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"Cosmopolitan Tel Aviv is a must"

frequent_flyer
Submitted by: frequent_flyer Length of trip: Seven to 10 days
Trip taken: December 2006 No. of people on trip: 4 people

Locations visited:

Middle East and Central Asia: Tel Aviv, Israel

Trip Features:
Culture: Ethnic/Religious, Shopping, Museums, Art/Antiques, Landmarks/sightseeing, Music, Culinary/Gastronomy, History
Beach and Nature: Beach

frequent_flyer took this trip with his Immediate family and also recommends this trip for those traveling with their:
> Guy Friends
> Significant other/Spouse
> Girlfriends
> Group of friends

The cost category of this trip was: moderate

TRIP DESCRIPTION

The TV images of the Middle East are the only ones most people see of Israel - how different these are to the reality of a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city. Nestled along the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea this bustling city of over one million people pulsates with activity for all kinds of tourists. Our family found a cosy, modern apartment on Hayarkon St, the main road along the beach where most of the hotels are situated. Rather than pay the crazy prices of these hotels we decided on the apartment with full kitchen, living room and laundry facilites - The Absalom Hotel. Its webpage was easy to navigate and had all the features laid out with photos. We chose the shoulder season which meant that we negotiated a price of around $200 per night .

The Tel Aviv beach stretches out next to the hotel and you can take a wonderful walk along the promenade from the old city of Jaffa (where Jonah set sail from prior to his adventure with the whale)

back to the hotels. The pathway is fully sealed and takes about 2 hours of casual strolling. Along the beach you can see the locals sun bathing, playing their sports and enjoying the many restaurants.

Tel Aviv is a very cosmoploitan city which was established early in the 20th century by European Jews who could not settle in the Arab city of Jaffa. They were determined to replicate as much as possible their European lifestyle and so one sees much architecture, fashion and restaurants with that style.

The lifestyle is much like any European city, with tree-lined avenues and Bahaus homes. Most people live in apartments although these are not tall, averaging 3-4 stories with courtyards. I have to make particular mention of the arts and cultural attributes of Tel Aviv - they are many. If one visits Israelis in their homes, one is struck by the amount of art on their walls. Their apartments are often like mini-galleries and they are proud keepers of exquisite collections, often supplemented by rows of book shelves.

Almost on every corner one finds a gallery or small museum. There seem to be museums for everything -history of Tel Aviv, the army, the Holocaust, immigration, archaeology, the Bible, of previous Presidents or Prime Ministers. You really should allow a lot of time to walk the streets and discover these little gems.

The city has much contrast. North Tel Aviv is probably the most European part of the city where you will find the latest fashions, the best coffee and strudel and chic restaurants. Go the south of the city and you will find a more Middle Eastern feel. This is where the Jews from Arab countries settled when they immigrated. The northern part of the city was too expensive so they settled in new developed parts of the city where apartments were generally taller and more crowded as the need for quick resettlement was paramount. If you walk these streets, you will find a true blend of Western and Eastern culture. Try some great felafel and pita dishes here and don't forget to dip them in houmous. Some of these restaurants are just great.

In between these contrasts is the old city of Jaffa and this is a must-visit place. It has been tastefully restored in its historic setting and buzzes with actiivty. This is worth a day in itself to visit. There are literally scores of galleries, craft shops selling ceramics, tapestries, copper ware and antiques. You have to go to the shop of Frank Meisler who makes the most stunning bronze and pewter models of Jerusalem and biblical characters - his pieces are 3-dimensional complete with moving parts -they are qute distinctive.


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