Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Not just another New Years Eve in Tel Aviv

After a long 12 hour flight, I made it back to Israel. I’ve decided to come back here to escape the cold and have a bit of Tel Aviv fun for the New Year. As I think I’ve mentioned, most holidays are very unique in Israel. Since Israel is a Jewish state, its laws around holidays are governed by the Jewish calendar.

People don’t get XMAS Day or Easter off like in most parts of the world. Instead, they get Rosh Hashanah and Passover off. I think it’s quite cool but it does still take some getting used to. The same goes for New Years. Even though Israel follows the regular calendar, New Year’s Eve really isn’t a big deal here. This past year, the 31st fell on a Friday, so everyone is already off because of the weekend. I’m thinking that n Tel Aviv there will definitely be some action.

So what is it like in Tel Aviv on Sylvester? As I said in an earlier post, most Israeli’s refer to New Year’s Eve as Sylvester, named after a Christian Saint whose special day is on the 31st of December.

So, I get off the plane and am ready to party – I tell a lie, I’m actually exhausted. I get back to the flat, say hello to everyone and grab a cat nap. When I rise, it’s dark and I start making my plans. It looks like it’s dinner and some drinks for us. We head to a friend for what turns out to be an incredible meal of wine, food, and fun.

After that, we cruise through Florentin and it looks like they are getting ready for a big street party (very popular in Israel). It’s raining (perfect, I know) so we elect to head into town and find a bar to grab a drink. There are so many areas in Tel Aviv to choose from but my friend has to work at 11pm (I know…even on New Years) so we go close to her work on Dizengoff.

We grab a glass of wine and toast the New Year and what a year it’s been. I end up staying with my friend at her work, Hotel Cinema. It’s actually quite a cool place with memorabilia all over the lobby from its heyday.

The Cinema Hotel in Tel Aviv is situated a short walk from the Tel Aviv beach, in an original Bauhaus style building – the Esther Cinema, one of the first movie theaters in the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel. You see, the hotel was actually the Esther Cinema, one of the first movie theaters in the heart of Tel Aviv. It has a unique design and even highlights the original projectors and movie posters, preserving the legacy of the building.

Now, it is a contemporary hotel but it’s chosen to maintain a bit of its history through maintaining the movie feel. Hey, they even give guests fresh popcorn…now that’s service!

On a New Year’s note, not much is going on if I’m honest – in the hotel and outside in Dizengoff Square. It is very quiet and definitely no Times Square, Sydney Harbour or Big Ben. But I’ll take this relaxed pace this year.

My friend and I do the countdown together and give one another a big hug. Last year we celebrated together too while in the kibbutz. We had just met at the time and our friendship has grown so much since then.

After the countdown we notice some sparks fly outside the hotel and realize someone is igniting fireworks on their own. Outside of being afraid – very afraid actually – I realize that we are DEFINITELY NOT (as a metaphor) in Times Square anymore:).

You know what? I kind of like it.