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Tel Aviv Israel: Lesbian Friendly and Fun!

Tel Aviv Israel: Lesbian Friendly and Fun!

The axis of Israel's booming lesbian life revolves around Tel Aviv where the gay/lesbian friendly beaches, popular restaurants, clubs, parties and bars provide numerous options for excursions, entertainment and fun. Tel Aviv is also Israel's largest city, #1 commercial center, and gay capitol. 

The Holy Land probably isn't a destination that comes to mind when planning a vacation with goals of being: 

1)    Lesbian friendly

2)    Fun, or

3)    Liberal

But as this month's International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) proved, Israel is all of those things including a destination brimming with history and culture.

In October, two dozen gay and lesbian IGLTA members from over half a dozen different countries traveled to Tel Aviv for the organization's annual symposium.  While there, they participated in tours, lectures and excursions aimed at highlighting travel industry trends and offering symposium participants an opportunity to experience the "city that never sleeps" and surrounding areas.

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Why did the Association choose Israel as its symposium locale?

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender life in Israel is alive and kicking," says New York native and symposium organizer Russell Lord.  "Anti-homosexuality laws were repealed in the late 80's so the LGBT community enjoys political freedom like nowhere else in the Mid-East."

A focal point for the world's three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - Israel is brimming with history, religious and archeological sites and a mosaic of different cultures, traditions and peoples.  The attraction Israel holds with gay travelers is that while there's "Fun in the Sun" beach and party along the coast, historic and religious sites are two hours away. 

The axis of the country's lesbian life revolves around Tel Aviv where the gay/lesbian friendly beach, popular restaurants, clubs, parties and bars provide numerous options for excursions, entertainment and fun.

WhenOut Now Consulting's Ian Johnson researched gay tourism trends, he found that 25% of the global gay traveling population is lesbian.  And in Israel, where approximately 10% of the populace is lesbian, the scene is happening. Half of all respondents incorrectly thought Tel Aviv was not welcoming to lesbian and gay visitors.

So much so that this Spring Israel's GLBT Association is hosting a first-ever gay Tel Aviv weekend packed with events, parties and tours.  "It will be the ultra gay weekend with invitees coming from all over to check out the city, hit the beach, go to parties, see gay cinema screenings...  It's going to be great!" organizer and Lezbizness entrepreneur Anat Nir excitedly reported at the recent symposium. 

The weekend is planned for March.  Check Israel GLBT site listings for dates, special pricing and discounted travel rates. 

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Tel Aviv:  First Things First

Tel Aviv is Israel's largest city, #1 commercial center and Israel's gay capitol.  Bordered by 8 miles of beach and the calm waters of the Mediterranean, the busy city has exotic markets, lively sidewalk cafes, elegant restaurants, falafel and shwarma stands,museums, galleries, theaters and opera

The city's most popular attraction is its white beaches - an evening stroll is a must!  Another popular beachfront site is the renovated port, a former boat and yacht docking station.  The area now houses casual to upscale restaurants, pubs and dance clubs.

If Middle Eastern atmosphere's on the menu, the colorful Carmel Market is a must-see for vendors selling exotic foods, spices and cheap clothing.  Neighboring Nachalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall, is a great place to pick up take-home gifts made by local artists each Tuesday and Friday.

People is Tel Aviv are friendly and most speak English so asking for directions on the street is completely acceptable practice.  Don't be surprised if someone offers to show you the way to your destination! 

If you're queer and looking for a friendly face while visiting Tel Aviv, your first stop should be at Gan Meir's GLBT Community Center and Café.  An indoor/outdoor café located in one of the city's large, public parks, the scene is lively, informal & friendly and the adjacent community center is open every day until 11 p.m.  Tchernichovsky 22a, Tel Aviv, inside Meir Garden Park. Sun-Thu  12 noon-11 p.m.

For information or a listening ear, call the LGBT hotline at:  03-620-5591 or stop by the Gan Meir Community Center.  (listing above)

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Dining & Cafes

For mid-fare dining in a lesbian friendly atmosphere with an eclectic old world/new world decor, Noa Bistroin Jaffa's ancient port city  offers a wide variety menu - from sautéed portabella mushroom salad appetizer to halva coulee drizzled figs.  30 Yefet St.,  Tel Aviv phone: 03-5184668

Espresso Bars for getting that caffeine fix on are located at 166 Dizengoff (tel: 03-527-0077)and 8 Rothschild Streets (03-510-8918).

Nightlife

Who doesn't like a night out on the town?  Tel Aviv has a great nighttime vibe that just won't quit.  Things get started late - between ten and midnight - and they continue to the wee hours.  So go ahead and get that afternoon nap in before heading out.  A few suggestions for meeting, greeting and having a good time:

Fashion Bar - DJ spins dance and house, bar,  dancing.  Lively scene that gets going around midnight on weekends.  Saturday night lesbian specials.  40NIS (approximately $12 U.S.) cover .  1 Herbert Samuel, Tel Aviv. 

Beit Ha'Shoeva - THE in spot in town.  Designed as a "pick up bar".  Free admission, things get going around 10 p.m.  Open every night.  Beit Ha'Shoeva Alley/Corner of 98 Allenby. 

Ashmoret - Mixed gay/lesbian .  Lesbian Thursdays.  Monday mixed gay/lesbian 50's/60's night.  10 Rothschild Street. 

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