Tel-Aviv and New York City are cities that share a deal of similarities. But as one would likely assume, they have differences as well.
I love both cities; each one has its own special charm and beauty. However, the average New Yorker doesn’t know anything about Tel-Aviv, so I thought I’d educate you.
Tel-Aviv is also known as “the city that never sleeps,” which is true. You will find that most restaurants, cafes, clubs and bars are open late into the evening, some even 24/7.
Once a year, in the month of June, there is a special night called “Layla Laven,” which means “white night,” describing a night without sleep.
Every year on “Layla Laven,” the city holds cultural events all night long and even the places that usually close by midnight stay open all night. NYC is also considered a city that never sleeps, although NYC is a bit more ethnocentric and advertiser-friendly than Tel-Aviv.
Like New York, Tel- Aviv is cosmopolitan, bubbly and lively. The sun shines year-round, the Mediterranean Sea is gorgeous, the food is great and the people are warm and friendly.
“Tel-Aviviens” enjoy sitting in cafes, drinking their coffee slowly and taking their time, while New Yorkers are always on the run and prefer to take their coffee and bagel to go. The pace here is easygoing, relaxed, and laid back, unlike Manhattan.
Many of my Anglo-Saxon friends, who moved to Israel and went back to work in New York after their two or three years of army service, returned to Tel-Aviv because they felt that after living there, they could not get used to the hectic Manhattan pace again.
Just as New Yorkers are often mistaken to be pushy, loud and rude, the citizens of Tel-Aviv are often accused of living in a bubble, staying in their bohemian circles and ignoring the outside world. If you lived there you would see why this is somewhat true. There is so much culture, so many interesting people, any type of restaurant, parties and so many things to do and see.
People who live in Tel-Aviv feel like they are at the center of everything, have everything that they need or want, so they rarely feel the need to leave the city.
Just like Manhattan, Tel Aviv is the home of beautiful avenues and boulevards. The most famous one is Rothschild Boulevard, which is always busy, has the most gorgeous architecture and a lot of 24/7 bars and restaurants (My favorite one is Benedict, where they serve a variety of breakfast from all over the world, all day long.)
Tel-Aviv doesn’t have a subway system, but the transportation is great. A lot of people ride their bikes, pedaling happily around the city. The Tel-Aviv municipality recently launched a project supplying bikes for rental all around the city. All you have to do is take a bike with your electronic chip and off you go until you reach your destination and park your bike in the nearest station. You can’t miss all the people riding around the city on the green Tel-Aviv bikes.
Rent is expensive just like in NYC, and good luck finding an apartment. Everyone wants to be in the middle of things and many young people from all over the country, a whole new melting pot, move here after their army service.
Tel-Aviv is an open and tolerant society. Everyone is free to dress, act and live as they please. Last summer, on GayCities.com, Tel-Aviv was chosen as the most gay-friendly city in the world receiving an outlandish 43% of the final vote. People from over the world came and participated in the gay pride parade.
There is also a lot of culture to enjoy in Tel-Aviv. There’s opera, ballet, modern dance companies, the Ha’bima Theater–Israel’s national theater– live music, galleries and the wonderful Tel-Aviv Museum of Art.
Just like many places in Israel, the city of Tel-Aviv also is a combination of old and new. All around the city, especially in the center and the south area, you will see old houses that have been renovated and the original architecture preserved.
There is also the old city of Jaffa and the Jaffa port that dates back to biblical times. It’s a lot of fun to walk around the wonderful flee market where you can find everything from vintage clothing to old-fashioned typewriters, appliances, furniture, art and more.
Tel Aviv also has a large park called “Ha’Yarkon,” since the Yarkon river flows through it.
One of my favorite things to do in NYC is to go shopping. Tel-Aviv has great places to shop as well. Shienkin Street, for instance, has many fashion boutiques and Dizingoff Street is the home of multiple designer studios.
The most expensive place to shop is “Ha’medina” Square. That’s where high end fashion from around the world is located. You will find stores like Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Donna Karen, Ralf Lauren and more. Tel-Aviv recently hosted two fashion weeks for the first time.
Another fun place to shop, especially if you are a tourist looking for gifts to bring home, is Nachalat Binyamin Street where Israeli artists sell their unique art on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The two cities are truly amazing. You either love them or hate them but, if it’s the latter, you can’t help but fall madly in love.
Tal is a writer living in Tel-Aviv. You can find more of her writing on NoCamels.com. If you are interested in becoming a guest contributor, please contact us via our contact page.