Friday, March 19, 2010

Tel Aviv beaches

One of my favourite things about living in Tel Aviv is the beach being a 10 minute walk away. And it's a beautiful beach, with white sand and blue water stretching to the horizon. Sometimes there is even a decent swell and some nice waves rolling in that keen surfers are catching (in their full length wetsuits). True, it has been too cold for me to go in the water since I arrived in February, but I have every intention of going for a swim on a warm day soon.

But how do the Tel Aviv beaches compare with Australian beaches? As Aussies will know, our beaches are the best in the world. So on a case by case comparison, South Broulee (south coast NSW) beach kicks Tel Aviv beach's butt. However, you can't do straight comparisons.

To get to the beach here you walk along tree-lined european streets and boulevards crowded with cafes, felafel bars, boutique clothes stores and gelaterias to a street with large hotels next to the beaches. The sand is covered with sun lounges, permanent umbrellas, chairs and people. The life guards sit in wooden towers, speak through large speakers, and there are no red and yellow flags to swim between.

From Tel Aviv friends and scenes

And then there are the people. Tel Aviv is very multicultural, so there are people of all backgrounds on the beach. Girls wear bikinis and sunbake. Guys wear shorts and play volleyball or soccer. Some guys just pose with their ghettoblasters playing loud electronic music (does anyone say ghettoblasters anymore? You know what I mean). Couples play paddleball - wooden bats, squash ball, and an incessant bang bang bang floods the beach. Families play in the water.

So there aren't any cricket, rugby or Aussie rules games on the beach. And the kids aren't wearing full body protecting swimming suits and hats to hide from the sun. They might be wearing a t-shirt or a hat. Or nothing.

If you go towards Jaffa to the beach there are muslim women swimming in the full length suits and headscarves with their kids running around amidst scantily clad sunbathers. On the grass next to the beach on a Friday you will find lots of families gathered with the delicious smells of mini BBQs cooking meat.

Towards the north there is a 'Separated beach' - where religious Jewish people have the opportunity to swim without having to see the temptations of the opposite sex. Of course if they exit the walled area they will immediately see acres of bare flesh in front of them, but not while they are swimming.

From Tel Aviv friends and scenes

Does it look like the dog in this picture is wearing a yarmulke (skull cap)? It does to me! Jewish doggies only allowed (with leads) on the separated beach!

So like I was saying, I would say the beaches in Tel Aviv are not more beautiful than Aussie beaches, but they are different, and I really like them for that!

I was thinking today that learning to love another country is about redefining your definition of beauty. Expanding it to incorporate all the new things you are discovering. I could be going around Israel saying the landscape is not beautiful, as Australia has wide open spaces and natural beauty and a huge blue sky, while Israel is covered with towns and cities, agriculture and desert. But I'm learning to appreciate the beauty in this country. In the dilapidated Bauhaus buildings. In the Mediterranean seaside. In the old streets of Jaffa. In the window boxes full of red geraniums. Luckily, the people and the food make this country very easy to love.


  1. Jo, I so agree. I grew up in tropical africa. The green wa so green. The soils was red, the rivers had heaps of water and flowed. The landscape was full of life and people. If you broke down int 'the middle of nowhere' it would only take 5 mins for the car to be surrounded with children looking for a lolly handout and wanting a chat. I worked in my Uni holidays in the game reserves, doing ecology surveys. The fauna were BIG and SCARY. When I came to live in WA it took me a whole year to get your attitude ... a numbat - you call This fauna? Flat flat dry land. All the trees looked the bloody same. But then after a while I saw that the eucalypts were not all the same - there are so many shades of grey and blue and green and silver and the landscape is so subtle it has its own beauty. And the isolation can be a privliege (although I prefer a bit more company). When I jillarood on a station up north I was terrified to go walking at night, but then I learned it was safe to do this. So - you have the ideal attitude to be a good immigrant, I wish it didnt take me so long (and I did it twice before I worked it out!)

  2. There are so many different types of landscapes in Israel, I think you'd be surprised...there are open fields, mountains, etc. Go for a trip across the country and you'll realize just how much there is to see :)