Free Wi-Fi in Tel Aviv

Israel HaYom is reporting that free Wi-Fi will be available throughout the city:

Public wireless network will enable residents of Tel Aviv and visitors to enjoy free high-speed Internet connections.  The project will include 80 Wi-Fi relay stations at a cost of around 6 million shekels ($1.6 million).

The installation will be staged and begins shortly. If you are looking for other free hotspots, ride the train. Israel Railways offers free Wi-Fi service on their trains as well as an interesting way to see certain parts of the country.

What is included in the price?

Many people ask, “What is included in the price of the tour?” This is a great question because many companies have hidden costs that surprise passengers after it’s too late.

Discipleship Travel LLC offers an “all-inclusive” package. And by that we mean “ALL INCLUSIVE,” which includes:
1. Round trip coach airfare to/from Israel on a major airline. Upgrades to business class are usually possible at an additional cost according to airline availability.
2. Transfer to/from the airport/hotel in Israel.
3. Double occupancy rooms in a superior or deluxe hotel. (Certain groups may contract for other level hotels, but that is clearly stated in the specific group contract.)
4. Full Israeli buffet breakfast and dinner each day. Breakfast includes water, tea/coffee, milk and juice. Dinner includes water. Other drinks may be available at an additional cost.
5. All tour related transportation. Most of the transportation is provided on climate controlled motor coach, but travel on a boat, train, registered taxis, and licensed off-road vehicles are also common elements of our tours. Participants may choose to do extra activities outside the tour itinerary, and any transportation costs for such activities is not included in the tour price.
6. Entry for all sites on the published itinerary. Participants may choose to do things not on the itinerary (e.g. ride a camel or donkey, or use certain pools or spas, etc.), and any related fees are not included in the tour price.
7. Tips for the driver(s) and guide(s) and hotel staff.

Please note that personal items, health related costs, travel and/or health insurance, passport fees, souvenirs, lunch and certain drinks at meals are NOT included in the tour price. It is important to read the disclaimers in the “fine print” section of your tour brochure for information on other possible additional costs.

What are the hotels like?

Hotel rooms in Israel are typically smaller than average hotel rooms in the United States. And in some cases, significantly smaller. In fact, our ground company in Israel has told us that certain hotels are “off limits for Texans because they will feel too cramped and not enjoy their stay.”

The specific amenities at each hotel vary by chain, location, age of the building, and rating. All of our hotels have dining halls and provide breakfast and dinner buffets. Additionally, you can expect a clean comfortable room. Though some hotels have spas or fitness centers, you should not expect one except at the Dead Sea. If the hotel does have a spa or fitness center, it usually requires a day membership. The hotels along the Dead Sea offer free access to pools, but charge for massage/therapy treatments.* For those groups who are staying at the Dead Sea and are interested in massage/therapy, please speak with your guide early in the trip so the appropriate reservations can be made.

Many hotels provide hair dryers, and most offer access to an iron. If you MUST have a hair dryer, the safest course of action is to bring one with the necessary converter. Each hotel provides bath towels, but no wash cloths. If you require a wash cloth, please bring your own. However, make sure to keep your wash cloth separate from the towels in the bathroom because room service often unknowingly gathers them with the towels. All hotels provide a laundry service for an additional fee. Like in the United States, some hotels offer free wi-fi and others have fee based access to wi-fi. All of our hotels have a 24-hour front desk, luggage service, and provide wake up calls upon request.

Usually, we will not know the specific hotel your group will get until a few days before departure, and that is subject to change up to the last minute. The hotel managers often “trade” groups between comparable hotels in order to accommodate the flow of traffic based on group size and number of nights. Sometimes availability is limited to specific nights, which might require a group to stay a couple nights at one hotel and a couple nights at another hotel in the same city, or even to split their time in Jerusalem to the beginning and end of the tour.

*Massage/Therapy treatments are NOT INCLUDED in the tour price and are the responsibility of those who use the service.

Israel will release new banknotes

Israeli notes that will be changed in 2013 and 2014.

Globes, a leading Israeli online business news site, reports that the Bank of Israel plans to begin releasing newly designed banknotes in mid-2013.

The new design, which includes a red 20 shekels note, a green 50 shekels note, an orange 100 shekels note, and a blue 200 shekels note, will have new portraits and improved security measures. Another change that is intended to assist the vision impaired is a variation in the size of each of the notes.

The first release (mid 2013) will include the 50 and 200 shekels notes, with the 20 and 100 shekels notes to follow in early 2014. There is no indication that coins will be redesigned.

Since most vendors accept US dollars, these changes should not have any serious impact on tourists.

News from Israel’s Ministry of Tourism

Here’s the latest from the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

What’s happening where?

For some days rockets have been fired from the Palestinians’ Gaza Strip into southern Israel. A majority of the rockets have been brought down by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, but some have landed in towns and cities in a quite large area.

Is this where I’m going?

Probably not. Most of the areas the rockets have reached are off the usual tourist routes, but a few have been aimed towards Tel Aviv. Most of the rockets launched towards Tel Aviv were deflected by the Iron Dome. No tourists have been involved in any incidents.

How does all this affect my travel plans?

It probably doesn’t. Conditions in most of Israel are normal – with children going to school, people shopping, going to restaurants, going to the beach, and sightseeing.

Yes, but are people still going?

There are currently more than 100,000 tourists vacationing in Israel and there are no signs whatsoever that visitors are cutting their trips short. Individuals and groups continue to depart the U.S. and Canada for Israel without interruption.

But surely…

If you’re taking an organized tour, and should it be necessary, your tour operator will adjust your itinerary. If you’re traveling independently, hotels and tour guides are equipped to assist you and to suggest what you should and should not do, and where you should or should not go.  In addition to our, the website of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv gives up-to-date information for the benefit of Americans visiting our country

Yes, but…

As hard as it may seem to comprehend from thousands of miles away, the current situation has little effect on life in most of Israel.  2012 has already broken the record as the best-ever year for tourism to Israel, with more international travelers visiting Israel than ever before.  More than 80 airlines are operating their normal schedules to and from Israel, and today, as every day, close to 20 flights are operating nonstop between the United States and Canada and Israel, and vice versa.

Are you sure?

Tourists and tourism are very important to the State of Israel. If we felt it was inappropriate for you to come now, we would ask you not to.

If you’re already in Israel you are in good hands and know there’s nothing to be overly concerned about. And if you’re on your way: “Bon Voyage.” We look forward to greeting you.

UPDATED November 19, 2012