Today's meetings at the head office were irrelevant to me, so I had the opportunity to do a bit of sightseeing. The big diamond store around here sponsors a free tour of the city, which I was only too glad to take advantage of. Saw the Mediterranean beach and the promenade, Jaffa, the original Tel Aviv neighborhoods, and the diamond museum.
Israel has attacked a second Lebanese airport and instituted a naval blockade. Tel Aviv is on high alert, with gunships patrolling off the coast. The Blonde is convinced she'll be killed by stray gunfire or something.
Went out with The Boss and The Blonde in the evening. Took a cab to the Allenby/Rothschild Blvd area, and did some sweets shopping at the Max Brenner chocolate bar. Then we walked down Allenby to the promenade. Tel Aviv is not that big, and even then it is split into areas. Tel Aviv and Jaffa are technically one city, but Ramat Gan - the City, including the diamond exchange district - is not, although it is part of the Tel Aviv municipality. Allenby and Rothschild are the heart of Tel Aviv proper, built up before the formation of Israel in 1948. More than anything else this area looks colonial. If Ramat Gan could just as well be Shanghai, Allenby could just as well be Port-au-Prince.
I didn't have my swimming trunks with me, unfortunately, but I did walk down the beach and into the Mediterranean. Awesome feeling. Caught a cab up to Jaffa and walked around it for a bit, with The Blonde taking pictures of every cat and kitten encountered - and Jaffa has plenty of feline fauna. Landed in a pub called Bernhardt Show (ostensibly Bernard Shaw), at a table overlooking the sea. Toasted the IDF with Goldstar lager. Walked down the main street, looking for a cab and wondering at the fireworks. My first thought: the war is over, Israel tanks are in Beirut, and it's celebration.
No such luck. Returned to the hotel to find that rockets had been fired on Haifa, and the Israeli air force has attacked Beirut itself. The Sheraton City Tower overlooks a major train station, and I've seen soldiers walk up the ramps all afternoon - reservists called up and heading to their bases. Woke up in the morning to find cNN talking of more strikes on Beirut and the highway to Damascus. Russian channels show interviews with foreigners bugging out of Lebanon. The Israelis are properly pissed now, and it appears that things will get worse before they get better.
This post is going out on the Ben Gurion wifi a few minutes before boarding. Wish me luck.