Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Tour of South Tel-Aviv

I recently came back from a trip to Israel to visit my parents. One of the highlights of the trip was the tour that my dad gave me of south Tel-Aviv. For many years, the south part of Tel-Aviv was not considered a great area by any stretch of the imagination, but in the last decade or so it has been significantly beautified and is now one of the more chic parts of the city. You can see all the pictures here.

My dad grew up in that part of town, so it was a great treat to follow him for 4 hours as he was pointing out the various landmarks, and moving about with the familiarity that only a teenager has with his neighborhood (albeit over 60 years later).

The tour started around the corner from the apartment his family rented when they first immigrated from Greece to Tel-Aviv. We then went to what used to be the Alliance School, where my dad went to elementary and middle school, across the yard from the girl's school. In later years, the two schools became meeting points for young activists of the rival underground movements in the pre-state days (the Haganah and the Etzel). Now it is the Suzan Dalal theatre.

We then walked through the Neve Tzedek neighborhood with its charming houses and some Bauhaus-style architecture. We got onto Rotchield Avenue, where the rich people used to live (it's not that much cheaper today either). One of the houses there was where Ben Gurion declared Israeli independence in 1948.

We walked through Herzl St. where my grandfather owned a little store, the big Sephardic synagogue where my two aunts and uncle married and paid a quick visit to my dad's highschool. Finally, we got to the very happening Sheinkin St with its cafes and shops. There we looked for a high-school friend of my dad who had a pharmacy there for 50 years, but apparently retired recently (and by chatting with another pharmacist my dad found out things about his friend that he never knew).

We then sat in a cafe for a bit, and that's where I juxtaposed the present with the past. We got the waitress to take a picture of us with my blackberry and then I showed my dad how I'm instantly sharing it with 200 of my best friends on Facebook. Finally, we walked through the Levinsky Market and spent a bunch of money in a deli before heading home for friday lunch.

A few days later I found myself spending a few hours in Prague. Here are some pictures. Clearly, this was just a teaser and I need to go back.