Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Traveling around Israel

Traveling around Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and other cities, or on inter-city routes is quite easy. Never taxing – thanks to a very efficient transport service.

Buses (Autobus for the Israelis) are frequent and cheap (minimum of 5 shekels and 20 agorots, which is roughly like a dollar and 20 cents). Albeit buses are not available on Shabat (Sabbath). On a Friday, buses still run until around 4PM. Beyond this time, your options are to take a walk or hail a cab. Buses starts showing up again at 6PM the next day.

Taxis, on the other hand, are available all days of the week. Israeli taxi drivers are quite courteous, to the point of being patronizing. And speak good English. Very articulate, they seem to enjoy providing information – solicited or not.

Once I asked a driver for a place to enjoy great Shawarma with Humous and Tehina in Jaffa – he ended up giving me at least 6 names of restaurants, the specialties of each, the prices, the kind of people who frequent these places… imagine the amount of information I could have gotten if I asked for restaurants in Tel Aviv instead!

The Israelis invented this shuttle-like taxi, which for me resembles a utility vehicle owing to bulky size. They call it the Sherut. And just like the bus, the Sherut runs on fixed route and fixed fare (5 shekels). The Sherut is likewise convenient, but less available – so for me it’s the Autobus most of the time.

Well, if you have to go to Jerusalem, there is always the train for you to take. My trip to Jerusalem last election day cost me 19 shekels, little high in price compared to the bus, but still okay. I can still afford it. It’s more or less an hour ride from Tel Aviv. Trains are also convenient; train seats are relatively new and clean. And there are panoramic windows if you want to enjoy simply magnificent sites along the ride.

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