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Carnets de voyagePosted by Affwé Mon, October 27, 2014 22:25:29

Summer in Tel Aviv... diving into the local culture and history

After almost a year of Hebrew classes this summer I felt brave enough to rent a flat rather than a hotel room and dive into local customs and culture; not that you need Hebrew to get around in Tel Aviv (everyone speaks English, and Russian works as well)... but I like to challenge myself or at least think that’s what I am doing.

The Yemenite Quarter

As part of the plan, I didn’t settle for a flat in the ‘touristy’ area along the promenade nor in one of Tel Aviv’s fancy avenues. Instead I went for one of the city’s historical parts, namely the “Yemenite Quarter” – or “Ha’ Kerem” – named after the Yemeni Jews who settled there in the 1880s. Akin to the developments in many cities throughout the world Ha’ Kerem’s popularity grew in the past years as “old” became fashionable again and as some of its original residents passed away or left, while trendy, younger residents looking for a different vibe moved in. In the context of its gentrification the area has witnessed a major refurbishment of some of its structures. So today, you can find beautiful renovated buildings next to shabbier original housings – an ecclectic mix which together with the adjacent “Carmel Market” will give you a flavor of the Quarter’s past, and the feel of being centuries away from the city’s otherwise busy streets. If you are ready to give it a try, I can most certainly recommend Yossi’s ground level studio / appartment found on airbnb. By the way, thanks again Yossi for your patience and hospitality... I had to text my host throughout the night because the departure of my in-flight from Istanbul kept changing... which made me arrive at 6 am instead of 1:30 am (needless to say I was not a happy camper)!

Eating your way through the city...

The article “Eat your way through Tel Aviv” published last May in Time Out Israel, argues that Tel Aviv is nothing short of being the culinary capital of Israël... a statement I can definitely relate to. This time around I had the privilege to dine at “Claro”, run by chef Ran Shmueli. The description on the eatery’s website, namely that “Claro is not just a restaurant; but a place of entertainment... offering a superb dining experience” is nothing short of reality. I very much enjoyed the Mediterranean inspired dishes as well as the open kitchen which allows you to watch the chefs under fire. Thank you, Benny and Hana for taking me there... You truly are Tel Aviv’s best guides for food (and art). By the way Claro is located in the heart of Tel Aviv’s in a district called “Sarona”. Originally a German Templar Colony established some 140 years ago, Sarona has been completely transformed into an open air commercial area harboring high-end art galleries and an assorment of specialty shops, among others. The renewed colony includes an urban park and the accurately restored original 37 buildings of the Templar settlement, one of which houses Claro.

You can’t possibly visit Tel Aviv without having ice cream! And you might as well have it at “Anita La Mamma del Gelato” – winner of the 2008 Time Out award... and truly to die for if you are an ice cream afficionado!! - in another historic district of Tel Aviv, namely “Neve Tzedek”. Neve Tzedek – meaning “Oasis of Justice” - was founded in 1887 by a businessman who wanted to escape the crowded Jaffa, 22 years before the city of Tel Aviv was founded. It is hence the first Jewish neighborhood of the city. The quarter has hosted many intellectuals and artists who chose to dwell and create there, including Nobel Prize winning author and poet Shmuel Yosef Agnon, and it is home to the well-known Suzanne Dellal Center (BatSheva Dance Company & Ensemble). The renovation work undertaken has allowed to restore and maintain much of the district’s older charm... but in its wake has turned Neve Tzedek in one of the city’s most expensive areas of the city and hence displaced the original population.!/pages/Anita-La-Mamma-del-Gelato/165698253485359

Fancy a drink after your afternoon ice cream and before dinner? Take a stroll along the promenade – it has the added value of walking off some of these calories that seem to pile up when you visit Tel Aviv... although you’ll probably have to add a swim, some kayaking or a run if you really want to compensate for food intake  - and stop for drinks at “Fortuna del Mar” in Tel Aviv’s Marina. . Obviously there isn’t much architecture to explore here but the view at dusk is breathtaking and relaxing at the same time. And it’s even better when you can share such moments with friends. Toda raba Michal and Niv for the invite.... להתראות! On a side note, Michal is the founder of a neat initiative aiming at financing israel based women entrepreneurs in the high-tech field... Check it out on

Music, music, music...

During my second short trip to Tel Aviv this summer, I was lucky enough to be there just when one of my favourite israeli singers – “Eviatar Banai” was performing... or let’s say I made sure to match the date of my stay with the date of his concert . Even if you don’t understand Hebrew, give it a try and listen. His music and voice have a special vibe that makes me shiver, especially when he sings “Ad Mahar” – “Until Tomorrow”. First live concert... fantastic experience, also because of the venue in Jaffa (another part of the city I’m keeping for a future blog), “Barby”, which is kind of historic as well – “the real thing” according to Yael who graciously organized the tickets on a very short notice and attended the performance with me. -

Talking about Yael, she recently drew my attention to another israeli artist, who sings mostly in English and who’s currently spending a year in Berlin: Roy Dahan. I checked his music out, liked it... and what can I say... I’m glad to announce that he has accepted to come to Luxembourg for two gigs on December 17 and 18 – so make sure you save the date in your calendar, more info to follow!

I guess that’s it for this edition. There will be a special about Tel Aviv’s fashion design scene early 2015 including interviews with Galit Reissman, owner of TLVstyle boutique tour, fashion photographer Ronen Fadida, and Leah Perez of the Shenkar Design Institute... I’m excited already, so stay tuned.

Photographer / Photographe: Etienne Delorme

Assistant photographer / Photographe assistant: Henri Da Cruz

Make-up & Hair Styling / Maquillage & Styling coiffure: Marga Mengato

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