Trip Report: Tel Aviv, Israel

I had the occasion to visit Tel Aviv, Israel recently for work. I was admittedly not looking forward to this trip, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I ended up liking Tel Aviv. The food scene is pretty great and the beach-oriented, laid-back lifestyle was nice to experience. The city definitely has a car problem, but it is trying to ameliorate that by installing light rail and new bike lanes.

 Tel Aviv beach

Unfortunately, I came down with a case of food poisoning shortly after I arrived, and then my second weekend was filled with continuous rain (at times torrential; rain at all is pretty rare in Tel Aviv), both of which hindered my capacity for exploration.

 North Abraxass kitchen

North Abraxass: If you are in Tel Aviv, you must go to this restaurant. While the plating concept is definitely gimmicky (most dishes are served on cardboard or in paper bags), the food is world-class delicious. Eating at the bar in front of the open kitchen is a requirement: it completely changes one’s experience as the restaurant suddenly becomes much more personal. Plus, you get to gawk at all of the other dishes that you didn’t order as they get paraded by and sometimes lit on fire. Reservations recommended, but then ask to sit at the bar. (I didn’t have a reservation and got lucky on a slow weekday).

claro;: Really nicely done food. This is a huge restaurant; it is best to sit at the counter next to the open kitchen. It is located in sort of an open air mall in rustic buildings with shops and other food vendors; I hear that the nearby Anita gelato shop is worth going to and the Whiskey Bar & Museum caught my eye.

Mashya: This was the closest best option to where I was staying during a rainy night. The food was executed extremely well and the plating was engaging. Service was terrible, but I’m pretty sure it was only because this one waiter was inattentive and, as a walk-in, I had the worst seat in the house at the end of the bar. Make reservations. Have dessert.

 A delicious drink at Spicehaus

Spicehaus: If you are in Tel Aviv, you must come here. The cocktails were inspired and lively: I had intended to have one or two and then move on, but I ended up spending my evening here. I even got to demo an upcoming cocktail for the mixologist’s new place down the street. The sister/brother bartender/mixologist pair Ella and Rosco really took care of me. If you go, tell them Eric from Google in New York sent you. Having delicious cocktails while watching Tel Aviv go by through the open-air bar surrounded by fun and passionate people makes this my second favorite cocktail bar ever.

Yashka: Said to have the best shawarma in Tel Aviv. It is indeed really tasty; I recommend the mixed shawarma. Apparently you should ask for the curry mango sauce, but I didn’t know that at the time. Come here after visiting Spicehaus to detox.

Cafelix: This is a local roastery and chain of third-wave cafes with many locations throughout Tel Aviv. It is a reliable place to get good, cared-for espresso.

HaKosem: Said to have the best falafel in Tel Aviv. I made a special trip here on my last day on my way to work to try it. It was definitely delicious, but it’s not clear to me that it is significantly better than most falafel sandwiches I’ve ever had. It’s worth trying, though.

Masada: We came here just after we arrived as it was close by and still open. The service was friendly and the food was fine, though I may have gotten food poisoning here.

Old Man and the Sea: This place is pretty famous. The food was good (and overwhelming with choices: the table is served 20 dishes even before ordering anything), but the service was simultaneously inattentive, redundant, and hurried. I wouldn’t go back and I’d recommend trying another mediterranean-style restaurant.

La Mer: We dug our feet into the sand of Bograshov Beach and had a pleasant drink here on a night with good weather. Recommended for at least that activity.

Jerusalem Day Tour by Abraham Tours: We wanted to visit the historical sites in Jerusalem, which is only about an hour away by car. We had trouble discerning which of the many tour agencies offering a trip around Jerusalem from Tel Aviv were any good. We settled on Abraham Tours and were pleased: Our tour guide, Yariv, was friendly and motivated to ensure we got to see everything we could, despite the cold, driving rain. We hit all of the normal sights in the Old City, and then ended at the vivacious Mahane Yehuda Market. I’ve got to say that, even as an devout atheist, visiting Jerusalem was impressive: it has so much history and still feels like Jesus and Brian could be walking through the streets. Visiting really gave a better context for the history of the region.

 A nice spot for a quick coffee

Vista: Serves up espresso and pastries with a gorgeous view of the sea and the city. This was a great mid-run break on my last morning in the city.

Yaffo Tel Aviv: We went here for a quick bite before going to the airport and after a late lunch. The food was delicious, the service was attentive, and decor was tasteful. I wish I had more time and a bigger appetite to properly give this restaurant its due.

Dan Hotel Tel Aviv: The hotel is has a reputation for being fancy and for hosting famous guests, but it seems like it really hit its peak around 5-10 years ago. It is in need of a face lift in places, but is a perfectly fine place to stay. The breakfast buffet is expansive, though with no variation. For the record, the closest place to get decent Israeli craft beer is at the nearby bodega, Tiv Ta’am in the City.

Getting around: We predominantly walked and used Gett to hail cabs, which was unreliable during times of peak demand. I would have liked to figure out the bike share system, but I was too lazy. Walking in the rain in Tel Aviv is not recommended: the streets quickly flood, resulting in tsunamis from passing cars, and sidewalk surfaces were obviously not chosen for traction.

 There are so many gorgeous, stray cats in Tel Aviv and Israel!

Dooring Costs

I got doored by a guy getting out of a livery cab a couple of months ago. The cab was in the traveling lane, stopped at a stop light.

I was super-lucky: I only had some bruised ribs. Apparently, my front wheel took the brunt of the force, but I was ejected from my bike and hit the parked Ford E-Series van with my torso. Nevertheless, I decided to go to the ER to make sure I didn’t have a broken rib in danger of puncturing a lung.

In New York, the following laws come into play:

  • VTL §1214: “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic.”
  • NYCRR §4-11-(c): “Taxis… while engaged in picking up or discharging passengers must be within 12 inches of the curb or parallel thereto”.
  • NYCRR §4-12-(c): “ No person shall get out of any vehicle from the side facing on the traveled part of the street in such manner as to interfere with the right of the operator of an approaching vehicle or a bicycle.”

Of course, the driver was not cited with any of these violations by the responding officer because the NYPD doesn’t give a shit about cyclists or pedestrians.

Here are the costs that have been involved.

My health insurance has a 10% copay on emergency services. I had already met my deductible for the year prior to the incident.

Item Base Price Discounted Price I Pay
FDNY Ambulance Transport $775 $775 $78
FDNY Ambulance Mileage $11 $11 $1
ER Doctor $215 $201 $20
ER “Ancilary Services” $6604 $5052 $505
Radiologist $61 $10 $1
Radiology - Chest $65 $23 $2
$7731 $6072 $607

The “ER Ancilary Services” was broken out by the hospital on a bill to me, but strangely, the totals don’t add up except for the amount I had to pay:

Item Base Price
X-RAY $549
X-RAY Chest $489
ER $4985
$6023

The ER visit at NYU Langone was pleasant: the doctors, nurses, and radiologists were all very nice. I had to wait around a while and they eventually forgot to release me, but otherwise it was fine. It was sad to sit and listen to all of the people who use the ER as their primary care facility or who are hypochondriacs.

It took a surprisingly long time to recover, around 4-6 weeks. I likely aggravated the injury by returning to overhead and bench pressing too soon. Since I was still a little miffed about cycling in New York, I took up running.

I incurred the following non-medical expenses:

  • I had to have a new front wheel built. I went to Sid’s who wanted to charge me $267, which I negotiated down to $227 after realizing they threw out my perfectly good tire. Later, I realized they didn’t line the rim with rim tape, which I had to do for an additional couple of dollars.
  • I decided to buy a front-facing camera, since my GoPro was not operational that day.
  • A strap on the bag on my front rack got torn off, but the bag has a lifetime warranty, so I’m just out some shipping costs.
  • The front rack eyelet for my dynamo-powered headlight got damaged and eventually fell off. I took the rack off after deciding that using a rack bag on a is not advantageous compared to a backpack for my (very narrow) use-case, despite enjoying the lack of sweat on my back after commuting.

Things I would do differently:

  • Ride even more defensively than I usually do to avoid the accident. I definitely should have been travelling at a lower rate of speed and shouldn’t pass stopped cars on the passenger side.
  • Have someone take a picture of the driver’s license and insurance information.
  • File a complaint at the TLC with the video of the dooring.
  • Pre-emptively file a claim against the driver’s no-fault car insurance, even before getting billed.
  • Sue someone in small claims court. It would be an educational experience, but I’d also have to take time off from work for it.
  • Walk myself to an urgent care center instead of taking an ambulance ride to an ER, unless I were massively hemorrhaging.
  • Not get a wheel built at Sid’s.