Photo Of The Day: Tel Aviv’s Street Art

tel aviv's street art

Tel Aviv’s street art – in addition to sabich of course – was a highlight of my visit to Israel and the West Bank last spring. I snapped graffiti, spray-painted eggplants, political stencils and stickers.

Clearly I wasn’t the only one to find this element of Tel Aviv’s public culture interesting. Flickr user AlexSven photographed this complicated image in July of this year.

Upload your favorite images to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. We choose our favorites from the pool to be Photos of the Day.

Photo of the Day: raining in Tel Aviv

The rainy day colors and textures of Flickr user Better Nothing Than Almost’s photo caught my eye today. Taken near Tel Aviv, Israel, the blurry drops of water that cling to the window create an impressionist-like effect on the image. I love the hushed color palette, darkening skies and bursts of warm light. It feels eerie yet warm at the same time.

Taken any great travel photos of your own? Why not add them to the Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Photo of the day – Lego man hearts Tel Aviv

photo of the day
They say all art is subjective, and no artform is more contentious than graffiti. Some might say even a detailed mural is defacing public property, while others might consider a bawdy limerick on a bathroom wall to be social commentary. In recent years, artists like Banksy have elevated graffiti to public art. This Lego fellow cleverly rendered in 3-D shows his love for the city of Tel Aviv, taken by Flickr user mjlacey, as a great example of fun and positive street art.

Submit your favorite street art to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use it for a future Photo of the Day.

European low-cost airlines fail to enforce charges and fees

european low cost airlines fees

Flying around Europe on low-cost airlines over the last few months has taught me a few things. Among the most useful lessons I’ve picked up: Baggage and check-in fees and charges are enforced quite unevenly.

European low-cost carriers present their customers with a frightening thicket of charges and fees. These charges, which serve as a revenue stream for the airlines, are less readily enforced by contract agents who are not direct employees of the airlines in question, though bona fide airline employees also appear to enforce them inconsistently.

Some anecdotes from the last few months follow.

In Tel Aviv in March I tried to inform the easyJet check-in agent–clearly not an employee of easyJet–that, having failed to pay to check a bag online, I would need to cough up some shekels to do so. Not only did she refuse to take money to check my duffel bag but she clearly had no idea that I was supposed to be charged to check by bag in the first place.

Flying airBaltic between London and Finland last month, I was made to weigh my carry-on en route to Finland by an airBaltic agent. Returning, the contract employee in Oulu didn’t ask me to weigh my bag, which, at 9 kilos, was right at the weight limit.

Three events, arguably, serve as a representative sample. I flew WizzAir last week to and from the Balkans. WizzAir demands that its customers’ carry-on bags not exceed ten kilos, but neither the agent at Luton nor the at Dubrovnik on my return weighed my bag to see if it had exceeded the limit. In both cases I was very likely just over the baggage weight limit.

This is a case not so much of lessons learned than of a pattern observed. Contract check-in agents don’t appear to have been taught about the intricacies of their employers’ rules and regulations, first off. Secondly, and just possibly, if your carry-on bag looks diminutive, you may be able to get away with a few extra kilos.

That said, this is not an official Gadling recommendation to start to think of these charges and fees as inconsequential. They’re imposed to make money and they succeed in doing so for their airlines. To some degree, I’m sure I was simply lucky in these instances. But clearly the fees and charges are not being enforced as fully as they were designed to be.

[Image: Flickr | jenny-bee]

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Airbnb: Six awesome experiences

airbnbLast autumn, after having tracked the Airbnb buzz for a while, I finally took the plunge and reserved rooms through the site in Panama City and Bogotá for my two-stop December jaunt.

About a half-hour into my first pit stop, it was already clear to me that the service was a perfect fit for budget-conscious travelers. (For the record, I’m not the only Airbnb fan at Gadling. Check out my colleague Elizabeth Seward’s Airbnb post published earlier this year.)

For those unfamiliar with it, Airbnb is a rental service. House or apartment owners list their spare beds, rooms, or entire living spaces for rent on the site.

What makes Airbnb distinct? First of all, owners are paid 24 hours after the reservation begins, a delay that helps weed out dishonest landlords. Another important detail: if there is a problem with a rental, guests can contact Airbnb to void payment. I was comfortable with Airbnb from the outset in light of these consumer protection safeguards, and the fact that everyone is encouraged to evaluate one another following a stay was icing on the cake. Landlords can’t get away with false advertising, and poor behavior on the part of a guest or host will also be exposed through reviews. Good hosts and guests can both build up positive profiles via strong reviews.

Overall, Airbnb is pretty scamproof if used as directed. In a review of comments and criticisms of Airbnb online, it appears that some people have been scammed after making a payment on a rental outside of the Airbnb payment system. Payment via the Airbnb payment system, it should go without saying, is a much safer bet. Here’s a tiny piece of advice: If any property owner you contact through Airbnb urges you to bypass the Airbnb payment system and directly wire them money, cut off contact and report them.

Overnight, I became a fan of Airbnb. Seldom had I found such cheap accommodations in such comfortable surroundings, and with the added benefit of an instant social network of locals taking an interest in my welfare. I’ve experienced just two annoyances of the most minor sort: a host in Panama City who never messaged me back and a hostess in Tel Aviv whose room was not available despite being advertised as such.

But where did I stay? What were my accommodations like? And what did they cost?Panama City. In the Panamanian capital, I stayed in a high-rise in a wealthy neighborhood just down the street from the US Embassy. I had my own bright bedroom and a private bathroom. My host introduced me to some of his favorite restaurants and dined with me on two of my three nights in the city. An American expat, he was full of helpful tips and friendly asides. The damage: $72 per night.

Bogotá. I lucked out here, with a beautifully swank apartment near the center of the city (see above for a balcony-level photo of the street in front of the building.) My hosts were phenomenally kind. They served me breakfast, drove me around, gave me advice, and introduced me to their friends at elaborate dinner parties. It was here that I had the incredible experience of sampling homemade ajiaco, a delicious Colombian potato soup. The damage: $60 per night.

Amsterdam. I stayed in the funky neighborhood of De Pijp over the week of Christmas, first by myself for a night (sharing the space with my hosts) and then with my family for a week (by ourselves). De Pijp is an exciting, dynamic neighborhood. The apartment was beautiful if small and the only downside was its draftiness, particularly noticeable due to the frigid temps. The damage: $62 for a single room; $243 per person for seven nights for the entire unit.

Oslo. Before my February visit, I was terrified of Oslo’s price index, and justifiably so, as it turned out. What made Oslo affordable was my rental room, a quiet little space in an apartment about a kilometer from the train station. I shared kitchen and bathroom with the very friendly owner. The damage: $76 per night.

Tel Aviv. I stayed in the superhip neighborhood of Noga, next to Jaffa. My temporary studio, a factory conversion, had high ceilings and a pleasingly post-industrial decor. I had the entire studio to myself for two nights. On my final morning in Tel Aviv, my hosts showed up, chatted with me about a number of topics, and then drove me to the train station. The damage: $119 per night.

Jerusalem. I stayed in a hilly, residential part of West Jerusalem. I had a tiny apartment of my own, an annex to my hosts’ apartment, with a bathroom, a little kitchen, and access to a back garden. My hosts, long-term peace activists, were wonderful for conversation, information, and mid-morning coffee. The damage: $84 per night.

Airbnb has been in the news recently. Ashton Kutcher was announced as an investor and advisor in late May. Last week, it was revealed that contact salespeople working for Airbnb surreptitiously contacted property owners advertising on Craigslist to expand listings.

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