Okay, maybe a lame post title - but Tel-Aviv was not (lame)! It was sort of like a New York City right in Israel, and really hipster-y. (I even saw some North Face-like fleeces, so I can't say the fashion is really different from this area, either, haha.)
After our Shorashim group lit the candles for the second night of Hanukkah with Nir and his family, we all bussed over to the Deborah Hotel in Tel-Aviv. It was much more colorful than the North Golan area, which seemed almost desaturated.
That first night in Tel-Aviv, I took some very psychedelic photos and video at Pasáž (Passage) with Jessica Harshman (just one of three new friends named Jessica, haha), thanks to friends Rotem and Shiran who showed us the way.
Later we stepped outside to capture some nighttime street photography. The weather really couldn't make up its mind, and the rain water in the streets made for some great photos. Dan stepped in for a photo opp, haha ;)
This was also December 25th - Christmas! It's funny, Israel is the opposite of the U.S. in that the lamp posts and shops are all adorned with displays of chanukiahs, blue and white lights strung along the streets, as opposed to ornamented trees, candy canes and Santa Claus figurines. (People even hand-out doughnuts!)
There is barely a whisper of Christmas, and it felt like an escape from a sort of shopping-induced anxiety I often feel just by glimpsing a frantic parent who waited the last minute to get gifts. (So, like, everyone.) Because around home, that's what the holidays are all about - an obligatory gift and a heavy dinner.
Then again, it was interesting to hear the Israeli's take on this, explaining it was a bit "exclusionary for those who did not celebrate Hanukkah, as Israel is a very holy state open to all religions." Haha, welcome to the world back home, right? It was strange to be on the other side for once, looking around and feeling comfortable as opposed to the outside, looking in to an alternate society.
Philosophy aside, the next morning, I awoke just ten minutes before the new rain fell and captured some beautiful cityscapes of the area, taken from the fifth floor of the Deborah, overlooking Tel-Aviv.
Sure, I added a magenta tinge to the overcast sky, but you can still see how vibrant the city really is.
As the rain cleared and the sun rose, we took a walk to Abrasha Park in Tel-Aviv's Old Jaffa, where we walked through (pretty amazing) alleyways in the artist district before heading to Yitzhak Rabin Square.
This is definitely one area I need to explore some more!