Destination: Tel Aviv
They call it the White City. Glittering along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in central Israel, the metropolitan area has a population of fewer than 500,000 hip, chic, and funky individuals who have shaped one of the most dynamic and creative cities in the world. Tel Aviv. There are only three words you need to hear in order to fully appreciate this incredible metropolis. Go. There. Now.
The White City moniker stems from the town centre’s collection of over 5000 modernist buildings in the style of the Bauhaus School and Le Corbusier. Despite some setbacks and neglect due to the brash architectural styles of the 60s and 70s, Tel Aviv has managed to preserve its Bauhaus soul.
Only one hour away from the reverent and ancient city of Jerusalem, this is the place where Israel shakes off the biblical past and delves deep into the future. Although, like almost everywhere in this antediluvian country it’s hard to avoid history. Tel Aviv was founded by Jewish refugees in 1909 on the periphery of the extremely ancient port town of Jaffa, where Jonah was swallowed by the whale and King Solomon and Saint Peter hung out, though that was well after Perseus saved Andromeda from the sea monster. Even so, Tel Aviv is a bright and lively cousin to the historically laden and deeply fascinating Jerusalem.
Named as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2003, aficionados of the era will swoon at the pristine examples of a much copied and admired architecture. Here is the real deal, in living colour. Tel Aviv is a city that deeply respects its cultural heritage and actively seeks to enhance, encourage and enjoy home grown and international creativity. It is the place to be if you are interested in all life has to offer: food, art, ideas, and innovation. The best way to grasp an understanding of this eclectic town is to break it down into four of the city’s most celebrated neighbourhoods.
Once a light industrial and commercial zone, Florentin has received some understated attention from authorities turning it into a hub for youthful creatives who have transformed the neighbourhood into a funky, arty and whimsical journey into the city’s innovative soul. It is most compared to Brooklyn and part of the charm is its grimy underside. The pace fluctuates between artistic bursts of inspiration and lazy side walk coffee spots. Home to some of the world’s most respected street artists (Google Dede, Adi Sened, Wonky Monkey, Murielle and Eggplant Kid), the walls are filled with quips, poetry and amazing art. Keep an eye out for Florentin’s Handmade Market for impeccably hand crafted and unique wares, the old Levinsky spice market is a must do and stop off at Cocktail and Dreams for drinks.
A pretty, upmarket residential neighbourhood, Neve Tzedek is full of lovely cobblestone streets, art galleries and designer stores. Grab a pastry from Dallal, a cold pressed juice from Neroli and cruise the streets stopping in at any number of boutiques and galleries. Indulge in a snack and a glass of wine at Jajo Vino before moving on to dinner at Catit, acclaimed chef Meir Adoni’s new venture. For lovers of modern dance, book a show at the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre, home to Israel’s renowned dance companies Batsheva and Inbal.
This is the heart of the city and boasts the biggest concentration of Bauhaus architecture. The tree lined Rothschild Boulevard runs through the middle and is a haven for the flâneur, foodie and pop culture junkie. It’s a hipster’s delight. Drinks at The Social Club or Buxa, food at Rothschild 12 and a low-key night at Jimmy Who? would do as an introduction to this super cool neighbourhood.
This is an ancient Yemenite area and home to the world famous Carmel Market. Try out some handmade Jachun (traditional Yemenite pastry served with crushed tomato, egg and skhug (hot sauce) before moving on to test local artisanal cheeses, pastries, cured meats and all sorts of delectable delights. Take a walk down Shenkin Street for a spot of shopping before getting a taste of the real hummus at any of the traditional stalls in the area.