Showing posts with label Tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tourism. Show all posts

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Getting the Most of Tel Aviv in a Short Visit

Winter (January) sunset on the Tel Aviv promonade (walk along the Medeterennian) - © 2017 D-A Vider
When coming to Tel Aviv on a business or family visit, take an extra day to experience something special. Israel is one of the most misunderstood place on earth. I remember an American Ivy League professor visiting Tel Aviv. She was so afraid to leave the hotel for security reasons. Told of horrific violent acts by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers (IDF) and the Apartheid treatment of Israeli Arabs, she chose to avoid street life and stay in her hotel. A friend asked me to simply take her on a walk along the beach so she can see the city. After an hour of seeing bathers, from bikinis to burkas, she wondered what the city really felt like. In two hours her preconceived notion of the horrific stories told in the US diapered (some was obviously mass media impressions). A friend (Sam the man, from previous blog posts) just reminded me of a very similar story. One of his old friends came to see why Sam was living here after having a perfectly great upper-middle class life in Ohio. My advice? If you are in Tel Aviv and can add a day to your trip, see the city for yourself. If you have seen Jerusalem or came for business outside the city, don't let this opportunity pass you by. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Quiet Asian Connections

Japanese doll in the Haifa Japan museum / 
If you shut your eyes and use hearing and smell, a few places here will not seem like Israel. Sometimes Tel Aviv streets can be mistaken with another European city. London and Moscow come to mind first. But Paris, Berlin, Rome or Amsterdam would also be good guess. The languages you hear mix with the local Hebrew, Arabic and Russian in a symphony of voices. More Russian and English is heard in cafes and shops at popular spots than the local Hebrew. Shops and cafes are (unfortunately) styled in "western generic" format carrying internationally branded products. This acceptance of Israel as an appendage to western Europe is old news. But recently we see small groups of Chinese and South Korean joining the mix. There are also a few Thai and Singaporeans and the tilt toward the east becomes a real tourist trend. Unlike westerners the few Asian tourists and business visitors are quiet in their manners. Some seem to wonder what has happened in Israel the last few decades. Some are focused on their pilgrimage or technology tasks. Here to see ancient sites or the latest high technology products. Maybe even steal a peek at the incredible start-up machine. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Crane Migration Through Israel

Crane migration through Israel is somewhat of a hidden secret. A few tourists or business travelers make it to this biannual bird ritual. Yet Israelis flock to see the migration in spring and fall. To some this is an annual family event. This is as close as you are going to come to seeing animal migration in nature. If you ever wanted to see a massive migration, from rain deer in the arctic circle to elephants and buffalo in Africa, this is a sure way to get a taste of nature's fierce power. Seeing thousands of birds at one place taking off all at once is simply amazing.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Trip to Haifa

Bahai gardens surrounding the domed temple are an amazing example what can be done with gardening and attention to beauty, © 2016, D-A Vider
Haifa, Israel's third largest city is less than an hour by car. Haifa is probably Israel's least known tourists destination. The city has an image of an industrial center. Israel's largest sea port gives the shore and beaches a sense of not really ready for prime time sun bathing. But the city has upgraded it's beaches and even the locals are starting to make the place their destination.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tzfat (Safed) Artist District

A large "Rabbi carrying a Torah scroll" statue on top of gallery in Zafed (Tzfat) - Israel's artist colony city in the north

Northern Israel is a mix of different cultures. The most prominent is Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures living in close proximity. While the world around Israel seem to be literally burning, norther Israelis are trying to make a peaceful co-existence a daily routine. One outstanding example is the city of Tzfat (Safed). A small city at the very north of the country. Historically it holds a mystical place to Jewish Kabbalah followers. With a million immigrants from the former soviet republics, the city was designated as first an artists colony, then a tourist destination. Both efforts by the Israeli state left their mark. But unfortunately did not turn out as initially expected. Tzfat today has a small artist population and a few small hotels. To the Jewish Orthodox community it serves as a vacation spot in the north. Some tourism, both Jewish and Christian, make this one of their sites. We visited the city on a rainy Sunday morning. The city was almost deserted with very few tourists. A few art galleries were open and welcoming. A few restaurants were close to business, not expecting any diners. But the old city, with a series of old Jewish Synagogues and small art studios in renovated century old homes was wonderful. The attraction to Christian tourists is close proximity to many original Christian sites in the Galilee, most prominent the Sea of Galilee.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tzfat (Safed) old City

Safed old city at a cold rainy afternoon, the tourists and locals are staying in...

Winter rain in Israel keeps the locals indoors. Yesterday at Safed, a beautiful old city in the north, tourists were few and far between. Art studios were empty so one can linger and speak with the artists. Many restaurants did not bother to open, but the soup was hot and tables were easy to find. Israelis would not be considered daring cold weather people. Even when rains come in intermittent waves, walking the narrow streets of the old city was nice. Green hilly views all around were a refreshing break from Tel Aviv concrete jungle landscape. The old city goes back centuries. Some Jewish institutions (synagogues, yeshivas) are still attended by generation long family lines essentially making this city a testament for life here. The remains of the old city are made up of small homes, mostly two stories high with narrow streets. Built for foot traffic more than animal and machine (cars simply do not fit in these narrow streets). Safed was considered a center of Kabbalah teaching and writing since the 16th century (Jewish mysticism). A few restored old synagogues are a great peek into Jewish life here in the last few centuries. History of the city is a fascinating story reflecting the changes (and wars) in the Israeli upper Galilee region. With the Russian immigration during the 1990s the Israeli government encouraged artists to settle here. This accounts for a number of artist galleries open to tourists.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Live Tel Aviv beach webcam - Sheraton Hotel View

A view of Tel Aviv's beaches from high up on the Sheraton hotel.
Here is a static view in case the video is slow and hard to see in real time (hazy hot day surprised most Tel Avivians, after three days of cool and comfortable weather - 3rd of November, 2015)


Friday, October 9, 2015

Bright Hilton Beach after the Rain

Hilton beach after the rain, cool weather keeps the beaches empty / @ DAVider 2015

The last few days, light rains broke the hot late summer days heat wave. Temperatures are down to the mid 20s to low 30s (from mid 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit). The beaches are almost empty from sun worshipers. The political security issues of the last week is also keeping some tourists away. But the weather is glorious. Two days of light rains has cleared the air from dust. The beaches are clean. Light winds are kicking up a few waves, keeping the surfers happy. Come to the beach, take a walk and a quick dip, enjoy the great breeze and just take in the scenery.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jaffa Skyline at Dusk

Jaffa skyline at dusk, a beautiful place with interesting people & places / @ DAVider 2015
Jaffa, the original city on the Israeli coast has been written about since biblical times. Today it's a mix of original residents, hip communities of artists and plenty of restaurants, cafes and clubs. From the Tel Aviv perspective, the skyline is classic. ENJOY!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tel Aviv Gordon Pool all Blue

Gordon pool with the Tel Aviv marina in the background / a sunny "blue day" @ DAVider 2015

The Gordon pool was rebuilt a few years back. Once a busy destination for Tel Avivians, today less of an attraction for locals. The pool is on the beach in front of the marina. This sunny morning the pool and sea were bluer than normal, great scene.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Preparation for Gay Pride Tel Aviv

Gay Pride site, Tel Aviv municipality: the events include a parade and a fair
At one time, Tel Aviv was considered THE destination for gays to vacation. From Scandinavia and Germany, to Turkey and Egypt, they came. Especially in the summer months. From countries less tolerant to public display of affection (holding hands to kissing) to countries where the weather simply did not make walking on a summer evening a pleasant experience. The image of Tel Aviv as a gay vacation destination has faded. But the tolerance and acceptance is continuing to grow. Tel Aviv certainly is not going to be the "escape" city San Francisco served in the 1980s, but it is considered the most likely place a gay couple will choose to live and work. This weekend, June 12, there will be a gay pride parade and an event at the Charles Chlor park on the beach. 4 short links:

    Gay Tel Aviv guide    ||     Ha'aretz event schedule    ||    Facebook Parade    ||    JPost Article

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christian Pilgrims: Israel's "secret" tourists

Detail of Tiberius church painting
When the rockets fall and the buses blow up with tourists (S. Korean tourists, Sinai, February 2014, Al-Jazeera), there are still people who come to Israel. Called by a higher voice, believing in a purpose, something as fundamental as the terrorists believe in freedom or nationality. Christian pilgrims still come to Israel regardless of state security warnings and daily media buzz. From their perspective, especially the inside sources of the church and tourism, Israel is no more dangerous than any other place. Are church voices mistaken in their assessment of the dangers? Why would priests put their followers at harm's way? Do Christians still possess that fundamental spirit, which called for each believer to be a "soldier" and a believer? Or is there something beyond the media hype and political sniping (from the media, states, international organizations, political and military personalities)? Actually, with a little bi of reading, you notice a difference in opinion and belief in Christians' view of Israel and the conflict. Many Christians, both lay independents and organized groups (mostly independent churches), believe in total support of Israel. Some support Israel due to the Jewish state religion. Some due to the liberal and overall support of the state of Christians living in Israel. Beyond this, there is a different view of political and military issues in religious organizations and religious leaders. Unlike secular views, there is a long term perspective and a sense of belief in slow change. There is also belief in the right resolution long term. Whatever was meant to have happened will happen. More on the impact of religious tourism on Israel, not simply economically, in future blog posts.      

Friday, August 15, 2014

Come for the History, Enjoy the Trees and Flowers

Flowers at a local park, Givatay'im, Israel (c) Ami Vider, 2010
One benefit of a strong economy and a vibrant urban life is the trees and flowers in public parks. Until you come and see, it may seem strange when Israelis boast a life inside a green bubble. This country is literally being gardened to life, a green life at that. In most urban areas, not just the big cities, there are well tended parks. In many streets there are also small gardens planted in traffic islands. The older streets are covered by well established trees. In Tel Aviv and the older cities (Petach Tikva) there are some treed going back 50 years or more. In many windows and porches you will see green thumb hobbyists showing their prowess in small pots all the way to small trees poking their branches from roof top gardens. For a country with an arid climate and no natural water flowing at a steady pace, this is a wonder. One of the wonders you will not hear about in the mainstream media news channels. Enjoy the pictures, come visit for some real life experience.
Shaded walk / bike path near Ichilov hospital / (c) Ami Vider 2010


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Don't Come for the Animals: Go to Africa

A gazelle in the Negev desert, Israeli biologists are introducing native species
Israelis like to think of Israel as the ultimate place to visit. Well, that is true if you are an archeology buff and want to see Roman temples and early Hebrew synagogues. If you are coming for spiritual reasons, there are Jewish, Christian and Muslim sites. You can take the bible and literally use it as a travel guide while walking in Jerusalem and many areas in the Gallil (northern Israel). If you want to see medium size museums with some local archaeological finds, from glass plates and vases two thousand years old and looks like they belong on a dinner table at a fine restaurant (they probably did see fine dining in their time), to coins from the last 2,500 years, that you can do in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. If you want to see some of the original Dead Sea scrolls, there are a few on display, including an almost complete book of Isaiah. But don't come here if you are looking for a safari adventure or want to photograph lions walking through your camp. If you are looking to photograph a massive migration of animals, forget about it! Go to north America, Africa or even northern Europe. Not here, not unless you are looking for migrating birds twice a year, traveling from the northern countries to Africa for the winter. Then back again, going north this time, in the spring. If you are fashionista, go to Paris, London or New York for fashion shows and shopping. For sports, any big US or European city will have more events with world famous teams than Tel Aviv (try Barcelona for football or New York for baseball and basketball).   

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quiet North: What the media doe not report

Haifa, Bahai Temple and port from above (c) 2012 Ami Vider
There is lots of talk on Israeli Radio and in the social media pages about Arab (Muslim) loyalty to Israel. Now that the Palestinian question is back on the front pages. Some relatively small groups like the Druze bring up their loyalty to the Israeli state and their service in the IDF. Some bring up the small number of Arab Muslim protesters during the war in Gaza as a sign of tacit approval with the state's policies. Yet what we don't see is the slow and steady decline in the tourist and regular activity in the north. If you haven't heard, tourism traffic to Israel is just about zero. Even evangelical Christians, ones that sometime on purpose come to Israel to support the economy in hard times are delaying their trips. Both local Jewish and Arab residents are also traveling less inside the state. The tourism department is taking out advertisements to support local tourism. But in general, this small step by the state is not helping. Some tourist destinations from hotels to restaurants and cultural sites (museums, parks, archaeological sites) are also offering discounts through advertisments. This comes at a time when the north needs as much support as possible. We just need to stay aware and see where this Gaza war takes us.