of Tel Aviv, a mishmash of small industries and garages with hip and trendy stores, home to young families. Tel Aviv/Ramat Aviv Ramat Aviv — an upscale northern neighborhood, north of the Yarqon river, where the Tel Aviv University, Diaspora Museum, and Haaretz Museums are located. Tel Aviv/Neveh Shaanan Neveh Shaanan-red light district.
Tel Aviv remains a safe city to visit. The usual warnings regarding being alert for bomb threats also pertain to Tel Aviv-beware of suspicious packages in public places (though don't over panic), and suspicious behaviour on the part of people around you; if in doubt, report it! The local police are generally very friendly and many of the law-enforcers can speak understandable English. Also be aware of pickpockets, like in every big city, mostly in HaCarmel Market, Nachlat Binyamin market, the old and new central bus stations, the beach promenade and all of Jaffa and the flea market area. Nevertheless, regular crime rates are much lower in Tel Aviv (and in all of Israel) than in most other cities of similar size.
Security control checks are necessary when entering shopping malls, markets the central bus station, and most hotels, cafes and restaurant. You are frequently requested to let the guards look into your bag-this is the common procedure for everyone tourists and Israeli's alike so don't resist it. It is best not to find it offensive or intrusive, and unless you carry a pistol (which exempts you from being searched), this check shouldn't take more than half a minute and end with a smile and a green light. It is also best advised to carry some sort of identification documents on you at all times.
As buses are the best (some might say the only) way to tour the city, it is advised not to think twice before using them. Despite their reputation as terrorism targets, the city buses remain a very safe way to travel, where reality is far different than the image most tourists would have on them. They are safe at all times of day and night, frequent, cheap, reliable and easy to handle. You can always approach the driver with any relevant question and the passengers are usually keen to assist tourists.
Though not really dangerous for tourists, it would be best advised to avoid walking parks alone at night, or visiting the southern neighbourhoods (south of Eilat Street) after dark. If necessary, a companion would be a good idea.
When going for a swim in the Mediterranean, stick to the patrolled beaches with lifeguards, marked with flags and signs-every year people drown off the Tel Aviv coast when strong currents get them into difficulties. Also, at the beginning of the summer, keep an eye out for jellyfish (called i meduza /i in Hebrew, i medusot /i is plural). Remember that during the months of winter, though the weather may allow a bathe, the lifeguard service is inactive. (Official bathing season begin on April 18th and ends late in October)