The two greatest cities in the world are New York and TLV.  You all know where TLV is……and isn’t.  It isn’t the location of Ben Gurion Airport.  And New York requires no explaining!

TLV, Tel Aviv, is also not an outpost on your trip to the Galil and Jerusalem.  I can’t fathom why the tour groups make it seem like an incidental.  Like an overnight in Tel Aviv is all you need, if that.  Tourists of the world, rise up!  Get what you’re paying for.

Tel Aviv is Israel.  Plain and simple.  Jerusalem is history and drama and, yes, beauty.  The Galil is nature (but let’s be honest here……all the parks and vistas and waterfalls in the Galilee are, shall we say, a bit second rate compared to Niagara, Iguazu, Yellowstone).  We love the Galilee because it’s ours but if you want to see what’s really ours, it’s clear, spend a lot of time in Tel Aviv!

Like New York (which is truly more than Manhattan, with the already risen phoenix of Brooklyn, now being challenged by Queens) Tel Aviv is packed with everything, absolutely everything that makes a city really and truly great.

It’s beautiful.  Located on the eastern beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, capped by ancient Yafo (Jaffa) on the south and the contemporary suburbs to the north, the middle is just packed with culture, cutting edge architecture, shopping from shuks to fabulous and ultra chic pricey designer duds.

Like to eat?  You’ll have to stay a year. at least. to try all the trendy places, some of them even kosher.  You can spend a fortune on food or you can survive on cheap and fabulous chumus (an import to America where it’s calledhumus.and where we even located it in a tiny grocery in a tiny town in Alaska!).  But cheap eats is not for everyone.  If you’re the gourmet who prefers to ignore the prices you’ll find loads of budget breaking simply delicious meals await you in Tel Aviv.  Al fresco is almost year round and oozing charm is de rigeur.

Tel Aviv has the most fabulous experiental museums.  One after another.  Don’t miss the Rabin, the Palmach, the Diaspora, the Haaretz.  Fun for all and you will learn history painlessly.  Sheer entertainment with remarkable content.  You need a couple of days just to do the museums.  And good shoes.

The world class Tel Aviv Art Museum never disappoints.  Set amongst other cultural icons, like the Tel Aviv Opera House, a day here, with a lovely lunch, is memorable.

A few days ago my husband and I explored a new neighborhood in central Tel Aviv.  It’s huge, super expensive, anchored by an exclusive mall called, appropriately, TLV, and with enormous high rise apartment buildings shading the streets which are loaded with young families who, clearly, have lots of money.  If you want to purchase an apartment here, just know there’s a two year wait and the purchase price doesn’t seem like it’s on a downward slope. Tel Aviv, like New York, sells luxury apartments in the millions of dollars and, like New York, luxury is not always that luxurious. Small apartments for large dollars.  That’s what happens when everyone wants to be in a place.  People will pay anything to be there……if they can only afford it.

Another wonderful feature of Tel Aviv is its walkability.  The city is almost entirely flat. One can start in Yafo with its history and the now trendy shuk culture, seeded with restaurants in the most unlikely spots,  stroll all the way to the fabulous Port, a unique place in the world, passing by beaches, of course, and markets and neighborhoods old and new, and arrive easily, without the challenge of hills.  It’s a fascinating walk, which even I, an ancient, can do comfortably.

Hotels range from beachfront to boutique and many still offer the piece de resistance of Israel travel, the breakfast!  No one, anywhere, offers the breakfast that Israel includes in the price of your room.  Ah. The calories.  You’ll need that walk, indeed.

So, again I wonder, why the tour operators give this amazing city a brushoff…A shrug.  It’s clear that this should be the major stop on an Israel visit.