A lazy day on the Promenade.

First time visitors to Israel may be surprised to learn that things pretty much close down on Friday afternoon through to Saturday evening. While not all Israelis are observant Jews, the retail trade for the most part keeps Shabbat. You will, however, find many restaurants and cafes open. Just don’t expect to do any shopping or use public transport[1]. Think of Sydney in the late 1960’s when you had to rush up to Woollies before 12 on a Saturday!

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The roads are quiet with less traffic and the din of traffic abates. The streets are less hectic, and everything is slow and peaceful. It might be quiet but if you are into people watching head down to the Shlomo Lahat Promenade which snakes along the Mediterranean coast for a few kilometres from Tel Aviv Port down to Old Jaffa in the south. There is a good choice of eateries and plastic lounge seats on the sand where you can enjoy a beer or glass of wine.

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I spent almost an entire day walking along the Promenade last week and had a great time! I enjoyed classical music, dancing, singing and watching people exercise outdoors.

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A sting trio played a mix of show tunes and classical tunes.

Joggers and power walkers pound down the pavement dodging bike riders. There is a dedicated bike track,although in some of the more narrow sections, it  gets a bit tight so you need to keep an eye out.

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untitled (1 of 1)Surfboards and paddle boards are available for hire, but for an Aussie, the surf was not much to write home about. Speaking of surfing, the sand on the beach is pretty good. Pale gold- grey and small grain size so comfortable on the feet but NOT squeaky! There were people out surfing (in wet suits) but no swimmers. According to the signs, swimming is prohibited.

The Leonardo Art /Hotel building (a disused shopping mall??) which straddles a road has some interesting street art.

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This face had stuck on googly eyes! Never seen that before

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The dancing was fascinating.  Tel Aviv’s answer to boot scooting. A large group of more than 100 people dancing in a circle to traditional folk tunes. I asked a woman in the crowd and she told me it happens every Saturday. Some come alone, some in groups or with their partner.

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There is exercise equipment, a swimming pool and plenty of space for beach volley ball (mostly younger people) or a version of noisy tennis with hard rackets and a small ball (Mostly older people).

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These photos show some of the fun from that day. I would give it a 10 out of 10 for a cheap day out depending on how much you stop and eat and drink. Allow yourself three hours at least. Not so great on a cold, windy wet day but you could visit the Museums that are open if the weather is nasty!

[1] Have a look at this blog post for a summary of what is an isn’t open on Shabbat. It was written in April 2017 but seems a good summary based on my own experience. http://tlvxp.com/eng/shabbat

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Jaffa’s old flea market.

Tel Aviv is a vibrant world city with nightclubs, fine dining and beaches. There are shopping malls and chains stores Iike you will find in nearly every big city. The same marketing and the same high turnover fashion. Hairdressers and shoe shops abound.

If you’d like something a little different, have a look at the old flea market in Yafo (Jaffa). It’s a couple of kilometres south from the city centre right on the Mediterranean coast. Jaffa is the oldest continuously used port. It has a rich history.

From the city’s Central Bus Station get onto Shalma Road and follow it to the end. Or if you are coming from the main shopping district just follow the promenade along the beach and head towards the clock tower which will be in the distance. If you get thirsty there are a few places to stop and have a beer on the sand as well as some public toilets if you go this way.

The markets is a mix of dodgy dross that you could buy at any $2 shop as well as intriguing and amazing collections of old wares. There are also a number of restaurant and catering equipment suppliers in the mix too. On its outer borders are some high end couture and bridal wear stores.

As well as the little shops there is an open market where people come and “declutter”. There are some cafes and eateries to keep you fueled. There are also plenty of photographers!

It well worth a visit and you should allow 2- 3 hours to wander around in addition to the walk to get there.

Street art in Tel Aviv – a photo essay.

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In Neve Tzdek

Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 right next to the ancient city of Jaffa (Yafo), which is the oldest continuously occupied working port in the world[2]. In 2016, there were as many car parks as disco bars[1]. Fifty thousand people accessed the free city wi-fi in public spaces (including me!) Ninety-one percent of the city’s 418,600 residents were Jewish. There were 7000 hotel rooms.  And nearly every surface that can been drawn on hosts some amazing art.

If you have read my other posts you have perhaps figured by now, that my daughter lives in Israel. She moved from Australia about 4 years ago  and at present is living just outside of Tel Aviv.

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I have been to visit five times  and each time I go; I say on my return to God’s own country (Wollongong[3]); “it’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there”.

But truth be told, I think I could live in Tel Aviv.

One of the reasons being;  the amazing street art. It is witty, funny and often poignant. I have  wondered if it was sanctioned or simply tolerated but on reading the city’s official website, I am thinking it is in fact, sanctioned and perhaps even encouraged.

Tel Aviv has an official “brand” and the municipal council lists the brand’s values[4] as:

PLURALISM – Multi-culturalism, accepting and promoting those who are different.

OPEN – A city that believes that it will become a better place if everyone will be able to be who they truly are.

FREEDOM – Freedom of thought, of expression, of choice and of creativity. Above all: the freedom to be yourself.

INNOVATION – A city that leads in all fields shaping the face of Israeli society.

URBAN CREATIVE ENERGY -The place where everyone can express themselves.

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The urban creative energy is evident in the street art. It is EVERYWHERE. I have spent several days playing “Search for Sened”.

 

For me, looking for the cute, cubic cartoon characters that are only about 10 cm high is better fun than Pokemon Go! Often in out-of-the way places they pop-up unexpectedly, but once you have your eye in, you see them everywhere.

 

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These wings, in Jaffa, have an email address next to them. The artist encourages you to take your picture then email him the photo.

The street art is  truly art  – well executed, well planned and colourful. There seems to be very little mindless graffiti or tagging for tagging’s sake. I would recommend a walking tour. Have a look here for a suggested itinerary.

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After a while you will begin to recognise particular artist’s styles.

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Don’t be afraid to head down some darkened corridors – you can find some great work there too.

It is an ever changing canvas, although I have never seen anyone actually doing the work. My next goal will be to find an “artist” at work.

[1] https://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/en/Pages/ArticlePage.aspx?WebID=9336473c-1537-4ab6-8a69-d299b5db8bcc&ListID=b4eda22c-a69a-4bef-9479-05d5a832ad16&ItemId=70

[2] https://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/en/abouttheCity/Pages/history.aspx

[3] Seriously – you should come and visit!

[4] https://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/en/abouttheCity/Pages/TelAvivBrand.aspx