Hotel · Israel · Tel Aviv · Tourism · Travel guide

First visit to Tel Aviv?

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“Shalom” and welcome to Tel Aviv  תֵּל־אָבִיב  تل أبيب-يافا

This is “Marilyn’s-all-you-need-to-know-about-TLV” guide for your first visit:

General

Tel Aviv is the second most populous city in Israel. It has a population of 410,000 of which over 50% are aged between 25 and 45 thus making Tel Aviv one of the youngest cities in the world. The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in central-west Israel, containing 42% of Israel’s population. Tel Aviv was founded by the Jewish community on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa in 1909. Tel Aviv and Jaffa were merged into a single municipality in 1950, two years after the establishment of the State of Israel. Tel Aviv’s White City, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, comprises the world’s largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings. Tel Aviv is an economic hub and it is the country’s financial capital. Tel Aviv has the second-largest economy in the Middle East after Dubai, and is the 31st most expensive city in the world. With 2.5 million international visitors annually, Tel Aviv is the fifth-most-visited city in the Middle East and Africa. It is known as “the city that never sleeps” and a “party capital” due to its thriving nightlife, young atmosphere and famous 24-hour culture. Like they say: “Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays” (more info: WikiPedia)

dsc_3054Practical

When you land at Ben Gurion International Airport – yes there’s free WiFi – please consider the security procedures and be patient: it’s nothing personal and unfortunately in Israel it’s no paranoia but a must to keep us safe. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the English edition of Time out on your way out by the luggage pick-up. To get to Tel Aviv you can either take a taxi that shouldn’t cost more than 150NIS* or the train for about 15NIS (*New Israeli Shekel). Rates for the shekel are: 1EURO=4,7NIS or 1USD=3,6NIS. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the exit of the airport. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in booking airport escort services and/or vans, buses or other vehicles.

Accommodation

you can book a hotel room varying from a top leading hotel chain to a hostel (our favorite hotel is of course the Brown Hotel and you can get special discounts and upgrades if you book via us) or rent an apartment via AirBNB or Tellavista

Transport

walk, bike (sharing bike service Tel-o-Fun) or drive: taxis are easy to find and not too expensive although they may try to raise the price when they notice you’re a tourist. Renting a car is not too expensive either but makes more sense if you plan to visit Jerusalem, the Dead Sea etc. In the city I’d suggest the “monit sherut” which are those little yellow taxibuses (share taxis) ; the main lines are the 4 (Ben Yehuda&Allenby Street) and the 5 (Dizengoff&Rothschild Street). They follow the bus track but they stop wherever you call them to. Cost: 6NIS and the money can be passed on from and to the back through the hands of fellow passengers. Have a look on the map to get a better picture of the city.

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Top neighborhoods

definitely visit the Rothschild area, Neve Tzedek and Jaffa

Food

check out our TOP 5 food post and keep in mind many places are open late night and some even 24/7

Bars & nightlife coming soon

Some Hebrew words

  • שלום shalom hello & goodbye (and peace)
  • מה נשמע ma nishma? how are you?
  • תודה toda thank you
  • בבקשה bevakasha please or there you go
  • סליחה slicha sorry (not as widely used as should be)
  • בסדר beseder ok
  • יאלה yalla very important word yalla yalla yalla meaning let’s go or move it
  • Sababa is probably THE word that will get you everywhere and it mainly depends on how you say it. Literally it means cool but just use it in the tone of your mood. So if you’re happy just say Sababa in a happy way, and if you’re not just say Sababa in sad way and so on.

Climate

Tel Aviv has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate with mild rainy winters. Humidity tends to be high year-round due to sea breeze. Girls: this means that from June to October you mostly sweat so just forget about your hairdoe. In winter, average temperatures typically range from 9 °C (48 °F) to 17 °C (63 °F). In summer, average temperatures typically range from 24 °C (75 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F). Heatwaves are most common during spring, with temperatures as high as 35 °C (95 °F). There are barely any days in the year without sunshine, and even during the winter there are many clear days. 300 days of blue skies!

Excursion Depending on the length of your stay you can of course visit other places in Israel like Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Eilat, the North (Galil, Golan, Tiberias, Acco, Haifa) etc. I suggest a day trip combining Jerusalem and the Dead Sea with a rented car or guide with a vehicle. In the North I’m a fan of the Tiberias lake (sweet water) and the beautiful green nature.

about Israel Area: 22,072 km², population: about 7 million inhabitants – 76,1% Jewish; 16,2% Muslim; 2,1% Christian; 1,6% Druze; 3,9% other, official languages: Hebrew and Arabic – though English is widely spoken and more and more French too, date of Establishment: 14th of May 1948, currency = New Israeli Shekel NIS or  ₪

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Antwerp · Photography · Tel Aviv

Best of both worlds

One of my favorite things about morning errands in Tel Aviv is what one sees along the way. With my music* and my camera** I walk around town and I observe, think, compare and analyze. I often look in contrasts. Antwerp vs Tel Aviv. Europe vs the Middle East. But, what is the Middle East and what defines it? I could write a full post about Israel’s geography: which continent are we? Asia. Then why do we participate in the Eurovision? Oh here I’m deviating from my subject, let’s just call it Mediterranean for now and let’s go back to comparing the two cities I know best.

Israel has always been technologically advanced – they had cellphones here before we even knew about them, remember those dinosaurs – and was already a free-WiFi-friendly place. The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality Finance Committee has recently approved a 1,5 million $ budget for a city WiFi Network that will be spread in parks, city shores, main streets and commercial centers (on top of cafes, restaurants and bars and my favorite: the airport).

Another great thing is the 75% discount the city’s residents get on various well-located parking lots. The city also makes sure to keep the city green and often involves citizens in their opinion about the design for certain parks, sidewalks and fountains. And how about getting around town in the monit Sherut? And all those 24/7 restaurants, going from breakfast at Benedict till burgers at Moses at any given time of the day. And the delicious cappuccino (hafuch). And if you like dogs, it’s a dog friendly city too. Between gay beach and the orthodox beach there is a dog beach. Also, besides having the ugly usual graffiti, there are some incredibly talented anonymous artists doing street art.

So let’s teach and learn from each other. Tel Aviv should urgently start separating trash, fining honking vehicles, french shower the smelly street cats, improve the supermarkets, get decent bike lanes and what not. Bekitsur, (in short) best of both worlds (and one of Robert Palmer’s best songs)

*currently listening to an Israeli band called theAngelcy –photo remember their name, it will live forever **yes I have just replaced my broken iPod touch with a Canon EOS M, Generation M(arilyn). Yes it was named after me. Aren’t you wondering how I took this picture then ->

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Tel Aviv

A day in Tel Aviv

Is there a better way to start your day than with a fresh fruit juice? My favorite combination is banana, melon and dates, but it sounds better to say it in Hebrew: “banana, melon, tamar”. Dates come from the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) and they have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%, or in other words, a perfect substitute for sugar. My juice in one hand, blackberry and Ipod-touch in the other (do you wonder how I manage that? Well, both have broken screens from falling), I go on to my next step: textile searching.

It’s only recently that I found myself interested in or should I say passionate for creating, crafting and D.I.Y. My latest? Sewing. I started a sewing class, ‘borrowed’ a real old-school Singer sewing machine and started discovering another yet amazing world. So I walk to Nahalat Benyamin Street, the textile center of the city, only a few minutes from my house on Rothschild Boulevard. This historic street was established even before Tel Aviv was born in 1909. Formerly a run-down province of the textile and haberdashery trade, recent years have seen it redeveloped and rejuvenated as a busy pedestrianized precinct full of fashionable cafes and arty shops. Today I’m looking for denim-like textile for a shirt for the next class, but as I discover a tiny store with so many colors and fabrics, I of course end up buying more. In my head it goes like this: here, this fits for pyjama pants, this for a scarf, this for a pillow, this for the inside of a pouch and so on.

Later today, after procrastinating for months, endless repeats in to-do lists and phone reminders AND one car ticket too many, I will get to the municipality for some parking stuff  (do you guys have Easy-park in Antwerp?). The Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality (http://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/english) is really very active, efficient, young, involved and hip. Today there is some art on the stairway.

No way I’m taking my car there, so there are 2 choices left: my bike or the “monit sherut”. FYI: my bike is a Belgian bike of over 35 years that I brought with me when I moved here in 2007. My mom used to ride it with me in the back. It’s an old school bike and people stop me in the street to ask me where I bought this retro cool bicycle. A “monit sherut” is a share taxi that falls between a taxi and a bus. Sherut meaning service, these yellow vans follow fixed bus routes and you can stop them anywhere. Payment is done by passing money to the driver in a “human chain” formed by the passengers seated before. The change (and the receipt, when requested) are returned to the person who paid by the same means.

As this being my first blog and just a fragment of my life and of this day, how do I end it? I’ll just share my last ritual of the day: my favorite Yogi tea in my favorite cup.

“Layla Tov” dear readers – meaning sweet dreams in Hebrew…

              Marilyn

 

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