Going to Tel Aviv

Israel Diary, part 2.

Seeing Tel Aviv was one of my main goals for this trip. I'd been to Israel just twice before - the last time was in 1993 - and those were mostly religiously-oriented tours. Jerusalem, Safed (pronounced "Tsfat" but inexplicably spelled "Safed" in English), the Tomb of the Patriarchs, that kind of thing. And that was great.

But I'd never seen Tel Aviv! And later when I would tell Israeli friends that I'd been to Israel, they would say "Did you see Tel Aviv?" And I'd have to say no, and their reaction was always, "WTF?!? How do you go to Israel and not see Tel Aviv?"

So, Tel Aviv it was. I wanted to focus more on the day-to-day, real-world Israel.

So, late last year, I booked a trip to Israel and stayed in Tel Aviv. I stayed at the Maxim Hotel, recommended to me by my friend Michael Totten. I recommend it too. It's comfortable, affordable, and right on the beach. (The name, Maxim, is one of those Hebrew/English puns - 'maqsim' means "enchanting" or "charming" in Hebrew.)

It's also smack in the center of the north/south axis of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is not very big - it's around half the area and population of San Francisco. But unlike San Francisco, Tel Aviv is flat, and very walkable. If you are able-bodied you can reach almost any part of the city on foot.

As I mentioned, my previous visits to Israel had been religiously-oriented, and therefore did not include Tel Aviv. The city is Israel's famously secular, cosmopolitan stronghold.

Two views of the Dan Hotel, Tel Aviv. This isn't where I stayed, but it's a landmark. The rainbow facade of the Dan was designed by the famous Israeli artist Yaakov Agam. The bullseye-patterned walkway is the Lahat Promenade, named after Tel Aviv's longtime mayor Shlomo Lahat.

Joy Division tribute, and Pat Metheny. There is culture in Tel Aviv.