Tel Aviv is a city very much in transition. A mosaic of cultures, religions and influences, for a city of around 450,000 people according to a 2015 poll, this modern Middle Eastern metropolis is as varied and diverse today as the buildings and architecture that have preceded it.
But I didn’t really know all of that prior to my latest visit. I was invited to Israel this past March courtesy of The Israel Ministry of Tourism primarily to celebrate Purim—a raucous carnival–like holiday in which thousands of young party-going Israelis dressed head to toe in costumes (this year’s unofficial theme was unicorns) take to the streets, and bars, to drink, dance and celebrate, something. Why exactly Purim is such a raucous drinking holiday was never totally made clear. But that’s beside the point. It’s good fun and people are happy, so why ask too many questions. Just imagine the level of craziness that ensues in New Orleans around Mardi Gras meets the revelry of Halloween. That kind of crazy.
While Purim certainly provided a unique perspective into the pervasively popular nightlife scene in Tel Aviv, it was seeing this urban metropolis and just how incredibly much it’s expanded over the years that’s really the big story here. You see this actually wasn’t my first time to Israel. I was here ten years ago, almost to the day on a Birthright trip that left me wanting to learn more than how much alcohol my body could physically weather before passing out only to wake up again the next morning only to do it all again for ten days straight. Sure, I learned a few things too, but that was really the biggest takeaway.
In the years since I last visited, Tel Aviv has exploded both economically and culturally. And, to be fair, I’ve done a bit of growing up too.
Tel Aviv—which is referred to as ‘The White City’ due to the consortium of some 4,000 Bauhaus style buildings erected across the in the 1930’s—has not only broadened its architectural horizons over the years, it’s expanded, and there no better evidence of this than seeing it through the lens of some of the city’s most historic hotels, many of which I had a chance to visit while I was in town last.