Anyone who knows me well will be shocked to learn that I went to Israel. On vacation. And despite the moral qualms I had, and still have, I am glad I did it.
I don’t know what I expected from Tel Aviv. Because the trip wasn’t exactly super planned, or even that well thought out, we kind of just landed and went with the flow. All I can say is, Boy am I glad I went. While my view of US policy towards Israel isn’t exactly in line with what American politicians favor, I am very happy I got to go take a look for myself.
Tel Aviv is beautiful and is an incredible mix of steel, surf and old houses; you can sometimes find all three on the same block. There are tourists and immigrants from all over the place, whether French people who have made Aliyah, rowdy American girls in Birthright tours flirting with cute soldiers, or Brazilians flocking to see the holy land.
From the minute I stepped out onto the beach in Tel Aviv, I understood what all the fighting was about: this place is special. And I can’t even begin to imagine how special it is for
those who have lived there for generations (and have been displaced) or for those who despite centuries of displacement fought tooth and nail to go back. In spite of the history, the city manages to hang on to a distinctly laid back vibe, with beaches packed with sunbathers and surfers. Bikes are everywhere, and there seem to be more dogs than people. Everyone is super friendly.
Once we got to exploring a bit, we saw a city that had an incredible air of permissiveness that I wouldn’t have expected in a Middle Eastern city. My personal favorites were the shopping areas in the newly rehabilitated Jaffa, where Israel designers sell beautiful clothes, and jewelry, the hummus and falafel that were sold in little stands all over the city and the graffiti in the gritty Florentin district. Finally, with its vegan restaurants, innovative art and design studios, and Cheb Khaled blasting from every radio, the city is definitely an amazing destination for creatives of all stripes who are looking for different sources of inspiration.