We’re all ready to go out and explore – but hold on, that’s part 4! Today we’re going to talk about the logistics and little pieces of the trip that make it better / easier / homey.
Cell phone: It wasn’t that long ago that no one had a cell phone, pay phones ruled, and people just called from home. But now, everyone seems to have their own cell phones. On our trip, we were no exception! There’s something about being able to reach people and places that helps you feel comfortable.
There are two main cell phone options for shorter term rental: rent a phone or rent a sim card and use your own (compatible!) phone. The major cell phone companies offer both, sometimes at a very similar price! Here are some of the companies: Israelphones, talknsave, ampcellular, and orange. Many of these offer shipping to the US so you can bring your phone with you. But it’s really complicated, so try reading this article to get a better idea of the options.
Since we aren’t high-tech phone people, we rented the basic phones from Israelphones. We got a family plan, and since we had a phone in our apartment to use for most of our calling, we did the prepaid plan. We dropped off and picked up in the airport (we don’t live in the US right now), and it was convenient and well organized. We paid under $100 for two phones for 2.5 weeks, including insurance – but we didn’t use them very much, were conscious of the costs, and didn’t have access to the internet on our phones (again, provided in our apartment). Those weren’t really issues for us, but you’ll have to do the research to find the best combination for you.
Food delivery: Maybe it’s the non-New Yorker in me, but it didn’t even occur to me to ask for grocery delivery. But most of the (Jerusalem, at least!) grocery stores will deliver your order. And for free, or a small fee (plus tip). When I was stocking up our fridge, this didn’t even occur to me until the cashier asked – and then I was happy to get it delivered! It makes it much easier, especially for the kg of apples and liters of milk my kids go through!
In the same vein, there are (kosher) prepared food stores all around, too (here’s a good list). We stayed out in Rehavia, and for one of the Shabbatot we were there, we bought food from a shop filled with ready options: kibbe, meatballs, different kinds of chicken, soups, appetizers, salads, rice, side dishes…I might never cook again if I lived close by (although I really wanted to try out some recipes with the produce – but we chose not to use the apartment dishes, so I couldn’t really cook). Now it wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t terribly expensive either. And it was GREAT! We just heated this up on the plata / heating tray provided by our wonderful apartment and had great meals with something for everyone.
Of course, we also just bought some food from a restaurant (like sushi!) to serve, too. My kids love vegetarian sushi and take-out pizza, so this was a HUGE treat. There are lots of options available. (We also did yogurt, cereal, pasta, sandwiches, bread and dips, and few other things at home.)
Finding a synagogue: A little tongue in cheek, because this is Israel – there are shuls everywhere! If you are staying in a hotel, they have a list. But to find a close shul, the best thing to do is…ask! My dh and I looked up all of the synagogues in our area, and came prepared with a list. But he found a second day minyan for Shavuot (we still had to celebrate that second day) and a Sefardi minyan by asking likely candidates on the street. So yes, there are synagogues around pretty much everywhere (BH!) But with a little friendly discussion, you can probably find exactly what you are looking for!
I know there are other things, like rental cars, parking, and lots and lots of other practicalities. But I don’t consider myself well-versed in any of those, so I’m sticking with the things that were essential and worked for us. (And I could be wrong – please let me know in the comments if I’ve missed something, said something wrong, or should add something. I don’t know that I’m entirely well-versed in any of the things in general, just in what worked for us.)