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See that in the background? That's Jordan.

Because I am a Woman of Leisure, I took a 6-day trip to Israel last week to visit my friend Jaime (funemployment taken to the extreme).  We ran all over the city, and the country, during my time there; I was flat-out for most of my trip and still feel kind of wired from it.

The thing that struck me most about the country – more than the incredible Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv or the insanely good pita you could get in the local bodegas (whatever they’re called in Hebrew…) is how damn foreign the country is, and what a weird mix of cultures it is.  I don’t mean that it was populated by Americans and Germans and Ethiopians so its a weird melange of cultures, though I assume that’s part of it.  It’s that in some ways it seems like an incredibly cosmopolitan, sophisticated, Westernized city.  Sometimes it seems like a backward, crumbling third-world country. And the truth, of course, is that its a bit of both, and that there’s a lot more to it than I was able to see in four days.

Here is a list of some of the contradictions we saw in Tel Aviv:

Photo collages of Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Middle Eastern snacks to follow.