Coastal escapism.

I needed out.
Out of walls, weapons, checkpoints and people convinced of being on first-name-terms with God. I needed a place where bigots were rarer than pandas, alcohol plentiful and the attitude on weed lax.
I needed Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv is everything I like of Israel and its people. It’s a worthy capital – if not in true sense at least morally – to the culture who’s given us relativity, Google, the polio vaccine and Beastie Boys: a city of go-getters, of solution-finders, of smart people that have a hard time respecting queues and not speaking their minds. Plus, they seem to have a highly commendable inclination to driving Alfas.
Click on any photo to start the slideshow.
From the central bus station, where the sherut drops us, to my hotel Tel Aviv flows in a grid of joyous, lively shabbiness. My hotel sits on the edge between lively-but-run-down and edgy. A building site for a mass-transit station is the promise of gentrification to come, but for now it’s mostly young lads having a drink at the bars downstairs.
Click on any photo to start the slideshow.
Further down the road is a series of quaint villas and turn-of-the-century buildings built with flair and care, most of them adorned with the sort of boutiques that don’t ever seem to be finalising a sale. Here and there are demonstrations of the unexpected turns of history: the house of Tel Aviv’s founder is now a sushi restaurant. A bomb-making facility that would normally be raided by anti-terror police is now a stop on the city’s Independence trail. Relativity, I guess.
Click on any photo to start the slideshow.
It’s a blustery day. The sea has mellowed the weather but wind and rain land in waves like Tom Hanks in Normandy and we can’t do anything but taking it on the chin. Red signs plaster the beach, warning against going out for a swim: in fairness, why would you. The Mediterranean has morphed into a relentless beast, lashing at the chain, foaming at the mouth in an incessant torrent of breakers. Black rags of cloud cruise in the sky trailing tentacles of rain like flying medusas. It’s great.
Click on any photo to start the slideshow.
I take refuge back into the city. Boulevard Rothschild is a quiet, tranquil affair of families going on a post-prandial stroll and youngsters eating out. If it feels eerily familiar it’s because it is. The park behind my first home might’ve had birch trees but the buildings around are exactly the same. Same rounded balconies, same roll-up shutters, same cedar-green plaster. Who knows, perhaps there’s even a kid in a yellow beanie hat peddling up and down in his toy Testarossa.
Click on any photo to start the slideshow.
Tel Aviv isn’t pretty and there are some serious crimes against architecture (exhibits A and B below), but it’s likeable. What’s not to like of a city where there are bars playing the Supremes as the roads echo of waves and the air is rich with the musty smell of sea? What’s not to like of a place where there’s no zealot ordering this AM-PM shut so that I can buy hummus, pita, beer and strawberries?
Click on any photo to start the slideshow.
Back at the beach the sun is blinding Yafo whilst, further up, we sit in a twilight zone of sorts, suspended between darkness and light. Surfers bob on their boards as they wait for a decent wave whilst kite surfers, spurred by the wind, are having an absolute corker gliding up and down the coast in a carousel of hypnotic beauty.
Click on any photo to start the slideshow.

Then, it’s all over. Another one of those flying medusas – a particularly big, gnarly one – veers over above us, unleashing a tsunami of wind. I retreat towards the hotel, listening to the rain pattering my anorak like Georgie Denbrough in the first pages of It, just without Pennywise offering a balloon from the gutters (quick glance at the nearest storm drain). Now, how about that hummus.
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21 Responses to Coastal escapism.

  1. Bama says:

    Many people compare Tel Aviv with Beirut as both are often dubbed the entertainment capitals and liberal oases in an otherwise conservative region. What do you think of this comparison? I’ve been curious about Israel’s commercial capital because from what I read it sounds like this city is a whole different world compared to Jerusalem although both are only 54 km apart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      It’s a wholly different world from Jerusalem and, were it not for the fact that Jerusalem has so much memories echoing from my own past and education, I’d spend all my time in Israel over in Tel Aviv and not there.
      As for Beirut and Tel Aviv… I think the two cities are very different. Somebody called Tel Aviv the most American city in the Middle East and I agree. Beirut is unequivocally Arab, perhaps with a bit of French flair.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. J.D. Riso says:

    Great photos. I found Tel Aviv to be very laid back, especially after a few days in Jerusalem. The architecture reminded me of retro Beverly Hills, but not as well-maintained.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. varasc says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. Bravo! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave Ply says:

    A certain irony there: you finally get to a place where you can escape zealots convinced of being on first-name-terms with God and what do you encounter? God rays. Nice pics.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I missed out on Tel Aviv way back when I was in Israel, opting to spend time in Jerusalem instead. Looks like a cool place. I like your stormy/sunny ocean photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Tel Aviv. Your post really does a good job of showing the contrasting beauty and grittiness of this city.I particularly like your photos of the architecture, good and bad and everything inbetween. I think the more time one spends there, the more it grows on you. Also Jaffa is nearby and that’s a delight. There are good museums, good restaurants, a certain Tel Aviv vibe, and it is the most vegan friendly city in the world! Good post, thanks for taking me back…


    Liked by 1 person

  7. lexklein says:

    Everything Peta said ^^!

    I enjoyed both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv way more than I expected to, but Tel Aviv was the bigger surprise. For me it was the seaside and the food … a heavenly combo.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. equinoxio21 says:

    The Supremes and the crash of waves… Right on!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Of course the world needs Tel Aviv. Great photos

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Very detailed post. Reminded me of my trip to Tel Aviv…This is really a great place! Your photos moved me there … Thank you!


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