In the first part of this mini-series of travel tips for Israel, I talked about getting into the country, and what you need to know before you head to this part of the world. These are lessons I picked up while shooting The Palette Project and I can tell you as a filmmaker that planning is everything when it comes to saving time and stress.
Yes, what is probably on you mind is your planning for what you’re gong to do while you’re here, but we need to talk about…
Travel Tip #2: Getting Out
Israel can be a very welcoming place. Most Israelis are glad you’re there, experiencing the culture and seeing this part of the world. It can be so welcoming, in fact, that you might wonder, as you make your way back to the airport, if they actually want you to leave, because it’s… so… flippin’… difficult.
Did I say you need to budget an hour and a hlaf from the moment the plane lands just to get out of the airport? Double that for getting back to your departure gate when you leave. At least that amount. You need to be aware that for as much security as you faced getting into Israel, there is more security around the depature process. It begins with a security ring around the airport, where very serious men and women with very serious sidearms want to know why yoiu’re anywhere near the arport. Do not joke around with these people. Seriously. When you get into the airport itself, you’ll encounter more security at passport cntrol, check in and luggage inspection. If you are carrying anything in the least bit unusual, like oversized baggage, professional equipment or a lot of electronic materials, expect extensive searches and more questioning. That list of who you were with and where you were staying while you were in Israel? Keep it handy, you may need it again. You will also be expected to stand in front of a wall of facial recognition cameras on the way to your depature gate. Israel has an extensive data bank of terror suspects, and your face will be matched p against the data bank, and the scan will also now be storied on file, connected to yourthe biographical information on your passport. Like I said, they take this stuff very seriously. It can often take three hours to get to your gate, and this does not include the time it takes to get from anywhere in the country you’ve started from on your way to the airport. Even with a shared taxi shuttle service, I left Jerualem at 7 pm for a midnight flight, and although this was a little over precautious (I arrived at my gate at around 10:30 pm, partly because I also had to have a carnet stamped for our productoin gear), allowing at least three hours for getting to the gate (again, not the airport, but the gate itself) should be your plan.
Coming up in the next post: getting around.