The lovely Val and his cute dog Masha were our Airbnb hosts in the seaside city of Tel Aviv. Val was a very interesting guy with a plethora of stories and flavoured teas. Masha was a small fox-like dog who had one eye. One of the many wild cats that roam the streets had a swipe at Masha and sadly she lost her eye. And you don’t mess with these moggies. They’re like the size of panthers!
Val’s apartment was located on Dizengoff Street which is a leafy tree-lined street full of boutiques and cafe bars.
He was on the fifth floor which was the top floor and the 360 degree views from the apartment were spectacular. It felt like I was free-running when he had me climbing up railings and ledges to get onto the rooftop. “The views are even better from up here” he promised me. He didn’t lie. You could see for miles. It was incredible.
Val told us he one of only two people who have avoided the mandatory military service in Israel as a conscientious objector which is quite an achievement. I have since read that there have been some Israeli celebrities that have also evaded military service for other reasons including Bar Refaeli. Supermodel Bar, who dated Leonardo DiCaprio at one time, allegedly deliberately avoided military service by marrying as married women are exempt from service. When she got the exemption they divorced! Itay Tiran, a top Israeli actor also avoided service. Seems it can be avoided if you know the right people.
Tel Aviv is such an active city. Everyone seems to be either walking, running playing volley ball or matkot on the beach. Matkot is a simple game with two bats that look like big table tennis bats and a ball. Nothing else. There is street art everywhere. Restaurants and bars have outdoor seating to sip your drinks as you watch the passersby.
The big downside is I’m now bankrupt!!! The prices in Israel have sent my travel budget spiralling! A few years back there were 8 Shekels to the pound and now it is just over 4 Shekels. I have to give you a few examples as it is just unbelievable;
A box of breakfast cereal was 35 Shekels – an unbelievable £9!
Small 500ml water – 6 Shekels – £1.50
Small black coffee – 14 Shekels – £3.50
Coca Cola – 13 shekels – £3.25
Fridge Magnet 16 Shekels – £4 (the most expensive magnet my father has ever received from my travels – Dad I want to see this one taking prime position on your fridge!)
I did splash out 65 Shekels (£16!!!) on a typical Israeli breakfast which comprised of a tomato and cucumber salad with two fried eggs. On the side some freshly made bread with dips of avocado, cream cheese with pesto, hummus and tuna. A small coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice was also included. Simple yet delicious. Having attended a hummus workshop in Jerusalem which also included how to chop a tomato (!) I think I may now have enough skills to make my own Israeli breakfast. I’ll have to call it the Leeds breakfast seeing that it won’t actually be made in Israel. Oh I forgot…we don’t have to follow EU rules anymore!
A beautiful walk along the beach promenade brings you to the ancient port city of Old Jaffa. Here is one of the oldest ports in the world. It has thousands of years of history. It is so old that it is even mentioned in the bible. Clearly the reference to old does not apply to me! The old city is a labyrinth of restored cobbled alleyways where Egyptians and Romans had walked. It’s such a contrast to Tel Aviv.
I could live in a modern city like Tel Aviv with its long beach and promenade. I love the active lifestyle but not the expense. There is still so much more for me to see in Israel but I think I will wait until I get more Shekel for my Pound. There is no question that I will be back to see more of Israel in the future. The only thing is I would have to rob a bank or marry a millionaire to be able to afford it!
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