Thursday, July 13, 2006

State capital

In Tel Aviv and checked into the Sheraton City Tower. It's slightly better than the Regency - has a working safe and minibar - but WiFi still isn't free. Took a train up from Jerusalem - about twice the time it takes by car, but cheap (less than 5 Euro) and quite scenic.

Tel Aviv is a busy modern city, with skyscrapers and stuff. It definitely feels less exotic, and as such less friendly. Jerusalem is actually larger in terms of population, but Tel Aviv is a lot more humid and therefore less tolerable. The Sheraton is in the diamond exchange district, where office highrises mix with dilapidated shacks (whorehouses, apparently). The biggest problem I have with Tel Aviv so far is that it is generic - if you were teleported into a bit of it that has no streetsigns or shop names, you could justifiably think you were anywhere from Rotterdam to Hong Kong. In Jerusalem even the spanking highrises are covered with Jerusalem stone (an actual type of stone), it's the law apparently. That lends the city authenticity, continuity and cohesion. You feel like you're in an actual place. Whereas the capital, with the exception of the fact that you can't get any proper food on Saturday, is simply a branch office of the global economy. With the same glass and chrome buildings, the same noise, and the same Sheraton hotel.

Went out for a meal with the rest of The Stereotypes. Chicken kebabs and the typical local selection of crap to put on bread or chips (in the British sense, mind you). Tried hummus finally. It's bean paste - not bad at all, actually.

The TV is showing IDF press conferences. Reserve troops have been called out; the country seems to be bracing itself for a large-scale military offensive.

Warzone update: Woke up to find the CNN talking about Katyusha attacks on a north Israeli town. During the night the IDF airforce blew the fuck out of Beirut International Airport. I got my Israel Airforce T-shirt two days ago...

Tinfoil update: The person who was in the hotel room before me blocked off the movement sensor with a postcard, so all through the night the electricity would switch off every once in a while, and only turn back on if I opened and closed the door. Took me a while to figure that one out.

The Blonde is getting freaked out, but our tickets are not exchangeable and to buy a ticket at the last minute would be prohibitively expensive - lots of people bugging out right now. Our flight is tomorrow after 4pm; checkout from the hotel is 12am, and while I'd prefer to stick around and see a bit of the city, it looks like tomorrow morning The Stereotypes are getting the fuck out of Dodge.

3 comments:

AllanL5 said...

Thanks for the updates. You do live in interesting times.

Yes, bug out as quickly as is practical. We'll be praying for you.

AllanL5 said...

Oh, and regarding the "McCity" appearance of Tel Aviv -- in a way, you could see this as a great victory. I know it seems very "European/American Vanilla" to you -- but that can be a good thing.

As in -- this means lots of people, making lots of money. Building an economy, and office space to run that economy.

If you compare this with other "great cities" in the middle east, I think it compares well.

Flasher T said...

Oh yeah, absolutely. My employers are some of those people. :)

Probably the only other city in the region with a skyline like Tel Aviv's would be Dubai, but that is just because of the oil. This is self-made money.

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