Shuk HaCarmel is the best place to buy your fresh fruit and vegetables, grab your sweet treats, indulge in halva, or try many exquisite restaurants. But a true Tel Avivian knows not to go to the shuk on a Friday before Shabbat. If you value your personal space and don’t want your toes to be run over, don’t go to the shuk on a Friday. Busy Tel Avivians crowd the narrow market to get all their week’s groceries before the stands shut down for Shabbat at around 4pm. Get there Thursday if you can, because that delicious challah bread is not worth it on a Friday afternoon.
The nonstop city of Tel Aviv has free access to Wi-Fi anywhere you go. Most cafes and restaurants have Wi-Fi for your use, but so do the Tel Aviv streets and beaches. The free Wi-Fi means you don’t need an office to do your work; you can do it from a local coffee shop. Or you can even take your laptop to the beautiful beaches and soak up some rays while exploring the web. With the Tel Aviv weather, how can you not take advantage?
If someone says he will meet you at 3pm, he is only late if he arrives after 4pm. There is such thing as Israeli time. It’s not that people are being rude, but they are in no rush. They will get there, but they will take their time doing so. At first, it may be a shock, but anyone living in Israel knows that ’12:00′ means ‘as close to 12 as you can get there’.
The weekend in Israel starts on Thursday. On Friday afternoon and all of Saturday, most everything will be closed for Shabbat, the sabbath. Shabbat is the day of rest, and it is no joke. Some bars, restaurants, and grocery stores will be open for those who don’t observe Shabbat, but if you are looking to run errands or get things done, do it before Friday.
Take advantage of the free jazz performances on the corner of Ben Gurion Boulevard and Dizengoff Street. Jazz on the Boulevard is a program supported by the Tel Aviv Municipality. Every other Friday from March to July and September to October, both Israeli and foreign jazz musicians are invited to perform. These free events are fun for friends, families, or anyone wanting to enjoy good music on a relaxing Friday afternoon.
Slicha means ‘excuse me’ or ‘sorry’ and you will hear it at least five times a day in Tel Aviv. ‘Slicha’ is used to get someone’s attention, when you want someone to move, when a biker is passing on the street, or before anyone says anything. Sababa, meaning ‘great’ or ‘cool,’ is also used in almost every conversation. A typical conversation should end with sababa if the two people talking agree on anything at all. If you want to get by in Tel Aviv, all you need to know is to say ‘slicha’ and ‘sababa.’
If you are looking for a fun, free activity, check out the art galleries on Ben Yehuda. You can just walk down the street and walk into most galleries for no charge. There are tons of interesting galleries, no matter what kind of art you are into. Find international artwork in the Bruno Gallery, pop and modern art in the Eden Gallery, and abstract pieces in the Jojo Gallery.
Chutzpah is a real thing in Tel Aviv. People will tell you how they feel, whether its a good or bad thing. It might be shocking at first to a newcomer, but after spending some time in Tel Aviv, you get used to it. Women from your daily bakery will tell you to date their son, people will stop you on the street to tell you they like your outfit, and ‘no’ really does mean ‘no.’ The directness of Israelis may seem exhilarating or harsh, but in Tel Aviv, people will say what they want and do what they want until somebody stops them.
Dogs are everywhere in Tel Aviv, and they get just as much attention (if not more) than you will. When walking down the streets you can’t help but stop and pet all the dogs you pass. Watch out, because dog-walkers aren’t afraid to bike or walk down the busy streets with five or more dogs attached to them. Don’t worry, cat lovers; cats are everywhere, too.
Three fingers gripped together pointing upward (like you would imagine a Frenchman telling you the food was so delicious) doesn’t mean ‘you’re annoying me’; it means ‘wait one second.’ This hand gesture is used everywhere in Tel Aviv, by children and adults alike. Anyone who presents this gesture is busy and just needs a minute until he can talk to you. Try it out sometime; everyone will know what you mean.