2015 Israel & Morocco Trip No.1: Transfer to Istanbul, Enter Israel

Israel and Morocco Travel 2015 GW
Israel and Morocco Travel 2015 GW

Date of visit: April 24, 2015

I’m sorry for the delay in posting due to the trouble with WordPress, but I’m finally back up and running, so I’ll be updating my travelogue little by little.

I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve taken a trip that wasn’t to Europe, but this may be the first time in over a decade. This year, I’m going to Morocco via Istanbul by Turkish Airlines. My wife and I will meet at Casablanca. I will go first every time.

But before that, I’m planning to take a detour and go to Jerusalem by myself. The trouble is that I have to change planes in Istanbul. Instead of Ataturk airport, I have to go to Sabihagyokçen, which is the complete opposite of Ataturk, across the center of Istanbul. Even with efficient public transportation, it would take 1 hour and 30 minutes to transfer between airports. However, they have to change trains once in the city’s Taksim district. Arrival in Istanbul is early in the morning at 4:00 a.m., and the transfer time is at 8:00 a.m. Considering the early morning transfer, we decided to charter a car with enough time to spare.

Here is the service we used.

Istanbul Airport Service http://www.istanbulairportservice.com/

I met up with the driver safely, though there were some misunderstandings, and I occupied a 6-seater van by myself, and we headed for Sabiha Gökçın Airport for about an hour in the dark before dawn, seeing the old city of Istanbul in the distance. Since it was early in the morning, it took about 50 minutes to arrive.

Now, I’m flying to Tel Aviv, Israel by Pegasus Airlines, an LCC. The online check-in seemed to be fine, and the procedure was very smooth. In fact, it was so smooth that I had more than enough time.

The cabin was quite normal. I was worried that my belongings would be checked and weighed strictly, but it was rather loose. I measured the weight just in case, but it didn’t seem to have much meaning.

And we arrived at Tel Aviv in about 2 hours. The airport is very clean.

Now for the biggest obstacle of all: passport control at the point of entry. As usual, I had prepared a piece of paper to avoid being stamped, but on the other hand, I had heard that since last year or so, there were so many “No Stamp Please’s” that foreign tourists would be given an “entry card” instead of a stamp, and this was true!

That’s good news!

Nevertheless, you have to respond to questions from the officer. The following items were asked.

Q. What is the purpose of your stay? → A. Sightseeing.
Q. How long will you stay → A. 27 days.
Q. Where are you staying → A. Jerusalem for 3 nights. The hotel is here (Booking.com app shows the location).

Well, it was a very normal exchange. Of course I can speak English, but I think I can do this much without any problem (laughs).

So we passed the passport control very smoothly.

Then we picked up our luggage and went outside. Now it’s time to head to Jerusalem. The quickest and most convenient way to get to Jerusalem is to take a shuttle bus. The guidebooks say “Sherut”, but that’s probably the Hebrew reading, and there is no such notation at all in the airport. I wasn’t sure, so I headed for the shuttle bus stop and easily found the Sherut I wanted.

I think I had to wait for about 30 minutes. We had to wait for about 30 minutes. The fare is about 1,800 yen because it is 30 yen a shukel.

From there, we walked a few minutes to the Jaffa Gate. Now it’s time to go to Jerusalem. Our hotel was arranged on the side of the Jaffa Gate, and our three-night trip to Jerusalem began. (To be continued)