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Where have all the cars gone? There are bikes instead!

While all the cars are not gone from Tel Aviv, the new public access “rent-a-bikes” have inspired us to write about some great bike routes right here in Tel Aviv. I’ll give you the scoop on a great beachside bike route that’ll take you through afternoon straight to the sunset complete with a light meal before we go crazy in the bars on Rothschild!  And yeah, there’s also a night route for anyone who wants to do the route backwards… and it’s highly recommended!  Riding drunk, downhill… don’t worry, there’s a nearby hospital.

tied to every tree in the city - tel-aviv bicycle

Before we talk about the riding, here’s a couple of interesting factoids about using the city’s bikes and bike routes/lanes that might tempt you veteran night owls to join the healthy, drunk riding on Tel Aviv’s streets.

To date, one hundred kilometers of illuminated bike paths have been paved throughout the city.

During the 2011-2012 year, the city is planning to pave tens more kilometers of paths as part of a 100-million shekel project paid for by taxpayers. There is some criticism about the dangers present on some of the bike paths, especially near bus stops, so be careful!

bikes for free - hotel on yarkon street

So, I ask myself why I am awake all night and sleeping during the day, while I can be managing the execution of an engineering project in the field of municipal planning?!  I have 8 years of real experience biking on all the existing bike paths in the city, and riding on many of the paths before they were even paved, before any municipal engineer said, “Ah, these cute kids are riding here already, let’s pave them a real path”.

In April of 2011, the municipality, together with a private company, established a computerized system of bike rentals throughout the city that would even put the Iranian nuclear program to shame!  The idea for the project was imported from big cities in Europe and has since gained a lot of momentum.  Today, you’ll find firefighters, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, bartenders (and any other psycho, regardless of profession, who’s willing to ride in 30 (86) degree heat) is using this service.

use your visa - take a bike - enjoy!

The city’s rental system has a number of sign-up options.  You can rent for a day or longer and the prices range between 14 and 240 shekels.

The bike use is limited to 30 minutes, and after this period you have to return the bike to one of the rental stops around the city and wait 10 minutes (don’t ask me why), and only then are you able to keep using the bike.  Any use in excess of 30 minutes (without returning to a rental station) will cost money – a lot of money – so keep your eye on your watch.

For a second I thought there wasn’t a capitalist motive for this project, but the truth of the matter is, like with many thoughts lately, I was wrong.  Perhaps my true calling in life is just to go to the beach in the evening, drink at night, eat well, and if I’m really energetic, perhaps even to be loved by a young maiden, though as it says on the instructions of my medication, “it is very rare.”

The use of municipal bikes is timely, and it’s easy to get from point A to point B.  The purpose is to reduce the use of automobiles among city residents, and also to provide transportation for those with less means.  I don’t know if it’s particularly comfortable for tourists who are going along some sort of planned tourist path.  For planned tourist paths, I will suggest specific recommended stores later on.

Article by: Uli Greenberg

My recommended bicycle routes, Coming soon – Stay tuned 🙂

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A Mid-Summer’s Night Protest – Tel Avivians Take to the Streets for Social Justice!

With all the fun Tel Aviv has to offer – parties, cafes, the beach, and more – I never really felt like I was living in one of the world’s real big cities.  But this summer, there’s something new in town, something that we’ve never had before that has completely changed the Tel Aviv summer scene – a huge, sweeping social protest.

What started as a bunch of tents on one street became a protest of every deprived group in the country, and the mass protests this Saturday night were an amazing and crazy powerful expression of the overall sentiment of the public.  I know that this is taking place throughout the country and not only in Tel Aviv – but to feel is here in my home city feels great and makes me really happy. I live here, this is my protest, and it’s my right to feel that beyond the great importance of this protest – it’s also quite enjoyable.

A few streets away from the gathering area by HaBima Square (The Orchestra Plaza), hordes of people joined me as we marched in the direction of the start of the protest.  When I arrived, I literally felt like I was swimming in a sea of people.  My friends and I were lucky to realize that the cellular networks wouldn’t be able to handle the overload of people and we had set a meeting place in advance.  It was still extremely difficult not to get lost among the massive hordes of people.

The noise made by the crowd, the chants shouted out, and the songs heard from a distance, raised the energy of the crowd, which was really felt by all.  Strangers smiled to one another, made noise, and flooded the streets as they all marched towards the main stage by the Kirya (the government compound).  Everyone shared good vibes, and everyone was happy and excited.  There I was, out on a hot night in August, sweating, screaming, trying to hear the speeches, and enjoying some free concerts from the artists who had volunteered to come.  It was such an amazing feeling to be part of something so powerful that is so in touch with my personal life in the city and country I choose to live in.

It’s a shame that the organizers thought of everything except water canons to shoot water on the boiling-hot crowd.  I would have totally thanked anyone who would have just thrown some sort of cold drink to me.  Towards the end, when the over-crowdedness was too much to handle, we moved to the edge to get some air.  Afterwards, we sat on the curb to drink a little and talk about the protest itself, and about the fact that this was one of the best outings of the summer – certainly the most just.

Since it doesn’t look like the government is going to be talking this protest very seriously, and since the tent-dwellers on Rothschild Boulevard said they would stay for as many months as necessary, it seems that in the coming months we’re all going to have another chance to see this amazing aspect of Tel Aviv in action.  See you next weekend!

To understand more about the reasons of this protests visit here >>

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White Nights in Tel Aviv City – a bauhaus celebration

In order for me to even be able to begin to speak about the insufferable event that is pushed on to us, the citizens of Tel Aviv, every year, we really should find out how exactly it all came about.  To do this I turned to my Google God to investigate this phenomenon.  This is what I found on Wikipedia:

Layla Lavan (White Night) event is celebrated all over Tel Aviv since 2003, when the “White City” of Tel Aviv was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO.  Because of the award and the initiative of municipality of Tel Aviv, every summer is welcomed by an entire night (and a few hours before and after) bars/clubs, stores and cultural and establishments in the city have lowered prices or are free and in the arts there are shows of all types—music, dance, theater, film, video art, and exhibitions.  Some of the performances are under the night sky or on the beach.

At first glance it would seem that this may be an exciting cultural event that emphasizes the uniqueness of our beautiful Tel Aviv, however like almost everything else here, the difference between what is perceived and the actual reality is definitely coincidental.

Lets begin from a completely basic standpoint before we actually talk about the actual event. We, and I’m speaking in the name of most Tel Aviv citizens, really do love our city.  It’s not for nothing that some of us have coined it “the country of Tel Aviv” as a shameful nickname for our observance of isolation from the rest of the country.  We like it that way, it’s not important why at the moment; it can be interpreted in different ways. Therefore, we really don’t like, in laments terms, mass events that may cluster our dear country together.

White Night is just another one of those mass events.  To be honest, I just never really got it. People flood the boulevards, the streets, and every corner there’s something else going on.  Beginning with cotton candy, or beer, food, clothes, another massive street party and it all just keeps going on and on all night long, for no apparent reason.

Everyone you could possibly think of is also there.  Gives you the feeling that the entire country of Israel was stuffed one night into the city and they aren’t planning on leaving.

So, of course, this is undoubtedly going to seem like an amazing happening, because, for them, Tel Aviv is magical and full of surprises, wherever you are, and whenever you go, and this night has another kind of magic all on its own.  The perfect combination of opposites, nighttime and noise creates a bewitching buzz that manager to take over people.

And at any given time or point in the night you can find what you looking for, because there is everything.  However at certain time in the night the only thing you’re really going to be looking for is a dark corner to throw-up in due to the massive cheap alcohol intake that you forced down your throat, but that’s all just semantics.

Everything is really all well and good. In theory.

But they aren’t fooling anyone. Another White Night doesn’t do it for me, I have seen them all, and not because I’m especially cool, but because that’s just the city we live in.

I prepare for this night like I would a battle. A month before, when there is a confirmed date, I begin to panic.  Immediately afterwards I find out if there is a street party planned in my neighborhood.  Only after I find out that a party will not be taking place where I live that year I sigh a sigh of relief that the noise won’t be directly under my house.  The next phase is my pathetic attempt to be part of the entire thing.  Every year I say to myself “Chen, maybe this year climb down your mount Olympus and try to be a part of it, what could possibly happen?” and every year I really do try.  I find out about different parties, which places are worth a leaving my house for, and it’s like I’m lying to myself every time, because when the night come around, I get dressed, prepare myself for the unknown and adventure coupled with doubt and go out into the streets.

I’m sure most of you are waiting to hear a sort of happy ending, about my understanding that I was actually completely wrong and how this night is actually everything that is good about this city, but no.

Party on every corner - white night TLV

Already during the first interaction between me and the street my snobbism take over and I feel like everyone around me are just like unwanted guests in my home.  There’s noise, a lot of it, nowhere to sit, or even just to stand, and I start o get annoyed.  I look for myself within this thing around me, because it obviously can’t just be me that’s suffering while everyone else is having fun.  So I continue to just walk around in the street, just like them, looking for something.  Everything is colorful, and big, and happy, and drunk, and for one moment I do see the magic that everyone else speaks of, I join the in on the fun for nothing, just trying to be happy.

But that magic is cut off the first second I see someone peeing on a building, or running drunk between moving cars.

How did it happen that we, the citizens of Tel Aviv, living in the epicenter of noise, are thirsty for some quiet?  How can it be that we close ourselves up in our houses during the huge mass events, just waiting for it to be over?

I will speak only for myself. It’s not that I’ve gotten old, or that I’ve gotten my fill, or that I have just become another snobby and bitter Tel-Avivit.  I just simply believe that Tel Aviv should not be put on display.  A look in on one drunken night will never do justice to this city.  The beauty is in the little things here.  In the pretty sunsets on Alma beach, night strolls in Yaffo, impromptu shows by amateurs at a juice shop in Florentine, the darkness of the Cat&Dog underground to the light of the Armadillo pub, in the noise, in the quiet, in the freedom, and mostly in the conflicted lives of each and every one of Tel-Aviv’s citizens.

So for one night, I don’t really care that everyone else has a little fun, because they’ll never really understand.  I guess the dream of a “big city experience” for the rest of us is like watching Kate and William getting married; a far away fantasy that will never come true.

All the rest, the ones who are “living the dream”, don’t be surprised to find out that sometimes, the dream, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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TA watering holes: Hipster Nation II

Volume II

What: Taxidermy Bar

Where: HaRakevet 16 (near Yehuda Halevi street)

When: Every night…usually begins to pick up around 11

A room filled with dead, stuffed animals on walls isn’t usually my idea of a fun place to hang around in BUT I’ll make an exception for the Taxidermy bar.  This bar is hidden in a dark, quiet, parking lot and not every Tel Avivi knows it exists even though it’s been around for over a year.   The music is awesome and the good vibes of the customers and staff rounds out the Taxidermy experience to an A++.

On any given night the DJ’s are bound to blow you away with an ice cream sundae of music; rock sprinkled with the classics, topped off with the latest indies sensations, with electro swirled in and the cherry on top is undoubtedly the fact that there is no way you’ll hear any mainstream hits that you mostly likely hear 30 times on the radio that day.  The other  “Taxi” inhabitants make the night even more worth it, giving you the feeling that you been transported to a realm of super coolness, where everyone reeks of hipster energy.

The bar itself is just another aspect that will make you want to visit this spot on at least once a week.  Like I said before, as a vegetarian and an animal lover it’s a bit unnerving for me to be in a dark space covered in animal carcass and such but I just can’t enough of the big black couches and the outside garden area that would make anyone feel like you’re at house party, you know the kind that you talk about for days.

There won’t be a time that you get to the Taxidermy and feel bored or want to make it an early night, there’s always someone to talk to or a good looking bartender making sure your cup is never empty, whether you’re walking, stumbling, or being carried out you’ll have a smile on your face and hankering for more.  This bar is definitely worth a visit, or two or three, whatever you do in Tel-Aviv, hipster or not make it your business to check it out!

Rating on the Hipst-o-meter: Medium (fun for everyone!)