Tel Aviv is one of the cities that don’t make you feel homesick; on the contrary it makes you feel as if you found something you’ve been missing for a long time. Tel Aviv is brimming with life, people spend their free time socializing, relaxing, eating in some of the best restaurants in the world and taking in the unique atmosphere. You could call it the “New Babel”; you can communicate in almost every language known to man in this ancient city. Ancient as in there are records about Jaffa from 18th century BC. The city has a legendary nightlife scene that attracts partygoers from all over the globe. In my law firm we had an IT guy who was working as part-time DJ. In weekends he was spinning records in the best night clubs of Tel Aviv. For sure he made more money and had more fun than me and the other lawyers these days. I remember how envious we all were when we heard his anecdotes about romances with beautiful girls and other adventures at the beginning of a new working week. Also for the non-heterosexual pleasure seekers amongst us, the city is a very good travel destination for long weekends and short holiday breaks. Tel Aviv is a very liberal and tolerant city and particularly gay-friendly. Actually, the iconic “White City” is the whole package: UNESCO listed landmarks, fantastic beaches and the historic port of Jaffa with its Arabic vibe, are just a few examples as to why it’s totally worth the trip.
That is to say: when the time is right and when it’s not raining rockets from Gaza, as is the case at the moment I am writing this piece. I safely assume that rushing to bomb shelters in the middle of the night is not your idea of a relaxing holiday at the Mediterranean Sea. Oh wait, I just heard the Israeli government and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire. So probably when you read this, the missile attacks and bombardments, which have cost more than 240 lives at both sides, have come to an end. But then again it’s just waiting until another crisis or war pops up. I am sorry to sound so cynical and sceptical but the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is one of the world's most enduring and deeply rooted conflicts and almost unsolvable.
You thought only Jerusalem has interesting cultural landmarks? Then you are totally wrong. Tel Aviv centre and especially the Rothschild Boulevard, is packed with the finest Bauhaus buildings dating back to the 30’s of last century. One of the most vibrant and colourful areas is the Yemenite Quarter, which was first settled by Yemenite Jews in the beginning of the 20th century. If you want to try cheap and delicious local street food you need to visit the nearby Carmel Market, which is Tel Aviv's equivalent of the famous Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. Arty boutiques, fashionable restaurants and laid-back coffee bars are mainly concentrated in Neve Tzedek Quarter, an old and fashionable neighbourhood of the city. Here, near the quarter on Rochkach Street, you'll find some cultural hotspots: the Rockach House, housing a small but interesting collection of sculptures, and the Nachum Gutman Art Museum, dedicated to the famous multi-talented Israeli artist who was painter, sculptor and author.
The last time I visited Tel Aviv I stayed in a great Airbnb apartment in Neve Tzedek. The studio was not only as hip as the neighbourhood itself. It also turned out to be situated on the perfect location since I was very close to the beach and the nightlife hotspots in the vibrant area around Rothschild Boulevard as well. Also Jaffa was easily to reach by foot from there. On Sabbath I took a relaxing stroll along the boulevard to the old port city, which took me only 20 minutes. Jaffa/Yaffo was even more charming than I expected. I ended up in a fish restaurant run by locals. It was very busy and incredible chaotic: a true Fauda as Arabs would call it, which is also the name of an awesome Israeli Netflix series. The food was incredible tasty and the portions were huge. Even with the starters only you could have fed a whole family: Israeli hospitality at its very best.
Another atmospherically venue in Neve Tzedek is the HaTachana. This old Ottoman railway station has been renovated and converted in a lovely complex, home to hipster cafés, trendy restaurants and funky designer boutiques. Also the Old Port area, better known as Namal, is popular for its vibrant flea market, exotic wares, charming café’s offering live concerts and street-food stands. Tel Aviv is a one huge sight and it’s more of an experience than a sum of particular landmarks on a list that you cross out while sightseeing. And that’s why the best way to explore it is by foot or a bicycle. The idea is simple for all you non-explorers, spend your days on the beach and your warm evenings cruising around clubs and bars. The main attraction of Tel Aviv lies in its sandy beaches such as Gordon Beach, Frishman Beach, and Banana Beach, all equipped with pleasant facilities. In evenings take as stroll along the Tayelet (paved boardwalk) that connects central Tel Aviv with Jaffa. It is the main promenade and makes the perfect catwalk for the beautiful and fashionable people of Tel Aviv.