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Old 04-29-2007, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Journey's End
10,189 posts, read 25,242,107 times
Reputation: 3870

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I would open an account at citibank on Monday, if you can, and explain that you are going abroad. They may be able to issue an instant ATM card.

I wouldn't carry $500.00 around--sounds and feels too risky. I think the largest amount I carried was $200-300. in SA or elsewhere, but I do have an international ATM and the charge was no different out of country than within (about 2.00).

I would get one of those new locks that the airport security can open, but is very sturdy, safe and light weight to put on your backpack so that you can relax a little more when in the water, or leaving your hostel. (I can't remember the name of this lock, but it looks like a combination lock, and you set the code; but airport security can open it, without breaking it).

Good luck, have a great trip.
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Lakewood, CO
353 posts, read 396,483 times
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I've spent a lot of time in Israel and it is, by far, my favorite foreign country. You'll love the diversity and the vibrance of the country. Be sure to visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and, in Tel Aviv, the Carmel Market and the Azrieli Center. If you get a chance head up to the northern suburb of Ramat Aviv--you can see where the 'real people' live.
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Old 04-29-2007, 12:10 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
14,140 posts, read 26,189,787 times
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I carry a passport wallet around my neck and under my clothes. I also put a small amount of money in my pants pocket. If I'm wearing a thin shirt I can wear it under my arm too.
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Old 04-29-2007, 09:19 PM
 
Location: Ballwin, MO
366 posts, read 1,605,404 times
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Using an ATM is the best idea. As a matter of fact, I would use the debit card as a credit card everywhere instead of cash. Most restaurants including McDonnalds will accept it and there are no fees. Although some of the best places to eat or little storefronts that might not accept credit cards. I don't think the fees will be as bad as you think. I don't really think that your bank will charge any more than $1.50 for use there, and if you go to a grocery store, like here, I'll bet if you buy something, you can get extra cash back with no charges at all. By a bag of chips or a bottle of water. Have a great time.
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Old 04-30-2007, 06:15 AM
 
Location: By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea
59,138 posts, read 42,903,930 times
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I don't believe I've seen Petra mentioned in this thread. Might be a little late to plan but high on the list of places I'd like to visit.
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Old 04-30-2007, 11:16 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,408 posts, read 13,518,704 times
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Thanks for all the input everyone. The day is almost upon me and I'm running around like a madman trying to get everything together. Keep the trip suggestions coming. I might stop by while on the road.

I've made few specific plans thus far and will be somewhat winging it while over there. I do think I'll be able to explore Jordan a bit, including Petra. Egypt is unlikely. It depends on time and money (but then again, doesn't everything?). I'm panicking at the moment about my lack of preparation but am just reminding myself that it's only two weeks. Really, it's not that long of a time. Honestly, more than anything I think I'm more worried and anxious about what this trip symbolizes in that the return from this trip will basically begin a new chapter in my life, and there's so much I have to do. It's just hard to believe that in six weeks from now, everything will be so different.
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Old 05-23-2007, 01:46 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,408 posts, read 13,518,704 times
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Hey everyone!

So, I'm back after an absolutely fantastic time overseas in Israel. While I did indeed wind up having to cut out Egypt from the itinerary due to time constraints, I was able to sneak in a quick trip to Jordan to see the city of Aqaba as well as the magnificence that is Petra.

I have so many stories from my trip; and really, that's the reason why I go on exotic vacations, not to broaden my worldview or to experience other cultures, but to have cool stories to tell people at cocktail parties . I guess I'll speed through some of my thoughts and anecdotes about my trip.

Firstly, this trip was much nicer than my last backpacking adventure in the sense that I actually had more money at my disposal. During my last trip, I backpacked with half of what was recommended money-wise and came back to the U.S. with no money in my wallet or bank account. This time, while not rolling in the dough, I had enough money to be more comfortable with dropping a few bucks here and there for food, entrance fees and so on. I still of course was a budget traveler, but it was nice to not have to watch every single quarter that I spent.

I spent my nights in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Eilat and explored all of those cities thoroughly while also making day trips to the Dead Sea area, Masada, and Jordan. Of all of the places I saw, the only one I was slightly disappointed by was Tel Aviv. I think I had built it up to such an extent that I was bound to be disappointed; as this crazy New York-Miami-San Francisco hybrid. I'm sure my jetlagged state, my decrepti and dingy hostel, and the weather (drizzle and/or extreme heat) didn't help matters. To me though, Tel Aviv was similar to Athens where both have a few sights but really just seem just like cities with few specific things to see or experience. Similar to Athens where I was told by many Greeks to "spend two days, see the Acropolis and Plaka and the museums and then get out to the islands to see the real Greece", I was told by many Israelis that "Tel Aviv isn't Israel" and indeed it felt very different from elsewhere in the country.

I absolutely LOVED Jerusalem. I can't even articulate the feeling that came over me in that city. I am not a religious person at ALL but there was something about that city, about the history and the topography and the architecture and the people, that held a magnetic pull. I could have stayed there forever. I stayed in the Old City for one night where I "splurged" on a private room in a hostel near Jaffa Gate and my other nights in the New City right by the pedestrian mall at Ben Yehuda Street. I found the city to be so fascinating, particularly the mixture of people, people who actually hate each other living in such close proximity.

One thing that was interesting was me was the different character of each Israeli city I visited. In terms of climate, architecture, the mix of people, the influence of religion on society and so forth, each city was vastly different. I suppose we have the same differences in the U.S. (i.e. NYC vs. Salt Lake City vs. San Diego, etc.) but for such a small country, Israel has a remarkable diversity.

As far as safety and the "Israel situation" is concerned, well, I felt safer in Israel walking the streets than I do here in the U.S. This could be due to my own naivete or also due to the fact that I was visiting during a time of relative stability, at least in the sense that there haven't been widescale suicide bombings in a few years. The military presence and security situation took a little getting used to. I was a bit surprised by just how smoothly things flowed as far as having security in front of virtually every single establishment checking bags. The bigger surprise for me was just in seeing soldiers, young soldiers everywhere I went, carrying their large guns with them. Even more surprising was the fact that the guns serve almost as a fashion statement for some and it wasn't that uncommon to see a group of girls out clubbing, like any girls you'd see in the U.S., wearing mini-skirts and belly shirts, but with an AK-47 draped over their shoulders. It was kind of hot in that Tombraider sort of way. Anyways though, while over there, there were definite rumblings of a war with Syria in the coming weeks and of worsening violence in the Gaza Strip and worries of Israel getting sucked into another spat with Hamas so I have to say, I'm in some ways glad to have gotten out when I did; although another week would've been nice.

While in Eilat, I partook in a good deal of underwater activity, chief among them, going on a dive with dolphins. While a hefty price tag (around $70), it wound up being totally worth it and one of the most amazing things I have ever done. The dive was guided as it was an introductory dive but the dolphins came right up against me, 8-10 of them, pushing their "smiling" faces against my mask, and rubbing up against me; it was both exhilarating and for a split second, a little scary. In spite of strict orders beforehand not to physically pet/touch the dolphins, I did so and was then scolded for it. What? They were begging for it! In my mind I would never get the opportunity to do so again, so a little post-dive lecturing wasn't going to dissuade me from doing it.

Also while in Eilat, I took a sidetrip to Jordan at the last possible minute. I didn't book a tour as everyone had suggested and instead chanced it in cabs, wary of being taken advantage of, but everything worked out just fine. I negotiated a rate with my driver and was able to tour around Petra and Aqaba for $70 cheaper than a tour would've cost me, spent two hours more there than a tour would have allowed, and shaved around 20-30 minutes off of my commuting times thanks to my speed demon driver. Petra for the record is absolutely incredible. That first glimpse of the Treasury there after walking through a 1.5 mile long narrow canyon is just phenomenal and it remains one of the most exhilarating things I have ever seen. I'm not a big history buff but during this trip, and since coming home, I've just been reading up on the history of this portion of the world and am just newly fascinated.

Well, I have plenty of stories as I said and maybe I'll come back and update some more on them. Among them: my nasty bout with Israeli airport security, my firsthand glimpse at the simmering tensions between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, my horrid flight, my layover in Amsterdam, and my quirky little social observations about life in Israel and Israelis as a whole (what's up with the guys all wearing low-rise jeans? I think I saw more guys' asses than I would have in a locker room). At the moment however, I'm just getting re-adjusted to "normal" life as this is only my third full day back and I'm just now getting over my jet lag and trying to get caught up on things that I missed while gone.

As I mentioned awhile back, this trip was a sort of marker for me, the return upon which would signify the start of a new chapter in my life, so I may not be on here as much in the coming weeks as well (and just seeing how many posts/threads I've missed is almost overwhelming in terms of catching up). I had such a great time however and am so glad that I went in spite of my misgivings and do plan to go back one day. I didn't anticipate being so enthralled by the country when I visited and now just simply have to return.
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Old 05-23-2007, 04:01 PM
 
Location: Journey's End
10,189 posts, read 25,242,107 times
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It sounds terrific, DnB, and I bet you'll be re-living and remembering your trip for weeks and months ahead.

Many of your observations brought memories flooding back to me, so thank you for taking me along!

And welcome back!
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Old 04-23-2008, 05:42 PM
 
Location: los angeles
1 posts, read 3,107 times
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well hum... it seems im a year late on this thread, but im going to be leaving for israel at the end of this may and i had been looking for information on how to try to pop into egypt for a peek at the pyramids... you know the camel ride out, the whole bit. ive been trying to see how people get from israel to egypt and i seem to be having some trouble finding info on that... i know we can fly or take a train but where would i find prices and schedules for that? waa i dont know!
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Old 04-24-2008, 11:49 PM
 
Location: Assisi, Italy
1,845 posts, read 3,941,500 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piratemptress View Post
well hum... it seems im a year late on this thread, but im going to be leaving for israel at the end of this may and i had been looking for information on how to try to pop into egypt for a peek at the pyramids... you know the camel ride out, the whole bit. ive been trying to see how people get from israel to egypt and i seem to be having some trouble finding info on that... i know we can fly or take a train but where would i find prices and schedules for that? waa i dont know!
Last time I was in Egypt was April 2001. Lots has changed since then. I was trying to go from Egypt to Israel but gave up. There was a boat from Alexandria to Haifa. From Alexandria you can take a train to Cairo.

Giza where the pyramids are is about a 15 minute cab ride. No camel excursion to the pyramids. That is only in the movies.
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