Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Day 1: arrival in Tel Aviv
I am Israel! How cool is that?
My flights were quite pleasant. I had to change at Schiphol Amsterdam, an airport I have been to twice previously. I was glad to have a familiar stop-off mid-journey. Flying KLM rather than budget airline was quite an eye-opener: free beer on the flights and a selection of reading materials in a variety of languages (I chose the international edition of the Guardian). The meal was as rubbish as you'd expect, though my mood was slightly lightened by its packaging: the box attempted to sell the company with the inspirational slogan One should eat to live, not live to eat. My sense of irony remains intact.
I arrived at 2.30AM, which was a bit odd - no time to stop and explore the airport or even take in the new sights and sounds, as I made the mad dash to my hostel in order to get as much sleep as possible before being kicked out at 10 the next morning. The one cool thing I did take a moment to capture was the menorah outside Ben Gurion airport (above). Note: you can always enlarge pictures to their full size by clicking on them.
The next morning I ambled through the streets and found Carmel market. I was attempting to read the Hebrew on one cafe when I noticed an elderly gentleman apparently wafting me away with his hand. I apologised and began to move on but realised that the gesture is like a wave - it is attract rather than repel attention. He asked in broken English whether I liked humus and then led me into his friend's establishment.
This was my first Israeli meal. Sadly no felafel, just humus. It was tasty, very smooth, but with no lemon juice - nice but I suspect it will not be the best I have. In case you're wandering, yes those things in the top plate are chunks of raw onion, cut as you would an apple.
I walked to the beach front. Some of the architecture is awesome.
However at points it still feels like a city-in-progress.
I found this bilingual memorial stone. I don't know what language the right side is in (cyrillic?)
The 'Fashion Bar' is not looking its best...
The waves were impressive. Some people were surfing which I imagine to be quite a dangerous pursuit given the proximity of large rock formations.
I discovered where all the cool cats hang out
And found myself drawn to this rock
Can you see why?
(There is a tiny kitten peering out at me)
Happily a few minutes later its mother reclaimed it.
This is the Etzel museum. Etzel were one of the Israeli volunteer forces during the Arab-Israeli struggles prior to the formation of Israel as a state. I felt slightly uncomfortable inside as I have heard differing accounts of the battles, particularly Deir Yassin of which Etzel were an important part. This museum, as is expected, strongly promotes a narrative of liberation, highlighting the wrongs of the Arabian side without admitting any such wrongs on Israel's part.
A playground? No!A public outdoor gym, by the beach. A very good idea though not practical everywhere.
There are many of these house crows in Tel Aviv. They are coloured an attractive black and blue-grey.
Somewhat typical of Tel Aviv, the combination of urban decay and modernism.
I particularly liked this tree in one of the more suburban parts of Tel Aviv.
Eventually I found the train station and made my way to the Moshav in Sedot Micah. I have been here less than 24 hours now, lunchtime is almost over and I will blog again tonight or tomorrow about this place.