Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Let's Go Israel: Half of a Travel Guide for A Short Trip

Let's Go Israel is a great guide if you are coming for business or a short trip. Plenty of background information. See excerpts on the Let's Go site: www.letsgo.com

What tour guide do you use on your travels? This question has as much to do about style as it is about information. Are you an organized planner? Or one who noses around and explores open eyed? Do you like traveling in style? Or are seeking real life local experiences?

I met Tim, an American coin collector on Hilton beach a few weeks ago. He came to Israel for the ancient coins. At first he was not planning on touring anything but Jerusalem, the museums and coin shops around Tel Aviv. But he brought two guides, one for Christian pilgrims and another was Let's Go Israel (official site) see book on Amazon: Let's Go Israel

I was surprised, since he looked rather buttoned down and serious about his coin collecting. More of a small businessman dress and mannerism than a backpacking college grad on a summer adventure. Tim was from Tennessee and has been collecting coins for over twenty years. He actually started collecting coins on a post college trip to Europe.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hotel Location in Tel Aviv: What to Do and Where to Do It

Looking for a hotel in Tel Aviv is easy, a google search of "hotels tel aviv" returns 3,580,000 results and 11 advertisements. All this action is driven by Google's search and advertising system. People search for hotels and therefore bloggers and web site developers write about hotels. In comparison "restaurants tel aviv" gives only 1,880,000 results and 3 advertisers, most pages are written by locals for locals, "rock climbing tel aviv" gives 18,200 results and "judo tel aviv" give 55,900 results. But google and most of the hotel sites usually don't tell you much about where you are and where to find that fun and interesting "stuff". Stuff you can do, places to see, experience like the native Tel Avivians. To hard core bikers and surfers, niche sport sites can be a better place to get information on hotels near where you are going to be doing your activities. Other information such as experience with a rental business or where to find a diving partner may direct you to the part of town where to stay. I spoke with a SCUBA instructor and he explained how the one rental shop on the water may not be the best choice for experienced divers. Although most divers come to Israel for Eilat on the Red Sea, there is still good diving around Tel Aviv, so ask a local diver. There are also groups that will give you information and even let you tag along when they dive together. There are other places to dive just north and south of the city, in 45 minutes you can be in Caesarea and dive among Roman columns from a 2000 year old pier.

If you are looking for a hotel in Tel Aviv, you may want to find other things first. On a business trip and want to Kayak? Make sure you can get to the Tel Aviv marina just off Gordon street. You can also ask someone in a nearby hotel for a boat reservation. If you stay far away from the beach it may take more time and trouble than it's worth during morning traffic. The same goes with Judo and rock climbing. There is a rock climbing wall in the Ha'yarkon park, if you are staying in the very north section of the beach area it's a walk away. Would you like to start your day biking or running in the park? Ha'yarkon park runs along the whole city from the Mediterranean eastward through Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak. It has long paths, is well maintained and even serious runners on most mornings would appreciate the scenery.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Tel Aviv Travel - Saturday Afternoon in a Quiet Cafe

Levi's Dockers are the unofficial Tel Avivian's work dress. Israeli dress code is less formal than Europeans

One of the biggest misconceptions about Saturday's in Tel Aviv is how secular Jews keep the shabbat* (the sabbath for Christians). To some, Jews keep the sabbath by congregating and praying in a synagogue or a traditional Friday night meal with blessings and candle lighting. Another misconception, also an extreme view of secular Judaism is the belief that secular Jewish shabat means a day spent on the beach or driving around the country, completely ignoring traditional Jewish tradition. This view also associates the non-traditional shabat observation with being opposed to Judaism altogether (throwing the baby out with the bath water). Tel Avivians actually do not take sides in a religious tug of war between secular and religious followers. Shabat is spent here probably like secular Jews have been doing for centuries, in Tel Aviv there are a few nice modern amenities to make life better one day a week.

In the early afternoon hours on Friday, as if an invisible conductor lifting a baton, Tel Aviv's residents' urgency slows down. Tel Aviv's shabbat is quiet. Streets go silent as a few cars move slowly, a cafe here a kiosk there stay open the rest close down turning busy sidewalks into empty spaces. People who normally rush and shove slowly take a layed back posture, the rudeness turns into courtesy. Stores, boutiques and malls slowly empty and are closed for a day and a half. Buses and trains stop running. Weekday casual dress is toned down more: T-shirts and rumpled polos instead of ironed and starched shirts, Levi's 501's instead of crisp creased Dockers. Women in sun dresses and halter tops instead of matching outfits from Fox, Castro or Honigman's (latest fashion is a must in Tel Aviv, a halmark of a woman in this city). On weekdays Tel Avivians are always in a hurry, buzzing everywhere nonstop, there is definitely a New York hurriedness here. Secular Israel really does come to a rest, this makes Israel a unique place, American's the first time here, used to seven days of shopping wonder what happened. Nothing really happens, it's shabbat.

A walk with friends on a shaded boulevard just off King George street in central Tel Aviv

On a warm July afternoon north Dizengoff street is quiet. There are a few cafes and restaurants open between Dizengoff circle and Arlozorov. A mix of groups finds it's way to Etnachta, a small bar-restaurant at 190 Dizengoff. Two Dutch businessmen spending a weekend away from home ordered a complete meal one item at a time (a la carte), one could not decide on roasted eggplant with yogurt or tahini so the waitress bought him a sample of tahini. A few couples on dates, maybe even the awkward blind date, trying to look cool and composed (nice wicker chairs and shade make this a comfortable place to meet). A young couple with a stroller situated just outside the delineated tables area, Etnachta has tables under beach umbrellas on the side street, a regular arrangement for most busy street cafes in this part of town. Groups of friends come and go, coffee and a croissant on a warm shabbat afternoon is a great way to catch up and feel connected. Some seem to be comfortable enough so this is a weekly ritual, with the slow economy restaurant business is slow, but the pleasure of sitting an hour with a cup of coffee is not such a luxury item (25 to 45 shekels for coffee and a baked item per person - about $6 to $11). Etnachta serves a light menu, this is true of most places open on Saturdays, Tel Avivians are not eating the main meal just snacking about with friends. Strangely enough there are not many tourists in this part of town. They tend to be on the beach or in nearby beach restaurants. There, the nonstop international time schedule infiltrated Tel Aviv giving the beach a resort feel. The beaches are noisy and busy, summer is the high season and tourists like to lie on the beach. This is another part of the city... next time... the beach life in Tel Aviv, a tourist attraction!


*shabat in Hebrew literally translates to rest or to strike (work stoppage) or to stop working (not necessarily as a work stoppage in an organized or unionized context). Read More...