Friday, August 31, 2007

Life in the City - Naughty and Nice

ILLEGAL gambling in Neveh Shaanan

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about the "good" and the "bad" of Tel Aviv life. By that I mean what we referred to as the 'nice' things that happen here. And... the 'not so nice' things that go on every day but we usually don't talk about (gambling, sex, smoking, drinking, etc.) When we started out this blog, we wanted to put a positive 'face' to the writing. Not because we are "selling" or doing a "PR job", but because there is so much negative writing, intensely focused on things that do not affect our daily life (terrorism, politics, nationalism, crime, etc.)
So what do we do about the "good life" that is not exactly "nice"? Well, we want to hear from you. Some would say it goes in a different blog, in one with "adult" content. Some say, tag each story with an "adult" label, then we can skip it if we want. Some would say - this part is a "negative" to Tel Aviv. If the sex trade is negative in Atlanta and Milan, it's negative in Tel Aviv! PERIOD, end of story. So what does "negative" content has to do with a "positive" blog?
"Massage" advertising

We think that "adult" life is sometimes a "good" part of life. Cheating on your wife or mate is not at all good. Spending your salary on card games is not good when you need to feed the baby and pay the rent. But men hire women for pleasure, they gamble for excitement and drink for fun. There is nothing unique about Tel Aviv, Israelis or the time we live in today. We also think that Tel Aviv DOES NOT have the extremes that we hear about in other places. For the most part the "sins of life" here are VERY tame. We are not naive to think that nobody spends the salary on drugs instead of diapers and formula, but on a whole, Israel and Tel Aviv have not seen the crazy epidemics of Europe and America. Actually, that innocence is what attracts people to Tel Aviv. Not only the ones looking for a "nice" place to live or visit, but also the ones that are looking for a little "naughty" in a vacation or " 'round the corner".
Finally, we think that NOT writing about what you see on the street is somewhat of a "PR job" by itself. We set out to give you a positive - YET - accurate view of Tel Aviv. That means, what it would be for you to walk, talk, smell and BE here. We don't know what you like EXACTLY, but, we see people going about life, enjoying the city, and we write about it. The process is made up of lots of small decisions, some as simple as "how" to ask a question and what to photograph, but some are complex as "what" to write about and what to leave out. Anyway, we believe that the "sins of life" are something that Tel Aviv does "well" - if such thing can be said.
Anyway, back to the dilemma: we also heard that most people, knowing the "sins of the city" simply want to read about "nice of the city". Nobody is naive about things, we all know of the darker side of life. But, we still want to read, vacation, work and live in a "nice place". Anyway, a little dilemma to get the creative writing juices going. So please... write us...
So, what do you have to say??? Tell us what you think. We will post the results and let you know what will happen. Once again, enjoy 'the city' and come play if you like... Read More...

Hip, cool, fun part of town: Bugrashov from Dizengof to Ben Yehuda

Jiffa store mural

There is a little corner of Tel Aviv for the hip-cool-fun crowd. Sometimes young and sometimes just in need of a funky bag or cool pants. Maybe even a different place to sit and have coffee before a movie. If you want to see cool Israeli and international designs, if you need a gift for a teenager and you don't think the mall will do the trick, head over to Bugrashov. The section between Dizengoff and Ben Yehuda is buzzing with designs, accessories, cloths and other fun things. The cutting edge fashion is this street's day image. At night it turns into a cool and quiet place to meet and have a bite. The most interesting thing about this street is it's laid-back attitude. Other places in town "try" to be something or other. You will find that on Shenkin street, off Allemby. There, they want you to think it's the "center" of fashion. Here, on Bugrashov, they don't pretend, they just go about doing it.
Fashion and games on Bugrashov
About half of the stores are devoted to cloths and accessories. Some are local creation by young Israeli designers. So keep your eye open and you may find a bag only you will have. The rest of the stores are a collection of all kind of things. There are hardware stores with interesting accessories for the home. There are shoe stores with unique imported designs. There is also an outdoor equipment store where you can find a tent and even a mate for trekking through Asia. For the most part the area is for the 20 and 30 something crowd. Even the known international tags like Nike have a few things on the 'street', but they would not fit the traditional suburban mall.
This street is more for browsing and window shopping than just "get it done" shopping. The stores here proud themselves on unique designs that are not run-of-the-mill. So don't be afraid to try something and walk out. Also, speak with the ladies running the stores, they usually know what the 'street' has and who specialized in a unique design. Walking down the street I just noticed a new Crumpler bag store, this is a funky Australian company with a funny logo that has taken the laptop computer bag world by storm. This kind of store definitely fits here, it's "corporate" but "funky" at the same time.
If you want to hang out, or watch some of Israel's cool-hip young set, come here at night... but that's another story all together! Read More...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sex in the city - adult life (skip if you are a little prudish)

Cover of Sexymo magazine

You have just landed in Israel and checked in your 'In The City' (Tel Aviv) hotel. Now, you are looking for entertainment, the "adult" kind. I'll tell you NOW, you are in the right place for that!

Remember Tel Aviv's 24/7 lifestyle? The laws in the city allow ANY activity between consenting adults as long as it's not against other laws. Sex with minors (under 18) will get you into trouble. Meeting someone in a bar, pub or another public place - and doing something with them, is strictly your own business. Paying money to an escort or a prostitute for sexual favors in not illegal. But Tel Aviv has not gone as far as Amsterdam and allowed prostitutes to display themselves openly, just keep it discreet. Enjoy yourself, and don't worry too much about getting in trouble with the police.
There are many locations that provide 'sex in the city'. You may spend from $40 to $350 for sex or an erotic massage. There are many massage parlors in the city. They are concentrated in some areas, but they are also sprinkled in the streets adjacent to the beach area and the the "old north". These places will provide you with a young lady for a full body massage for somewhere in the area of $40 to $50.
There are also brothels in the city. A visit here will cost you anywhere from $50 to $100 depending on how much time you want to spend and the specific services you request. For the most part, there is not much bargaining over price. The young ladies have patience and plenty of business, so they don't mind turning down business if it looks like "trouble".

Page from Sexymo magazine

If you want a young lady as an escort, these services are also available. If you want company for a night out or sex, it's all negotiable. These services are more expensive and usually start at about $250 per night. The escort service will provide you with a girl who speaks your language. Tel Aviv reflects the international flavor, there are girls who speak all the western languages and most of the Asian ones, including central Asian and eastern European languages.
Information about escort and massage services you will find on newspaper stands in many city locations. Two magazines are distributed free, Seximo and Banana. These are mostly in Hebrew, so get someone to translate for you and have someone who can speak Hebrew when you call. Otherwise they will probably hang up on you (sam-d has tested this "problem", but with a little help he was able to break the language barrier!) If you absolutely need an English, French, Spanish or German speaker, keep on trying different services, there are lots to choose from. (Editor's note: you can also find the info on web sites: B-Sexy, Seximo). Tel Aviv also have a good selection of sex shops. The signs are usually in multiple languages, so keep your eyes open. You will not find fancy graphics here, just a allusion to the "stock" inside. These only sell sex toys, videos and clothing. Store staff may be able to point you to the an appropriate service.
Good luck and have fun 'in the city' - sex in the city... remember, it's L E G A L ! ! Read More...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Living in the "old north" - classic Tel Aviv

Funky exterior off Jabotinsky near Ha'yarkon

Tel Aviv is a fairly "young" city. It celebrated 100 years in 2006 (see Tell Aviv history in English). If you come from Europe or even America, when we talk about "old" think 50 years not 250. The "old north" is part of Tel Aviv from about Arlozorov street to the Ha'yarkon river (where the park runs from the coast to the north east of the city). It is also roughly from the coast or Ha'yarkon street to Namir Boulevard (the central train station). This area of Tel Aviv was built starting the 30's and was fairly built by the 60's. There are a few new buildings, specially the big hotels along the coast, but the residential buildings are mostly up to 70's in vintage. Like many places, as Tel Aviv grew, newer areas became more popular and the "old north" was a little neglected.
The state of the "old north" is changing on a regular basis. The last 10 years there have been interest and value in refurbishing and even totally rebuilding old buildings. The city also see value in keeping some classic old building looking their original self, so they assign historical importance to Bauhaus and Arab / Turkish style buildings. The old north has a few very good examples of Bauhaus buildings, some recently refurbished.
With the residential revitalization the commercial sector is picking up quickly. The north part of Dizengoff street, once neglected is now a hub of wedding dress, jewelry (wedding bands) and fashion. Other small commercial areas are also seeing new life. The area is attracting people from all over the city. The intesection of Dizengoff and Nordau, once a sleepy location is now a busy shopping area during the day and a bar-cafe center at night. Property values have been going up 25% to 30% per year for a few years. This is true for rentals and purchasing. The good news is, LOCATION. There is no more space to build here and the area is well maintained by the city and the residents. Some would say its even "pampered" by the city. Streets are immaculate, parks are cared for and most of the buildings are in great shape.
Newly renovated bauhaus building

Many foreigners, diplomats and retirees like this part of town. It is relatively small with all amenities in walking distance. Transportation is easy with public and taxi service available any time. The area is fairly liberal and secular, even on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath) cafes and convenience stores are open. And from most of the area it's a hop to the beach, the biggest park in Tel Aviv and other entertainment centers (movies, theater, music and alike).
If you are coming for a short stay, keep this area in mind. If you are here for a few weeks or months, plan ahead and rent in the "old north", you will not be disappointed, but you may be spoiled (a little ;8~) Read More...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We need new ideas -- GET A FREE STORY !

Tel Aviv Tomorrow - blog is looking for customers. We are not looking to sell anything yet, but we want to show how a blog can help small businesses. If you have a restaurant, store, hotel, service... whatever -- and you want exposure, please write to us.

Besides what you see here, we also started working on google search (SEO) and cross linking. We are also starting to list the blog on all the relevant indexes and review sites.

This is an early attempt at getting Tel Aviv much needed PR without spending a fortune and without the use of politics and negative stories of security and nationalism. We are very much pro Tel Aviv, economy, business and tourism.

We can offer you a story, pictures and opinion focused on your business. Positive, real, informal. If you have a web site we will link and highlight the site. If you don't we will get you exposure on the web... for now... the price is right! -- FREE!

The French are Coming, Coming, Coming :: they are HERE !

A sizeable French-Jewish population is making a quiet immigration to Israel. These are not beaten refugees, but middle to upper-middle class people. Most are professionals and business people. Some are younger couples and young families in their 20's, sent by the older patriarchs. Some are complete extended families - 3 and even 4 generations. Like people afraid of any social change, but with the means, they are essentially "hedging their bets". So what's the news here for Tel Aviv? Ah, they are buying, investing, opening businesses and mostly -- COOKING! Yes, cooking, like in restaurants, bakeries, wine and cheese stores... you get the idea. FRENCH, REAL French food in Tel Aviv. OK, so you are not as excited about this as me, too bad.
These young immigrants first came to "take a look". But like many "visitors", it didn't take them long to figure out that life in Tel Aviv (with a little cache of Euros) is a wonderful thing. So with energy, enthusiasm, hard work, curiosity and lots of experience they started making their mark on Tel Aviv. The good news is they like to live well, so they have taken hold in all the nice areas in Tel Aviv, specially anywhere within sight of the beach. Up and down Ha'yarkon street they have rented and bought everything available. So the real estate sector in Tel Aviv has taken notice and you see renovation on a scale not seen in years here. The BAD NEWS? Property prices are going up, estimated 30% the last quarter. Some say the 10% a month rise is a little scary... are we heading for a bubble? Not likely, real estate in Israel has not kept up with the general economy.
THE GOOD NEWS: people with real estate knowledge, are coming to invest. In the US the real estate market is going through a correction not seen in decades. So real estate investors are puring money into Israel. So are Europeans and south Americans.

Editor's note: This phenomenon is not restricted to Tel Aviv! Building all over Israel, specially up and down the cost, from Ashkelon to Cesarea is seeing a boost not seen here in 15 to 20 years.

Back to the French! The other good outcome of the French immigration is culture. There are more movies, books, cooks and cloths in much higher caliber than Tel Aviv has ever seen. Most people do not make the connection, but I see this as the competitive spirit of people, specially Israelis. A wedding dress shop in north Dizengoff street imports a dress from Paris. She sells it to a young French woman who is getting married with the family coming for the big event. The owner of the dress shop 3 doors down can't exactly ignore this. First of all she may lose business, but most of all she does NOT want to be seen as the "out of fashion" neighbour! This is what will happen if all the soon-to-be young bride's friends walk up and down the street asking for a French wedding dress!
The same holds for French cheese, baked goods, cloths, furniture, kitchen ware, wines... you name it. In essence, the last few years, Tel Aviv reflected the general economic slowdown of the DOT-COM crash, which made us sleepy for a while. Now we are back, with the push of the FRENCH. All I got to say is "viva la differance" and pass over the Hebrew-French dictionary ppplllleeeaaassseeee ! Read More...

Newspapers, Television, Magazines in English

Washington Post, not readily available, but ask around

Editor's note: Tel Aviv like many international cities has lots of news sources, specially in English. BUT, it's also a Hebrew speaking city. There are many places to find news in Eglish. Keep your eyes open, this is just an introduction!

Almost all hotels in the city (Tel Aviv) have cable TV or satellite dishes, verify with your hotel what news channels are available. Readily available on cable (HOT) or satellite (YES) are: CNN, SKY news, BBC, Aljazeera (English), France 24 (English) and FOX. There are some hotels and bars that also have Internet feeds and can get just about anything. Specially the US and the European channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, CNBC, MSNBC, etc. On the Israeli systems basic service also includes channels from Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Russia and extended service includes many Arab countries, Iran, Turkey, India and China. Your hotel or local bar can give you the list.
Jerusalem Post, right wing, in English

Newspapers, magazines and books in English are readily available in many stores in Tel Aviv. Hebrew papers and magazines are available for free to read in most hotels and restaurants. Israel is a country of leisure reading during meals, something that is unique and interesting. Just like in the US and England, the Israeli media runs the spectrum of serious to the ridiculous. From hard news and analysis to real trashy stories about celebrities, politics and just crazy life here.
There are also a few Israeli papers in English. The Jerusalem Post and the Tribune/Haaretz combination are locally written English papers. The Tribune is a collection of news from the New York Times, Washington Post and the Hebrew daily Ha'Haretz translated into English.

A few NYT copies in large hotels and book stores

Ha'aretz also runs a full fledged English version of their paper on the Internet: The Hebrew version is Since the French has arrived the last two years or so, there are also French language papers and a few local papers in Russian. In the better book stores and newspaper stands you may be able to pick up a German and a Spanish paper as well. So ask around.
If you are looking for a foreign language paper in Tel Aviv, go to Steimatzky book store on Dizengoff near Gordon ( branch listing). This is only a short walk from most of the hotels or a cheap taxi ride, call ahead and see what they have.
A holiday or an extended stay in Tel Aviv doesn't mean you are separated from the world news, unless of course, you want it that way... ... ... Read More...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Mall: a hub in the city center

Wavy Staircase inside Dizengoff

In our city you don't have to go to the suburbs to find a first class shopping mall. Dizengoff center is located in the heart of the city on Dizengoff and King George streets. This mall is too big to write about in one blog article. So I will start with an overview before we discuss specific stores.
The first issue is how do we get to the mall. Driving your car is no problem, there is a large underground parking garage. There are numerous buses that will drop you off at or close to the mall (bus fair NIS 5.10). A taxi from a hotel on Ha'yarkon beach area will cost about NIS 20 to 30. Tipping taxi drivers for short rides is not required, and they will not be offended.
Another issue for mall goers is restrooms. If you are going to do serious shopping for extended trips... "when you got to go - YOU GOT TO GO"! The mall provides 3 major restroom facilities. They are always clean and well kept, which is a reflection on their respect for customers. Mall staff seem to always be somewhere nearby making sure the facilities are clean.
Shopping is a major activity at the mall. Followed by eating and socializing with friends at a cafe. As we get into the hundreds of small stores that populate the mall, we will explore some of them. There are just too many to write about, even in a blog. For now, I will tell you about a few of the major venues. On the first and second floors of the south building is the 365 department store (Hamashbir). This is a first class upscale department store. If you plan on spending money in the store for about NIS 40, you can buy a 365 card and enjoy money saving discounts. Hamashbir is a large chain department store.
Book Browsing Dizengoff Center

Other major stores are Castro, Zara, Gulf, Pull and Bear, Toys-R-US and Super Pharm. These are all representative of the large retail chains in Israel. Some of the stores are also international chains, for the most part, Israel has it's own set of store chains, clothing is a very strong retailing sector here.
On Thursdays and Fridays the mall hosts a major food fair. Vendors offer a wide variety of ethnic food. There are also many regular restaurants at the mall. At later posts I will describe them in more detail. Dizengoff center has: McDonald's, Burger Ranch, Shelly, Arcafe, Sbarro Pizza & Pasta, Hoggie Bar, Sushi, Caffeneto Cafe Y Restaurant and verious juice bars.
Some of the other offerings are a major hardware store and first class bakery. You also have a place to entertain your children. On the 3rd floor of the south building a bridge connects the two buildings. A good size play area provides many type of playthings for children, there is no charge for use of the facility.
For adult entertainment there are 2 cinema venues showing all the latest movies. So go to the mall in the city and enjoy life in the city -- sam-d-man Read More...

Tel Aviv's secret: Location

Azrieli Center Glass Atrium

You must have heard the old real estate quote about a value of a property: Location, Location, Location... well, this is one thing that Tel Aviv has. I was speaking to 'sam-d-man' earlier today about towns away from the central region of Israel, specially in the north (Yokneam, Migdal Ha'emek, Carmiel, Haifa). Old towns and new ones, pretty ones and quiet ones. Places where people "should" be flocking to, but they don't. The question is why some places everyone wants to live in, others are quiet and empty. The real estate question is why in Tel Aviv the property prices are many time of "comparable" places in the smaller and quieter towns.

You don't need to be a real estate expert to notice that people WANT to live in Tel Aviv. Not because the scenery is prettier, the streets are cleaner or the jobs pay more. It's the attraction factor. It's the fact that people want to be near other people, near the "action", near where things "can" happen, where you can go to shops, movies, bars, cafes... Where you can see people dress fashionably, funky, weird, elegant, boring... Its trading physical comfort for peace of mind? or is it having it "your own way", the movie your like "exactly" your way! the food you prefer, comfort or exciting, strange or "in" -- EXACTLY! The same can be true to all urban centers. The attraction is not the expensive small apartments, or the scenery of crowdes streets, or even the terrific parking budget - eaten up by tickets on a regular basis -- agghh.
The Three Azrieli's: Square, Round, Triangle

Its the selection, choices, variety, activity, liveliness... its the LIFE of the city, the non-stop buzz of people's conversations and ideas, the parade of colors and shapes, the ever engaging and stimulating LIFE. That is what Tel Aviv offers. In a small country with more quiet towns and open spaces than you can imagine. With a portion of the land silenced by the desert, beautiful as it may be, but still silent. In a country where you can't take the chevy and drive for hours, like crossing Colorado on a winter weekend. Tel Aviv offers the next best thing: LIFE, ACTION, BBBUUUZZZZZZ.
But Tel Aviv does it with style. It does it nice but not too nice. Its comfortable but not sleepy. Its a blend that fits, Israelis and foreigners, rich and poor, young and old. I can't say the same for most cities I lived in. New York is arguably more "alive" but maybe too much, too noisy, too crowded, too expensive, too abrasive. Just overdone. San Francisco it too expensive and has overgrown it's size, not enough new building, so it's frozen in time. Spilled to its suburbs far away. Boston is very nice but also somewhat conservative, not alive enough... you get the idea. Tel Aviv is still growing and "jelling" - "crystallizing" ~ maybe in fifty years people will categorize Tel Aviv as one of the other cities. But today, it's still bubbling; but not too much. Maybe we are just lucky, as they say: "the right place at the right time". Read More...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nachalat Binyamin, a beutiful craft fair - 1 of 2 (by Frankie)

Every women's dream is to find a place to shop that is unique, beautiful and "wow" affordable. This "secret garden" find is no secret at all! It seems that arts and crafts fain in and around Nachalat Binyamin Street has been thriving since 1988. Every Tuesday and Friday almost 300 artists and artisans set up shop along this amazing walkway plaza of handcrafted goodies. The artists mind their own "mini store fronts" and love to tell you the story of how they have created a piece of glass into necessity for you home. How about a gift made of plastic or cloth or even metal. You name the substance and an artist will create a lovely gift for you.

I was amazed at the variety of creative arts and crafts the fair has to offer. Children's crafts are abundant and irresistible. Angels, butterflies, puppets, clocks, wall art and even miniature creatures keep you looking for hours. Personalize your choices as the artist will create a name on almost anything to delight a child.

Judaica is very popular as many shabbat candle holders gleam in the sunlight. One more special than the next. Mezuzahs are in so many forms it almost confuses the choices you want to make. Beautiful and appropriate [?]

The bathroom is a festive room for decorating. How about a toilet paper holder to make you smile or even match the wallpaper? Edid makes jewelry out of buttons. She calls herself "Button Line". Another puts photographs on wood. He calls himself Magnets. Denis Filter creates figure depicting occupations. They are very appealing. All artists must pass through a joining committee to make sure each item is genuine original and of high quality. They pay a small monthly fee mainly for security and insurance.

Bina Mochiach is one of the craft fair managers. She overses the workings like an artist herself. Bina tries from her heart to assure the authenticity of hher artists work. They must continue to prove to her and the committe of complete hand craftmanship according to the "rules". She is a very dedicated lady with a good "eye" and wants the 10,000 weekly customers to trust all her artists' work.

Next week... why you should shop at this craft fair -- or how to find a gift bargain in Tel Aviv.

Until than, keep on shopping, Frankie :-)
Editor's note: Nachalat Binyamin web site,

Sushi Bar on Basel: a trip to east Asia

Sushi Bar Basel sign, restaurant just ahead...

Today we are taking a trip to Asia and we aren't even leaving the city (Tel Aviv). Our first stop is the "Shusi Bar" at 20 Ashtorei Hafarti Street, just off Basel Street on Kikar Boney Ha'ir (Building of the city circle). Phone ahead for reservations or take out (03-546-0575)

This is indeed a trip to Japan. The decor is traditional, clean and muted with Japanese paintings on the walls and simple wooden tables. Diners are greeted with chopsticks and hot bowl of miso (or other) soups served the traditional way. You may order a wide variety of sushi, sashimi or tempura that is served with wasabi and ginger. You may want to try the dinner for two for about 100 NIS. All drinks from diet coke, wine and sake are an additional charge. Your menu is in Hebrew and English and your servers are multilingual.

Evening reservations are recommended as the Sushi Bar draws a crowd, specially on weekend evenings. There is a comfortable inside dining room with a friendly sushi bar. There is plenty of very pleasant outside seating, specially nice on a warm summer evening.

Enjoy the city, dine in our city -- sam-d-man
Editor's note: Just down the street is a small juice bar "Bio Bar", see the Tel Aviv 4 Fun review... Read More...

The beaches: relax and get excited

Beaches looking toward Yaffo (south)

Tel Aviv has one unique feature that pretty much defines the city. The beaches! Not just any place to go and sit by the water, but truly one of the nice places to relax, exercise, watch people and eat.

The beaches run along the western side of the city. Along the beaches are some of the bigger hotels and tourist attractions. Before the Palestinian Intifadas and suicide bombings, there was a very strong tourist presence here. (Editor's note: today Tel Aviv beaches are the best guarded areas in Israel. They are probably safer than any beach in Europe or Asia, specially if you take account of non-political crime.) This has slowly shifted to more of an Israeli crowd. Which is actually nicer for tourists that complained of not seeing "Israel" - just other people from all over the world. Today the tourists are just a small part of the crowd you see on and off the beach. The beaches change in character during the day and during the year. Now, during the summer vacation, the day crowd is families with kids and teenagers. High school kids from all over the center region of Israel flock to the beach. It's a place to hang out, meet other kids and get away from the heat of the inland towns. So get ready to see lots of skimpy bikinis. Families also come to give kids a place to run and swim. For the most part, Tel Aviv beaches are watched by lifeguards and are safe. There are breakers about 1/2 a mile along most of the coast. This makes for a calm place to swim which attracts families with small children.
Tourist love the closeness of the beaches to the city. You can be at a restaurant, hotel or shop just a block away from the beach. You can walk down and be in a different type of beaches; from families to singles in a few minutes. You can be in a separate religious beach, where men and women take daily turns on who is on the beach. You can be in a bar right on the beach and read a book or have a drink and watch the parade of people pass you by. And all of this within the city borders.

Surfing and Kayaking in Tel Aviv

There are a few places to rent wind surfers, kayaks and small sail boats. But Tel Aviv beaches are no longer water sport fan attraction. If you go a little north to Hertzeliya or south to the smaller towns, and beaches between the towns, you will find more surfers and the boaters. (Editor's note: ask your hotel concierge for a good place to rent a surf board or a kayak, this is one activity that is lots of fun here). You will find other sports on the beach, specially the uniquely Israeli "matkot". These are wooden paddles and a hard rubber ball hit from one person to another. If you are not familiar with this, don't worry, very few people are hit in the head by the fast moving ball. If you are in shape and want to test your hand-eye coordination, give this game a try.
The beaches are not always filled with people. In the winter they turn stormy and dark... but that is a whole other story, come again in January.

Stormy Beach - keep cool until January

In the mean time, enjoy the summer, if it's hot, take a dip and cool off. And don't forget your swim short and bikini, Israeli's are not shy about showing skin on the beach. If you are not staying nearby, pack a nice shirt and a pair of pants. And stay for the evening, the beach area turns into one giant cafe-bar with the walkway just a place to move from table to table. Great drinks, good food and lots of fun people. This makes the beaches of Tel Aviv a great place to come... and stay... Read More...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Etnachta: new cafe on Dizengoff

Artichoke, just for looks ;8~)'

Looking for a new dining experience in Tel Aviv? You should try the Etnachta cafe-restaurant at 190 Dizengoff (Tel: 03-522-6001). Etnachta opened a month ago (July 2007) and is already drawing good crowds on evenings and weekends.
The Etnachta has a very pleasant inside dining room. There are only eight (8) inside tables for or 4. There is also a friendly styled bar/counter that can seat another 8 to 10 people. Outside there are many tables of good size with comfortable chairs.
The service is friendly and fast. The menu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Etnachta is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Snacks and appetizers are also offered. One of the features is a real pizza oven that turns out a beautiful product. They also serve fresh sourdough bread with the meals.
Besides pizza they offer a variety of cheeses, hummus and tehina, baked and stuffed eggplant, oven roasted chicken breast, a combo of apples and yogurt and a few salad combinations.
Try the Etnachta for an enjoyable dining experience // sam-d-man from Tel Aviv.
Editor's note: Etnachta is an example of early local gentrification. Not that Dizengoff is a rundown area, but this general area has not been renovated for years. Keep your eye on this block and the area down to Dizengoff circle, it's the north Dizengoff developpers and renovators gobbling up more city property ;8~)'

Etnachta means 'break' in Aramaic
Editor's note: Aramaic words are used in everyday Hebrew. Aramaic comes from the 'Mishna' the first commentary to the Torah which was written in the first diaspora in Babylon. More on the Hebrew language in upcoming stories. Read More...

Getting arround: busses, sherut, trains...

Buses, lifelines or annoyance?
One thing about Tel Aviv, you will have plenty of transportation choices. A legacy of more socialist times is the bus and sherut system. Tel Aviv has buses running to almost every street and corner. The system is not 100% efficient and you will have to wait. But it will take you to anywhere! I REALLY MEAN ANYWHERE. To help the old bus system, which was started a few decades ago, private individuals started the "sherut" service (in Hebrew literally means 'service'). These are (mostly) yellow vans that run along popular bus lines and go to outside cities. The advantage of "sherut" is they will stop anywhere, just stick out a finger and they will stop (buses are only allowed to stop at stations). A bus ride is 5.10 shekels for an adult and there are no transfers. You pay for a ride every time you get on a bus. You can buy a multi ride "Kartisiya" which come in 10 ride increment.
If you are not pleased with the bus or sherut, you have other choices. Taxis can be found on most busy streets and there are taxi stands at central locations and hotel curbs. Car rental in Israel is a little pricey but there are many large and small services to choose from (Avis in Israel, Hertz in Israel). In general, Israel is not a country that you will need a "driver", like funny old movies of distant lands and dangerous places. The roads are well marked and for a few extra dollars a day you can have a GPS system in your rental car. The maps are excellent, but make sure you have an international driver's license. Israeli police will tolerate valid American licenses for a short period of time (up to three months) but make sure you carry a passport. (Israli police driving page).
OK so you want to really get around. If you are in shape, there are also choices in bicycle rental. Your hotel can find you a rental company which will bring you a bike and route maps. You can also call a local bicycle store and ask about rentals, locations near hotel tourist area near the beach have a few units for rent, specially in the summer. Take a look at the Tel Aviv Guide bicycle story.
If you need to get to other parts of Israel, there is a new train system that is fast and comfortable. Israeli's are learning from Europe how to ride on trains and it's becoming a normal form of transportation. The train story will need an article by itself.
The new train from Tel Aviv

Editor's note, NOT for the faint at heart... Once you are in Tel Aviv you will notice the mopeds ridden by the 20 something crowd. Delivery runners, young soldiers in uniform and sexy mini-dressed women all ride these noisy quick-buzzing machines. Officially you need to obtain an Israeli license for mopeds and therefore they are not available for rental readily. But if you are truly in NEED, ask around.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Home shopping: Tiv Taam "in the city"

As we Telavivian know our city is a 24/7 metropolis. Restaurants, bars, clubs, cafes and adult entertainment may be enjoyed day and night seven days a week.
Another activity that you may partake in is shopping for food at Tiv Taam "in the city". They have three stores on Ben Yehuda Street (one block east of Ha'yarkon and the hotels). They are located on Ben Yehuda and: Jabotinsky, Ben Gurion and Allemby intersections. These are medium sized supermarkets that sells beautiful seasonal produce of all kind, along with a wide variety of frozen foods and canned goods. This store is not kosher, it's open on Shabbat and sells various seafood and pork products. (Editor: But if you don't mind the proximity of these products, there are plenty of products with hechsers to choose from as well). They provide for their customers a wide variety of cheeses: local and imported, many types of sauces and canned condiments and just about anything a city dweller would need in the kitchen.

Jerry at "In The City" branch

The store also has a wide variety of fish, chicken and beef products, from steaks to various roasts and gourmet cured meats (beef and pork). Next to the meat counter is a deli counter with a wide variety of deli made from beef, turkey, chicken and pork (ham).
Small is beautiful: packed shelves

Editor's Note: Tiv Taam is creating somewhat of a city shopping renaissance. Like most traditional urban areas Tel Aviv has been neglected by supermarket and large retailers. Despite the three large malls in the city limits, shoppers are still forced to take a car to the suburbs if they want to shop at a large supermarket with large selection and competitive prices. Just like Trader Joes in the US, Tiv Taam has bucked the trend and opened large "specialty" stores all over Israeli urban areas. The idea seem to be working, they are wooing customers away from the supermarkets and business is going well. Stay tuned and keep an eye on this chain !

If you are staying at a hotel with a kitchen or even a refrigerator, and you want to eat "in" -- try Tiv Taam "in the city", it will satisfy your hunger.
Web site: Tiv Taam "in the city" -- General chain info: 1-700-709-111 || In The City branch: 181 Ben Yehuda, Tel: 03-5444409, everyday 7:00 to 24:00 || 1 Ben Yehuda, Migdalor Building, Tel: 03-5108030 Read More...

Balagan at the Carmel Shook - Asian food outlet

Need an exotic spice or flavoring? The Asian Culinary Center, popularly know as the balagan (little mess in Hebrew) is located in the food section at 17 Ha'carmel Street. You may call ahead and speak with Elli at 03-516-7925 (FAX 03-516-7926) or e-Mail:; about what you need.
As you walk into the store you will find mixes and sources from all over the world. They shelve more choices of soy sauce than I thought existed. You will find product from Philippines, China, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, India, South America and North America. Hot sauces, sweet sauces, cheese sauces, noodles abound. There are also frozen foods for the exotic taste, like various sushi fish and calamari.
An enjoyable experience is to wander the aisles of the "Balagan", enjoy the city!
Web site: East West Food go to the English section and call for info, most information in Hebrew.

Fruit stand outside the "Balagan" Carmel open air market

Editor's note: A little background without getting too political, there are a few good things that reflect the current Israeli-Palestinian problem. One is the import of south-eastern Asian workers. What the Palestinian used to do in construction is now done by Chinese, Korean, Filipino and alike. Also, as Israelis are getting older, they need home care, which usually comes from nice Philippine women in their 20's and early 30's. So Asian stores have popped up, this one in the Carmel Shook, the biggest open air market in Tel Aviv.
Oh, one more thing, spices from the east are not new to this market. Just outside the Balagan you will find a few spice merchants, talk with them, some are decendents of merchants from Iran, Iraq and Yemen, the family has been "doing spices" for generations! Read More...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Two old book stores for English readers

Sports books at Halpers

Once you are in Tel Aviv, you will quickly realize that you can get by with English alone. Many restaurants have English menus, hotels have a large number of English speakers and there is always someone who can translate for you. But when it comes to books and magazines the story is a little bit fuzzy. Most of the large chains, Steimatzky, Pinat Ha'sefer (Book Corner) and alike have an English section. While it's usually the largest foreign language section, it's mostly dominated by current paperbacks (for Danielle Steele and Crinchon fans, go there). But there are other alternatives, and for me, they are actually much better. There are two good used English bookstores in good locations. The first is Halper's bookstore on 87 Allemby (in the back of the building) Tel: 03-62-99-710. Halper is a quiet and incredibly knowledgeable book seller. Apparently he has been in this location for a long time and has a very wide selection of books. Most of the store is in English. You can find here not only the current paperback in almost new condition, but also everything from Art to Zoology. A large section of history, politics, biographies and even business and economy. He also has sections on art and literature with many great old classic books. Halper's seem like an old library, except you can buy all the books. Being mostly in English, this is an Anglo-Saxon bibliophile's hidden garden -- come and browse for a while...
Paperbacks at Book Boutique

There is another store for English readers, the Book Boutique, at the north end of Dizengoff street at 190 (at the back of a building's arcade) Tel: 03-527-4327. This store is virtually all paperback. It covers mostly popular fiction and I mean... COVERS IT WELL. You will find books of just about any style and genre you can imagine. If you are a novel, mystery or historical fiction this is your place. Most of the books are 1/2 price with some in the very low range (I bought an excellent condition Clancy for 11 shekels). The popular titles are usually in great shape and are very cheap.
Both stores and other used book stores in Tel Aviv will also exchange. If you are a regular, you will get a fairly good exchange rate. There are lots of other book stores in Tel Aviv, but these two are the ones I would recommend to English readers.
Editor's note: See Tel Aviv 4 Fun book shops page, with interesting reviews. See IsraEmploy article (originally in Ha'aretz) good story! Read More...

Goo Cha - a great sea food restaurant on Dizengoff

Looking for a trendy restaurant with great food and service? Then call the GooCha (03-522-2886). Located on the corner of Dizengoff and Gen Gurion in the heart of Tel Aviv, you will find fine dining in a casual atmosphere. This location is right in the middle of Dizengoff's shopping and dining area north of Dizengoff circle. You may enjoy inside seating either at the tables or at the wandering bar, or outside seating in the front or on the side.
Goo Cha kitchen bar

The specialties of the house are mainly fresh fish and seafood. You may want to try the bass, shrimp, mussels or calamari. If fish and seafood aren't your taste, they also serve a beautiful steak dinner, appetizers also include carppachio, sushi and sashimi and are very good.
The atmosphere at Goo Cha is warm and friendly and your server will try to accommodate your every desire. If you are looking for a unique and enjoyable dining experience call the Goo Cha. Reservations are a MUST if you don't want to wait outside in the heat or rain, Goo Cha will draw people on most evenings (03-522-2886) no business web site in English -- GooCha Hebrew Site.

Editor's Note: sam-d-man loves table # 21, call for a reservation and be ready to wait. Most days Goo Cha is full for dinner. On weekends and hollidays Goo Cha is full all through the day and evening hours. The indoor dining area is packed with two bars and booths, then there are tables in between the whole balagan. Take sam's advice, ask for table # 21 or a nice table in the corner. Goo Cha is a busy and noisy place, great food and great action are a good sign that this place is always good ~ with this consistency no wonder Tel Avivians flock to this place.
Additional Goo Cha reviews: Tel Aviv 4 Fun -- Tel Aviv Guide -- Restaurants on-line / Y-Net (in Hebrew) Read More...

Monday, August 20, 2007

The (new) Port of Tel Aviv

Just south of the port

The old port area has been renovated into a great big "entertainment center". This is the best way to describe a collection of restaurants, clubs, cafes, stores and walking, skating and sitting areas. On the sea side is a long wooden boardwalk, except that this one has "hills and valleys" for skating (the wood planks are formed in interesting designs). Until you see and skate the "hills" you will think it's crazy. On the north side is a row of large restaurants, mostly open to the sea most of the time. Some specialize in breakfast or lunch, some in dinners and are open late. Further 'down' is an area with smaller restaurants with a great view of the water. This area has tables up to the small enclosed port. On busy days these are the first seats to be filled and walking by is a test of wills to a hungry stomach ;8~)

Renovated Port from the Air

If you go all the way to the circle on Yordey Ha'sirah street, this is the southern edge with more stores and restaurants. Ace hardware is the large store at the southern end.
The port area is much more than a collection of "things", at daytime hours it's a destination for families, teenagers and groups of cafe goers. At night the port changes shape and becomes a hub for bar and music goers. With a few bars open until the early morning hours and three live music venues (hangars 11 & 13, Reading 3) there is a nice combination of modern & Jazz live daily. Somehow this odd collection of places has transformed into a meeting place for middle class Tel Avivians. When people start coming to a place, it feels alive and hums with excitement. The port area is such a place, but it's also big enough not to feel crowded, so it keeps on humming and buzzing. Pick a good time to come, even on weekend mornings when the sun bakes the beach, and come for a drink or brunch. You won't regret it, and may even find something to buy...

The old renovated port, just north of Ha'yarkon St. and Beit-Gimel (B"G) Yordey Ha'sirah Street, right on the beach. Restaurants, Cafes, Shops, walking and sitting areas.

sam-d-man handed me his version of the T"A port story:

Life in the city (Tel Aviv) has a dynamic. There is a life that is rarely seen anywhere in the world. One of the dynamic in our great city is the water front know as the 'North Port' (Yaffo being the 'South Port').
    Seven days a week you may enjoy great food from 30 plus venues ranging from a good burger to complete lobster dinners and everything in between. After dining you may like to enjoy a short walk to the Max Brenner chocolate factory cafe.
    Finished eating there are many inside or outside bars to enjoy and while away the night enjoying the sea breeze and the relaxing sounds.
Want to shop? Enjoy the Castro store and the many other shops, selling everything from crocks (plastic beach shoes now in style) to high fashion. You will never find a better place to eat, drink, dance, play and shop than the beautiful Tel Aviv water front.

Come and enjoy the city -- sam-d-man

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A cute small hotel - Melody Hotel (Atlas Group)

Atlas Group's New Boutique: Melody Hotel

Overlooking the Mediterranean sea the Melody hotel at 220 Ha'yarkon is a boutique hotel. This 55 room boutique, is ready to serve your every need. It is located within walking idstance to the beach and many attractions of the Tel Aviv Port (a revitalized old port serving as a cafe and restaurant hub a the north end of the beach strip).

All the rooms are completely up to date (AC, Cable TV, coffee / refrigerator, Internet) and decorated in modern block motif. The hotel provides breakfast in the morning and there are lots of choices for restaurants a short walk away (a large choice of takeout is also available at this location). The lobby is a great place to pick up complementary snacks and drinks all day.

The Melody is part of the Atlas Group hotels. Its located at 220 Ha'yarkon, Tel Aviv. You may phone from outside Israel: +972-3-521-5300, in Israel: 03-521-5300. On the Internet: Melody Hotel.

The Melody will provide sweet music for your stay in Tel Aviv. Rates range from $176 B.B. low season for two, to $235 B.B. July / August for two. Read More...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Basel Street Commercial Hideout

Basel Street Looking South

Tel Aviv has a unique quality found in many cities. Hidden little areas that are tucked away and give the feel of a small village, not "the big city". Some cities like Paris and San Francisco prides themselves on living in a big city yet having negiborhoods which retain personal lifestyle. Where people know each other and care to say "hello" and "what's new". Where one can sip coffee in a small cafe and eat a good meal without breaking the bank.

Basel Street Commercial Hideout

Some cities have tried to do this artificially, but this never turns out to be as nice as an organic creation by the residents themselves. Intimate lifestyle has to come from people, from the small store and restaurant owner, from local residents. It comes from a need to see people on a personal level, I think it's the "personality" of a local community.

It turns out that Tel Aviv has a few of these small communities. One of these local neighbourhood gathering area is on Basel street in the old north. The location is on Basel street between Ha'selah and Ashrot Ha'parchi. This is a block size area surrounding an old ambulance depot (still in operation). The stores, restaurants and cafes occupy the ground floor of traditional residential buildings. The sidewalks have been enlarged to allow outdoor seating, on a warm August morning, this is a perfect place to drink a cold coffee. The area itself is surrounded by parks and large trees, giving the location an isolated feel. Sitting in a cafe its easy to forget the busy streets, Dizengoff and Arlozorov just a few blocks away.
Basel Street Store Fronts - August 2007

This area is definitely not on the tourist path. If you want to mingle among locals and get a feel of the area, make your way to Basel street and the commercial square area. You will find there a nice selection of restaurants, sushi, Israeli, Italian and two bars serving light menus. The stores are upscale with an original jewelry designer, a jewelry store with a wide selection of local and antique pieces and even a very nice vase store that will rival any tourist outlet on Ha'yarkon street. And if you have a few hours to sit and relax, give the four cafes a try, this area is truly unique and isolated from the hustle of the city streets. A perfect spot to catch up on reading or postcard writing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Burgers on Allemby (Agadir Burger Bar @ Nachalat Binyamin)

What do you do when you have a yen for a super good burger with great fries or French fried onion roll (onion loaf)? Tel Avivians head for the Agadir Burger Bar at 2 Nachalat Binyamin, next to the famous Carmel Market (shuk) on Allemby and King George.
The Burger Bar will top your burger at your request with a variety of cheeses, bacon and assorted other veggies and trimmings. The service is fast and polite as the pretty young ladies try very hard to please you (our server was the fast drink puring Hilla).

Hilla at the Burger Bar

The Agadir Burger Bar has inside or outside dining. Outside is the closed street where you can have the spectacle of Tuesday and Friday Carmel Shuk (outdoor market) craft fair. Seats and tables are comfortable, but this is strictly a "al fresco" deal. On a hot August lunch hour we found half of the tables occupied as people headed to the cover of the air conditioned bar inside. Inside you have all the atmosphere of a New York City hot spot (we like to call this a "joint"). Sensuous booths and a knock-out bar, where Hilla is there to give you super service with a smile.

Jerry's burger, almost gone!

The Agadir Berger Bar has other fine meals on the menu, but trust me, try the burger, as you like it topped, rare to medium. Remember Tel Aviv has great burgers, call ahead 03-510-4442. Dinner for two NIS 150 to 200. Agadir Burger Bar site is: , there are four other locations: Hertzelia, Eilat, Rishon Le'tzion and Agadir Hotel in Tel Aviv.

Come to Tel Aviv and enjoy your every taste. English Menu Read More...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Great Chinese Food on Allemby

Life in our city includes those of us who have a taste for good Chinese food. There are among others the Red Chinese on North Dizengoff and the Dim Sum on Allenby and Rothchild. But this week we tried a "new" place at the bottom of Allemby, just at the beginning of our Allemby walking tour (described a few days ago on the blog).
Today Ami and I are reviewing a quaint small Chinese restaurant, the Long Sang located at 15 Allemby - around the corner from the Opera Tower. You enter the main dining room - with real Chinese restaurant look you will find the world over. Off to the left is a plain, long narrow room that is OK, except a little claustrophobic.
A polite young man will take your order. Menu is in English and Hebrew. You will note that he writes down nothing, but don't worry you'll get what you order. This is a full menu of chicken, beef, shrimp and pork. Try the hot and sour or wanton soup as a starter.
We sampled the sweet and sour chicken and the pork in oyster sauce. The chicken was plain but tasty, and the pork was very good. What some good Chinese try the Long Sang. Dinner for two between 150 - 200 NIS. Call ahead 516-3769 Read More...

Friday, August 10, 2007

The beginning of Allemby (a walk from the beach)

Tel Aviv is one of the grand walking cities in the world. One of the forgotten streets in the city is the lower part of Allemby. In the past, Allemby, one of the first commercial streets, was the fashion and entertainment center. As Tel Aviv evolved and malls started sprouting up, retail and fashion moved away. Allemby is a perfect example of the changing winds of fashion in the city.
Lower Allemby: a short walk
As the fashionable stores moved to locations in Ramat Aviv (just north of the old Tel Aviv) and the suburbs (Hertzelia, Ramat Gan) and into large malls like the Dizengoff Center, the commercial tone of Allemby shifted downwards. But notice the architecture of the 1920's. Tel Aviv has some of the best examples of original Bauhaus buildings. Allemby has a mix of eastern and western architecture. On the southern part of the street is the border of the old Yemanite neighborhood. Look for the old arab style buildings which are going renovation. On the northern part of the street you will see the begining of the western building influence. Tel Aviv municipality decided to push for renovation of the old buildings. This is an effort long in the making and you will start seeing wonderful results. On the southern part of Allemby is the border of the old Yemanite neighborhood (Kerem Ha-Teymanin = Yemenite Orchard) and on the northern part is the western styled building. As Tel Aviv was being built world building styles took hold. In Tel Aviv you will find a grand muslim building next to a Bauhaus design. If you like architecture, take a tour of the Bauhaus buildings, the city has some of the finest examples completely original and mostly restored!

So, this is not the place to go shopping for fashion, but it's still an interesting walk. On one end of lower Allemby is the Opera House. This is a new building with upscale apartments at the top and a small court with stores at the bottom. During the day the cafes and stores here are busy with beach goers. At the other end of lower Allemby is the Carmel market (shuk or open air market) and on Tuesdays and Fridays, a wonderful arts and crafts open air market on Nachalat Benyamin.
The section between the two is dotted with cafes and restaurants. During the day the area is also busy with camera store buyers. The camera sellers have not moved and actually offer a great selection of used film cameras. If you want to look for an old lens or a good deal on an old Nikon body, this is the place to come. There are a few cafes which mostly attract the local crowd. On the corner of Bialik and Allemby there are two cafes, Bialik cafe (the one away from Allemby) is a busy local hang out. Besides coffee and cold drinks it offers a nice local food menu. The daily specials are what to look for. Once you approach the large intersection of Allemby, Ha'melech George (King George), Shenkin, Ha-Karmel and Nachalat Benyamin, you will see the markets.
Nachalat Binyamin crafts market
On Ha-Karmel is the old vegetable market. Down this crowded street is Tel Aviv's main open air market (this market deserves it's own series of blog articles). On the adjacent street, Nachalat Binyamin is the crafts market of Tuesday and Friday. This market also deserves it's own blog article, it's definitely a great place to come see and buy Israeli crafts in one central place.
This post is a mere introduction to this section of Tel Aviv. Posts on each of the main attractions will follow. If you are interested in any of these, please post a comment below, we need feedback on what interests readers ;8~)'

If you want to see a few more Tel Aviv locations, take a look at Tel Aviv Guide Read More...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A residence hotel in north Tel Aviv Port and Beach

Looking for an apartment hotel at a reasonable rate? Give the Attereth Havakook a try. This hotel is located on a small street, Havakook #7, between Hayarkon and the beach. A very convenient location for sea and sun, only a few minutes walk to all the dining, shopping and party going at the hot Tel Aviv renovated old port area.

The rooms are a little on the old side and breakfast is served at a kosher eating area on the first floor. On a hot August morning most of the visitors were already out and about. The Havakook seem to attract religious families from Israel and abroad. The close beach location and proximity to north Tel Aviv was the mainattraction to them. Also, within walking distance is the large Ha'yarkong park which stretches along the Ha'yarkon stream for a few kilometers. Just south of Havakook is the beach promenade and the main beaches of Tel Aviv. This location is just a block away from the famous Tel Aviv Hilton, get the location at a fraction of the cost!
Habakook Residence Hotel

The Havakook offers you a studio and one bedroom apartment with a double sofa bed. You will find a fully equipped kitchen, cable T.V., phone, air conditioning and maid service. There is also free secured parking.

During low season, all year except July and August, the rates range between $107 and $137 depending on room size.

Phone the Havakook: (from outside Israel) +972-3-604-2222 in Israel 03-604-2222.

If you want a suite by the sea, see you at the Havakook.

(in the picture, Havakook hotel right from center, second highest building) Read More...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Night time on the water

Tel Aviv beach area transform from a bathing and sunning nirvana to a pulsing night scene around sunset. The beaches clears out and the bars fill up. If you look up the beach from the south the lights welcome walkers and party makers. The 'tayelet' (in English 'promenade' or 'boardwalk' or literally translated "a place to walk or stroll") is a walk along the beach. On one side is the beach and a few cafes and restaurants, on the other side is a chain of hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants. There are a few clubs, but this area is not the 'hot party' spot of the city.

Tayelet lighting up as evening starts

OK, let's get to the night time... The tayelet turns into a stream of walkers, cafe hoppers and restaurant eaters. As the summer heat dissipates, the temperature is cool and inviting. Most nights, the temperature hovers at a comfortable 22 to 25 deg Celsius (72 to 77 deg Fahrenheit). The Tayelet has a southern "hub" of activity at the Opera House. This is a large apartment building on a small circle. The opera house itself has a few shops and cafes. The area also has cafes with outside seating. Looking north you can see for a kilometer the hotels and restaurant along the beach and a block eastward. Walking north from the Opera House there are mostly cafes and restaurants. From about 6 PM to midnight in the summer most places with outside seating are bustling. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings the clientele is largely Tel Aviv residents. Although some restaurants attract tourists.
Opera House in the early evening
This year, a large number of French visitors seem to have invaded the area. A new restaurant Tzel Yam (shadow of the sea) is a nice imitation of a mid-scale Parisian restaurant (Kosher as well). You will also hear a great deal of Spanish and English. For the tourist who ignores the ever present CNN and BBC threats of Palestinian terrorists, Tel Aviv is a great alternative to Greece, Turkey and even southern Italy. When the soccer world heats up, you will find a British or a Scottish group pounding a few beers at Mike's place. Read More...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Hotel in the new port area - Armon Ha'yarkon

A lovely small boutique hotel, the Armon Ha'yarkon (Palace of the Yarkon*) (50 rooms) located within five minutes walk from the beach. You may enjoy great sea, sun and sand. At the beach, just south of the port, are a few cafes serving a variety of food and drinks.
This hotel is also only a few minutes walk to the famous port of Tel Aviv. The port area was renovated a few years ago and became one of the best area to dine and sit by the water. Here you will find a wide variety of restaurants, bars, night clubs and shopping.
Armon Ha'yarkon provides: 40 channel cable T.V., free in-room internet access, telephone, refrigerator, air-conditioning plus breakfast included in the room rate.
Avi will be your host and the lovely and polite young lady at the desk will help you enjoy your stay in the city at the Armon hotel - 268 Ha'yarkon street, Tel: (from outside Israel) +972-3-605-5271, (from Israel) 03-605-5271. Rates (off season) range from about $100 - $125 including breakfast. No other room service.

* The Yarkon is a small stream running to the sea just north of the old Tel Aviv. It is also a section of the city and the main street running along the mediterranian coast. Yarkon street is an address to some of the bigger hotels (chains like Hilton, Dan and Carlton) and the main access to the beaches.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hot Summer in the City - what Tel Aviv has to offer ...

On a recent visit to Boston, I stayed at a cousin's house. His wife, a designer, works on boutique hotel designs. She said in an off handed way... "Tel Aviv simply does not have good boutique hotels" ~ by that she meant, a whole class of people who travels and vacations all over the globe would never consider Tel Aviv a decent destination. Well, a few weeks ago, I spoke to "sam-d-man" Jerry, and he simply had a lough. "What is she talking about?" ~ Jerry mentioned that there are at least 10 to 20 world class hotels in Tel Aviv. Not only that, "the City" has a compact layout where travelers can enjoy a true swimming beach in the morning, bike or see a historical site during the day, and cap off the day with a great meal and world class entertainment. "Not only that!" crows "sam-d" -- "you can beat any city for comfort, personal service and even cost!!!"

"I say, let the games begin my man Sam-D"! stop squawking and start a walkin' ~ show me, show me... the way to great vacations and leisure of "the City" by the sea. So SAM-D was assigned to walk and talk with hoteliers, restaurateurs and retailers the city over. When I laid down the glove, I didn't think that SAM-D would take the task seriously. But I was wrong. In no time, he started shuffling his way. At first he was all over the place, picking and choosing his favorite places. Quickly he realized that this project needed focus and organization. Tel Aviv is essentially a group of eclectically melded neighborhoods. The tourists hotels are mostly concentrated along the beach on the west. The stores and tourists attractions are concentrated along a few main streets and in a few large malls. Restaurants are all over the city, it's hard to say that one location is 'better' or more 'representative' of the culture or the cuisine. Finally, there are attractions that are very unique to Israel and even to Tel Aviv. The city has grown and changed since it started 100 years ago. Also, one should not forget the long history of Israel itself, mostly pre-state (Turkish and British rule). All of these combine for an interesting life available for each tourists.

A side note: I suggested to Jerry not to jump in and just write. But his enthusiasm has gotten the better of him. I think that Tel Aviv has too much to offer that can be covered even in a blog. I also think that some people would find it easier to navigate if we put together lists of hotels, restaurants, resources (listings, travel agencies, etc.) ~ well, for now, we will have to live with the blog format and the overall jumbled through process of a frantic writer, but I think this will be just a temporary state of affairs ~ stay tuned ~ and like voting in Chicago a few decades ago: come early and come often... from Tel Aviv, Ami ;8~)' Read More...