My brother has recently come back from Tel Aviv, and the first thing he said to me was: “I can highly recommend Tel Aviv, given how beautiful it is.” Now, my brother doesn’t normally tell me much about his trips, so this holiday must have truly been something special for him to say that to me. That is why I’m super excited to share this week’s local’s interview, which showcases the best of Tel Aviv and why you should visit. Annette, take it away!
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
I was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and moved to Toronto when I was a toddler. I spent many of my childhood summers visiting family in Israel and always loved it. After university I wanted to live abroad so when I was deciding where to go, it was a no brainer for me. Tel Aviv was the place. I speak fluent Hebrew and Tel Aviv felt like a second home. The vitality and energy of the city have always been what gravitates me to it.
2. What do you love most about your hometown?
The energy in Tel Aviv is like no other. There’s a reason it’s known as “the city that never sleeps.” Due to the warm sunny weather year-round, everyone is outside all the time. The cafes, restaurants and bars are hopping day and night.
And of course, there’s the incredible beach which spans the entire length of the city, from the lively port in the north to historic Jaffa in the south. There is a beautiful promenade that stretches the length of the beach so there are always people walking and jogging. The sand is soft and there are many lifeguard posts so it’s safe to swim.
There are also several colourful markets including old produce markets, flea markets and some new modern-day markets with delicious food vendors.
3. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Israel?
Not really. It’s a great place for tourists and locals are very happy to have tourists and show them their beautiful country.
4. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Tel Aviv or Israel?
Israel is a small country and the public transit has improved greatly. There are trains connecting many cities. If you are in Tel Aviv, it is only an hour to get to historic Jerusalem which has a completely different vibe from Tel Aviv. I think anyone visiting Israel should make sure to spend time in both cities. They are both so unique.
5. What foods must visitors eat when in Israel?
There are immigrants from all over the world living in Israel. It’s a fairly young country so it has taken a while to establish a truly original Israeli food item. I think in the last decade they finally have an official Israeli food which is unique to Israel. It is known as a Sabiche sandwich. It is absolutely delicious – I’m drooling just thinking about it. It is made of fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, hummus, tahini and cucumber-tomato salad all stuffed into a pita. It is so good and very filling.
Of course, there is hummus. Every restaurant claims to make the BEST humous in the country. You’ll have to judge for yourself and find your favourite.
6. What’s your favourite Hebrew word? Why? What does it mean?
Sababa which means amazing.
7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Israel from another country?
Israeli’s can be rough around the edges but they are very gracious and sweet. Give them some time and don’t take their rough tone personally. The term for someone born in Israel is Sabra, which is a prickly pear, the fruit of the cactus. Israeli’s may seem hard and tough on the outside but they are soft and sweet on the inside.
8. If you could describe Tel Aviv in just one sentence, what would you say?
It has the best energy and vibe.
9. If tourists were to know one thing about the Israeli culture, what should that be?
Israeli’s love to live life to the fullest.
10. Do you have any interesting traditions that you’d like to share with us?
One thing that I think is very unique to Israeli families is that they always get together for the Sabbath meal. It makes no difference whether you are an observant Jewish family or completely secular, every family will have a meal together either on Friday for dinner or Saturday for lunch. All family members make it a priority to attend and it is a beautiful tradition.
Thanks Annette, we’ve loved getting to know you and Tel Aviv better! If you want to hear more from Annette, check out her travel blog Minute By Minute Traveller which has well organised and fun travel itineraries to destinations in Europe, Israel and North America. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
And if you loved this interview, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family!