My Tel Aviv by photographer Yael Nov

My Tel Aviv by photographer Yael Nov

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Article and images by Yael Nov
Yael Nov is a photographer and artist living and working in Los Angeles. She received her BFA in Photography and BA in Art History from University of Washington and her MFA from Art Center College of Design.

There are certain places in the world that once visited have a power and pull that keep you coming back again and again. For me that place is Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv somehow effortlessly embodies its modernity and energy while always respecting and acknowledging its immense history. Though its history and political climate remain incredibly complex, Tel Aviv will always be a home away from home. My father is Israeli and though I grew up in the U.S. (the Pacific Northwest to be more specific), I have visited Israel as often as possible, even studying abroad there for a year in college.

My Tel Aviv is not the Tel Aviv seen in the news and media. My Tel Aviv is a cosmopolitan city filled with incredibly talented designers, musicians, technological innovators, and artists. My Tel Aviv is where many of my relatives and friends live. My Tel Aviv is home to some of the most eclectic (and delicious) cuisine that melds European and Middle Eastern influences. My Tel Aviv is the Mediterranean beach-town filled with young people sharing fresh watermelon and a beer while the clicking sounds of Matkot (paddle-ball) reverberate across the surface of the turquoise waves of the Mediterranean. Tel Aviv truly reflects the notion of a “melting pot” culture with communities from all corners of the globe, adding their unique flare to the vibrant tapestry of the city.

Though I love the galleries and boutiques, the nightlife, the cafes, the incredible food, and the beautiful beaches, my favorite thing about Tel Aviv is its warmth. The minute you are invited into someone’s shop or restaurant it is as if you’ve been invited into their home and family. One day when I was studying abroad as a college freshman I was on a search for a button to repair my favorite jacket. As I stumbled into a small shop that sold everything from buttons to binoculars, the old man behind the counter picked up on my American accented Hebrew, offered me a cup of tea and we chatted for the next hour about my family and what brought me to Israel. Now every time I visit Tel Aviv, I stop in his shop to say hello as if no time has gone by. Almost every time I visit I have a similar experience whether my phone battery dies and a stranger offers me his, or the pharmacist gives me antibiotics as well as her grandmother’s chicken soup recipe. The warmth of Tel Aviv is unlike anything I’ve experienced anywhere else.

I have many other cities around the world on my bucket list but I still return to Tel Aviv any time I can because to me it will always be home- even if only for one week each year.

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Secret Agent PR on Traveling With Kids

Secret Agent PR on Traveling With Kids

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I traveled alone with three kids under five and it was awesome.

I’m not a mommy blogger or a parenting expert, but after my trip this summer, it really got me thinking about why it’s so important to travel with kids and I felt strongly enough about it that I had to share my story.

I grew up with travel in my blood. Born in the US, raised in Malaysia and Switzerland before being transplanted to South Bend, IN before high school. I attended three colleges in four years, Philly, New Orleans, Paris, and only landed in LA by accident. Once my husband convinced me that it was time to settle into a grown up life, we still managed to travel at least once or twice a year. If I didn’t, I would go mad, routine is not my strong suite.

Nothing changed once the kids came along. Now that I’m a parent, looking back on my childhood, I realize that traveling and living in so many different places played such an important role in shaping my understanding of the world. I’m thankful that I grew up with a certain level of fearlessness when it came to learning languages, making new friends, tasting new foods, exploring new places. And I want to impart that to my own kids. My kids aren’t a hindrance to keep me from doing the things I like to do. They’re the reason why I keep doing them.

I make it a point to set aside at least three weeks per year for a big trip with the kids. Often, since my husband works in video games and has to work insane hours, I take trips alone with the kids. When my son Cael was 18 months old, we went to Scotland and France to see friends. We also took a mom and son trip to Quebec a few years ago. I’ll never forget driving down the Gaspe Peninsula, singing out loud to Metric and taking in the amazing scenery with my little dude. This past summer, I took Cael (5), Rowan (2), and little Hana (4 months at the time) to France and Iceland with a quick stop in Boston on the way home.

While it’s different for everyone and everyone’s kids, these are a few things that I’ve learned from my trip to France and Iceland.

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A little crying is not the end of the world. The worst thing about traveling with kids tends to be the people without kids. It’s hard to ignore the scornful and judgemental looks. But I guess I’ve just developed a thick skin about it. We were all kids once, it’s just unfortunate that some people seem to have forgotten that. The inevitability of a full blown nuclear fit on the plane or at a restaurant is not enough to prevent me from taking my kids places because the way I figure it, kids are kids and they are going to cry and get angry no matter what, no matter where they are. It helps to remember that even though it might be stressful in the moment, nobody actually ever remembers those fits after the fact. You, as the parent, forget it as soon as you see your kids having a good time on the trip. The kids certainly don’t remember it, and the disgruntled strangers, who really cares?

Feed their wonder, and they’ll love to wander. Kids are no different than adults. They like to be informed and have an idea of what they’re getting into.Cael is five and a seasoned traveler so whenever we’re about to go on a voyage, we have a routine. I show him where we’re going on a map and tell him how long it’s going to take, how many planes we’re taking, what we’ll eat, where we’ll stay, who we’ll see. We hop on google and I show him photos. I try to feed the kids’ natural sense of curiosity, something that we as adults tend to lose. This makes everything from the non-stop transatlantic voyage to picking up the rental car less mundane and more…adventurous.

Make the simple things fun. As weird as it sounds, my favorite thing to do when we’re traveling is go shopping for food. It’s such a basic thing, but it’s a great way to show kids that we’re really all the same, wherever we go. We all need to eat. Exploring the markets is really fun with kids. When we were in Paris, we popped into the market to get out of the rain. We ducked into a big green gate only to find a warren of little stalls. The boys discovered groseilles (tart little red currants) and ate two whole baskets on the walk home. In Albi, we spent hours exploring the covered central market. There is nothing better than watching your kids savor the same chocolate cookies you used to inhale as a kid, or devour a new fruit that you never thought they’d like. After three weeks in the countryside, we got very good at remembering which village had a market on which day. Our favorite was the night market in the quaint little medieval village of Monesties. Whenever I look at this photo, I can still taste the tart brightness of the groseille gelato and the creamy goodness of the chestnut gelato, and I remember sitting on a dusty bench in the town square, elbow to elbow with my best and oldest friends, watching my kids happily licking their cones and dripping pink stickiness all over themselves, listening to the happy hum of the local villagers. If I remember that moment, so do my kids.

Embrace the little moments. All too often we get caught up in planning, programming, and producing our lives. I am totally guilty of it most of the time, but when we’re on holiday, we improvise. We never have a list of things we have to see. Instead, we fly by the seat of our pants. I figure the kids will develop more of an appetite for adventure if I let them choose it, rather than if I force feed them anything. So far, even though my boys are only five and two, they really seem to devour it. When we were in Paris, they made friends on the playground even though they don’t really speak French that well yet. In Aveyron, they played outside every night till the summer sun set (rather than even picking up their iPads). One afternoon, after driving aimlessly around the countryside, we discovered a random country zoo where the monkeys could climb out of their enclosures to plunder their neighbor’s fruit trees and visitors were allowed to cavort with the local goats. It was such a fun and weird experience. In the evenings, we drank gaillac wine on the back terrace, reminisced about the old days, watched the sun set behind the rolling green hills. We had no plan, did very little, and it was thoroughly amazing.

Embrace the humor of it all. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned from traveling with the kids is that sometimes you just have to laugh at it all, including yourself. It wasn’t all smooth going on this trip. There were tantrums and fights and tears at times. The worst, and best, was when I disembarked in Reykyavik with three cranky kids. As I rushed to find a family bathroom (which thankfully Keflavik and Charles de Gaulle both have, but NOT LAX), I was really beginning to question the wisdom of a layover in a new country all alone with three small kids. Cael was hungry, Rowan needed milk and a diaper change, and Hana was none too happy to be ripped from her blissful slumber by the cries of her brothers, only to find herself strapped to me in a public bathroom. Just as I thought it couldn’t get any worse, and I bent down to pick up Rowan, I heard the sound of the seat of my pants by which we had been flying for the last two weeks ripping to shreds, but my colorful expletives were enough to cut through the crankiness. We all looked at each other, four month old baby included, and couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. I picked everyone up and strolled out of the bathroom with my head held high and my butt hanging out of my pants with as much dignity as I could muster. All of us, still giggling. It turns out that mom’s public embarrassment is enough to make any child feel better.

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Haily’s practical tips and insider finds:
– She uses this book to help get the kids excited about their next trip. Also, it’s applied geography
– The best Paris market can be found here.
This was the best covered market in Albi.
– Dining out with kids is still possible, just choose places with distractions like ping-pong tables or places to run around outside. Try Derriere in Paris.
This animal park in Aveyron was the most memorable.
– Iceland is a super kid-friendly place. With the long daylight hours, you can stay out late with the kids. Also you can get shop tax free, just fill out a form on your way out at the airport and get your sales tax back after the fact. It’s also a great layover point to reduce jet lag once you get back Stateside.


Photos and article by Haily Zaki, owner of LA based Secret Agent PR

Re-Discovering the Summer in Sydney by Riley Wilson

Re-Discovering the Summer in Sydney by Riley Wilson

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I moved back to Sydney in December of 2013 after a three-year hiatus in Boston, far away from the hustle and bustle of Australia’s biggest and most vivacious city. A native Sydney-sider, I’ve grown up on both sides of the equator and still find myself drawn to this multicultural island of beaches, breathtaking experiences, and unparalleled food. I returned to a city that does its absolute best to welcome the friend and the stranger alike, and I did it in summer.

Summer is my favourite season in the city, despite the fact that year-round fair weather means outdoor tables are always at the ready and a sweater is the heaviest layer of clothing needed. It’s the cicadas that hum and bellow in the afternoon, the widening of menus to include the very best that the season has to offer, and the start of month-long free festivals that make living in this city truly surreal.

There’s no shortage of magic in Sydney, and I’ve had the pleasure of rediscovering (and finding anew) my favourite spots to explore and, as is nationally appreciated, eat. As I returned to the place I left, I found myself bonding with the food scene. I would eat alone, but with such wonderful company: the intricate and well-devised dishes in front of me.

It started with breakfast. Making time for a morning meal is an integral part of the Australian way of life, and we do it well. Our coffee is world-renowned (flat white, anyone?) and our classic avocado on toast has found its way to menus across the globe. When I started exploring the city, I landed on Devon Cafe in Surry Hills. I frequent the sister cafe in Waterloo (an up-and-coming industrial suburb in the Eastern neck of the city), Devon on Danks. The eatery is known for its creative flair and Asian-inspired culinary dynamics; highlights include the Manny P burger, a generous hunk of annatto-spiced fried chicken, decorated with chilli mayo and pickles and the bruschetta with confit tomatoes, peppers and burrata, lovingly strained, separated and stretched by hand by head chef Zacharay Tan. Tan’s cronuts (matcha and azuki; kaya; strawberry cheesecake) are decadent, and his soft serve sundaes (blue pea flower and jasmine; Thai milk tea; sweet corn) are out of this world.

When the oceans started to warm up towards the end of summer, the Bogeyhole Cafe on Bronte Beach became my favourite spot. It’s quintessential Australiana; sit at a table overlooking the beach, order a long black or mango smoothie, and enjoy poached eggs with chilli jam or avocado smash – all Australian staples.

I always made sure, in my summer explorations, to return to a few of my favourite places, and the Sydney Fish Market is no exception. The fish markets start early, and the best oysters are piled high in glass cases. I am fond of De Costi’s, because the seafood is stunning and the energy is electric.

Afternoons, or “arvos” as we refer to them, also hold much reverence in this city. I would drink tea by the pot and read paperbacks in bright cafe frontage, and it was splendidly solitary. As someone who takes their tea very seriously, I’m very fond of The Rabbit Hole Tea Bar in Redfern. Their Earl Grey lattes are magical, and sparkling tea on tap is a thing.

The sun doesn’t set until well past 8pm in summer, but late meals aren’t a problem. In my adventures in the city, I’ve found the quiet and unassuming suburbs of Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay to be home to some of the city’s best food. For modern European food, it’s Yellow. The former art gallery-turned-restaurant gets it right with Spanish mackerel cured in-house, and a licorice ice cream dessert unlike anything else. When I’m more inclined towards pan-Asian goodness (of which Sydney has so much), Ms. G always represents. Dan Hong and Paul Donnelly have developed a complex and creative menu that accentuates the city’s vibrant culture. The cheeseburger spring rolls are so much better than they sound, and the lamb ribs – crisped to perfection and soured in all the right ways – are second to none. I still recall eating those lamb ribs for the first time. There is such beauty in discovering something unparalleled.

Returning home in 2013 was difficult; it was jarring, exciting and challenging all at once. It has been two years since then, and it’s hard to believe that my experiences in this city were so different then to what they are now. But, still, there is food.
Sydney is something else. It’s this living, breathing, dancing city that makes such an impact in people’s lives. It’s effervescent, loud, peaceful and entirely unlike anywhere else in the world. The food is a literal melting pot of everywhere else, and that’s the kind of scene that makes everyone feel welcome. It’s those meals that make me feel like a local again, and now I get to share that with those who visit. I always caution friends of the same thing upon arrival, the same thing as we saunter from cafe to restaurant to midnight snack spot: “Be careful. Once you’ve met this city, you’ll never truly leave again.”

This is, this will be, home.

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Photos and article by Riley Wilson
Riley Wilson is a native Sydney-sider who grew up between Australia and the USA, with extensive travels throughout Europe along the way. She edits Manhattan-based Melting Butter and writes for Broadsheet Sydney, among various other publications in Australia and abroad. She’s deeply passionate about olives and oysters. @thelifeofrileyw

Popover International: A Week in Paris

Popover International: A Week in Paris

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With three movies down, pre-heated meal devoured, and a solid attempt at a good night’s rest, our plane finally landed in Paris after its ten hour journey across the Atlantic. My husband and I were taking a week-long vacation and had selected the City of Lights as the ideal location to forget about work for a while and blend into the local culture. It had been a year since any international travel and we were both excited to unplug and wander the city, discovering its endless museums, cafes, bars, and architecture. We settled on Canal Saint-Martin as our neighborhood because of its mix of old Parisian qualities with youthful on the radar spots…read hipster. The moment our bags were placed in the apartment we hit the streets to test out our “Oui’s”, “Merci’s”, and “S’il vous plait’s” with the locals. They weren’t fooled, but oh well, we still blended in. Not more than a few blocks away we stumbled into 10 Belles, one of Paris’s answer to the coffee culture running rampant across the U.S. The only difference was this shop was nestled in with a bright yellow Epicerie and a quintessentially French flower shop bursting with bouquets and potted plants. A beautiful crowd sat casually on tiny wooden stools along the outside window leisurely sipping lattes and snacking on the shop’s homemade biscuits and breads. “I think we found the right neighborhood” I whispered to my husband and with that our week of exploring the city began.

Each morning was filled with a museum trip which often led to a garden picnic, afternoon wine, late dinner, and even later cocktails. We’re both homebodies so this late night couple we became was a welcome change from the norm. One particular afternoon we found ourselves near the Tuilleries which not only has the best outdoor chairs dotted through the gardens, but its sprawling lawns just beg for picnics as well. We picked up some treats at a macaron institution, quiche and bread at a shop around the corner, and the softest cheese we could find, which surprisingly came from a convenience store. Tucked under a tree along a small pond we laid out our meal and snacked our way through the afternoon.

The rest of the trip carried on like this, but the days were dotted with discoveries that no itinerary would be able to provide. Around the corner from our apartment we ran into to one of the best croissants in the city, the heavenly scent made it pretty easy to find. Another evening we wandered past the gorgeous windows along Place Vendome on our way to cocktails at the seductively dim light bar at Hotel Costes. A stroll through the residential streets of Monmartre led to a secret view of the Eiffel Tower accompanied by a hidden garden bar tucked behind what looked like a private entrance….hint, it’s the entrance to Hotel Particulier and all you have to do is ring the bell for access to the bar. Just pretend you’re an insider, it’s well worth the acting once inside. We ate perfectly fluffy omeletes at Cafe Charlot before viewing the extensive modern collections at the Centre Pompidou. A day trip took us to Versailles not only for the palace but to shop the farmers market with the locals and wander through the vegetable garden of Louis XIV at le potager du roi. Each day led to a new experience whether it was a simple coffee and people watching at a local cafe, a memorable meal at a tiny restaurant off a side street, mastering the metro, or just a stop along our endless walking tours. While I didn’t come home with a big purchase or tangible souvenir (except for this bag from Merci…it’s truly just a paper bag) I did leave with a longing to add some more adventure to my everyday. Of course vacations make everything romantic, but watching the bars and cafes overflow with co-workers and friends gathering after a long day reminded me that during the strict work-week routine you can still find some time to take a walk, enjoy the people around you, and maybe stay out a little later than usual.

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The Sasquatch! Experience

The Sasquatch! Experience

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I had already been to one music festival before attending Sasquatch!, but something about having a two-day event in the middle of an enormous South American city just didn’t have the same feeling as driving four and a half hours outside of Portland, Oregon to camp for five nights and six days along the beautiful Columbia River. Don’t get me wrong, going to Lollapalooza two years ago in Santiago, Chile was quite the experience, but what evolved at the Gorge Amphitheater a few weekends ago was truly magical.

After a hard days work the Thursday before the music began, we ran around frantically gathering pasta salad ingredients, camp stoves and headlamps, and clothing that could withstand the grime and grub of the desert-like terrain. We also packed our little Subaru with some new Pacific Northwest friends who were sweet enough to tag along, celebrate great music, and put up with my boyfriend John’s and my affection as we celebrated our two-year anniversary. The long Memorial Day Weekend was already off to a great start as we drove through gorgeous scenic highways, stopped to pick up wasabi peas and dried chili mango, and unwound from the busy week with some tunes from the War On Drugs.

Our troops made it into the Sasquatch! camping area just before midnight on Thursday and the construction of the festival’s tent city was already underway in the dim field lights. Structures of blue, white, orange, and green nylon ripstop and polyester were squished together to form little neighborhood-like communities of people who were ready to mingle and jam out with some of their favorite musicians. We somehow bundled up our anticipation, tucked it under our pillows at the top of our sleeping bags, and rested to prepare for the long sunny days ahead in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

This music festival tale isn’t one about who wore what or how hard we partied. It’s one about community and feeling like you’re part of something bigger. It goes beyond your everyday work schedule, your tight knit group of friends you see every Friday night, and the hiking spots you frequent, and it certainly made me feel way more connected to the Pacific Northwest. That’s because our days were filled with camp chairs in pow-wow formations, perfect for swapping stories and really getting to know one another. Group showers that consisted of a complete stranger pouring a gallon of cold water over your head, and grabbing the hand of a new friend to quickly run from one stage to the next with the intention of sharing your favorite songs and dance moves. There was a ceramic community wine bowl being refilled with classy boxed Pinot Grigio and one too many games of flip cup, but the root of our experience was enjoying the people, the environment and the music that surrounded us.

Speaking of music, some standouts were Sylvan Esso, Little Dragon for a little late night groovin’, Shakey Graves and Benjamin Booker who soothed our craving for southern rock, the chill Aussie band Tame Impala, and the incredible soulful Alabama group St. Paul & The Broken Bones. Also, Mia was a big fan of the girl rockers like Jenny Lewis and St. Vincent. I really cannot forget to mention one of my favorite bands from Philly, The Districts. It was my fourth time seeing them and I swear their performances get better and better every time.

The music, our cozy campsite and the good company definitely made Sasquatch! Festival 2015 one of the best experiences I’ve had this year. A lot of what we see and hear about festivals is the fashion trends and the headliner shows, but once you get there, things shift. You get a little sunburned, your body is coated in dust, your feet ache from jumping around all day, and the outfit you took an hour to pick out suddenly feels a little off. That’s when you realize the music around you has formed a community of people who traveled to the Gorge for the long weekend to hit the refresh button, let go a little—of expectations and stress—and take in the beautiful surroundings we’re fortunate enough to have in our lives.

As we broke down camp and traveled down the road back to Portland, humming our favorite songs from the past few days, I couldn’t stop smiling. Exhausted with a scratchy throat and dying for some middle-of-nowhere diner breakfast, my boyfriend John and I looked at each other and said “That was perfect.”

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Popover local – Good Girl Dinette

Popover local – Good Girl Dinette

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My husband and I recently moved to a new neighborhood and like any newbie we’ve been searching for the best of everything in our area. We’re lucky to live in a spot that has received a lot of attention for its abundance of cafes, furniture stores, and bars, but one of the most exciting things is to find independent chefs serving gourmet food from the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that line the streets. On one particular morning we were craving something new for brunch, the week was busy and our day was packed with final home preparation, therefore we needed comfort food. When going out to eat the trip has to be worth it and I often drive myself crazy trying to find the newest, most popular, or secret locale that makes the calories worth it. Tucked down a side street and nestled along the metro tracks was where my search lead us for brunch that morning. The spot on the map was Good Girl Dinette and after reading about their Vietnamese fusion food I was intrigued to taste their breakfast.

We walked in early on a Sunday morning so the group was quiet and peacefully sipping on their coffees while digging into what looked like steaming ceramic dishes of eggs. In one corner a strikingly handsome couple were smiling over plates of food while behind us a group of friends pondered their menus while chatting. It felt like we were dining among the locals and the relaxed vibe of the cafe was exactly what we needed for that weekend morning. You could tell no one was rushing around here and there were no plans to change that anytime soon.

Back to my interest in what a Vietnamese fusion breakfast would look like. I anxiously searched for the recognizable pancakes and scrambles, but the menu was a pleasantly small selection of porridge and pho, eggs and hashes. I put in my order for a turmeric dill hash then relaxed into my seat with my coffee, soaking in our new neighborhood, mentally going through the bike path to this cafe. A sizzling plate of bright orange potatoes and a creamy dollop of dill cream was presented. It was all topped with a fried egg that had one of the brightest yolks I had eaten in a while. My husband and I slowly noshed on our potatoes and eggs, trying to savor the slow moments before our day of tasks started. Every other bite of food was accompanied by our amazement of how delicious our breakfasts were. I think our attempts to be one of the locals were squashed after every “Oh my god this is amazing” and “Really, oh my good this is so good!”, but the longer we sat there we started to blend in. The couple in the corner still sat happily staring at each other and the friends behind us still chatted on about their latest news. Their eyes didn’t drift questionably over to us wondering how we discovered their little local gem. Now as our home prep is slowing down and we’ve unpacked every box we’ll be able to spend a few more Sunday mornings at Good Girl Dinette not as a visitor, but as the locals we spotted tried to be last time.

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