Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cooly children's store - Basel square: charming and affordable

The area surrounding Basel Street boasts some wonderful shops and restaurant-cafes. Most are small neighborhood stores specializing in something just a little bit different.
Irit Ashkenazi is the owner and designer of one of the finest of these unique shops. The store is charming from its inviting window display and remains "adorable" throughout its tiny space. Cooly is very cool !!

Cooly display window, charming

Cooly is a gift paradise for newborns to about 6 year old children. Irit designs a variety of baby blankets, lamps, crib needs, stuffed animals and huge selection of toys and decorations for young babies and children. She has a design shop just behind the store.
One of the fun advantages of the amazing stock is the selection in many price ranges. If you want a "little" gift or a more pricey or impressive one, it is here. The staff is very helpful and eager to put a combination of item together for the perfect gift.

Irit reading Israeltomorrow blog story, how exciting

You can find something for 12 shekels or 200 shekels. The choices are never ending and the best part is yet to come! The gifts are wrapped beautifully and stuffed into a darling Cooly bag. A Cooly bag is complete with a Teddy bear and even a colorful ribbon around his neck. Very sweet!
When in Tel Aviv, be sure to visit this 10 year old wonderful children shop, Cooly is cool! //Frankie (Thanks Frankie, our "roving reporter")


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wordcamp Israel - Wordpress User's Conference

I went to the Wordcamp Israel 2007 conference last Thursday. It was an typical technical meeting that could have been anywhere in the world. The most unique characteristic here was English screen presentations and programs (PowerPoint & web examples) with Hebrew lectures. This is a typical 'leading edge' conference, the invitation was listed on some writing and professional listings like Techshoret, IsraelPCdoctor, and Tanglo (all on Yahoo! groups). Actually, Israel tech scene is very much a word-of-mouth type of organism. It probably goes back to the way the country was developed, where the 'protekzya' (essentially nepotism) and 'histadrut' (the all encomassing Israle labor union) counted more than titles and academic accomplishment. But anyway, the scene was full of bloggers and want-to-be bloggers in Hebrew. The idea was to show how easy blogging can be and the fact that WordPress is fully Hebrew compatible. But that is not enough of a reason to gather 100-some people and feed them cold burekas and instant coffee for 8 hours. The real reason is that people who have been moving the WordPress Hebrew version, have used mostly through e-Mail and blogging to communicate, can get together and put a face to the words and the once in a while / late night phone call.

Wordcamp Israel English site, follow that to the Hebrew site...
In addition to that, small 'underground' conferences tend to get people connected and talking, and in Israel this is one of the most common activity anyway. The interesting fact is that this happened here. Israel is the first country after the US that had such a 'formal' meeting. WordPress sent Laurelle VanFossen as a representative. She is somewhere between an evangelist and a public relation 'geek'. I use the 'geek' term in a sense that she is a non-techy pushing a totally technical product. So to people who mostly write, market, communicate, document... essentially deal with words and ideas, she is the 'techy' connection. Laurelle has a new book about blogging and she apparently lived in Israel in a 'previous life'. So she liked the people and the food. That's good enough for most Israeli bloggers.
The blogging book by Laurelle
Like in the US, there are a few blogging services (in Hebrew) associated with portals and mainstream publications (nana Isra-blog, Tapuz blog, bloggerim) - but this is not what "hard core blogging" is all about. WordPress is trying to get people to run and manage their own blog software. That means design, posting, advertising - essentially make each blogger a small business. What a concept? Well, this is really the first time a company or a community has told people: go forth and run your own site ~ it's not that hard. JUST DO IT! Well, is it working you ask? I am not sure, like me, blogger (from google) is good enough for most bloggers. But than again, every writer, business person, marketing freelancer, cartoon doodler and political pontificator has the urge to "control everything". Even if it's just the way a blog page looks and the width of the columns. After all, blogging is about running your own tiny newspaper, advice column and ongoing advertising newsletter.
The speakers mostly covered technical topics, how to design your own style, how to run an audio blog, how to advertise and publicize. At this point not much about the writing, motivation, marketing or other topics related to content. There were two 'business' bloggers who spoke about using a blog to essentially promote their work and get people "prepared" for business. There were a few artsy bloggers who plan to eventually run a blog for a living. But at this point, this is not happening yet in Israel. There are also writers who want to use the blog simply to get a word out, some are political and some cultural (a movie reviewer). Overall, a nice distraction from the keyboard and the daily toil of posting. A techy (not just a 'geek') from the city - Tel Aviv - //AmiV Read More...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Reflection of an Oleh (new immigrant from Canada)

Editor's note: I see stories from people who just came or have been in Israel a few years all the time. Like the visitor who came here for a business trip, it seems like new visitors see things in a different light. This is a story from Ross, about what it feels to be here after a few years. Enjoy!

Olim off the plane (courtesy of Jacob Richman ~
The reason is that I have been told that I am more Israeli than Israeli is because I don't take crap here. If you'll be in big trouble!!! I will yell back at people, bang on the hood of a car that is about to hit me, and push my way in like everyone else does. Israelis have absolutely No qualms about asking (more like demanding) for discounts in stores and bitching that something is to expensive. Most of the time..they'll get it. I still love watching people yelling and threatening a police officer giving them a ticket because they did something illegal :) Only in Israel!!!! In this country..American manners get you absolutely no where outside of the places that cater and kiss the asses of tourists. The only ones who can adapt to the messed up system here quickly are the Russians. Since there are over one million here..they really maneuvered thru the system.
Getting married, a good reason to come to Israel (nefesh-b-nefesh -
On the flip side..if there is a car accident or, even worse, a suicide bomber..then everyone stops everything and tries to help out. Employees leave their shops and businesses to go and help. People will stand around the radio and listen to the news if anything happens. Every hour on the hour..people turn the news up on their radios to hear what is happening.
Not one Israeli (including me) has been untouched by what is happening around us and most know someone who has been killed or hurt in one of the wars or in a suicide bombing.
New roads + fast cars + hurried drivers = accidents
This is a country where salaries are low compared to the US and western Europe. However, everyone here acts like they have tons of money AKA credit. I'll explain it to you this way...88% of Israelis have passports and have been abroad. 75% have been abroad three or more times. That is opposed to only 8% of Americans having passports and having gone somewhere other than Canada or Mexico...places that you can drive to. Even though the number of Americans is greater than the number of Israelis, per capita, Israelis travel more than any other nationality in the world. The biggest problem here is that our salaries are much lower than in America, but the prices are pretty much the same as in America.
No matter what..Israelis dress extremely well (everything can be bought here and they buy it), have the latest gadgets, one or more cell phones, and every restaurant is packed. Every time you talk to someone..they're going somewhere. With the weather being nice pretty much ten months a year..people (at least in Tel Aviv) are always out and about.
One thing that I do miss is the bottomless cup of coffee. BUT hell will freeze over if I am going to sit in the lobby of the Hilton and get it there :)

You all wanna know somethin? I aint leavin this place!!!
Home is where the heart is and my heart has always been here!!!
For those of you who have been to already know this. For those of you who have not visited yet..remember these words.
You may leave Israel, but Israel will never leave you!!! Read More...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Molly Blooms: Live Irish Music on Ha'Yarkon

Local musicians carry on Irish music

Last week I went out to see some live Irish music at Molly Blooms on Ha'Yarkon and Mendele Streets. The bar has a 'live music' room where Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the flat screen is turned off and a bunch of local musicians take on the role of local entertainers. This is a 'jam session' but I have to admit, its one of the most entertaining one I have been to in Tel Aviv. This past Wednesday one of the drinkers also took to the floor with Irish jigs that would warm an Irishman's heart. And we all clapped in tempo. The bar is what I would call a real Irish 'style' place. I liked the quiet demeanor of the clientele, there for a pint of beer and a serving of Fish and Chips. The menu is limited, but than again, there are plenty of good restaurants in this part of town. This is a place to hang-out with friends and down a beer or a shot of whisky with a chaser.
Milly is Molly Blooms' logo

The bar has two rooms off the main 'bar' room. One is the 'live music' room which you see in the pub photos, a round room sticking out from the building like a giant bay window. The second room in the back is more suited for diners. Set up like a small restaurant, you can have the warmth of an Irish bar with a nice table for a group dinner. Last Wednesday, the music started at about 9:30 PM but the bar was still mostly empty. By midnight the place was packed and the dinner room had a waiting list. By the looks of it, half of the people were tourists and business people. The location is in middle of the 'hotel row' of the beach front. The other half are local 20's and 30's crowd looking for a good place to enjoy a cold Irish beer or a good shot of whisky. Molley's serves a good selection of bottled Irish beers a great selection of single and double malt whiskies.
So if you are in a mood for some Irish drinking, music or just a cool place to land for a while. Give Molley's a go ~ drinking and jigging in the city, Tel Aviv that is, AmiV Read More...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sex in the city - errotic massage service (skip if you are a little prudish)

A massage ad from Have you got the urge to have a lovely young lady massage your body? From head to toe? In Tel Aviv you have a choice of many different massage services. There are straight massage spas where for about $35- $60- (140 to 250 shekels) you will get a 50 minute body massage. They will require you to wear underwear and the masseurs will be dressed (masseuses are mostly women for straight men). The services are advertised in regular publications as well as on the Internet service and health listings.
Sensual Massage service ad
If you want an erotic massage with a 'modified sexual experience', these services are also available. You can find these services all over Tel Aviv, from the upscale norther neighborhoods all the way to the central bus station area, where foreign workers congregate. You will be told that 'no sex is provided' by the "girls". In Tel Aviv this means no oral or vaginal sex. While the masseurs will be dressed in a small bikini, NO SEX, means exactly that. Don't press the issue or you will be evicted from the premises. So enjoy the massage, find a 'friend' for the sex. In Israel the service are not illegal.
The service provided usually starts with a shower. It is advisable to take a shower, it makes for a nice prelude to the main event. The masseurs will than take off her cloths, either down to bikini underwear or all the way to nothing. At that point she will invite you to lay down on a table face down. A massage lasts from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, half way through the massage you will be asked to turn over and lie on your back. The erotic part will be at the very end. She will masturbate you and you are done. Enjoy your 'sex in the city' massage -- the city -- Tel Aviv //sam-d-man Read More...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Boutique houseware: Naaman china and ceramics & more...

Ceramic collection from Naaman

Tel Aviv is an enigma in it's compactness. The older parts are crowded and for the most part upscale in character. This means store front area is also at a premium. So the Israelis like French and Italians have taken to making boutiques out of everything. One of the more interesting creation is a chain of housewares goods called Naaman. The store chain started out as Israel's first kitchen ceramics manufacturer. At first they made simple, affordable designs for everyday use. Today the small stores all over the country are like small boutiques. You will find the old 'daily-use' plates and cups with updated designs. The selection is small, but designs are rotated on almost weekly basis. The stores also carry a serving sets, pots, pans, plastic and glass storage, cutlery, glass and ceramic vases, different type of glassware, tableware and utensils, coffee and tea serving sets... lots of different things.
So how do they get all this into a small space? First of all, the selection in each category is just a 'sample' of what they have. They rotate the stock continuously and they also can order from a large catalog (see online version, sorry, in Hebrew only). The designs and styles vary from classic to modern. Naaman stores also carries designs from other manufacturers, specially in the cooking accessories area. They also brand many items manufactured all over the world. So when you see the Naaman logo, you know it means a high standard of quality and style. Finally, the staff is extremely helpful and courteous. One would think that when buying dishes as a gift, this would not be an issue. But making a shopping decision simple and easy even here is a nice change. The sales people will order you something not in stock, which in this case, is a larger selection than what you can find in the stores themselves. So whatever negative comments you heard of the service and friendliness of Tel Aviv merchant is certainly not true here.
Look for the Naaman logo
Naaman is not actually known for it's store as much as for it's ceramic plates and cups. So if you see the Naaman logo in other stores, take a second look. The dishes have the strength for everyday use and are nicely designed. For the most part they are surprisingly affordable. If you buy a small set there is always another item that can complement or fit the design. So take a look at dishes, Israel style... in the city. Read More...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Brasserie M&R on Iben Gvirol

Fine French Bread at the Brasserie M&R

Want to go to Paris for dinner tonight? (but stay in Tel Aviv?) You don't need to rush to the airport or even bother your travel agent. Pick up your phone and make a reservation at the Brasserie M&R at 03-69-67-111 (see virtual turist). The call will hook you up with one of the nicest French restaurant in central Tel Aviv. Its located across from Rabin square at 90 Iben Gvirol street.
This restaurant and bar is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The menu varies with the time of day. In the morning, Brasserie serves a traditional French breakfast menu with that wonderful large cafe au-lait in a large open mug. On Fridays and Saturdays a special breakfast with eggs Benedict and other more traditional French breakfast dishes is offered. Other times of the day lunch, dinner and late night menus offer traditional French dishes. Bread is baked on the premises as should be in a good French restaurant.
Brasserie M&R has indoor and outdoor seating. Outdoors you will find comfortable tables and chairs in a glass enclosed area. This section of Iben Gvirol has wide sidewalks and restaurants take advantage of the nice weather for outside seating. Inside there is a modern French brasserie atmosphere. The decor is modern and clean with black and white dominating the color scheme. Menus are in Hebrew and French, but the wait staff will easily help anyone with English and French orders.
Enjoy France in the city, Tel Aviv bistro at it's best... //sam-d-man


Friday, October 5, 2007

A First Time Visitor's Impressions of Tel Aviv

Wallamberg Street tech area in north Tel Aviv
Editor's note: I am always amazed and excited about what some people say the first time in Tel Aviv. Specially with people who seem to be well travelled and informed. It goes back to my first observation about the huge amount of negative press about Israel, mostly related to nationalism, security and terrorism. So enough of that and let's get to the impression from Hank... (thanks!)


Shalom from Hudson, Massachusetts.

I've been enjoying your Tel Aviv blog since finding your comment on my blog. I wrote about an upcoming trip to Tel Aviv.

Well, except for the 12 hour plan ride from Newark, NJ, the trip was great. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the beach. Its a very scenic beach surrounded by activity - volley ball, coffee shops, pubs, etc. Unfortunately I was on a business trip and we didn't a lot of spare time. I was able to take a swim and the water was perfect. There was only had one day for sight seeing which was spent in Jerusalem.

Azrielli Towers, triangle on the left

Our work week began on Sunday morning, which was a small adjustment. The company I work for has its offices on three of the floors of one of the Azrieli Towers- the triangular one. Great views! We could see all of Tel Aviv, the sea, and the military complex below it. We spend a couple of our lunches in the mall below it. On two of the days we traveled to Migdal Haemek to visit a contract manufacturer. This gave us a chance to see some of the area North of Tel Aviv.

We spent the nights walking along the Ocean Walk finding a restaurant for dinner, then walking back. (The best were the Boya and the Mantaray.)

Observations and surprises:

--> The similarities in the engineering staff in Tel Aviv to that in the US office. Same dress code, same mannerisms, same gripes, etc.
--> The number of US companies that have operations in Israel.
--> How well all of the people we came in contact with spoke English (all except the cab drivers.)
--> The modern architecture in the commercial buildings in Tel Aviv.
-->The soldiers walking around the mall carrying weapons.
--> There's some pretty good Israeli music.
--> The high income and automobile tax rate.
--> The smallness of Israel.
--> The large relative size of the West Bank
--> The number of Muslim Arabs in Israel - about 18% of the population.
--> Excellent food.
--> All of our Israeli coworkers were good natured and love to good debate. (The meetings were very spirited.)
--> Some of the traffic would give Route 128 in the Boston area a run for the money.
--> Political discussions: none.

Because we made the trip, we are now in daily contact with the people in the Tel Aviv office. We also feel like we know a little bit about about Tel Aviv. We may have to make another trip or two to learn more.

That's my experience. The posts about the Tel Aviv / Israel trip can be found at

Hank

Event: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange "Globe" Exhibit

Honey bee globe

Tel Aviv has a wonderfully active art scene. I passed by the port to see a painting exhibit of Yaffo and south Tel Aviv. This was just a prelude to the main outside exhibit now at the Rothchild Boulevard park. Continuing a tradition of companies sponsering art, the stock exchange sponsored a Globe Exhibit. Companies sponsor an artist which depicts the company's business in some way. There are over 30 [?check #?] different exhibits. Some are funny and creative, on a nice day, the buoulevard is buzzing with kids and strollers and flashes from cameras go off like a Hollywood photo-op.

Brass people crossing through the globe

This exhibit is a follow up of two previous shows, one based on bulls, obviously symbolic of the bull charging as a symbol of a good stock market run. Before that, penguins were used as a base for another exhibit. The Tel Aviv stock exchange is a hidden secret of the Israel economy. For a long time, almost a closed club of a few prominent Israeli families who found the big industrial and commercial conglomorates, now a much more a reflection of the international and populist nature of Israeli economy. But sadly, the exchange has not enjoyed the wide support of individual investors in other western countries. So in an effort to advertise the explain the stock trading and investing business the exchange sponsors these outside art shows.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange with "company" satellites

The show itself runs along all of Rothchild Boulevard. It's a nice location on a late summer afternoon. The trees shade most of the central park area, where the exhibit is installed on the edge of a walking path. The kilometer long boulevard is a good walk, although kids seem to get board at about the half way point. On a Saturday morning, the center exhibit area was clogged with strollers and kids pulling on every kind of ball, rod and string sticking off the statues. Some were cute and some a little annoying. But overall, when the place is full of people, it's a nice way to spend a lazy afternoon or a Friday / Saturday day off.\
So come see the globes, on Rothchild Boulevard, 'in the city' -- /AmiV

Bamba baby globe

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

La Paneria: bakery between French and Italian

sampling of La Paneria fine bread selection

Frankie and I were walking down Dizengoff toward the 'center', when the delicious aroma of fresh baked break and cakes filled the street. The warm feeling and wonderful smells beckoned us inside, into La Paneria (81 Dizengoff - 03-620-2183).
Inside we were met by the manager Jonathan. He was our bakery tour guide. Jonathan described more than a dozen home baked breads. Each of them looked more delicious than the next one. Reyes, raisins, herb and various different types of flowers were available on the shelves.
The tour continued to the cakes and cookies. Apples, nuts, dates, chocolate and jellies filled cookies and cakes. They also have a good variety of sugar free cakes and cookies for diabetics or those simply wishing to cut down on sugar. Since Frankie and I are always on the lookout for good cakes and cookies without sugar we couldn't resist.

Cookies with and without sugar
Tonight we enjoyed a delicious apple and date cake, without sugar. Enjoy great cakes and cookies with or without sugar, at La Paneria, 'in the city' - /sam-d-man