Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Winter Tel Aviv Sunrise

Sunrise in North Tel Aviv / late December 2015 / (C) D-A Vider, 2015
Winter weather in Tel Aviv brings beautiful sunrises. Here is Frankie's latest picture from the balcony on Zabotinsky & Sokolov. Got to get up early these days to catch the sunrise. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Israel's Canyons: Negev Desert Hideouts

Cut into the stone landscape, Israel's canyons are small, reflecting small amount of water available to erode canyons

Israel's Negev desert is full of interesting hiking trains. There are a few canyons cut into a stone landscape worth visiting. The canyons are a hiding place for animals and people. Most canyons are small (no American style Grand Canyon here) and are still eroding. Most with steep walls and almost no flat bottom floors. This makes foot travel challenging, even with horses or camels. Local Bedouins use these canyons to hide from storms (sand or rain) as well as short cuts. On weekends, organized groups make the treks up and down the canyons. After two days of rain, I joined a group of hikers from Tel Aviv on a five kilometer (3 miles) hike. The way out started in a boulder strewn section. Wide large boulders, some hard to believe water moved here from above, covered the first third of the climb (about one kilometer). Along the hike we heard birds up on the walls and came across a few donkeys. Rains from the last storm left a few shallow pools. A few plants started to sprout fresh leaves. The fresh greenery accounts for the donkeys on the walking paths. Since Israel is not a destination for hikers, the people in organized group hikes tend to be local Israelis. That said, tourists can till enjoy the wonderful landscape. Ask a hotel concierge for help, they will connect you with a guide or group for a day hike. Tourists who are interested in seeing the beauty of the land will love a desert hike.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Leaving Tel Aviv Bubble: Negev Desert

Beautiful layered rock formation cut by a water stream. Water remains from last two day's rain
It seems like Tel Avivians think life is centered around central Israel. There is Tel Aviv, and a few suburbs around. Once in a while, we seem to remember there is a beautiful country all around us. We also notice how a three hour trip can take us to a whole different environment. The Israeli Negev desert is a beautiful and calm domain. Mostly empty, with it's own slow pace. After a rain storm, Israelis flock to see what water remains and catch a glimpse of rejuvenated plant life. A few weeks to a month after strong rains, flowers fill large expanses. We call it "red south" (darom adom) - after the large expanses of red poppies flowering for a few days. This year the rains have not yet created the usual flowering. The dry wadis (rivers) collecting rain water from surrounding areas are active with flash floods. Smaller streams usually collect water for a few hours and eventually dry up in days. There are a few beautiful areas where water and wind cut stone canyons. More pictures from this trip in later posts. This is an abstract detail of a small water pool.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Intel's 2004 Guide for Doing Business in Israel ruffles feathers

From the book "International Business: Theory and Practice" by Ehud Menipaz, Amit Menipaz (Google book preview)

A long time ago (probably as far back as 2004) Intel published guidelines for "doing business in Israel". Israel's bloggers hit on this document recently when a photo from a trade-show presentation was posted on social media sites. Apparently the document was written by an outside consultant to help American visitors from Intel to get along with Israeli technologists and business managers. Intel has benefited tremendously from their Israeli operations. From chip design to semiconductor manufacturing, Israel has been one of the more productive and certainly innovative locations for the company. That said, Intel has also been very much and American company. This was true for the company until recently, when the company started to branch out around the globe. What Israelis did not worry about a decade ago, is the image of how we do business and cooperate with foreigners. Intel can somehow guide their workers to work better with Israelis. Some foreigners from around the world may not feel the need to do so. I wonder if companies like Yamaha (from Japan), Samsung (from S. Korea) or ABB (from Sweden) will guide their managers when dealing with Israelis. Comments welcome...

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.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Carmel Market Night Life & Legal Graffiti @ TLV #6

Semi-Legal grafitti on Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian street (near Carmel Market)

or Israel's Secret in Economic and Technology Competitiveness- Lively Night Life

When most Tel Avivians curl up under fluffy down comforters (there is a term in Hebrew which describes curling up under a down on a cold night) - parts of the city just start buzzing with activity. Around the Carmel market, Tel Aviv's large open air produce shopping district, cafes, restaurants and all kind of off-beat shops welcome a different kind of crowd. Mostly young, more visitors and European techies than in other parts of Tel Aviv, they start an evening of quiet drinking, eating and sometimes business meetings. These meetings are usually based on personal relationships, more than just meetings held in offices. I call this hidden element in Israeli culture one of Israel's secret technology advantage. Personal connections in business not common anywhere else. While in silicon valley start-ups are well funded and do their business negotiation in modern facilities, when New York entrepreneurs connect in Brooklyn bars, in Boston they have Harvard square out-of-the-way joints, Tel Avivians conduct business over a small plate at night with a beer or cup of coffee.  


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bialik House Light Show - Mosaic Projection

Mosaic and tinted windows historical collage reflected at the Hanukkah Beit Bialik light show

The Bialik house light show lasted ten minutes and repeated over and over. Live it was an exciting presentation. The blend of Hanukkah, an historic location and projecting light made for a unique experience. Tel Aviv's city hall with artists residents put on shows of all kind. This one is just one example of the artistic and cultural life in Israel. During the holidays there are so many attractions, attendance is spotty, sometimes disappointing. But it's nice to see people out and enjoying the night life. Even for an off beat show at a hidden city street.

Bialik House Light Show - ON FIRE

A house on Bialik street "set on fire" at the Hanukkah light show, Beit Bialik, Tel Aviv, Dec. 9, 2015

Light show on Bialik house (actually the community center building at the end of Bialik street two doors from the official history Bialik house) attracted a few dozen viewers. The show itself was a light projection on three buildings. This building was "set on fire" with light at the beginning of the light show. The picture's colors are a bit "hot" but the effect is true to life. Enjoy! (see also previous post on the light show)

Light Show ON Bialik House - TLV

Menorah projected in a light show at Biyalik house, Tel Aviv (9-Dec-'15)

Hanukkah is one of the most celebrated holidays in Israel. The children are on vacation from school. Sufganiot (essentially stuffed doughnuts) are the sin food of choice. Music and shows (mostly for children) are put on celebrating in many styles the holiday of lights (musicals to puppets to drama). Last night, the city of Tel Aviv put on a projected light show on the Hayim Nachman Bialik house. This historic house, renovated to original grandeur, was the actual home of the Jewish people's first "national poet" - essentially giving the writer and poet an honorary position after the founding of the state. Bialik street has gone through an amazing renovation phase, today looking very much like the 1920s to 1940s when it was built and a center of Jewish culture. Bialik street is a short, but situated in south Tel Aviv which is going through a major renovation phase. Pictures from the work being done will follow. More pictures of the light show to follow (also look for my Facebook and Twitter posts).

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

North Tel Aviv Construction

Beautiful repeating geometric shapes in new north Tel Aviv neighborhood, Derech Namir, Nov. 2015

Tel Aviv proper does not have large tracts of land for new construction. The few empty areas have been spared so far are falling in the hands of developers. Old areas which can be cleared (as the old produce wholesale market on the Cheshmonaim street and the IDF headquarters) are also turning into target for luxury apartment builders. The shift from low cost mass construction to luxury is steady and strong. Waves of large immigration, which defined Israel's construction style in the past, are not expected in the near future. With the continued economic growth of the state, both consumers and builders are looking to buy bigger and better-finished apartments. Also the demand to live in the Tel Aviv area is stronger than ever before. Building large luxury neighborhoods in central Israel is strong now and should continue unless a major economic change hits.

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.


Monday, November 30, 2015

More dense construction in Tel Aviv & Surroundings

View of Ramat Gan and beyond (Judea hills in the background) with dense construction typical of Israel's central region

On the last post I mentioned how the green central region of Israel is slowly turning into a "gray" over-built "Brooklyn". It was a comment based on the view from Gan Ha'Banim (boys or children park) overlooking Ramat Gan (and some distant eastern Tel Aviv suburbs.) Tel Aviv and surrounding suburbs construction density reflects the waves of fast construction the last century (Tel Aviv's first big spurt was in the 1920s and 30s). Ramat Gan and Givatay'im, the suburbs east of Tel Aviv have seen bursts of construction in the 1950s to the 1970s. Today's central region of Israel, surrounding Tel Aviv, is densely populated. Most construction styles were low cost, fast in deployment and answered the need for housing after big immigration waves. The last wave of construction came with a million Russian (former Soviet Republics) immigrants starting in 1991. Today there are still empty lots being filled with the smaller buildings rising to eight stories. Taller buildings rise from fourteen to twenty four stories. The lower construction style is seen filling sections where most existing buildings are four stories high. In new areas, where land is designated for new neighborhoods, buildings are at minimum eight stories and rise to twenty four stories. Debate over the intent and overall result of high density, high-rise construction, is a constant hum in the media. Resistance to create dense neighborhoods, sometimes referred to "Israel's Brooklyn" after the construction of large residential buildings in the famous New York city borough is strong.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Joshua Blowing a Shofar (Horn) in Ramat Gan

Joshua blowing a shofar (horn) overlooking Ramat Gan from a hill top park - is he blowing us a modern day warning?

Israel's central zone is slowly turning from tree dark green to concrete gray. Israel is one of the first and most distinct example of green environment policy. Israel's "green line" started out as somewhat of a public relation scheme to portray the state's tree planting effort as one proof of the idealism and strong effort in turning the land to an oasis within the desert. Pictures taken from the air showed a distinct outline of the state in green while neighboring states (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) are left brown. The state's proponents trumpeted the success of a tree planting and agricultural production as a testament to the right to inhabit the land. But in reality the "green line" only depicted the northern third of the state. It also did not prove to Israel's detractors of any realistic "proof". Actually, the green line turned into a territoriality conundrum which over the years proved as the most politically difficult fact to resolve (see Wikipedia).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mr. Gaga - Documentary on Ohad Naharin's Dance Career

Last night we saw Mr. Gaga. A wonderful documentary about the career of Israeli dance and choreographer Ohad Naharin. The story starts with his early career as a dancer in Israel, then in New York. This covers two thirds of the time. The last part is on Ohad's return to Israel and his work as a choreographer and director of Israel's Batsheva Dance Company. This is a wonderful peek into an incredibly creative Israeli and a small and wonderfully unique modern dance in Israel. Highly recommended if you are interested in the modern culture of Israel.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #5

Stencil like mural depicts some graffiti seen on Tel Aviv streets

Here is another mural from the Tel Aviv legal graffiti exhibit. This one in a stencil style looks like many small graffiti drawings seen on city streets. Stencil drawings are fast and easy to get on walls. They are also easy to create with simple computer programs. Some CAD machines can actually cut shapes in cardboard or thin plywood sheets. These make excellent stencils. Keep on coming, more pictures from Tel Aviv's streets and hidden "legal" graffiti life as I troll the city.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #4

This mural with a funky whimsical theme reflects a realistic cartoonist style, great colors make for a beautiful picture

Here is another mural from the Tel Aviv central bus station seventh floor collection. Actually there are more than twenty great pictures hiding there. Tel Aviv is a collection of so many different "bubbles" (essentially lifestyles, small communities, private interest groups) that this type of government effort to give one group a voice is hard to miss. Artists in Israel are a struggling bunch. While some have developed a voice, style and even a body of work, many are struggling just to get their art out to the public while holding a day McJob. But sadly it is hard to predict what will happen to government efforts to promote certain art projects. In the case of "legal graffiti" at the Tel Aviv central bus station, I don't think these artists are getting the benefit of their efforts. The area where these murals are drawn is mostly just a place where bus riders on local lines rush to catch a bus. In addition, there is the element of bus riders in general. These are usually the lower class laborers, students and conscripted soldiers (on compulsory duty from age 18 to 21). Which by itself is not such a bad audience, yet many will never make it to this hidden crevice in our vast urban sprawl. (sorry for the sarcastic-negative opinion, but it probably reflects the general view of many Tel Avivians).

Monday, November 16, 2015

Arabic Writing in Technology & Commerce advertising for Arabic (highlighted) content marketing positions / November 2015

There is a preconception "given" notion of a strict division between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Truthfully, a small minority of Jews interact with Muslims on a daily basis (work, entertain, shop, conduct business). Israeli politicians and some community leaders in mixed communities (Haifa, Nazareth, Acco) may tell you differently. Yet the recent violence in the Muslim world, from the long civil wars in Syria and Iraq to the recent attacks in Paris, are continue to push Israeli Muslims (mostly Arabic speaking) to work with Israeli employers. In the technology sector we see more push to adapt Hebrew and English products and services to the Arab world. Just a few days ago I noticed the high number of positions advertised for Arab writers, editors and promoters (advertising managers mostly for social media sites) in Hebrew job sites. In the past these positions were few and far between. It's not clear to me if Arabic marketing workers are using Hebrew sites more or looking for work in Israeli companies with services targeted at the Arab sector. I am also not familiar enough with this crossover business trends to judge if Israeli companies are targeting the Arabic speaking public with more effort. In general, both Hebrew and Arabic speaking Israelis are feeling more isolated from the world these days. Maybe this is a little bit of good which can come from all the violence in the world. (this opinion is strictly personal and my own)


Monday, November 9, 2015

Private vs. Public Gardens in Israel

Beautifully tended goldfish pool in north Tel Aviv, definitely raised the question of how public money is spent /

Once in a while I pass by a garden on a side street and stop to admire the plants or gardening work. Most times it is clearly not the city's gardener's handy work. In most private buildings, gardening is done by the residents (or as most areas under buildings, unattended). Last week on a walk to the beach we stumbled into a small goldfish pool. We were not sure who tended this wonderful creation, my guess was not the city, but my companion thought differently. Enjoy...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Breaks in Rain Storms Brings Surfers Out to Play

Break between rain showers bring out surfers, the wind is steady with little gusts / black flag indicated "no swimming" usually when the beach is not attended or waves are too high /

Winter in Israel comes down to comfortable temperatures and a few rain storms. Most storms comes from the west over the Mediterranean. Storm fronts last from a few hours to a few days. The last two weeks the coast has been experiencing days with rain lasting up to an hour with a few hour breaks between. When the weather clears for a few hours, the crowds stream out to the streets. Surfers (wind, para-sail & plain old short board) hurry to catch the wind and waves. The weather is a bit cooler than in summer, but a wet suite is all that's needed to enjoy the water. Tourists coming during inclement weather wonder how Tel Avivians are so quick to enjoy these breaks. But ask any surfer what it's like to be out in winter, and you will understand.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Givat Olga - After the Rain

Heavy clouds after morning rain, Givat Olga (Olga Hill) just north of Natanya on the coast - Looking East

If you head north on Rt. #2 (coast road, Kvish Ha'chof) from Tel Aviv, you will see a wonderful coastal plane. The sea is on your left and to the right (looking east) are hills and sand dunes, mostly tended by small farmers. Once in a while you will see a heard of sheep or goats. There are small towns lining up the coast road. This is the old road from Tel Aviv to Haifa. In some sections the road runs in the same path at the coast road paved by the Romans 2,000 years ago. At almost every intersection there is an access road to the beach. Some beaches are well tended and appeal to sun bathers and swimmers. Others are rustic and unattended. Just north of Natanya, about 50 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, is the town of Givat Olga (Olga Hill). Although a separate section of the city, and historically considered a village by it's own right, Givat Olga is officially a neighborhood of Hadera. The beach here is not attended and can be accessed by dirt roads. Just north of the beach is the large Hadera power plant.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Gan Ha'Ir - Baby Mommy Playground

Playground for babies and moms at the lower level of Gan-Ha'Ir (Iben Gvirol next to Rabin square

Tel Aviv has the image of a busy metropolitan center. Some assume it's all business, mostly for adults, and a bit of a playground for the millennials.  But as a city goes, there are plenty of babies and children being raised as well. Gan Ha'Ir is a somewhat misplaced high-ticket "mall" of sorts. A few upscale boutiques in an open air setting. It is hard to pin down this cluster of shops, although they seem to attract enough business to keep the upscale image. On the lower floor of this large open space, two fenced playground for babies and moms is a well known attraction. On most weekday mornings the playgrounds are buzzing with babies, mommies and nannies. Next to the playgrounds is a small counter with soup, salad and fallafel run by natural food supermarket. The two floors of Gan-Ha'Ir have a large selection of upscale shops, a wonderful place to buy boutique quality items and favorite gift shopping destination for Tel Avivians.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Hilton Park" Sunset Crowd - Saturday Afternoon

Lazy Sabbath afternoon on "Hilton Park" - overlooking sunset on the Mediterranean / Late October 2015

Saturday is Tel Aviv's relaxation day. Despite claims of being a Jewish secular bastion (some claim to the point of hostility), the city does rest on the Jewish Sabbath. Early fall brings warm days, brings crowds of walkers and bikers to the Tayelet (long promenade along the beach). "Hilton park" - once known as Tel Aviv's night-time gay meeting hub, is actually a nice hill overlooking the beaches and sea. On warm calm evenings, this is a spot to appreciate a lustrous sunset.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Early Fall - Tel Aviv Beaches Shift with Wind

Parasails floating in an abstract dance, dusk, Tel Aviv beach, early November 2015
This year's early rains and storms are keeping sun bathers away from the beaches. But when the sandy beaches clear, surfers and parasail surfing is going strong.The last two weeks weather has been swinging between warm calm days and blustery rainy ones. Parasail surfers are out in numbers, especially in the late afternoon hours when wind off the Mediterranean is strong and steady.

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)


Worried About Surfing Conditions - Not International Media

A blustery morning on theMed. Israelis have passed the days of worrying about security, international media is still there, Israelis for the most part don't really care anymore.

A few years back, a strange (some say disturbing) article in Time magazine portrayed secular Israelis as uncaring and shallow. An American reporter spoke and photographed young bikini clad sun worshipers on Tel Aviv beaches. Their big scoop: "Israelis care more about apartment prices and cost of living, than the state of Palestinian refugees in Gaza." It seems like Time readers were shocked, or verified their beliefs repeated over and over in the mainstream press. There is still a large contingency of traditional media (Radio, TV, newspaper & magazine) which write about the Israeli-Palestinian issue as they have done for decades. Obviously from a short walk on Tel Aviv beaches, this perspective has left the worries of Israelis a long time ago. While the mainstream international press is keeping most mainstream tourists away, many around the world realize how dated the reporting impacts today's state issues. While Israelis are helping countries around the world in business, science and government challenges, the Palestinians are essentially being held ransom by a small elite extremist Palestinian few. This point of view is not new here in Israel. It goes back decades, even before the Rabin assassination (which 20th anniversary was celebrated last week) ~ but that's another story waiting to be written.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Remembering the Altalena

Small memorial stone of the "Altalena Affair" overlooking Tel Aviv's beach - hardly noticeable to most visitors
Wikipedia entry to the "Altalena Affair" is somewhat of a neutral (and some say devoid of the emotions) which the ship, loaded with weapons critical for the defense of the state at this time, really holds for many. Today a small memorial stone (see above, half of the inscription, in English) stands in front of one of Tel Aviv's busiest beaches. The rains and cooler weather the last few days is keeping sun bathers and swimmers away from the beach. But recent security concerns and knife attacks at the borders (and Jerusalem) are again a reminder of the long history of keeping a secure land.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #3

Subtle style yet incredible moving, street artists can be as skillful and meaningful as political as any mainstream artists.
This is a third in a series of Tel Aviv central bus station "legal graffiti" series. (see article 1 and article 2) Some of the wall size murals are subtle, hints of something dark or sinister. Interesting how street artists can be as subtle, intentioned and political as mainstream artists. The interesting collection at this hidden spot reveals a wide range of styles. The messages are not always subtle or anti establishment. There are beautiful "Keith Haring" like impressions. This is expected with the western (especially American) influence in the urban gritty lifestyle of Tel Avivians. There are also influenced of Arab and Russian drawing styles. Both a strong component of daily Israeli experience. More "legal graffiti" coming - not just from the central bus station.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ Wok Repulic

Urban graffiti mural inside the Wok Republic restaurant on Ben Yehuda | Copyright © 2015 DAVider
If you read the last few posts, we covered a few graffiti drawings in Tel Aviv. From the last story about the Wok Republic, here is a mural on the wall inside the restaurant. Gritty urban lifestyle has not taken a hold in Tel Aviv. There are many theories, mine is simply based on the wide range of people and lifestyles you can find in Israel's central area. Tel Aviv is a home of countless lifestyles. The gritty urban flavor, mostly imported from rundown cities around the world (US and Europe in particular) is not an attractive mainstream hit. But Tel Avivians still like to imitate the world's style. In general, there are not many Tel Aviv businesses decorated with graffiti like murals. This one is a nice one.

Wok Republic on Ben Yehuda

WOK Republic on Ben Yehuda, brisk business on a Saturday night |

Tel Aviv's fast food restaurants are popular, especially at night.Where you find young couples and singles, you will cheap fast food. Cheap in Tel Aviv is 30 to 50 shekels (US$ 8 - 13) for a meal. Wok Republic on 177 Ben Yehuda is one of the many fast food restaurants dotting north Tel Aviv. The place has a gritty graffiti design style with funny urban characters and scenes on the wall. On this particular Saturday night (after the Sabbath) - about half of the orders were called in to go. A few tables in the back are packed most nights and give the feeling of a "hole in the wall" somewhere between Hong Kong and Beijing. Despite the high-rent (fairly upscale) location, you can find enough on the menu for a one dish plus drink for 50 shekels. Chicken curry on rice was well seasoned, the portion small with lots of fresh hot steamed sticky rice filling half of a takeout Chinese carton. Noodle dishes are popular, served in an interesting flat cardboard box that "opens up" like a plate. If in the neighborhood and in need of a quick meal, it's worth it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Visiting Tel Aviv - A Surprise in Building & Quiet

Gail (a visitor from the US) with the Tel Aviv "duck" | © 2015 DAVider

The past few years, maybe going back a decade, Israel has not been a destination for visitors. This is even true to Jewish and Christian visitors who would have considered a trip to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the past. There is no getting away from the massive negative image Israel has experienced internationally. But the ones who came to Israel more than fifteen years ago take the stories of fear and violence here with a grain of salt. Gail F (an old friend visiting from the US) found the central part of Tel Aviv modern, lively with shops, cafes and restaurants buzzing, and a great place to see the strong new building trend. Comparing Tel Aviv's expensive Real Estate prices to the ones in San Francisco was just one interesting comment. She is also somewhat surprised by all the construction (building cranes filling the horizon) in the central part of Tel Aviv. For me it's just another point of reference on what we notice daily (but sometime forget). 
What's with the Tel Aviv "duck"? Search "Tel Aviv duck", here is one story in the Forward.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #2

Futuristic, robotic funky graffiti mural in the Tel Aviv #Israel central bus station | Copyright © 2015 DAVider

The last post included a picture of a graffiti mural at the Tel Aviv central bus station. While the project as a whole received criticism, overall the station still serves thousands of riders every day. The station serves two large bus companies: Dan and Egged. Dan serves the central region of Israel. Here riders transfer mostly from buses and trains (there is a train station walking distance from the station) to destinations usually 20 to 50 kilometers from the city. Egged buses serves mostly the what is referred to as the "peripheral" regions of Israel, outside the central region (Gush Dan). The lower floors serves as a large mall, with the first floor (essentially the basement below ground) as one large shoe emporium. Yes, we have shoes from as low as $5 flip-flops to mid-range stilettos (this phenomena is worth a series of articles all by itself). The sixth floor is the Dan bus lines center. The seventh floor is the Egged bus line center. The murals, sort of graffiti done legally, are on the seventh floor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station

Beautiful mural size "legal graffiti"; Tel Aviv central bus station; 7th floor | 
Copyright © 2015 DAVider

The story of Tel Aviv's "new" central bus station is an interesting one. Tel Aviv's "new" bus station is essentially a neglected and mostly unused "white elephant". Mostly turned into one part bus exchange (not useful due to the neglect of investment in the intercity bus system) - and part outlet and low cost shops mainly catering to foreign workers and young army soldiers. Combination of fast change, with an incredibly fast growth in private car ownership, with slow bureaucratic government decision process, ended up with essentially an outdated central bus station. Located near an old (what Israelis call "THE OLD") open air bus station, makes for a strange and often ridiculed example of the ineptness of Israel's government. Sometimes blamed at the transportation department, sometimes blamed at the ineptness of government to carry out large complex projects. But overall simply and example of what happens in Israel when government (but not only government) stays in one place too long without noticing real life changes. More on this in later posts...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

New Ramat Gan Residential Construction (Kofer Ha'Yeshuv)

Stark contrast between old and new apartment buildings, Ramat Gan, Israel / @ DAVider 2015

Ramat Gan is still building residential units at a fast pace. First builders go after empty lots between existing buildings. They are also looking for older buildings with residents willing to "demolish and rebuild". A program backed by the state to renew older sections of the central region. Israel's central region is densely populated and demand for housing is strong. Housing prices have seen 10% rise in prices year-over-year for over a decade. With government statistics not exactly reflecting real street valuations. This makes affordable housing almost an impossible task for new buyers. High housing prices (including rentals) is pushing new construction at the high-end segment (luxury apartments are being built at a fast pace while affordable construction is very weak). This picture is a contrasting view between apartments in the old style (40 to 50 years ago) to the new construction. In the past, affordable construction was the state's priority. This is not the case with Benyamin Netanyahu's last two terms. Fast cement block and stucco beige outer walls is being replaced by glass and aluminum. Looks aside, very few Israelis are able to buy the new luxury homes.

Yarkon Park Looking at B.S.R. Cluster

B.S.R. building cluster (Abba Hillel @ Ben Gurion in Ramat Gan from Ha'Yarkon Park / @ DAVider 2015

Ramat Gan is the smaller less know city just east of Tel Aviv. It is sometimes considered an alternative (essentially a second choice) for working and living. But the city has been growing and building modern business and residential areas much faster than Tel Aviv and any of the cities nearby. Ha'Yarkon (the green river) park is a big swath of green bordering the northern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Petach Tikva. On a sunny Saturday, parts of the park are busy with families picnicking and cooking on small portable BBQ grills. More on Ha'Yarkon park in future posts.


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!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Modern Klezmer at Simchat Torah

Modern Klezmer kept the horns & added electric guitar and synthesized drumd / @ DAVider 2015

Klezmer music is not what it use to be. At it's roots in eastern Europe, a small band of musicians playing "Klei Zemer" (literally in Hebrew & Yiddish "Musical Instruments"), shortened to 'Klezmer', was comparatively tame to today's rocking new-age style electrified hard beat version. Then it was eastern European folk music adapted to a small group of roving musicians bringing dance music to small community, shtetl events (holidays, weddings, bar-mitzvahs).  The clarinet is still here, front and center, kept for a traditional sound, but losing it's solo leading role. What is new is a heavy synthesized drums, electronic keyboards and a prominent electric guitar beat. Jewish Orthodox events in Israel are often accompanied by a loud rocking group of musicians. The melodies are new, pushed by heavy drum beat and guitar-keyboard combination, closer to mainstream rock than to anything coming out of 1880s eastern Europe. Find your favorite rock-pop-Jewish-Orthodox music on YouTube and comment below.

Simchat Torah Celebration in Givatay'im

Modern and traditional mix at a Simchat Torah celebration / @ DAVider 2015
Simchat Torah [Wikipedia / HE] is a celebration of the start of reading the Torah. The weekly reading of the Torah in Jewish synagogues starts a new cycle. This event is celebrated all around Israel with dancing and sometimes big musical events. This year, the town of Givatay'im (probably with some influence from a newly elected mayor) put on a big event. At the clearing in front of Givatay'im mall (the main commercial attraction in the town). A "modern Klezmer" band followed a short prayer and a political speech from the mayor.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stencilled Graffiti Near Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv

Some small graffiti stencils are designed to promote a product or a message / @ DAVider 2015

Tel Aviv's Graffiti artists are not always out to show their artistic creativity. Some are simply out to promote a product or even an event (a musical concert, street or public gathering). Hidden in side alleys and walls away from the main foot traffic, these small stencils are interesting commentary of some of the hidden culture in Tel Aviv. This small stencil was painted on a wall a block north of Dizengoff Center. One of Tel Aviv's largest shopping malls (and oldest ~ most established one).

Graffiti in Tel Aviv's Gordon Beach

Graffiti in walkway (clearance) above Gordon beach and pool, Tel Aviv beach @ DAVider 2015

Tel Aviv's walls have their share of Graffiti. A few years back street artists were going at it with energy and creativity. To Israelis, Tel Aviv, the big city, is sometimes a world class metropolis. But in reality, the city is too small and tame in international terms. The city also does not have large rundown sections with empty walls ready to be painted. With Israel's continuous economic growth and leveling social support policies, Tel Aviv also does not harbor a large poor population who is constantly at odds with the established government and commercial institutions (government agencies, public institutions and corporations). These factors make for a relatively tame, and some would say, small graffiti activity (at least visible in most public spaces).

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.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Volleyball on Tel Aviv Beach & Jaffa at Sunset

Volleyball games are going strong all the way to sunset on Tel Aviv's Gordon beach @ DAVider 2015

Volleyball games are a permanent fixture on Tel Aviv's Gordon beach. This year's late summer warm weather with the Sukkot holiday dates combined to give players one last chance to go at it. The beaches attract less bathers, especially families with small children. This makes for easier playing conditions. Come to the beach and enjoy the late summer weather.

One Last Dip at Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv

Bathers at the last rays on Gordon Beach (#TelAviv) / 2 Oct. 2015 / @ DAVider 2015
This year's combination of hot late summer with long new year school vacation is giving Tel Avivians a bit longer on the beach. End of summer is less hectic and there is plenty of room to stretch out (or read a book or have a quiet conversation with a friend)  Dogs are not missing out on this one.

Sunset on Gordon Beach

Gordon beach #TelAviv at sunset - Sukkot vacation and warm weather keeps bathers out late / @ DAVider 2015

Gordon beach is a popular destination. It attracts a mix of families, boaters (kayak & wind surfing) and leisurely strollers. A good selection of bars, restaurants and hotels keeps people close by all day long. [see Tel Aviv's municipal beach page] This week, with the Sukkot school vacation and warm weather, is keeping Tel Aviv's beaches busy. Not as busy as the hot summer days, yet pleasant enough for a dip and great to stretch out on the sand. Half empty beaches are great when you need a bit of quiet and more space. Gordon beach is sometimes considered the prototypical Tel Aviv beach. ENJOY!

Friday, October 2, 2015

ZeSushi at Basel Street Square

Eden starting out with a salad at ZeShusi on Basel @ DAVider 2015
ZeSushi (This is Sushi) is a small neighborhood Sushi restaurant at the Basel Street commercial square. For a local restaurant, the food and service are above average. The atmosphere is quiet and on a less busy night there are tables open even during dinner hours. Tel Aviv's love for Sushi has gone through a love affair phase. Then the government decided to limit the number of visas for Japanese Sushi makers. The move a few years ago put a stop to the Sushi craze, but most restaurant kept on going.

Frankie's September Moon

Moon rise over Tel Aviv & Ramat Gan, Frankie's Sept. picture @ DAVider 2015

Moon over Tel Aviv, looking east. Aviv tower in Bursa section, Ramat Gan at the right side (silver tubular building).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

With Jerry at Brasserie

With Jerry @ The Brasserie (see previous post)
I am usually at the other side of the camera. Here is a rare picture of me (with Jerry L.) last week


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ramat Gan Bursa vying for Tel Aviv's FinTechies

Ramat Gan, just east of Tel Aviv is chasing FinTech firms with new attractive construction @ DAVider 2015
While Tel Aviv is undisputedly the location for Israeli FinTech entrepreneurs, Ramat Gan is still chasing the big city technologists and finaciers for attention. Long considered the "orphan child" of the central region, construction at the business areas is moving at a faster clip than anywhere in Tel Aviv. Allegation of cutting lengthy and expensive construction approval processes have been buzzing for decades (actually have turned into a conviction of the last mayor). Yet, the smaller (and much less glitzy) and more affordable city, somehow manages to continue building at a fast pace. There is a new effort to turn the more traditional location, home to banks, insurance companies and financial institutions into a start-up hub. Yet, this illusive goal, of capturing the imagination of the Israeli entrepreneur (and investor) within one location, is still unattainable. But not for the lack of trying. [more on this in future posts]

Monday, September 28, 2015

Breakfast @ Brasserie Ibn Gvirol (#TelAviv)

Standard eggs breakfast at the Brasserie (about 70 NIS) @ DAVider 2015

The Brasserie is the go-to French "Brasserie" in central Tel Aviv. More an adaptation of French light cooking to the Tel Avivian palate than a true to life Parisian brasserie. (70 Ibn Gvirol, Tel Aviv, Open 24 hr/day - 7 day/wk) The simple style and above average attention to detail makes for a great combination. On most Friday & Saturday mornings you will need a reservation to assure a good table. Inside and outside seating is available. A long bar on one side of the room is also busy on most weekend mornings. The Brasserie serves both a breakfast and a dinner menu, but will accommodate breakfast orders later in the day and in the early morning hours.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tel Aviv High-Rise Construction

New hi-rise buildings in north Tel Aviv still going up fast @ DAVider 2015

Tel Aviv construction is still going strong with luxury apartments leading the sector. Parts of the central region, left undeveloped, are now starting to be filled with high-rise buildings. In areas from Tel Aviv to Petach Tikva, buildings with 24 to 32 stories are planned or under construction. Although the Israeli economic statistics are showing almost zero inflation and zero growth, in the construction sector this is now what we see.