Before I departed Melbourne, en route to Tel Aviv, I found it quite profound that so many people I told where I was headed were shocked and clearly had a false perception of Israel. I feel some Australians are not aware about how life in Israel actually is, so I felt the necessity to give you a comparison from my perspective, living in Tel Aviv. Not what mainstream media makes out this beautiful part of the world out to be. Firstly, I was told I’m crazy for coming here by various people because they believed that ‘terrorist walk the streets and bombs are being detonated on the daily’. For me, having Israeli friends who speak about how amazing their homeland is, the culture, the music, the art, the surf, the motorcycling, the landscapes and the great lifestyle; I certainly knew who I believed. Yes, terror happens here but terror is happening everywhere in the world, you can’t live in fear of terror because before you know it, you will wind up with fear controlling your life, never do, see or experience anything out of your comfort zone.
I’ve walked through the Tel Aviv & Jerusalem, day and night, immersing myself in the Israeli culture. During the day, the beach is flooded with happy people, surfing, playing beach volleyball and skating along the coastline, very reminiscent of St. Kilda in summer to a degree, just not as chaotic, very calm. The city centre is buzzing, buskers on every corner, bicycles everywhere you look (electric bicycles are definitely a trend here), motorcyclist ripping monos on superbikes just showing off in front of their mates. Fresh food markets are packed, everyone stocking up on fruit and vegetables straight from the farm and eating delicious local cuisine. Everyone is friendly and happy to help out a long haired blonde Aussie; the first shop I entered when I landed was a little surf shop that stocks Australian made boards, caught my eye, the owner offered to give me a lend of a secondhand surfboard and skateboard for free, so generous!
As the red sun sets in the West over the Mediterranean, the nightlife heats up, bars are thriving, live music is prominent, walking through the city, queues forming for the best burger shop, restaurants and surroundings that makes you feel like you are in up market Europe. It’s shocking in a great way, walking the streets at night, I feel safe, in fact, far safer than walking through Melbourne or Sydney at night. I cannot recall how many fights i’ve witnessed whilst touring Australia that are caused by drug and alcohol induced morons. In Israel, everyone is out at night to spend time with friends, make new friends, have a few drinks, see a band and call it a night. It’s not hard to see countless people in Australia on amphetamines and behaving like a cat on acid trying to catch a strobe light which is scary, no doubt. Not the case here, people are cool, calm and collected even after a few too many drinks late into the night, I’ve not witnessed violence in any form.
The local food is what you want, it’s healthy, clean and full of delicious flavour! It was refreshing for me, to see a country that boycotts McDonalds & other American chains alike, independent restaurants pumping out great healthy food, speaking to locals, the comparison is humorous, Israeli’s consider falafel junk food. “We never go to McDonalds because that shit kills you” – a friend told me, which makes me wonder why companies producing such unhealthy addictive food that cause death and all kinds of physical and metal problems in Australia aren’t forced by the Australian government to have graphic warning images on packaging and raise taxes, as they do with cigarettes to cover hospital fees in later life. The drive though lanes are getting bigger, the independent restaurants are becoming fewer and for some reason the fruit and vegetables at the supermarket is coming from America, Europe and costing a fortune, bizarre. Here, for example, avocados cost next to nothing, not $4 for one, healthy eating is cost effective…
The infrastructure here is one of very high quality, the roads are perfect, the quality of the buildings is so high they have quite literally lasted well over 1000 years. To this day Israelis maintain the same quality & method of building, solid homes, apartments and skyscrapers built by stone masons, a dying art, there’s no doubt. When I think of brand new ‘home and land packages’ that are selling rapidly in Australia, I think unexperienced tradesmen producing cost effective cardboard houses where the sink falls off the wall after 6 months and water comes through the carpet, hey, at least it will water the astroturf nature strip… Not here, there’s pride in craftsmanship and quality buildings everywhere with solar panels on every roof as far as the eye can see, built to last.
Geographically speaking, Israel is tiny in land mass but what is packed into such a small area is mind blowing, considering that this part of the world is so close to the birthplace of humanity, the history is ever so rich. Simply getting lost is an amazing experience in itself, seeing touristic places like The Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth) and floating in the sea with the highest salt and mineral content in the world, the dome of the rock in Jerusalem along with countless other hot spots there, The Sea Of Galilee & Nazareth just to name a few. The location is a perfect place to travel from, Egypt, a hop, skip and jump away, Jordan, next door and Europe, a short & cheap flight over the Mediterranean and you’re in Rome eating a pizza and pasta in 4 hours for around $150AUD.
In conclusion, the cost of living here is somewhat the same as Australia, although, the one thing that stands out is the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables, far cheaper here, as it should be. Israel is a thriving metropolis filled with amazing people, food, music, beaches, history, art and the culture is very unique, I recommend it to anyone travelling through Europe or Asia to fly over and experience it for yourself as opposed to being scared off by the news or other mainstream media because the journalists are straight up reporting on a place they have never been. Life in Israel is a good one, that’s the truth.