Rothschild Boulevard, running through the heart of Tel Aviv, is surely one of the great streetscapes of the world. A broad avenue lined with ficus trees and a combination of Bauhaus and mid-century modern architecture, Rothschild is where hipsters, business people, and visitors all blend into the melting pot that is modern Tel Aviv. It's such a defining image of the city that Absolut Vodka commissioned an image of the street as a part of its International Cities series of designer bottles.
Therefore, a stroll or bike ride along Rothschild Boulevard is one of the first activities all visitors to this beautiful Mediterranean city just have to experience. Its inviting park benches and gathering spaces are among the more than eight percent of land mass in Tel Aviv that is devoted to parks and gardens. But it's just one aspect of the city that always seems to delight and surprise first time visitors.
The two Hebrew words "tel" and "aviv" roughly translate into English as old and new, which are certainly appropriate words to describe the second largest city in Israel. Although it was founded in 1909, Tel Aviv is not really that old in comparison to the rest of civilization in this part of the world, where things date back 5,000 years or more. It's almost impossible to plant a rose bush without the necessity of an archeologist to survey the surroundings.
To experience the old of this municipality, spend at least a full day exploring the art galleries, restaurants, and public spaces of Jaffa. Technically a city unto itself, Jaffa and Tel Aviv have grown together and are linked with great public transportation, bike trails, and community events. Biblically, the port of Jaffa is where Jonah tried to set out on the Mediterranean in an attempt to escape God and was eaten by the whale. Therefore, you'll see the image of a whale in many public places, including outside the home and gallery/museum of Ilana Goor.
One of Israel's most respected artists with work in studios, galleries, and public places around the world, Ilana Goor was one of the first artists to settle in Old Jaffa in the 1990's, thus launching a rebirth of this community. Summer concerts on the museum's roof top, overlooking the Mediterranean, are among the more enjoyable reasons to explore this neighborhood.
But you'll always hear music, smell something good, and see items worth buying or investigating while wandering around this ancient and modern area.
Another gathering spot that brings visitors and locals together is Hatachana, Tel Aviv's old train station. Located in the colorful Neve Tzedek neighborhood, the train station dates to 1892, a good 20 years before Tel Aviv itself was founded. It's not a massive train station, but the experience expands to old rail cars that are home to small cafes or unusual boutiques and former warehouses that now feature art and fashion centers.
One particular shop appeals to locals as well as visitors to the city: Made in TLV. As the name suggests, everything is made in Tel Aviv, which includes practical clothing to unexpected souvenirs. Nothing tacky here these are souvenirs that make a statement about a modern, exciting city.
Plan your itinerary to visit Hatachana on Thursday afternoon and evening. That's when live local bands set the backdrop for fashion shows by local designers, art expos and other events that showcase Tel Avivs creative community.
And while you're enjoying all that Tel Aviv has to offer, day and night, you'll have no problems immediately sharing with friends and family back home. That's because the city is completely covered with a solid FREE WiFi signal. Yep, the whole metro area has free WiFi, one of the many reasons that the Smart City Expo World Congress, a leading conference on urban renovation, recognized Tel Aviv as the leader in digital revolution from among 250 cities around the world.
Those are some of the reasons that the Wall Street Journal and Citibank have ranked Tel Aviv as one of the world's most innovative cities. And, of course, why Tel Aviv should top your list for a creative, energetic travel destination.
Which of these areas would you explore first?
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A Midwest farm girl at heart, Diana Lambdin Meyer caught the roaming bug early in life. Diana married well - to a photographer who also has the travel bug and whose work in still and video complements her words. Now based in the Kansas City area, Diana is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers who makes a full-time living on the road and at the keyboard. Read about Diana's adventures on her blog, Mojotraveler or follow her on Twitter or Google Plus.
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