Baking · Food · Tel Aviv · Travel guide

High Telavivity – Top 5: food

In the spirit of John Cusack’s top 5 lists in the movie High Fidelity  here’s Tel Aviv in my Top 5 – part 1. food

Top 5 “just coffee” 
my favorite: hafuch katan dal

hafuch

  1.  Ben Ami – corner Nahmani/Melchett street
  2.  Espresso Bar– corner Rothschild/Herzl street – easy & fast take away at the city’s oldest kiosk
  3.  BaShdera – corner Rothschild/Maze street
  4.  Maze9 – Mazeh street 9 (also a bookstore)
  5.  We love you – corner Habima/Ben Zion Street

Top 4 “fruit juice

my favorite: banana, melon & dates

juice

  1. Tamara – Dizengoff/Ben Gurion street – and extra small branch on Herzl street
  2. Pri 101 – Allenby/Ahad Ha’am street
  3. Mitzim – Shenkin 54
  4. ShakesPri – King George 11
  5. My friend Eli on Yehuda Halevy – fresh & cheap carrot and orange juice

Top 5 “breakfast”

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  1. Delicatessen – my favorite: porridge with fresh cut fruit & assorted nuts
  2. Ben Ami – my favorite: chocolate yeast cake
  3. Rothschild 12 – my favorite: ham & cheese toast
  4. Hotel Montefioremy favorite: eggs florentine
  5. Mersand – my favorite: turkish breakfast


Top 5 “lunch”

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  1. Orna ve Ella – my favorite: ravioli with pumpkin & sage butter (photo)
  2. Humus Nahmani – hummus & tehina like the locals
  3. Tachtit – open 24h, my favorite: schnitzel with rice & salad
  4. Pua – my favorite: cherry tomato salad
  5. Buddha Burgers -for vegan & vegetarians, the Israeli version of Lombardia

Top 5 “diner”

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  1. Cafe Europa – my favorite: lamb tortellini
  2. Port Saïd – my favorite: minute steak and tehina (the best tehina in town)
  3. Brasserie – timeless and tasteful
  4. Makom shel Bassar – the best meat in town
  5. Fleamarket – my favorite: shoarma shel ossobucco

Top 5 “desserts”

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  1. Benedict – 24 hour breakfast service, my favorite: pancakes
  2. Stefan Braun – chocolate fudge with vanilla ice cream
  3. Delicatessen – apple pie mmmmm
  4. Port Said – French toast
  5. Anita – coconut ice cream
 
History · Israel · Tel Aviv

Yom Hazikaron & Yom Ha’Atzmaut Memorial Day & Independence Day

Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s Memorial Day, the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. This sad day starts with a siren at 20h and is heard all over the country. For one minute, everyone stands still to commemorate the fallen. The official ceremony takes place at the Western Wall and the flag of Israel is lowered to half staff. The next morning, a two-minute siren is sounded at 11h and marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private gatherings at cemeteries. Again, only sad songs on the radio and only war related TV broadcasts until about 19h. Then happens a weird transition from sad to happy, when Independence Day begins.

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indilYom Haatzmaut  is Israel’s Independence Day. On may 14th 1948 the (then future) Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion declared the independence of the state of Israel. indil2The official ceremony is held every year at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem but festivities are everywhere. Israel is now 65. In Tel Aviv there are parties all over town, on the streets, in bars, restaurants and houses. People are singing and dancing in the streets. When you live in the heart of the city, you have to go wander around and observe. And if you have a blog, even better, you can capture it on camera and share with the world. But photos and words cannot describe what we saw and heard. The happy atmosphere is omnipresent. It’s loud, people go wild and crazy and it goes on all night long. Bad sleep but good vibe. Luckily the next day is a holiday to recover.

IMG_1344 IMG_1301      IMG_1376 IMG_1299 IMG_1366IMG_1385 IMG_1387 IMG_1402IMG_1394 IMG_1401    Photos taken with my Canon EOS M

History · Israel · Judaism · Uncategorized

Chag Sameach & Happy Passover

The Jewish people celebrate Pessach (Passover) to commemorate the story of the Exodus, their liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt and their birth as a nation under the leadership of Moses. According to the Bible, God helped the Children of Israel escape slavery by inflicting ten plagues upon the ancient Egyptians: the Plague of blood, frogs, lice, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts*, darkness and the death of the firstborn. (*I’m not superstitious but Egypt and Israel had a big plague of locusts just last week, weird) The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb so that God knew to pass over these homes and spare them from the curses, hence the name of the holiday. It is said that when the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). Therefore, during the eight days of Passover, no leavened bread is supposed to be eaten, only Matzah.

The rituals unique to the Passover celebrations commence with the Passover Seder. In our family tradition we celebrate the seder with never less than 25 people, gathering over a big meal and some adapted Haggadah reading and singing. In Tel Aviv the Holiday is both observed and ignored, as usual in paradoxical Tel Aviv. On a daily level this mainly means that locals are going away on vacation, tourists are taking over the city, inaugurating beach season and that way too many youngsters from out of town (B&T) come in to party. I like some of those annual traditions; the family Seder, remembering school memories and childhood traditions; where was I last year, what has changed since. It’s always a good occasion for some in(tro)spection. Passover also symbolizes the celebration of freedom. Inner freedom means personal happiness. We don’t have control on most things in life, but the part we do have in our hands, is the liberation from our own barriers, monsters, defenses, roles, patterns and expectations. Being free means being you, the true you.

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Design · Fashion · History · Neve Tzedek · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Fabric & Form – Fashion and Israeli art

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Being from Antwerp, I must have been born with a sense of fashion, style and design. Being a blogger, it was about time for some fashion. Of course there will be a broad Antwerp Fashion post by Josephine, but today is about the Tel Aviv scene. And not to be underestimated. Yes the country is barely 65 years old, yes we still have a lot to learn and yes I could go on about all we are lacking in the field of fashion and style. But I’d rather share the good news and focus on those pioneers paving the way for the Israeli fashion, design & art industry. Thursday night was the opening event for “Fabric & Form: Fashion & Art exploration” – the Cutting Edge of Israeli Fashion, Art & Design initiated by TLVStyle. The first ever 3-day interactive and creative journey into the world of Israeli designers and artists. The event opened for the Tel Aviv Arts Council community with an exclusive gala at the historical and charming Lili&Bloom. An audience eager to discover the intricacies of Israel’s fashion world and get up close and personal with Israeli designers, artists, stylists, and bloggers. The curators (Galit Reismann, Deborah Shahar and Rei Dishon) are exploring the relationship between the garment as an art and the art as a garment.

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During the weekend (Friday from 10am & Saturday till 09pm) Lili & Bloom will be open to the public, free of charge, for a celebration of Art, Fashion and Tel Aviv’s urban style. The collective of designers includes 10 fashion accessories designers and 6 fashion designers: Northern Star by Nadav Rosenberg, Adam Gefen, Michal Basaad, Maria Berman, FROG by Einat Burg, Daniella Gelfer, Tamar Branitzky, Inbar Shahak, Sailor by Efrat Shahar, Avital Coorsh, Sharon Vaizer, Osnat Har-noy, Liza Arjuan, Michal Ben Ami, Toosh JUDTLV and Studio SFOG. Among the artists: Danit Peleg, Katerina Nevler, Gidi Smilansky, Hadas Malin, Ben Gal, Eleonore Millstein, Jonathan Goldman and Signor Gi.

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All photos taken with Canon EOS M

Focus on

Focus on: Magali Pinchasi

We always like to hear stories about how people get inspired, develop their talents and chase their dreams. It’s even more interesting when the story is about a young girl from Antwerp who found her inspiration in Tel Aviv. This particular story is about Magali Pinchasi, a young creative girl with a passion for jewelry, fashion and color. I met Magali in a little coffee bar. Modest but proud and continuously smiling she talks about her life, her jewelry collection and her connection to both Antwerp and Tel Aviv.

423398_10151036661998429_581808444_n22 year old something Magali Pinchasi has been fascinated by jewelry ever since she was little, which isn’t all that surprising since her dad works in the diamond industry. Magali holds a degree in communication sciences and did her internship in Public Relations. After graduating from University she took a jewelry design course at London’s Gemological Institute of America, but it was a vacation in Tel Aviv that did wonders for Magali’s inspiration. While walking past the little souvenir stalls in Neve Tzedek, an idea started to develop: creating unique mix & match jewelry that would not only suit everyone, but would also be affordable for everyone. Back in Antwerp she ordered a whole lot of rope and trinkets and started making bracelets. Why rope? “Rope has unlimited options: colors, textures, etc. It’s a very affordable material for a large audience. Rope is very flexible and manageable. Since I make every bracelet myself , it’s much more interesting time-wise.”

A night out made Magali decide to turn her hobby into an actual jewelry business. “I constantly wear my own bracelets. One night, a girl approached me at a party and asked me where I got them from. This was the push i needed to actually get my bracelets out there.” Magali named her brand “BE by Magali Pinchasi”. “BE stands for Beautiful and Belgian, since all the jewelry is 100% made in Belgium”. She started selling the bracelets online on her website. Magali quickly build a reputation by using social media. Soon bloggers contacted her and not much later Magali scored an interview for Steps City magazine. This interview was proof that her business was getting more and more serious and orders started pouring in. Her collections are now being sold in stores such as Princess Blue (Antwerp) and Blue Rose (Wilrijk). Every bracelet is handmade by Magali herself, which makes every piece even more unique. Customers can also personalize the bracelets if they want to by filling in the request form online.

Magali

Onlangs bijgewerktFor the new collection Magali will use diamonds in her bracelets. “My first motivation is to create, to discover new things. That’s why I work with diamonds, but with every intention to stay affordable. A diamond doesn’t have to be expensive. I don’t want to be a high-class brand. I want to create a more luxurious line within BE that remains affordable for a larger audience. And of course it would also remain as colorful as the other collections.” How about an international career? “I don’t dare to dream of an international business just yet. For now I prefer to keep production in my own hands – literally. But if Colette in Paris would ask me if they can sell my bracelets, i wouldn’t refuse! (laughs)”.

When Magali is not working our creating, she likes to walk around in Antwerp. “Every Saturday afternoon I go to the city, to shop or to walk around and watch people. I think Antwerp is a very cosy and fashionable city with a lot of diversities. There are so many kinds of people, it’s inspiring to just sit down and watch them pass by.” Her affordable mix&match-policy is not limited to her brand. When it comes to her own style Magali likes to combine Belgian brand Essentiel with Zara. “I like everything, as long as it’s colorful.” And what about Tel Aviv? “My grandmother lives in Tel Aviv, I visit her every Summer. I love to walk around Neve Tzedek, have pancakes at Benedict or just enjoy some sun at Golden Beach. Actually, I’m a big fan of all the Tel Aviv classics (smiles). Even though I could never live there, Tel Aviv is important to me. It’s where I found my inspiration.”

BE by Magali Pinchasi can be found at:

  • Princess – Meir 51 – Antwerp
  • Princess Blue – Schrijnwerkersstraat 7 – Antwerp
  • Just Folie – Turnhoutsebaan 186 – Schilde
  • Blue Rose – Jules Moretueslei 402 – Wilrijk
  • Vandenbalck Optics – Bondgenotenlaan 57 – Leuven
  • Zappas – Boornstraat 50 – Bornem
  • and of course online!
Judaism · Tel Aviv

Purim Parties

Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays of the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a clash of civilizations, a time where the Jews in the ancient Persian empire were saved from extermination. The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther (the Megillah, meaning the scroll containing the biblical narrative) in which Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasueros, planned to kill all Jews. Thanks to Esther and her step-dad Mordecai, the plans were foiled. The word “Purim” means “lots” and refers to the lottery that Haman used to chose the date for the massacre. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing.

During Purim, it is customary to hold carnival-like celebrations, to perform plays and parodies. Americans sometimes refer to Purim as the Jewish Mardi Gras. For Europe it’s Carnaval. According to the Talmud, a person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai,” though opinions differ as to exactly how drunk that is. There are a few explanations to the origin of the tradition of disguise. One of them is Venahafoch Hu, meaning ‘the opposite happened’. The light atmosphere of Purim gave rise to an abundance of jokes, clowning and humor, based on the Megillah’s words Venahafoch Hu. Another explanation is God hiding his identity in the Megillah of Esther. Or it is a tribute to Mordecai dressing up as the King to save Esther. Also, since charity (Mishloach Manot) is a central feature during Purim, it allows the givers greater anonymity which preserves the dignity of the recipient. Or as Yoram Ettinger writes: “Purim is the holiday of contradictions as well as tenacity-driven-optimism: annihilation replaced by deliverance; Esther’s concealment of her Jewish identity replaced by the disclosure of her national/religious identity; Haman’s intended genocide of the Jews replaced by his own demise; Haman replaced by Mordecai as the chief adviser to the king; national and personal pessimism replaced by optimism.”

In Tel Aviv, Purim means 4 days of parties; and for everyone, including babies, pets and even statues. Here are just a few of the events of the last weekend:

“Crazy Purim Party” with YoYO deejays Mark RonsonSeb Chew, Leo G.@ HaOman17

markronsonphoto by N8n

“Superfly” party @Hangar11 Federation Hall

superflyphotos by Yaki Zimmerman

Morfium-Mendelimos-Rubi party @ Hangar11

morfiumphoto by Eyal Marilus

Purim weekend on Rothschild Street

blogrothschildblogrothschild2photos by Marilyn –  Canon EOS M

the annual Tel Aviv Purim Street Party

photobyAdiEzra2012photo by Adi Ezra 2012

Food, drinks & great vinyl – Friday afternoon @ Port Said

blogportsaidphotos by Marilyn –  Canon EOS M

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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Architecture · History · Lifestyle · Photography · Restaurants · Tel Aviv

Tel-a-visitor

Sometimes I want to write about Tel Aviv. Sometimes I just want to show it to you. Christina Marien is a big fan of Tel Aviv , a loyal visitor, a returning customer. Luckily she always has her camera with her. Proud to introduce her as our guest photographer for this post. Here are some random TLV pictures. Thanks Christina.

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Lilienblum Street

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Brasserie  Top class French food open 24/7 –  Ibn Gvirol Street

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Coffee & Snacks on Rothschild corner Maze

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Coffee & Snacks on Rothschild corner Herzl (oldest kiosk)

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A common sight, wedding photos on Rothschild Boulevard

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Delicatessen Yehuda Halevy Street 79/81

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Sunset happens everyday

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Another common sight in Tel Aviv: hot guys

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Fresh fruit juice on Shenkin Street

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Israel has the best watermelons in the world

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Habima Theater

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Joselito

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Famous Dizengoff Square Fountain by Yaakov Agam

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Tel-O-Fun

History · Israel · Tel Aviv

Jaffa, the port(al) to history.

Ever enjoyed a Jaffa orange? Its excellent and sweet taste is known throughout the world. However, not a lot of people know that the oranges are exported from a city with a richer history than the content of Madonna’s bank account. Even fewer people know that partnerships in growing and exporting these oranges are an example of Arab-Jewish cooperation despite the political tensions. All politics aside, Jaffa’s history left me feeling like i just came out of an unknown bed in which i had a great time: confused and excited.

Jaffa - view from north

According to legend, Japhet (the son of Noah – the patriarch who saves himself, his family and all the world’s animals when God decides to destroy the world because of mankind’s evil deeds), founded Jaffa (Yafo in Hebrew). Jaffa has seen rulers from all corners of the world. From archeological discoveries and ancient documents, historians learned that Jaffa existed as a port city some 4.000 years ago. During that time it provided Egyptian and Phoenician sailors. From biblical accounts that mention the trade of cedars from Lebanon for construction of King Solomon’s Temple, to the story of Jonah and the whale, over Greek legends of the beautiful Andromeda and Perseus and the Biblical visions of Apostle Peter, the history of Jaffa seems like a never-ending story. Alexander the Great, Roman legions, Richard the Lion Heart, Muslim sultan Saladin, Napoleon and General Allenby all conquered the city. The port of Jaffa played a huge role in medieval pilgrimage to Jerusalem and in the increased Jewish immigration in the 19th and 20th century. In short: throughout time, people were very attracted to this economic, religious and vibrant place.

By the beginning of the 20th century the population in Jaffa had grown considerably. A group of Jews left Jaffa for the sand dunes to the north and started a settlement outside the congested city. This settlement, known first as Ahuzat Bayit (lit. “Homestead”), grew to be the city of Tel Aviv. The increased immigration also led to tensions between the Ottoman empire and the new arriving population. In the midst of the First World War, believing their military security to be at risk, the Ottoman authorities deported the entire civilian population from Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The Jews were to be resettled in Egypt, Jerusalem and cities in central and north Palestine. They were not allowed to return until after the British conquest of Palestine.

After the British took control of the area, tensions between the Jewish and Arab populations of the city start to become more frequent. This led to a wave of attacks: the Jaffa riots in 1921 (leaving many Jewish residents to flee and resettle in Tel Aviv), the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine (inflicting great economic and infrastructural damage on Jaffa) and the 1947-1948 attacks (following the 1947 UN Partition Plan). Because of these attacks, thousands of people fled from Jaffa, leaving nothing behind but cats and dogs. Poverty threatened the continuation of Jaffa as a thriving city. In 1968, the Government of Israel and the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality decided to establish a corporation for the Development of Old Jaffa. It’s primary task was to avert the total destruction of Old Jaffa’s glorious past.

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(c) Sien Josephine

Old Jaffa has since become one of Israel’s biggest tourist attractions. The city now consists of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Its narrow alleys are lined with artists’ quarters, art galleries and shops filled with jewelry, archeology (whether real or false is to be contested) and of course, oranges. The sight of the ancient port and the rocks, set against the back drop of the modern city of Tel Aviv, the romantic paths and gardens in Old Jaffa and blue Mediterranean waves nearby, excite all senses. Today the city of Jaffa is more vibrant and cultural than ever, with terms like avant-garde and bohemian chic written all over its streets. It is a home to contemporary theater and art, tons of restaurants, antique stores, souvenir shops and of course the famous flea market. All this resting on Jaffa’s historical heritage which will never disappear.

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UP: All things for the home at One Bedroom יהודה מרגוזה ,12,68136 Tel Aviv-Yafo.(c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine

General · Tel Aviv

When Antwerp meets Tel Aviv…

… it’s love at first sight. I arrived in Tel Aviv late last Sunday night. After waiting for an hour at the passport control area, I finally taxied my way to Rothschild Blvd, home of Marilyn. Our other friend Marie France arrived earlier that day from Brussels. I walked in, heavily packed (apparently very light for Marilyn’s standards).  Although you would think that with 3 girls and only 2 bathrooms it would take us ages to get ready, we’re actually doing quite a good job. We have breakfast every morning at Delicatessen (you can read all about Delicatessen in Marilyn’s blog post here). After breakfast we visit all the places this city has to offer us: Yaffo, the beach, the neighborhoods, … It’s refreshing how friendly people are over here! Maybe it has something to do with the sunlight, or maybe it’s just a cultural thing. Whatever it is, it’s a nice break from greyish gloomy wintery Belgium. After one day I already feel like I want to stay here forever. It’s difficult to explain the effect this city has on me. It’s historical and modern at the same time, you can really feel the international vibe but the atmosphere is not stressful or fast paced. I feel free and safe here. You see Israeli Arabs living in the same neighborhood as Israeli Jews, having their morning coffee together. Israeli people are nothing like the world describes them to be. Most of all they give me a warm feeling and every morning I go outside with a smile on my face, meeting new people whom I’m sure I will carry in my heart for a very long time.

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General · History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Tel Aviv Alive & Kickin’

Let’s start this post with a little note to my fellow Belgians or should I say Europeans. I wouldn’t be discussing the recent tensions in the Middle East as this is certainly not a political blog. But as apparently everyone seems to own the conflict, I guess I do have a say. Maybe the media are the first to blame as they should stand for “impartial” and “objective” reporting? At university they taught us the media is the watchdog of democracy. Not what I see when I watch Belgian news about Israel. And as for the people’s opinion: maybe I wouldn’t know better either if I’d just watch your news and read your newspapers. But at least I won’t feel I have the right to preach, convince nor judge. I live in Tel Aviv since six years and I still feel I have no right to judge. Because I do not know war. I did not grow up with terror. I did not go to the army. So why do Europeans feel they have the right to? Most of them have probably never even been in Israel. Yes I’m bothered with that hypocritical solidarity. That being said; my blog is about my life, my life in Tel Aviv, both as a stranger and an insider. And I decide to focus on the bright side of it, the creative, the stimulating, the talent; what makes us wake up in the morning and smile. And I can tell you this: Tel Aviv is alive and kickin’. Towers still grow like mushrooms, people going to the beach, party in clubs, eat and drink 24/7, real estate is still unaffordable, there is still no parking and too much traffic, three new boutique hotels just opened around my corner, and the sun still shines…

All photos by me & my broken Ipod touch – maybe soon I’ll get a real camera…

photo 2 Life is good @ Delicatessen: my Filofax, the blackberry, some sun, a knitting project and a “hafuch” or two or threephoto 3 Old versus New on Mazeh Street

photo 4 Old versus New on Mazeh street

photo 5 New boutique hotel Alma

IMG_1123 Yarn Bombing on Nahlat Binyamin Street

IMG_1477 TLV view from Jaffa

photo 2 Electric art on Pines Street, Neve Tzedek

photo 1 Sunset at Fortuna Del Mar @ Tel Aviv Marina

photo 3 Kalisher Street

photo 1 Sunset at Topsea Beach

IMG_1480 Super Jew is Coming soon – Drawing by Julien Roux

General · History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv

Lady Godiva in Tel Aviv

Thank you Theodor Herzl for having created Israel in Israel. Did you know that here we have 300 days of blue skies a year?  It’s fall and we reach the 30°. Yes, that is a big deal for a Belgian. And no, I’m not only here for the good weather. What is it that makes this country so special? Why do people leave behind their good lives in far away countries to start over here? It’s loud, it’s chaotic; life can be rough and tough. Welcome to the jungle?  It’ll take more than this post to explain the phenomenon and many have tried. Books have been written about the success story of this tiny little country, like this one: Start-up NationThe book addresses the trillion dollar question: How is it that Israel – a country only 60+ years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources—produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the UK? How is it that Israel has, per person, attracted over twice as much venture capital investment as the US and thirty times more than Europe?

In Israel there are about 7 million inhabitants of which 76% are Jews, 16% Muslims and about 2% Christians, Druze and other religions. Tel Aviv has around 400,000 residents of which half are under the age of 35. How does such a young country create its identity?  I can only share with you my perspective. Who are we and who do we want to be? We Wonder, We Wander. Tel Aviv has European and American influences yet is it is Middle-Eastern and Meditteranean. The population consists of immigrants from all over. Ashkenazis, Sefardim, so many roots and cultures mixing in. On a sociological level, many try to define that Israeliness. What is typical Israeli? What does “Rak be’Israel” (only in Israel) really mean? By locals is it mostly used for the bad side; I’m all about balancing it up.

Why is it so difficult to just stand in line here? Because we are ‘The Chosen People’? Why do cars need to honk all the time? What’s with the Chutzpe? Israel. The only country with Katiushes coming from Lebanon, Scuds from Irak, bombshells from Syria, Suicide bombers from Gaza but a bedroom apartment in a dump building is more expensive than in Paris, London or NYC. The only country in which we can build computer programs to fly drones and high technology, but to get a technician for the tv we wait a week and he might show up between 11 and 6. Israel Post. Packages I send/receive in the mail hardly ever arrive. Fed Ex Israel does not deliver packages at all. Making aliyah, going to the bank, dealing with bureaucracy definitely confirm the ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ slogan. And why don’t cars let ambulances pass? Some men go to the beach in their underwear; wtf? Politeness, aesthetics, style, finishing are just not always priorities here (yet?).  My daily encounter of having to explain to Israelis I’m not French but Belgian. Why give me an english menu while I just spoke Hebrew with the waitress? Maybe I will always be considered a foreigner here. And in my country of origin. Everywhere. But all by all: I’m in love with Tel Aviv and I do feel at home here!

I used to have a little radio item called Lady be Tel Aviv in a show by two journalist friends Attila Somfalvi and Raz Shechnik on 102fm in which we would discuss these ‘Rak Be’Israel’ items. Every week I’d share some experiences like the above . We’d talk about semantics (and how there is no right translation for certain words like stam, titchadesh, bekarov etslech, baktana) or the advantages of dating an ‘olah chadasha’ (no fighting for family diners) with an accent (quite impossible to have a serious fight). Listen to the Purim item (08-03-2011) or live in the studio (25-03-2011).  

“Fragments of Tel Aviv” photos by our special guest photographer Kara Bieber from London. Backed by the Anglo Israel Association, Kara is in Tel Aviv undertaking a major photographic project highlighting the very best of creative talents in the country. Aimed at showcasing Israel’s image as a hub of creativity and innovation, the completed body of work will form an exhibition and possibly an accompanying book which will be launched in London in 2013 . Visit Kara’s website – Facebook page 
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