… it’s love at first sight. I arrived in Tel Aviv late last Sunday night. After waiting for an hour at the passport control area, I finally taxied my way to Rothschild Blvd, home of Marilyn. Our other friend Marie France arrived earlier that day from Brussels. I walked in, heavily packed (apparently very light for Marilyn’s standards). Although you would think that with 3 girls and only 2 bathrooms it would take us ages to get ready, we’re actually doing quite a good job. We have breakfast every morning at Delicatessen (you can read all about Delicatessen in Marilyn’s blog post here). After breakfast we visit all the places this city has to offer us: Yaffo, the beach, the neighborhoods, … It’s refreshing how friendly people are over here! Maybe it has something to do with the sunlight, or maybe it’s just a cultural thing. Whatever it is, it’s a nice break from greyish gloomy wintery Belgium. After one day I already feel like I want to stay here forever. It’s difficult to explain the effect this city has on me. It’s historical and modern at the same time, you can really feel the international vibe but the atmosphere is not stressful or fast paced. I feel free and safe here. You see Israeli Arabs living in the same neighborhood as Israeli Jews, having their morning coffee together. Israeli people are nothing like the world describes them to be. Most of all they give me a warm feeling and every morning I go outside with a smile on my face, meeting new people whom I’m sure I will carry in my heart for a very long time.
Let’s start this post with a little note to my fellow Belgians or should I say Europeans. I wouldn’t be discussing the recent tensions in the Middle East as this is certainly not a political blog. But as apparently everyone seems to own the conflict, I guess I do have a say. Maybe the media are the first to blame as they should stand for “impartial” and “objective” reporting? At university they taught us the media is the watchdog of democracy. Not what I see when I watch Belgian news about Israel. And as for the people’s opinion: maybe I wouldn’t know better either if I’d just watch your news and read your newspapers. But at least I won’t feel I have the right to preach, convince nor judge. I live in Tel Aviv since six years and I still feel I have no right to judge. Because I do not know war. I did not grow up with terror. I did not go to the army. So why do Europeans feel they have the right to? Most of them have probably never even been in Israel. Yes I’m bothered with that hypocritical solidarity. That being said; my blog is about my life, my life in Tel Aviv, both as a stranger and an insider. And I decide to focus on the bright side of it, the creative, the stimulating, the talent; what makes us wake up in the morning and smile. And I can tell you this: Tel Aviv is alive and kickin’. Towers still grow like mushrooms, people going to the beach, party in clubs, eat and drink 24/7, real estate is still unaffordable, there is still no parking and too much traffic, three new boutique hotels just opened around my corner, and the sun still shines…
All photos by me & my broken Ipod touch – maybe soon I’ll get a real camera…
Super Jew is Coming soon – Drawing by Julien Roux
Thank you Theodor Herzl for having created Israel in Israel. Did you know that here we have 300 days of blue skies a year? It’s fall and we reach the 30°. Yes, that is a big deal for a Belgian. And no, I’m not only here for the good weather. What is it that makes this country so special? Why do people leave behind their good lives in far away countries to start over here? It’s loud, it’s chaotic; life can be rough and tough. Welcome to the jungle? It’ll take more than this post to explain the phenomenon and many have tried. Books have been written about the success story of this tiny little country, like this one: Start-up Nation. The book addresses the trillion dollar question: How is it that Israel – a country only 60+ years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources—produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the UK? How is it that Israel has, per person, attracted over twice as much venture capital investment as the US and thirty times more than Europe?
In Israel there are about 7 million inhabitants of which 76% are Jews, 16% Muslims and about 2% Christians, Druze and other religions. Tel Aviv has around 400,000 residents of which half are under the age of 35. How does such a young country create its identity? I can only share with you my perspective. Who are we and who do we want to be? We Wonder, We Wander. Tel Aviv has European and American influences yet is it is Middle-Eastern and Meditteranean. The population consists of immigrants from all over. Ashkenazis, Sefardim, so many roots and cultures mixing in. On a sociological level, many try to define that Israeliness. What is typical Israeli? What does “Rak be’Israel” (only in Israel) really mean? By locals is it mostly used for the bad side; I’m all about balancing it up.
Why is it so difficult to just stand in line here? Because we are ‘The Chosen People’? Why do cars need to honk all the time? What’s with the Chutzpe? Israel. The only country with Katiushes coming from Lebanon, Scuds from Irak, bombshells from Syria, Suicide bombers from Gaza but a bedroom apartment in a dump building is more expensive than in Paris, London or NYC. The only country in which we can build computer programs to fly drones and high technology, but to get a technician for the tv we wait a week and he might show up between 11 and 6. Israel Post. Packages I send/receive in the mail hardly ever arrive. Fed Ex Israel does not deliver packages at all. Making aliyah, going to the bank, dealing with bureaucracy definitely confirm the ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ slogan. And why don’t cars let ambulances pass? Some men go to the beach in their underwear; wtf? Politeness, aesthetics, style, finishing are just not always priorities here (yet?). My daily encounter of having to explain to Israelis I’m not French but Belgian. Why give me an english menu while I just spoke Hebrew with the waitress? Maybe I will always be considered a foreigner here. And in my country of origin. Everywhere. But all by all: I’m in love with Tel Aviv and I do feel at home here!
I used to have a little radio item called Lady be Tel Aviv in a show by two journalist friends Attila Somfalvi and Raz Shechnik on 102fm in which we would discuss these ‘Rak Be’Israel’ items. Every week I’d share some experiences like the above . We’d talk about semantics (and how there is no right translation for certain words like stam, titchadesh, bekarov etslech, baktana) or the advantages of dating an ‘olah chadasha’ (no fighting for family diners) with an accent (quite impossible to have a serious fight). Listen to the Purim item (08-03-2011) or live in the studio (25-03-2011).
“Fragments of Tel Aviv” photos by our special guest photographer Kara Bieber from London. Backed by the Anglo Israel Association, Kara is in Tel Aviv undertaking a major photographic project highlighting the very best of creative talents in the country. Aimed at showcasing Israel’s image as a hub of creativity and innovation, the completed body of work will form an exhibition and possibly an accompanying book which will be launched in London in 2013 . Visit Kara’s website – Facebook page
Tel Aviv is divided into 9 districts that have formed naturally over the city’s history. The oldest of these is Jaffa, the ancient port city out of which Tel Aviv grew. There’s much to write about Jaffa, I’d talk about the flea-market or the ancient city but let’s focus on the port today. The Old Port of Jaffa is reputed to be one of the oldest ports in the world, notably being the port from which Jonah set off in the famous Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. Its long and fascinating history as strategic port in the Eastern Mediterranean continued until only recently when new ports were built south of Tel Aviv in Ashdod and north in Haifa, to cater for modern-day shipping methods. Still functional as a small fishing port, the port is currently a recreational zone featuring many restaurants and cafes with lots cultural and artistic activities.
One of my favorite spots in the Namal (port in Hebrew) is called The Container. The Container is an industrial warehouse from the 1920s that has been converted into an art project space, bar and restaurant, located on the waterfront. The NY times recently wrote: “The space fuses Red Hook grit with Levantine glam, incorporating a sweeping, 45-seat horseshoe-shaped bar under a warehouse-high ceiling that affords nice views of both the oversize wood oven in the open kitchen and the rotating exhibits on the walls. Adding to the mix is a three-times-a-week D.J. set.” And live gigs:
As my brother is coming to visit Tel Aviv again, we set up a little concert there. On Friday July 6th at 10PM, N8n will perform with his Israeli band led by drummer Ori Raz for another night of good vibes by the water, some good old funk and some new ‘raw’ material. People are advised to reserve tables, entrance is free. Join us!
Jaffa Port – photo credit Dani Jordan
The Container by night – photo credit The Container
The Container inside – photo credit Liron Erel
The Container inside – photo credit The Royal Excursion
Quite recently a friend asked me if I was up for decorating and organising her wedding reception, which will take place end of August. The location was already set: a beautiful garden in the city. With more than 2 months time I started my research for the perfect reception. I read a couple of articles online about planning a wedding, and every article said that you have to start planning everything at least 6 months ahead! That kinda stressed me out! There is so much to do and think of! What will be the theme? What furniture will we use? Will it be a walking dinner reception or a seated reception? What music will be played? What lighting? Who will sit where? What if the weather is bad?
Thank God I don’t have to plan it all by myself. I will get by with a little help from my friends 😉
Here are some of our ideas already.
Pictures by Tumblr and Weheartit.com
This is why working in advertising is so much fun. Check out the making of a commercial we shot in March for Gaviscon UK. Do you recognize the train station? Yup, it’s Antwerpen Centraal Railway Station. Judged the world’s fourth greatest train station by the American Newsweek in 2009, this railway station has been used in Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and is now immortalized in this 30″ ad, which kicks heartburn out of this world!
For more pictures: visit Facebook.
Curious for the result? Scroll down!
Last weekend it was time to get my bikini out and go to the Belgian coast! The weather was so nice I even dared to take a little swim! And trust me, for Belgian standards, this is quite unusual. Can’t wait to go back! Of course there was also time for some clubbing! And although we are not a fashion blog i do wanna share my outfit for the night! Do you like it? Do you recognize the pants? 😉 (Just to be clear, i was wearing shoes when we left the apartment).
Hoping to catch some more sunny snapshots soon!
After months of cashmere pullovers, wool scarves (handmade by Marilyn herself of course), thick duffle coats and what else to keep us warm, we can finally shed our winter-skin and bring out the T-shirts. Summer arrived in A-town! Here are some pictures of the first sunny day in Antwerp:
The lovely Alain Deloin
I’ll be visiting the Belgian coast this weekend for sure! You can expect a full picture report 😉
As you might have noticed, these past few weeks i haven’t really been active on our little blog. Main reason? Swamped with work. Anyway, instead of boring you with stories about what i’ve been doing, I’ll just show you:
Contemporary Fashion Days, Antwerp – organized by F.F.I.
Shooting the new Philadelphia cream cheese commercial
PR agency OONA‘s Housewarming
Above and Under: Vascobelo‘s baristabar @ Contemporary Fashion Days Antwerp: great coffee, amazing taste. This pop-up coffee bar was the perfect getaway from my busy life. Thanks to Jaime for taking me there!
Above and Under: N8N‘s performance in Amsterdam. Play that funky music white boy!
A LA PROXIMA!