The Street Is Your Gallery – Urban Art In Tel Aviv


The Street Is Your Gallery – Urban Art In Tel Aviv

“The words  of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls” Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel


The gentrified  Florentin neighborhood is the area to go to find amazing street art and graffiti in Tel Aviv. 

The crumbling walls of Florentin will soon turn into high rises so go before that happens.

The person to go with is Guy Sharett who does an urban street tour.  You can sign up on his website Streetwise Hebrew  It’s very popular.  I’ve tried to get on this tour twice before so book in advance. The tour is in English and my  group of twelve was international. He weaves some Hebrew, history, humor and insight into the one and half hour tour.

There is a major difference between Guy’s tour and other street art tours. He focuses on the street words to teach Hebrew and Israeli Culture.

We begin with a piece by Muriel Street Art.

We see a few of her pieces throughout the tour. Muriel Street Art wants us to think.

SENED creates Figures known as “kufsonim” (mini boxes) They are ready-made stencils that are spread all over the city. The characters were developed from an abstract of a cube.

missK is an eastern european artist who lives in Israel. Apparently some of the local artists do not like the growing number of graffiti tourists. 

We see a lot of her work in Florentin.

Ometz (Hebrew for bravery) writes street poetry. He is a religious scholar by day and street artist by night.

Dede is one of Israel’s most prominent street artists and the only one I knew of so I was glad to see pieces of his.

Solomon Souza is a British Israeli artist who is best known for painting faces on the shutters in the Mahane Yehudi market in Jerusalem.

It is only visible on Saturdays when the market is closed.

Frenemy creates colorful characters in chaotic environments.

Tiny Tiny Gallery on Florentin 18 shows slut machine until August 6.

 The “27 club” is a group of influential rock musicians that died at the young age of 27 of drug and alcohol abuse. Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse  are part of this group. Some say the blank face is the artist Kis-Lev.

.In Hebrew you can decipher each letter from the bottom.

In Arabic you can do it from the top. This word is a combination of toda and shukraan. It means thank you in both languages. The message is clear.

Tel Aviv is the most liberal city in the Middle East and attracts both local and worldwide street artists. There weren’t as many large-scale polished murals in Florentin as in other areas but smaller and rougher with different styles and materials.

  You will see amazing street art through out the city. Yes President Trump, Israel is the Middle East.

Fly safe,




Eating In Jerusalem With Dvir


Eating In Jerusalem With Dvir

“Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer “Unknown

I am a foodie. Foodie is a cutesy word to describe the passion I feel when eating something wonderful. I particularly love the street food in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem.

The flavors are strong and the ingredients are the freshest.Eating on the streets of Jerusalem involves all your senses. You see, hear and smell the food being made.

Fate and the Internet connected me with Dvir Hollander as our guide in Jerusalem. It turned out that Dvir was also passionate about street food and knew exactly where to go and when. (

We met at lunchtime and we were hungry. When Dvir recognized that we were kindred spirits about food, he described himself as a “ friendly dictator” when it came to where we should eat. We walked through the New Gate and entered the Old City in the Christian Quarter. Immediately we were on the Via Dolorosa listening to the Muslim call to prayer. Our lunch was vegetarian at Lina restaurant. In Israel, the chick pea is clearly the most important legume and the main ingredient of hummus. Everyone has their favorite hummus place in Israel but to me, eating it in the old city is always the best. There is freshly baked pita. It smelled like it came right out of an oven nearby.

Everything we ate at Lina was amazing and we followed Dvir like sheep when it came to food from that point on.

We stop for some halvah near the seventh station of the cross. Halvah means sweet in Arabic. It is a tahini based candy made from sesame butter. I have to admit that I had grown up on packaged halvah and hated it. One trip to Turkey changed my mind about halvah and I loved this fresh one from Al-Amad with its dense, flaky texture and nutty sweetness.

We needed caffeine and Dvir took us to Abu Mussa in the textile market for some thick grainy sweet Turkish style coffee with cardamom. I forgot how much I love that coffee. The taste brings back the memories of being here for the first time with my college friends Susie and Kiki.

At Dvir’s recommendation we have dinner at Chakra. Chakra is a trendy seafood inspired restaurant with fresh-baked focaccia off King George street.

It is delicious. I was hoping to go to Machneyuda the celebrity chef restaurant in the Machane Yehuda Market but even the best concierge and tour guide can not get you in that week so make reservations before you go.

Our second eating day started at Jaffar Sweets for freshly made Knafeh. It is neon orange shreds of phyllo dough drenched in syrupy sugar rose-water and filled with gooey, salty. warm goat cheese.

Knafeh is a favorite at Ramadan and now also a favorite of mine. It’s a must eat in the old city.

I had a blood sugar drop so we stopped for quick, incredibly delicious lamb kabobs from A Shaab.

Kabob is taken seriously in the Arab Quarter and each restaurant has their family recipe for preparing it.

I was not leaving the old city for Yad Vashem and the Israeli Museum without falafel. Israelis feel as strongly about their falafel as they do about their politics. We get falafel and hummus from Abu Achmed. The falafel which is made of chick peas is right out of the fryer – hot and crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. Of all the falafel I have eaten in Israel, these are the most special.

The hummus (because you need chick pea sauce to put on the chickpeas) is outstanding. It comes with a lemon tahini sauce that would be great with anything. The taste of the freshly baked pita bread makes everything even better.

We drink fresh pomegranate juice and more cardamom Turkish coffee from Haj Faraj. We relax for a few minutes and enjoy the coffee and his hospitality and more sight-seeing.

It’s clear that in a few days I have become addicted to roasted Arabic coffee with cardamom.The scent of coffee from the Sandouka  brothers shop is overwhelming. I buy some to take home.

The fragrant smell of spices wafts through the air as Dvir takes us to Sea of Herbs. Sea of Herbs is run by two Palestinian brothers Isaac and Jacob. They sell spices, herbal teas, health and wellness products and natural remedies. As we watch Jacob expertly mix the spices, we are brought into his world of remedies and flavors and buy many things to try at home.

Today’s lunch is at Arafat. Everyday this tiny restaurant serves up a surprise meal. It is a no choice, simple, delicious menu. When the lunch is ready, queues appear out nowhere. When they run out of food, lunch is over.Today’s meal was lamb meatballs in a tomato broth (kefta in Greek) vegetables, rice and hummus. It was filled with local people and in the know tourists.

Summers in Greece when I was young have made me a bit of baklava snob but I am alway hopeful. it is the world’s most famous middle Eastern/Mediterranean dessert. Many countries take credit for baklava. It is filo dough drenched in sugar syrup or honey. We stop at Alaseel Sweets for a bite of the delicious pastry on our way out of the old city.

There is much conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis. The links between food and peace are easy to see with people living in conflict areas. Traveling, eating fresh, local food in the Arab market and looking in the eyes of people who prepare the food makes you believe that human beings do have the capacity for peace. Thank you Dvir for including all this delicious food in our visit to Jerusalem.

Fly safe,

Being In Tel Aviv With A Writer


“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” William Faulkner

So the plan was to spend a month in Tel Aviv with a screenwriter who is writing a movie with a deadline. Here is what I have learned.

Do the boring stuff. A well fed and rested writer is less apt to bite your head off. Without me, the diet is coffee and wine. It is a bit tricky with everything closing on Friday at two and not reopening till Saturday night or Sunday. Plan ahead.

Don’t ask specific questions.

Be prepared to discuss the characters at all times. One AM is a good discussion time.

At other times, be prepared to be shut out completely.

Remember that you are on two separate trips. This is not a vacation.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that when you are watching something that has to do with what he is writing, that it is just for your entertainment. He is watching to critique the screenplay and will spend time evaluating it afterwards. Pay attention. You may be asked difficult questions afterward.

It didn’t help that it was raining the first week and I hurt my knee. It was the animals lining up in pairs kind of rain. I wanted to sit inside and lose myself in a good book but my breathing was breaking his concentration.

Be ready to answer bizarre research questions like what is the last make up thing you do before going out?

Writers will always correct your punctuation and grammar. Even if he does not do it every time, I can tell that he wants to.

Be able to deal with the mood swings depending on how the work is going that day. He moves from happy to sad to angry with the agility of a ballet dancer.

Learn to read the cues – when he wants to be talked to and when he does not.

He doesn’t hate me. He hates his inability to get that particular scene the way he wants it, in the time frame he has allowed himself. He will figure it out later on but at this moment, the drawer that I am opening, is the problem.

Interrupt the writing at your own peril.

Israel is a country of changes and extremes all packed into a small place. The rain stopped and my knee hurt less. Like, the tensions and complexities of Israel, we learned to navigate our situation. We made it better. Peace in the Middle East – not yet but Hayarkon St. is all good.

Fly safe,



Old World Palaces And Castles


Palaces and Castles

“ And if she asks you why, you can tell her that I told you, that I’m tired of castles in the air “Don McLean (I love that song)

Castles and palaces are pieces of the past. They are evocative of the people who lived in them many centuries ago. They are rich in folklore and history and often built with astonishing craftsmanship and innovative design. Here are some of the palaces that I have toured. Many of these photos were before I was blogging so less palace and more look I was there shots.

Alhambra – Granada, Spain

fullsizeoutput_5ea7Buckingham Palace – London, England

Buda Castle – Budapest, Hungary (view near castle)


Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) – Venice, Italy

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Neuschwanstein – Hohenschwangau, Germany

Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal

Peterhof, (known as Petrodvorets and Petergof) – Petergof ,Saint Petersburg, Russia

Pitti Palace – Florence, Italy

Prague Castle – Prague, Czech Republic

Schoenbrunn – Vienna, Austria

Trakai Castle – Trakai, Lithuania.

Palace Of Versailles, Versailles, France

Fly safe,



Ten Countries With The Worst Air Pollution


Ten Countries With The Worst Air Pollution

“I’m always amazed at the human capacity to not make fundamental changes, but instead merely adapt. I see these pictures of people in Beijing and New Delhi, walking around with masks on, because you can’t walk outside your house and breathe? If you can’t breathe?…If that’s not the cue to make a fundamental change, I don’t know what is!” Bill Maher

Every country these days has bad air pollution. Cities are usually worse than rural areas. China is famous for terrible air pollution but they are trying to be better. Here are the top countries for air pollution.

1.The World Bank says Pakistan’s air pollution is the most severe in the world.
The harm caused by air pollution in Pakistan’s urban areas exceeds most other high-profile causes of mortality in the country, including traffic-related accidents. Declining government attention to air quality leads to weak implementation of environmental policies.

2. Air pollution in Qatar vastly exceeds safe limits and is damaging the health of the population. It can be explained in part to the country’s building boom, vehicle exhausts, smelting plants and the burning of organic materials.

3. Along with all the other problems, walking the streets of Kabul is a health risk. Thick columns of smoke from ovens and factories and bumper-to-bumper vehicles producing harmful gases create various types of respiratory disease. No city in Afghanistan has a proper and technical management of solid waste. They are dumping waste in valleys and open fields, which is extremely dangerous not only in polluting the air, but also for underwater pollution. Three to five thousand people a year die of air pollution related illnesses In Afghanistan.

4. Air pollution kills fifteen thousand Bangladeshis a year according to the World Bank. Large numbers of children, street children, local street-walkers, and rickshaw pullers in Bangladesh are at particular risk from this air pollution. According to this report, there are two major sources of air pollution in Bangladesh, vehicular emissions, and industrial emissions. These are mainly concentrated in the cities. Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with an estimated population of more than 8 million. Air pollution has emerged as an acute problem in the city. Blackening of the city air and reduced visibility can be observed at times.

5. There is a black cloud over Cairo, Egypt. The smog is  caused by farmers piling up rice straw and burning it, because they lack the means to transfer the rice straw from their fields to recycling centres. Millions of cars prowl the traffic-clogged streets, while a thousand factories belch smoke into the air. On a bad day, the smog in Cairo and the Delta cities is unbearable.

6. The United Arab Emirates has air that is a bit worse than China and twice as bad as India. Cement manufacturing, power generation, desalination and cars all add to its pollution. But one of the biggest contributors in the region is dust made of sand, kicked up by construction or windstorms. The combination is lethal.

7. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is the world’s coldest capital. One third of the people live below the poverty line and burn coal for warmth. The toxic fumes make air pollution worse than Beijing. Children and old people are affected the worst but the government does not see it as a priority.

8. India’s cities are consistently ranked among the world’s worst polluted cities. Sometimes the air quality numbers are worse than the highest number in the world pollution index. More than 2.5 million premature deaths in India last year were attributed to air pollution. Crop burning, diesel fuel, dust, wild fires and coal all contribute to the increasingly polluted air.

9. Bahrain is another unhealthy country for breathing. Diesel car exhausts , factory fumes and dust storms contribute to particles in the lungs. It is a wealthy country and not heavily populated and should be doing more to correct this.

10. The pollution from Katmandu floats toward the Himalayas. Nepal has become one of the worst countries for air pollution due to car emissions, brush fires, burn farming, brick kilns, and cooking stoves. The black carbon emissions are affecting the nearby glaciers in the Himalayas which affects the water supply for that region.

Other countries with high levels of air pollution include Ghana, Jordan, China, Senegal, Turkey Bulgaria, Mauritius, Peru and Serbia .

Fly safe,


Ten Things That I Want To Do In Jerusalem


Ten Things That I Want To Do In Jerusalem

“The heart and soul of the Jewish people engenders the thought that if you want one simple word to symbolize all of Jewish history, the word would be Jerusalem” Teddy Kollek

The Western Wall is probably the most known attraction to visit in Jerusalem. The wall is believed to be a unique place where you can have a direct line to heaven. When you are there, insert a small piece of paper with your prayer in the cracks between the stones. Now you can also send your prayers by email to the wall and God or one of his interns will send you a confirmation back.

Yad Vashem is the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. It is not only a memorial to the six million Jews who died in World War II, but is also a research and educational center.

The Dome Of The Rock is the third most important Muslim sight (after Mecca and Medina). Dress modesty if you would like to visit the mosque. Muslims can go inside anytime. If you are not Muslim, you can only enter the Mount Temple during certain hours.

The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre is located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. It is a major pilgrimage destination for Christians. The church was built on the site of the crucifixion of Jesus. The church is believed to contain the slab of rock where the body of Jesus Christ was laid to rest.

The Arab Souq in Jerusalem is my kind of shopping. No price is the real price, final price or the wrong price. It is the ultimate marketplace with junk, jewels, spices, handicrafts and food in a never ending labyrinth.

The Jews are the people of the book. The main attraction at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is the Shrine Of The Book. The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise the oldest copy of the Hebrew Bible in existence.

The City Of David is a collection of underground tunnels once ruled by Judean kings. Do not do this walk if you are claustrophobic or fear getting wet.

Explore the endless alleys and tiny streets of the Machane Yehuda Market. The market sells everything from fresh fruits to colorful spices. When night falls, the market (better known as the Shuk ) becomes a hipsters’ meeting place with loads of drinks and music from every corner. It is a great place to relax with friends over some food and beers!

The main roads in the cities of the ancient Roman Empire were decorated with spectacular stone columns. These streets were called Cardo. During Roman times, Jerusalem had one of these roads. This ancient street goes through the Armenian and the Jewish quarters.

For me, the main attraction in Jerusalem is Food. The “gathering of the exiles” here means that almost every culture you can think of from around the world has a flavor represented. Challah, Arab bagels, falafel, sabich, hummus, schwarma, kabob, fresh squeezed juice, bourekas, baklava, rugalach and lokum are among the foods to try.

Fly safe,



Packing For A Month In Tel Aviv, Israels


Packing For A Month In Tel Aviv

“Larry had brought me blue jeans, a red polo shirt, jogging socks, my white Nikes, an extra cross from my suitcase, the silver knives, the Firestar complete with inner pants holster, and the Browning and its shoulder holster. He’d forgotten a bra, but hey, except for that it was perfect.” Laurel K Hamilton

No suitcase in the world is fit to contain the multitude of useless junk I consider bringing on even the shortest trips. I’m a high maintenance traveler. I have a few enviable skills but packing is not one of them. Spending a month in the same place with weekend trips is a packing challenge for me. Its much easier to pack when I’m moving around. How can I survive a month in a city without my black leather fringe boots?

How many t-shirts , socks and underwear do I have to bring if I am actually going to be doing laundry – something I normally avoid on vacation? Do I bring the laundry detergent with me? By not bringing so much underwear, does that give me room to bring even more denim?

I always pack like I’m going to Cuba or Myanmar twenty years ago. I’m a fan of duct tape. You can use it for anything – broken luggage or broken toes. Also zip lock bags. Everything spills. I always bring flip-flops. I live in fear of a disgusting shower floor. I’m a germaphobe and always travel with hand sanitizer. I think every public restroom carries malaria or bubonic plague.

Sexy lingerie? If I think about it enough, it’s going in the suitcase. Workout sneakers? There is a lot of ice cream in Israel. How many purse options should I bring? There are many different ways to carry around credit cards, rumpled cash, gum, eye drops and lip gloss.

It is going to be raining. Do I need the cute red rubber rain boots?  I almost never wear them in Southern California because of the drought. It would make a cool Instagram photo with the old city of Yafo in the background.

What about all those books that I have lying around that I am planning to read? I can bring those for the plane .

This time I have many presents for my god-daughter. I’m bringing an extra suitcase for her gifts. Gift giving practices vary by country so be aware of the customs. She is two and half and doesn’t know the customs yet.

I’m a traveler and I know that packing heavy is a rookie mistake. I spend a lot of time organizing because of this. My packing mantra is less things, more experiences. Sometimes it works.

Ps. Our AiirBnB  is two minutes from the American Embassy. I wonder if they will need help packing.

Fly safe,