If you are heading to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, I would recommend a “Sherut” (a shared 12 seat taxi). You can hop on board at the Central Bus Station, and it only costs about 23 shekels ($6.50 ish). A Sherut looks like this:
After the short drive, we arrive in Jerusalem…
Regardless of whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or even atheist, no one can argue the spiritual force that is felt in Jerusalem. This city, referred to as the holy city by many, is not only the home and origin of the monotheistic religions, but also at the center of a cultural revolution.
Aside from my need for purification from the last 3 days, I headed to Jerusalem to attend the “Presidential Conference” — a conference that Israeli President Shimon Peres founded on Israel’s 60th birthday. As exciting as that might sound, IT WAS! I got to see American comedian Sarah Silverman and Colombian Singer Shakira!
In the spirit of spirituality and coexistence, whenever I visit Jerusalem I always head to:
1. The Wailing Wall
2. The Church of Hole Sepulchre
3. The Muslim Quarter
After some spiritual uplifting, I was ready to digress and head off to see Sarah Silverman!
Sarah Silverman always makes me laugh — this time commenting on her Jewishness, she described it as “just coming out of her pours…. and she has major diarrhea.” Also, since it was her first ever visit to the holy land, she said she had a lot to take in since “Jerusalem is like… 30 years old after all.”
The Star of the evening, in my opinion, was Shakira. She is an accomplished musician and dancer, but also, she deserves great recognition for her work as a UNICEF ambassador. I was glad she came to Jerusalem to share her passion. Shakira began by saying that she was ” very excited and happy to be in Israel.” She went on to call Israel the “mother of cultures and human spirituality,” and referenced her song, “We are Africa,” by proclaiming, “We are all Israel.”
After some laughs and inspiration, it was time to head back to Tel Aviv (Jerusalem –> Tel Aviv is a 40 min drive)
I caught a Sherut back, headed home, showered and OUT!
Pizza Fino is the choice for tonight. Named one of the countries best Pizza joints, this restaurant is a must do. The Pizza is amazing! You have to eat here at least once when you visit Israel. I’m all for eating authentic cuisine, but you gotta cheat sometimes!
After a great “authentic” Israeli meal, it was time to hit the bars… yes, it’s Tuesday night, but so what! This city never sleeps!
But it was an early night for me, after a couple of drinks and Bar hoping on Lillenblum st. (high recommended) I decided I’d get a good sleep – TOMORROW: FOOD TOUR!!
Kicking off third annual Presidential Conference after visiting joint Israeli-Arab school in Jerusalem, Colombian pop singer and UN goodwill ambassador says Holy Land is ‘perfect place to talk about how urgent it is to invest in education’.
Colombian pop singer Shakira promoted her global education campaign with a stop at a joint Israeli-Arab school in Jerusalem on Tuesday.Kicking off Israel’s third annual President’s Conference on Tuesday with a plea for children’s education worldwide, Shakira, a UN goodwill ambassador, said the Holy Land was the “perfect place to talk about how urgent it is to invest in education.”
“The most crucial decision we can make for a better tomorrow is how we educate our children,” she said, speaking alongside her host, President Shimon Peres.
“How wonderful it would be if the world would act like a team. We have so many challenges ahead of us, so many problems to solve,” she said. “This is the time to behave like a team, to wear the same T-shirts and to win the match of discrimination, to win the match of inequality and segregation.”
Shakira, 34, whose many multilingual hits include “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Whenever, Wherever,” and “Waka, Waka,” has established a number of charitable foundations dedicated toward advancing education.
She was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll in Colombia and has Lebanese heritage.
Shakira began her comments alongside with a single “shalom” – Hebrew for both hello and peace – and after a young girl presented her with a necklace, she said “toda” – Hebrew for thanks.
Peres complimented the singer, saying that she represents “hope and innocence” and serves as the ambassador of young people for a better future.
According to Peres, today’s younger generation listens to singers more than to politicians, and the former are the best messengers to convey a message.
He added that he was moved by her song, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”, which he called “inspirational”.
The previous day, Shakira visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.
Shakira is accompanied in Israel by her boyfriend, Spanish national football team star and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.
1 Shot Production
Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv, 2011
Idan Matalon’s Production
Sally Salit Cohen, Nir Tasha, Idan Y. Cohen
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Label: Streamline, Interscope, Kon Live
Writer(s): Lady Gaga, Fernando Garibay, DJ White Shadow
Producer: Lady Gaga, Fernando Garibay
The number of tourists visiting Israel hit record numbers last month, showing a small increase from May 2010 but a huge jump from May 2009, the Ministry of Tourism announced Tuesday.
A total of 308,000 visitors arrived in the Holy Land last month, a record-breaking figure that included an uptick of five percent from the numbers who arrived in May 2010. The number of tourists was an increase of 33 percent from May 2009.
ourism Minister Stas Miseznhikov, who spoke Sunday from Milan where he was in meetings as part of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s delegation, said about the optimistic numbers, “The success of the Tourism Ministry in stabilizing incoming tourism to Israel, given the geopolitical situation in the region … is both impressive and important.”
Miseznhikov met with his Italian counterpart, Michela Vittoria Brambillato, on Monday to discuss strategies for promoting bilateral tourism to both Israel and Italy.
“This is the time to exploit opportunities, to be flexible and respond swiftly and, at the same time, to maintain ongoing market analysis,” Miseznhikov said. “We will work to maximize the marketing investment and significantly shorten the period of recovery.”
Israel is enjoying a 40% increase in visitors from Ukraine, likely due to the recent loosening on visa laws, as well as a 59% uptick in visitors from Denmark, thanks to the introduction of direct flights between Copenhagen and Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv is the 3rd most diverse city in the world, with 95 different languages spoken. Even so, it’s sort of like any other big city — a melting pot. But, it’s older sister, Jaffa, is ripe with diversity and culture that is unparalleled, and it is truly a beautiful thing.
At 4 am, I was woken-up by the call for prayers from a nearby mosque. To me, it wasn’t a call for prayers so much as it was a reminder of the coexistence that lives within Israel every day. It’s not perfect, but it can be inspiring and hopeful. That is the mood I am in as I get up.
In that spirit, I decided I’d get breakfast at a legendary bakery that has been operational since 1879, and is a proud Arab-Israeli institution where Jews and Arabs work side by side. It’s Called Abulafia and over the years it has grown to include two locations.
1. 6 Mifratz Shlomo St. – Tel Aviv
2. 7 Yefet St. – Jaffa
After devouring my cheese Bourekas I headed to the newly converted Neve Tzedek Railway Station.
The Tel Aviv Municipality decided it would turn this old railway station into a culturally diverse entertainment and and shopping center area. It’s called “HaTachana” (The Station).
The complex includes a DIVERSE choice of restaurants, cafes, boutiques (all local produce), a spa, galleries and so much more… You’ve gotta check it out!
From there, it was time for a nice iced coffee… In Israel (and anywhere really!), there is no better place than Aroma!
Keep in mind, Starbucks failed to impress Israelis, and only lasted a few months! But the Israeli chain, Aroma, can be found all over.
There is a reason Aroma is so popular — the coffee is incredibly good, and the food, mmmm, you have to try it for yourself! Luckily, Aroma now operates in Canada, US, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Romania.
Check out this link to find the one closest to you!
Over the last few days, as I’ve traveled the country, I started noticing another fun fact about Israel:
Did you know that over 750,000 cars in Israel are company cars! Keep in mind, this is a country with a population of 7 million! Somewhat irrelevant, I know, but it goes to show how vibrant business is in Israel.
Anyways, it was time for a late lunch… Shawarma it is!
Like hot people and the sound of honking, Shawarma shops are all over the place! As are tourists eating Shawarma…
I decided I would check out the Eurovision night @ Evita — a well known Gay bar in Tel Aviv. Sunday night is a very popular night at this bar.
Apparently Israelis are into the Eurovision, more than I expected. What happens on Sunday night @ Evita? Well, there is a “troop” that practices the most popular Eurovison songs and performs!
It was nice to see hundreds of people out enjoying their Sunday night… and it reminded me that Tel Aviv is a city that doesn’t really need much sleep!
Here again I was reminded that Tel Aviv is a DIVERSE, tolerant and liberal society. The club was filled with gay people, straight people, males, females, Jews, Arabs, Christians, Israelis, and tourists from all over the world who were there for one reason and one reason only — to have FUN!
Yet another awesome night in Tel Aviv! Good night!
Speaking of fun, check out the little video montage we put together from last week’s pride celebration