If you were in Israel for the 64th edition of Eurovision, there was some serious fun to be had. But you probably know that if you follow our Instagram or YouTube channel.
The Expo was hopping, but so too was was the rest of Tel Aviv. The fifth-most-visited city in the Middle East definitely had it going on: beach, eats and musical feats. (See what we did there?)
As part of our musical journey, we wandered off the beaten path of Eurovision fans and found five other things you may want to consider for your next visit. Be still your heart… you might just fall for them, too!
1. Ethiopian talents
Israelis sometimes describe their country not as a melting pot but as a salad bowl. It’s all mixed together but you can still identify its constituent parts.
There are plenty of good examples in this country of immigrants — especially in terms of musicians. Among them is Aveva Dasa, the daughter of Ethiopian Jews. Her parents were persecuted in Ethiopia so moved to Israel when she was a child. Her sound is difficult to place geographically, perhaps reflecting her vast experience at home and abroad.
Ester Rada is another name we encountered. Born in a religious family of Ethiopian Jews, her family arrived in Israel via a refugee camp in Sudan in the mid 1980s. She kicked off her career in musical theater, performing in Habima (where the Eurovision orange carpet took place), and later opened for Alicia Keys in Israel. You may recognise her from her music video “Life Happens”, which was been played on MTV networks around the world.
2. Land of milk and honey
If “milk and honey” is the catch-all phrase for yummy eats, then Israel gives new definition to these two biblical blessings. Yes, Israeli dairy products like yogurt and cheese are perpetual favs. You can pick those up at nearly every corner market. And the local raw honey is worth risking the cavities. You’ll find all this and more at every Israeli breakfast, which is worth hitting up especially when crashing at a lux Israeli hotel where the first meal of the day is included, like Tel Aviv’s beachside Carlton, where, yes, please, cappuccinos to go are included. Gratis.
Eurovision Trivia: Milk and Honey was the name of the band that won the 1979 Eurovision with their hit, “Hallelujah”. It sure was a lot of fun at the interval mash-up during this year’s grand final. You’ll notice that on Friday afternoons some radio stations have a habit of playing old school favourites like this one.
3. Carmel Market street eats
Tel Aviv is also a capital of street eats a-plenty to make your taste buds buzz. To fuel more fun, hit the Carmel Market. It’s an easy 15-minute walk from Charles Clore Park, which you’ll remember as the home of Eurovision Village. Packed with shops and stands, the market offers a wide array of local dishes, smoothies, fresh produce, and much more. Sure you’ve had falafel, but what about halva, lafa and hilbe? And how about as many as 10 different plates of hummous at one joint? This is the place for the delectable sesame seed based dessert, a delicious flatbread and an earthy condiment made of fenugreek. Shakshuka is a tomato stew with eggs, pesto, and feta cheese. May sound bizarre. Tastes divine.
4. Yemenite Sisters with Voices
An Israeli act with serious bravado is the female trio, A-Wa. To say the songs of Yemenite sisters Liron, Tagel, and Tair Haim don’t exactly show women as submissive is an understatement. An abusive father meets his end in their 2016 debut album, “Habib Galbi.” The eponymous single, which is sung in their great-grandmother’s Judeo-Arabic, has garnered more than 12 million views. Their single, “Mudbira (Unlucky)”, which debuted in January, reveals a similar moral when the sisters’ flocks of four-legged grazers are pilfered by a dishonest dude. Partial to Adidas and other hip threads, the sisters find inspiration in hip-hop fashion, which resonates with their highly percussive sound and electronic beats.
5. The Tel Aviv Beach Promenade
Listen, the sand and sun will meet all of your expectations for a Mediterranean beach getaway. This well-paved strip with soft sandy swim areas also features exercise equipment, shops and eats. Charles Clore Park is a gorgeous public beachfront that usually hosts Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade main event. We caught a gorgeous glimpse of it when visiting Sergey Lazarev at the Dan Hotel. It’s the same joint where Madonna stayed. This is the view she would have had from her balcony.
And as Gal Gadot said during her cameo in the Eurovision final, it only takes three minutes to get a nice tan under that Israeli hot sun. Yum yum!
What were some of your favourite moments outside of the Eurovision bubble in Tel Aviv? Let us know down below!