Visit Tel Aviv: Rejoice in Its Revelry

“You are going to need to travel everywhere with armed guards…” my friends told me with warning on the tip of their tongues as I told them I was traveling to Israel. To visit Tel Aviv. Imagine my surprise when riding bikes along the waterfront, weaving through the throngs of bronzed skin and bikinis, there wasn’t a guard in sight, not even a police car!

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I felt like I could have been in Brazil, the skateboarders sloshing down the sidewalk, the crowds congregating over iced coffee, the dogs crashing with a bark into the saltwater waves and the pomegranate trees blossoming in the sultry spring afternoon air. This was not the Israel I had seen on the news, where children ran barefoot in the street and the wailing of bombs drowned out the laughter, this was not a place brimming with death, it was life, life as loud, frantic and fabulous as it gets.

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High rise silver buildings sparkle like glitter to my right and on the left I can see the minarets and feel the market sprawl of old Jaffa, bougainvillea blushes, and everyone is either coming from brunch or heading to lunch. ‘How do you guys manage to go out all the time’ I ask my host in amazement, she throws back her head and laughs ‘We live like there’s no tomorrow’ she responds, I ponder this as I continue pedaling along the glitzy, golden sun dappled promenade, my feet pushing and picking up speed as her very sentiment makes me lighter.

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A little back from the buzz of the beach I stumble upon wide airy streets lined with beautiful boutiques. Glass windows and open doors invite browsing as I touch soft leather bound books, vintage Moroccan goods, designer clothes and handmade jewels. The trees weep lavender petals that blanket the floor and graffiti emblazon the wall reminding you to ‘Remember you are blind, but don’t forget that you can see’.

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One woman points to it on a street art tour ‘For me it means that sometimes we need to close our eyes to the horrors so that we can laugh, dance and enjoy the great beauty of life, but it also means that just because we carry on, it doesn’t mean that we forget’, the phrase catches in the back of my throat and makes me realize how little I understand the complexities of this world.

People in Tel Aviv are perhaps some of the friendliest I have stumbled across; as the others left to shop I was ever drawn into the azure hues of the Mediterranean, emerging drenched and deliciously salty, I realized I had forgotten to bring a towel,” Come share mine, really it’s OK, have a sip of lemon water..” a complete stranger extends a hand along with her dry towel and we sit and chat and pore over my map together, tangled in an exquisite familiarity that can only be achieved in seconds of meeting.

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At the bars, I strike up conversation with everyone who crosses my path and we leave the usual pleasantries at the door to talk of things both great and small; the army, the war, the great dance of life and death, we clink drinks, we exchange opinions and numbers, our faces animated in the night and our hands dancing, and this is the norm, just another day in Tel Aviv.

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Sure there are bullet holes in walls, there are scores of young people who have lost friends, there are rumblings of hurt and anger, but above all there is life and there is hope. Paddle boards clatter on the sands, laughter peels into the night, drums echo and the armed guards seem so far away, not needed, not even for a moment, in this great city where the revelry of youth, art and culture collides.

Images’ Source: www.orkaplan.com

Big thanks to the lovely people at Vibe Israel for inviting me to enjoy the bounty of their beautiful country. Vibe Israel is a non profit and non political organization, find out more at www.vibeisrael.com 

Jodie Oakes

Jodie Oakes

Jodie Oakes is a seasoned writer and an avid surfer with continuously itchy feet and a love of the finer things in life. After traveling through the continent with a touring band, living in Paris, Amsterdam and under the Auroras Borealis, she is now in Bulgaria where she attempts to piece together her first poetry collection.
Jodie Oakes