Hello again from Israel!
Yesterday morning we woke up for the first time not on our favorite kibbutz but in a modern hotel on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Our day in the city started early with an authentic Israeli experience: rush hour traffic. We finally arrived at Rabin Square, in the center of the city. Amid the bustle of the city we talked to average Israelis of all walks of life about Rabin, his politics, his assassination, and his legacy. Hearing the sheer diversity of views held by just the handful of people we were able to meet in a few minutes really brought the country's politics to life and was really helpful for contextualizing the discussions we had over the previous few days.
Dodging the rain, we headed south to the historic neighborhoods of the city. We walked along the beaches where Tel Aviv was founded, saw the Middle East's first train station, and learned about the incredibly rich history of the unassuming buildings we passed.
Our walking tour led us to one of my favorite parts of the trip so far, the Nachalat Binyamin market. There, we explored stall after stall of fruits, desserts, clothes, and trinkets. Our Israeli soldier friends were a huge help – they guided us through the chaotic streets, haggled for our souvenirs, and helped us find some of the best falafel yet! The market was unlike anything in the US, the entire area alive with bargaining, gossip, and people from all over Israel and the world. It was simply unforgettable.
After the market we dove back in to the winding streets to visit Independence Hall, our last stop of the day. Here we saw where David Ben-Gurion declared the State of Israel independent in 1948. The highlight of the unassuming former art museumcaws a perfect reconstruction of what the main hall looked like during the independence ceremony, complete with Israeli flags and a portrait of Herzl.
Later, we returned to the port to try to get a taste of Tel Aviv's legendary nightlife. Perhaps unsurpringly, the nightlife is alive and well- just not on a Tuesday night in the offseason. Making the most of our evening, we explored the boardwalk and took in its beautiful views of the sea and the city.
Overall Tel Aviv was really welcome break from the rural north of the country and a great showcase of just how a country as small as Israel can be incredibly diverse. Everyone definitely enjoyed our time in the city, and we're all looking forward to getting to see even more of the country in the coming days!
Until next time,