September 7th, 2016
We arrived at night. Took the metro from the airport into the city. Exited the train station making our way over a long highway overpass. It would be a two mile walk to our hostel.
My thought processes went as follows:
The buildings look odd. It’s as if when originally built they had been two stories and recently an additional two or three floors has just been dropped on top. The yellow shine from the motor scooters and vehicle headlights paint the buildings from the ground up. Light seems to rise from the asphalt. The street lights, more like dimmers, illuminate a simple warmth instead of brightness. Maybe this is why the buildings, though not sky scrapers, seem to melt into the black sky. Or perhaps because it is humid and hot. End of the over pass. This must be the Ethiopian part of town. Check google maps for directions… Whoa. That corner market has a metal detector and military personnel armed with an assault riffle standing guard. At a corner store?! Yup. That’s odd. “Be vigilant and careful” is what we were advised. Ok. Noted. Be more mindful of our surroundings. Ok… Shit, was I wrong? Am I going to get a fucking “I told you so” if something were to happen to Siobhan? Baaah. We’re only two blocks in. Focus. This place is grimy. It can use some serious pressure washing. Keep walking. More military people patrolling. They kind of remind me of the ones in Mexico, must be the green uniforms and assault rifles. Turn left here. Oh some out door dining. There are a lot of things open late. sweeeet. Note the St. name. Screenshot google map location to return later. Note to self: find some good Ethiopian food around here. There is a lot of curb side dining and drinking. This place is lively. This place is going to be fucking awesome. oh. cool street art. quick photo… There’s our hostel! *
The brief and strange nights introduction was quickly replaced the following morning. A bright Sun dilutes the urban grime and nearly restores the buildings to its White City glory (as it was once known).
We explored nearly every neighborhood of the city in just two days and two nights. By day: Cafe Halutza in the North Jaffa for some incredible shakshuka, the Jerusalem Mix at the Shut Ha Karmel out door market, and a walking tour of old Jaffa. By night: Sputnik Bar, Kuli Alma, and Bar Ochel in the city center area. The bars were amongst the hippest I’ve seen (though keep in mind that due to insane alcohol taxes a red cup of beer will cost $12USD). We also tried Falafel Hakosem for the recommended best shawarma in Jaffa, went for a stroll through a large park complete with zoo, and a sunset walk along the boardwalk…and of course, the beach!
from my muji notebook: Sept 9th 2016, tel aviv
Chilling in a park, Siobhan working on her spanish notebook. There is a hen party (bachelorette) doing yoga things; two one year olds having an inflatable pool party (genius); a miniature zoo; and a boy/girl scout camp
(continuing from the notebook) Walking along the boardwalk around 8pm, Arabic families picnicking in the grass areas with small aluminum rectangle charcoal grills cooking kabobs. Stopped at a cafe for some mint tea and lemon arak.
* In hindsight, the description of my thought process could be applied to an arrival to many unfamiliar cities. Walking out of the greyhound or union station in downtown Los Angeles could have a similar effect. If Tokyo were to have heavily armed personnel manning the streets, it too would conjure up similar thoughts of suspicion (though Tokyo does not).
Tel Aviv was lively, beautiful, young and hip. Personally it was a place that left me with a similar feeling as Lisbon had. This was a place I could see us living for some months in the not to distance early semi retirement future 😉