Israel Part 2
To read Part I, please click here.
Concerns aside, I still had a blast.
I spent the majority of my time in Tel Aviv. It is the hub of hi-tech, science, business, finance and the arts. It is known for its 24-7 culture which includes amazing nightclubs, restaurants, shopping, beaches, bars and cafés. It is commonly referred to as (watch out NYC!) the “city that never sleeps”. Tel Aviv is also often known as a “bubble” where most Israelis will live their lives without really being affected by what is going on around them (and there certainly is a lot of action not just within Israel but at its borders).
I stayed with one of my closest friends, Tal who has a rooftop apartment near Nahalat Binyamin, an area known for its open air craft market which occurs each Tuesday and Friday (highly recommended as you can find some really unique finds). It also happens to be quite close to Banana Beach and the Souk which I found quite convenient. Be warned: if you are going to go to the Souk, make sure you are long gone prior to 7pm…it is not fun having to wade through the filth from the day, prior to the cleanup crew arriving.
You often find yourself, even if doing absolutely nothing but watching Israel’s VIP “Survivor” on tv, only going to sleep in the early hours in the morning. Israelis are very social and even if at home, will often have friends over for a coffee and cigarettes…yup, cigarettes. Israeli cigarette smoking could easily beat Los Angeles in a smog creation competition. The great news is, the smoking laws are becoming stricter and slowly you are seeing a change…a very slight change. Another wonderful thing to note is the service with a smile…yup…not going to find it here. Don’t take it personally. It is just the way, part of the “Sabra” charm. 🙂
Three weeks of the month was spent having meetings and brainstorming sessions with various heads of agencies and companies. In addition, I focused on putting together several proposals for potential projects which was great fun (despite it being work). Working with Israelis was inspiring and exciting as the culture and thinking is very different from that back home. The concept of staying within the lines is about as foreign to them as driving in one lane (Israelis don’t believe in lanes). Mobiles are an extension of the Israeli human body. Along with that, screaming into the phone seems to be the norm. Finding quiet office space in this country may be quite the challenge. In spite of that, there was a real sense of team effort, support and genuine interest in the workplace.
One of the benefits of being in a hi-tech capital is that most any place has free wi-fi. So, I made a number of cafes my office and would spend most of the day sitting at my computer while downing a number of “café car im halav razeh” (ice coffee with non-fat milk). Israel has, in my opinion, some of the best coffee in the world and although I don’t consider myself a coffee connoisseur, there is a reason why Starbucks didn’t succeed in this little country by the sea.
At around 4pm, my good friend Nir and I would set out to the beach to watch the sunset. This was definitely one of the highlights of my time there. To live in a city that is bustling with non-stop energy, innovation and creativity and have the opportunity to relax at the beach just a short distance away is a rare find. This is definitely a quality that draws me to Tel Aviv which I think of as “NYMI”, a combination of NYC and Miami.
In my final week in the Holy Land, I decided to focus on my surroundings. I finally got out of Tel Aviv and made it to Jerusalem which has a completely different feeling. Its holiness permeates throughout. It is, of course, steeped in cultural and religious history. The contrasts of people, various religions, different backgrounds and traditions are what make Jerusalem fascinating.
Although I could have stayed for another month or longer (poor Tal!), it was time to return back to the US and sort out my next steps…sorting that I am still working on.
Take a look below at my list of places to visit! Photo gallery is showcased in Israel Part 1.
A special thank you to Tal, one of my best friends in the world. Without your unwavering support, generosity, love and kindness, Israel would not have the place in my heart that it does. For me, you are part of this incredible journey and it means the world to me that you play a part.
This post is also dedicated to my Israeli friends (and you know who you are!) to whom I am honored to have in my life. Through the experiences you have helped shape and stories we have shared, these are memories which will last a lifetime. I look forward to coming home soon.
Tel Aviv: Places to go
Nice areas to walk:
Dizengoff (main shopping street of Tel Aviv which also has Dizengoff Center. In the northern part of this street, you will find a lot of boutiques)
Sheinken (shopping street with cute clothing boutiques)
Tayelet (a promenade like walkway along the sea)
Namal (the port in the north that has restaurants and clubs)
Kikar HaMedina (considered Tel Aviv’s high end shopping square)
Cup of Joe