A Slice of Tel Aviv

It’s rather shocking, to myself anyway, that after spending several months in Israel I’d never traveled to Tel Aviv. It became obvious a couple of weeks ago that a trip to this extremely popular, very busy city on the Mediterranean was necessary. And when travel is necessary, it’s necessary. ;) So I hopped on a bus and sped down the highway to Tel Aviv. Since this was a day trip and the city is three hours from where I’m living, it was a short day in the city itself. But now I can say I’ve introduced myself to Tel Aviv. Here’s what I found.

Like most great cities, Tel Aviv is known for shopping, so I expected to run into many way too high priced boutiques on its popular shopping streets of Dizengoff and Sheinken. I’m sure these exist, but what I noticed were block after block of extremely inexpensive racks of clothes sitting outside. The prices were so low I really wished I needed to buy something, but I’m all stocked up on clothing. In this same area is the outdoor Carmel Market where, happily, I found stuff I did need. I was able to bargain down a tube of waterproof mascara from 120 Shekels to 50 and then, after weeks of searching elsewhere, bought a very, very reasonably priced bottle of UV face moisturizer for only 40 Shekels.

Carmel market in Tel Aviv, Israel

Carmel Market is only a few-minute walk from the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean, another huge draw of Tel Aviv. I expected this city to be one of skyscrapers or at least many very tall buildings. It is not. The tallest I found were hotels along the waterfront. I thought their commanding modern presence against a sea so full of ancient history was quite striking.

Buildings butt up against the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel

Even more striking were some of the people on the beach – Israeli soldiers. One of the most powerful and unique vibes of Israel is the omnipresence of soldiers. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them on a beach before, but here they were, fitting in a bit of nice, normal life along with their duty of protecting their country.

IDF soldiers on the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel

In 2008 I did travel to a small portion of Tel Aviv called Jaffa without exploring the rest of the city. I didn’t return this time, but it wasn’t for lack of liking the area. Jaffa is interesting and gorgeous – one of the oldest ports in the world. Today its ancient stones lead the way to chic boutiques and upscale eateries.

The ancient port city of Jaffa in Tel Aviv, Israel

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Tel Aviv was its bicycle friendliness. Its streets are packed with vehicular traffic and its pedestrian areas are plentiful, but bicyclists are still all around.

People riding bikes in a pedestrian area of Tel Aviv

Now that I’ve introduced myself to Tel Aviv, I’ll have to someday return. But it won’t be via a six-hour round trip on a bus, that is for certain.

19 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Nenad says:

    Just the presence of soldiers tells the strong story of the West bank. Rich history of the area continues to erupt in violence among nations living there. Too bad since the location are mind blowing

  2. Erik says:

    I enjoyed Tel Aviv, but I was staying in Jaffa and found myself leaving Tel Aviv early each day so I could spend more time wandering around Jaffa.

    I was also disappointed because I never got any of the awesome sunset photos I’d hoped for. It didn’t rain, but seemed to get cloudy each night right as the sun went down.
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  3. RyukyuMike says:

    Dang, they should let the soldiers swim. Hide the guns under their beach towels !

  4. Sabina says:

    Hi Nenad – the West Bank is great. I’ve been to many interesting locations there. It’s horrible that there’s sometimes violence.

  5. Sabina says:

    Hi Erik, I think Jaffa has more character than Tel Aviv. If I was going to stay in one or the other, I’d pick Jaffa.

  6. Sabina says:

    Ha – I think only when they’re off duty, Mike.

  7. Tel Aviv is so different from Jerusalem, very secular and European, and Jaffa is a great old place with lots of character. I lived in Ramallah for a year, and that was a great experience. I loved the old city, shopping in the narrow streets. People were lovely. Do go there when you get a chance.
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  8. Steve says:

    First off, I found myself nodding in agreement when you said “when travel is necessary, it’s necessary.” Great statement.

    What surprises me most from what you said about Tel Aviv is how bicycle friendly it is. For some reason, I didn’t imagine the city to be like that. It makes me want to go there even more though. I love bicycle friendly cities.

    I’m glad you got to go there though. I’m sure you’ll make it back there again so you can see more of the city. It looks like there is a lot to see.
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  9. Sabina says:

    Steve, it surprised me also. I think it’s the most bicycle friendly city I’ve ever been to. I’m hope you’ll be heading there soon.

  10. Sabina says:

    I’ve been to the West Bank but never Ramallah. I will try to go!

  11. Adam says:

    Ramallah is really nice! It’s easy to do on a day trip as well, but I wish I’d stayed overnight. They apparently opened up a new club a few months back and it was supposed to be good.

  12. Adam says:

    I spent four months living in Tel Aviv and I have to say it’s one of my favorite places (for a lot of reasons). You really should spend more than just a day there! Always surprises me when I hear people say they’re going to Israel but not planning to stay in Tel Aviv (just Jerusalem). Jerusalem is great too, but Tel Aviv is definitely worth more than a day!

  13. Sabina says:

    I didn’t dig it that much. But then again, I hardly experienced it. You’re right. It’s worth more time.

  14. Gray says:

    Nice photos, Sabina! Tel Aviv is really beautiful. Love that beach!

  15. Rouillie Wilkerson says:

    Ah, the city of sin. One day I hope to venture this way, I’ve heard many things…good, bad, and ugly.

  16. Sabina says:

    It is really nice, Gray. You’ll have to go some day.

  17. Sabina says:

    Hi, Rouille – thanks for commenting :) I experienced only the good!

  18. Maya says:

    Tel Aviv is such an amazing city!! You really need to devote at least a week there, even though that is truly not enough. I lived there for a year and still did not discover it all. People watching on the beach boardwalk is one of my favorite activities when I am there.

  19. Sabina says:

    Hi, Maya :) I’ve always heard there is a lot to Tel Aviv. I know I didn’t see much, but I got a feel for it anyway. It’s all right, but I like Jerusalem much better, to be honest.

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