I’m off to Jerusalem tomorrow, but first, one last tribute to the place I’ll be leaving. Here are 28 reasons why I loved Tel Aviv — one for each day I spent here — and why I might very well be back before I leave Israel for good.
1. The southwest corner of Dizengoff and Frishman. The architecture there isn’t much to look at, but the granola-hot passersby are. It’s my favorite people-watching spot in the entire city.
2. Waking up one block away from the Mediterranean Sea and being able to see all of its different shades of blue on a clear day (i.e., every day).
3. Running along the beach first thing in the morning.
4. The friendly bartender at 6th of May on Dizengoff Square.
5. The hilly city: The inclines are so subtle that you don’t even notice you’ve been walking/running up and down and up and down until your butt muscles are still sore several days later.
6. So many hot, shirtless guys running on the beach.
7. So many hot, shirtless guys using the free workout equipment on Gordon Beach. The emphasis on abdominals-enhancing equipment explains why six-packs abound here.
8. Working out on Gordon Beach with a perfect view of those hot, shirtless guys and the Mediterranean Sea.
9. Vodka with a beer back at Evita.
10. The Tel Aviv movida on Allenby and Rothschild.
11. Isrotel Tower (left), my favorite skyscraper in Tel Aviv. If I ever return to here when someone else is footing the accommodation bill, I know exactly where I’ll be staying.
12. The view of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean from the highest point in the old city of Jaffa (see main photo).
13. Low flying planes landing at Sde Dov Airport as I jog toward the lighthouse in the opposite direction of Jaffa.
14. Granola in the morning for the first time in decades.
15. Frozen supermarket pizza that tastes better than any store-bought pie I’ve ever had anywhere else.
16. The option of taking one of those shared taxi vans that I never got around to taking.
17. The architectural emphasis on white and off-white that gives “The White City” its nickname.
18. A microwave oven, an elevator in my building, AC everywhere and free shopping bags in supermarkets for the first time since before I arrived in Berlin.
19. Warm, welcoming people, most of whom speak English.
20. Knowing that if I ever ruin my Havaianas here, there are plenty of stores where I can replace them, which was so not the case in Bangkok a few months ago.
21. Pomegranate and mango juice.
22. Three weeks and five days without rain.
23. Highs in the upper 20s, lows in the upper teens to the lower 20s.
24. Free Wi-Fi at Sevidor central train station and on the commuter trains that go up and down the north coast.
25. The friendly blonde waitress at Fresh Kitchen Mapu, the one who made the just slightly above average comfort health food taste a little better and almost justified the “Service not included” on the bill.
26. Watching episodes of the ’70s sitcom Maude on YouTube on my nights in during the second half of my stint in Tel Aviv. Though Jewish, Bea Arthur had no link to Tel Aviv that I’m aware of, yet along with Rihanna (whose October 22 concert here is being advertised on posters all over town), she will forever be the diva I most associate with my first trip to the city.
27. Guys who blow you off with or without some lame excuse, saving you the trouble of being the bad guy and leaving you free to be happily home alone, where you secretly wanted to be anyway, to do No. 26. God’ll get them for that.
28. The utter gayness of it all.