Tel-a-visitor: Impressions of Tel Aviv by Peter Monbailleu
guestblog by Peter Monbailleu – www.shakalaka.be
Fan for Life
Coming to Tel Aviv always feels like coming home to me, even though I am not Jewish. Originally arriving to the city very hesitantly – like many people, I’m sure – it took just a few hours to turn me into a fan for life. Was it the comfortable climate? Was it the warmth of its people? Was it its glorious food? Make it a combination of all of the above. Either way, since then, I have visited the white city many times. It became one of my getaway cities over time, a place where I can come to hide from the everyday hustle of a promoter’s life, a city that gives me energy and inspiration while at the same time relaxing me more than any other place.
Sharing the city
For my girlfriend and travel companion, it was her first visit to this mostly unknown, hidden treasure. It was fun to share some of my favorite spots and discovering some new ones, because Tel Aviv is a city that is constantly changing while maintaining its vibe.
Tel Aviv is only about an hour away from Jerusalem so a visit to the holy city was inevitable. Our guide Karen was very well informed about all matters from the past and from today. She took us to some unique viewpoints and even into places where you would never come as a regular tourist. Jerusalem has always been a complicated city and it will probably always remain that way. But all its diversity is what makes it what it is today.
When can we go again?
We’re on the plane home now and while at the beginning of the trip there seemed so many days ahead, now it feels like they went by too fast. We’re already looking forward to our next stay and yes, I promise to get in touch with my friends there before landing. Sorry guys.
Thank you Marilyn for the tips. Thank you Melissa for arranging the tour guide. Thank you Iris for breakfast and ever lasting friendship.
Peter Monbailleu – www.shakalaka.be
TEL AVIV WINS WORLD SMART CITY AWARD
Tel Aviv wins first place in the World Smart Cities Award at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, beating the 250 other cities who competed in the competition.
The Smart City Expo World Congress is considered the leading conference in the world for smart city innovation. Tel Aviv hosted a booth at the congress displaying the city’s smart technologies with companies such as Motorola Solutions Israel, TSG (Ness) and Microsoft.
Tel Aviv, the startup city, ranked one of the most innovative cities in the world by Citibank and the Wall Street Journal, has leveraged its high-tech ecosystem to facilitate its transformation into a smart city. In the last 2 years, the city has undergone a digital revolution, including the launching of the city residents’ membership club Digi-Tel, free Wi-fi across the city and more.
These initiatives improve municipal services, enhance residents’ quality of life and create the conditions for sustainable urban development. Above all, they exemplify the city’s active, intelligent role in employing technology to heighten civic engagement and ensure a city which is accessible and responsive to all.
Check out a video clip about DigiTel here and read about Tel Aviv’s smart city policies here
Discovering Israel: Jerusalem, Dead Sea and the North
Here are some suggestions for those interested in discovering Israel. If you book a vacation for a week or ten days you can stay in Tel Aviv and enjoy the city and the beach life. Then take a few days to visit the country:
Renting a car is easy and cheap (Suncar) and all road signs are in English, Arabic and Hebrew so you shouln’t worry about getting lost. If you only plan on visiting Jerusalem then you could use public transportation like the bus, the service taxis departing from Tel Aviv’s central bus station or the train. In Jerusalem make sure to visit the Old City including the Wailing Wall, the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Quarters in the narrow streets and the Church of the Saint Sepulchre. You should also visit Mount Scopus, the Mahane Yehuda food market, The Knesset (Parliament), Yad Vashem and the Eretz Israel museum. Contact us for more info and we can find you a guide in any language.
Food: MachneYuda, Mamilla, quick food joints Accommodation: Mamilla, King David Hotel, Scottish Guesthouse, Dan Boutique Hotel
Get inspired and watch the Simpsons’ visit to the Holy Land
The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth and almost one of the official wonders of the world. It is a natural spa with many benefits for the skin. Located more than 400 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is an experience; from rubbing mud on your skin till floating in the sea reading a book.
Another amazing place to visit in that area is Massada. ‘Massada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau (akin to a mesa) on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, theSiege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Jewish rebels and their families hiding there.’ (source: Wikipedia) You can walk the snake path up and down, many do it on sunrise or sunset for its beauty and also because of the heat. For the lazy ones: there is a cable cart.
Accommodation: Ein Gedi Hotel, Isrotel Dead Sea
In the North you can make various trips to the Galil (Nazareth, Sea of Galilea, Jordan River), to the Golan Heights, to Caesarea, Haifa and Acco. Many accommodation options vary from “Zimmer” (guesthouses or luxury bungalows) to resorts.
view from Sof Haderech somewhere in the North…
More info and customized visits on request: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reflecting on Antwerp
The only good thing about rain is the way it reflects the city. Since I am from Belgium and rain is as common here as sunshine in Israel, I get a lot of opportunities to shoot some very cool pictures. This is Antwerp, from another perspective (or should i say: reflective).
All pictures by © Sien Josephine
First visit to Tel Aviv?
“Shalom” and welcome to Tel Aviv תֵּל־אָבִיב تل أبيب-يافا
This is “Marilyn’s-all-you-need-to-know-about-TLV” guide for your first visit:
Tel Aviv is the second most populous city in Israel. It has a population of 410,000 of which over 50% are aged between 25 and 45 thus making Tel Aviv one of the youngest cities in the world. The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in central-west Israel, containing 42% of Israel’s population. Tel Aviv was founded by the Jewish community on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa in 1909. Tel Aviv and Jaffa were merged into a single municipality in 1950, two years after the establishment of the State of Israel. Tel Aviv’s White City, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, comprises the world’s largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings. Tel Aviv is an economic hub and it is the country’s financial capital. Tel Aviv has the second-largest economy in the Middle East after Dubai, and is the 31st most expensive city in the world. With 2.5 million international visitors annually, Tel Aviv is the fifth-most-visited city in the Middle East and Africa. It is known as “the city that never sleeps” and a “party capital” due to its thriving nightlife, young atmosphere and famous 24-hour culture. Like they say: “Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays” (more info: WikiPedia)
When you land at Ben Gurion International Airport – yes there’s free WiFi – please consider the security procedures and be patient: it’s nothing personal and unfortunately in Israel it’s no paranoia but a must to keep us safe. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the English edition of Time out on your way out by the luggage pick-up. To get to Tel Aviv you can either take a taxi that shouldn’t cost more than 150NIS* or the train for about 15NIS (*New Israeli Shekel). Rates for the shekel are: 1EURO=4,7NIS or 1USD=3,6NIS. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the exit of the airport. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in booking airport escort services and/or vans, buses or other vehicles.
you can book a hotel room varying from a top leading hotel chain to a hostel (our favorite hotel is of course the Brown Hotel and you can get special discounts and upgrades if you book via us) or rent an apartment via AirBNB or Tellavista
walk, bike (sharing bike service Tel-o-Fun) or drive: taxis are easy to find and not too expensive although they may try to raise the price when they notice you’re a tourist. Renting a car is not too expensive either but makes more sense if you plan to visit Jerusalem, the Dead Sea etc. In the city I’d suggest the “monit sherut” which are those little yellow taxibuses (share taxis) ; the main lines are the 4 (Ben Yehuda&Allenby Street) and the 5 (Dizengoff&Rothschild Street). They follow the bus track but they stop wherever you call them to. Cost: 6NIS and the money can be passed on from and to the back through the hands of fellow passengers. Have a look on the map to get a better picture of the city.
definitely visit the Rothschild area, Neve Tzedek and Jaffa
check out our TOP 5 food post and keep in mind many places are open late night and some even 24/7
Bars & nightlife coming soon
Some Hebrew words
- שלום shalom hello & goodbye (and peace)
- מה נשמע ma nishma? how are you?
- תודה toda thank you
- בבקשה bevakasha please or there you go
- סליחה slicha sorry (not as widely used as should be)
- בסדר beseder ok
- יאלה yalla very important word yalla yalla yalla meaning let’s go or move it
- Sababa is probably THE word that will get you everywhere and it mainly depends on how you say it. Literally it means cool but just use it in the tone of your mood. So if you’re happy just say Sababa in a happy way, and if you’re not just say Sababa in sad way and so on.
Tel Aviv has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate with mild rainy winters. Humidity tends to be high year-round due to sea breeze. Girls: this means that from June to October you mostly sweat so just forget about your hairdoe. In winter, average temperatures typically range from 9 °C (48 °F) to 17 °C (63 °F). In summer, average temperatures typically range from 24 °C (75 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F). Heatwaves are most common during spring, with temperatures as high as 35 °C (95 °F). There are barely any days in the year without sunshine, and even during the winter there are many clear days. 300 days of blue skies!
Excursion Depending on the length of your stay you can of course visit other places in Israel like Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Eilat, the North (Galil, Golan, Tiberias, Acco, Haifa) etc. I suggest a day trip combining Jerusalem and the Dead Sea with a rented car or guide with a vehicle. In the North I’m a fan of the Tiberias lake (sweet water) and the beautiful green nature.
about Israel Area: 22,072 km², population: about 7 million inhabitants – 76,1% Jewish; 16,2% Muslim; 2,1% Christian; 1,6% Druze; 3,9% other, official languages: Hebrew and Arabic – though English is widely spoken and more and more French too, date of Establishment: 14th of May 1948, currency = New Israeli Shekel NIS or ₪
Sunset happiness at Brown Hotel
When Tel Aviv is as hot and humid as can be in July and August, cool spots are a must. Some days you can’t even leave the AC until late afternoon. Then you can finally find a little sea breeze and enjoy the sunset. And if you want to add more charm to this experience, go to the Brown Hotel’s rooftop and combine it with a cocktail.
This is how the Design Hotels website describes the Brown Hotel: “Behind the facade of a former bank is the intimate Brown TLV – a hotel defined by its rich chocolate-and-caramel colored walls, dark wood floors, and vintage-inspired furniture. It belongs to young hotel entrepreneurs, Leon Avigad and Nitzan Perry. In the lobby, tufted leather couches, low-slung chairs, and a floor-to-ceiling bookcase produce a more intimate urban experience than the bright, extroverted city outside its doors. Throughout, delicate details and provocative gestures meet: the diaphanous drapes of a canopied bed fall just next to black marble bathroom floors. Above its perfectly-tailored 30 rooms, a rooftop deck with lounge chairs, open-air showers, and white umbrellas invites guests back out into the Mediterranean sun and to reconnect with a bustling Tel Aviv below.”
The Brown Hotel is not just the coolest urban boutique hotel in town. The rooftop with panoramic view on the city serves as daytime sundeck and nighttime bar (also for sophisticated private events). The spa offers good massage deals either in the spa or on the rooftop. And beach lovers can even get their own little brown bag.
Brown Hotel Tel Aviv, 25 Kalisher St, 65165 Tel Aviv-Yafo 03-717-0200 www.browntlv.com photo credits: Brown Hotel