It's time to say goodbye....

They say old soldiers never die, they just fade away...

It's been a blast from the very start, at times the stress was huge, the days were horrendous and the nights sleepless, but in the end Eurovision in Tel Aviv gets a 10/10 from me...

Thanks for everything, thanks to the readers, the viewers and most of all thanks to Andy for the opportunity all those years ago.

Much Love and peace out :-)

What's another year

Andy on Sat, 05/18/2019 - 23:50

It is again this time of the year. Eurovision is coming to its end and so is another season of ESCKAZ work. 18th season.

To start with, it was quite uncertain that there would be another season after Lisbon, but eventually, we gave it a go on the same level as we did in the previous years. It is getting harder and harder every year to keep up the work of the bilingual website, provided the EBU/Premier PR approach to the international websites, which nowadays are valued lower and get much fewer accreditations, than purely national, non-English projects made of people from one country. It is an extremely strange approach, which keeps slowly killing at least our work.

Anyway, we have done reasonably well, as Israel has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to enhance our specialization covering organization of the contest itself.

Tel Aviv has been a welcoming city and despite budget issues, the organizers have faced there were hardly any serious problems on the ground. Two major ones - prices in the city and transportation in Shabbat probably have nothing to do with Eurovision, but as a blossoming city for tourists, there will be a need for solutions found at the end.

Sadly, this time I had no opportunity to attend any concerts or musical shows due to their price - I miss going to Air Supply in wonderful Caesarea for example, or musicals in great Tel Aviv theatres. Besides Eurovision, I've been to two events - Memorial Day and Independence Day concerts on Rabin Square. The latter featured Transistor band singing songs of late Arik Einstein - a true legend of the Israeli music. I used a chance to visit his grave in Trumpeldor cemetery and pay a tribute to the legend.

Tel Aviv offered some great opportunities for tours - we went to the Dead Sea, and on our own visited Jerusalem and Haifa. Despite I was in Jerusalem two previous years (it's getting a good tradition) - it is a city that never fails to impress, and this time I've also visited Russian orthodox church of Alexander Nevsky (and also I visited later Russian church in Tel Aviv). I've also gone to Nalagaat centre for deaf and blind people, on which we have reported in one of the previous articles. I also went to Kabbalat Center and visited Baha'i Gardens with a tour - two religions and two completely different impressions, while Kabbalat left an impression of being a commercial venture aiming to get money from the devotees and sort of current pop fashion, Bahai one left an opinion of being very sincere and open.

My colleagues also throughout enjoyed the free dinners offered by Municipality and Eatwith project and some culinary tours. We have also walked around Tel Aviv with a wonderful Tel Aviv Greeter Lorna (sadly we've missed Safari and hot balloon opportunities due to being very busy). I had only 1 day to go to the beach, but it was very enjoyable, of course, and deeply missed since 2012 and Baku.

All in all, there hardly is anything to criticize: friendly security, hardly noticeable volunteers and helpful staff, amazing huge packed Eurovillage (apparently it reached 80,000 attendance this final night), nicely set up Euroclub and Eurocafe (with a bit late start of the performances though).

Complimentary boat trips are fun - Sailor Yacht Club, Jaffa

ESCKAZ.com played tourists today with the complimentary boat cruise from Jaffa Port courtesy of the Sailer Yacht Club Jaffa

https://www.facebook.com/sailoryachtclub/

Boat Trip - Sailor Yacht Club Jaffa

This was an amazing 2 hours on a boat that does daily trips in the Tel Aviv area - our Captain, Amit, was a perfect host and we felt so comfortable and welcomed, just like everywhere else in Israel. The port area of Jaffa is a really nice backdrop too, well worth a vitas and a day out, maybe lunch and then a small cruise to explore the Tel Aviv skyline from a different angle.

Boat Trip - Sailor Yacht Club Jaffa

The only scary moment was the every small entrance in and out of the historic harbour - it’s approximately 20m and takes real skill to navigate. The evidence of less skilled sailors is there for all to see with a crashed boat on the rocks

Highly recommended to take a trip there, and all the links you will need are below

Boat Trip - Sailor Yacht Club Jaffa

With Thanks to the Sailor Yacht Club

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g297749-d10847436-Revie…

+972 77-212-0366

Random musings from Mike (reporting for ESCKAZ.com) - now it's official

Waiting for the “Family” show for the Grand Final to start in the press centre with some spare time - not sure how that happened - I thought I might write a few random musings on the whole Eurovision Bubble so far this year.

This year was always going to be an important one for me - I’d had such an awful time in Lisbon in the Eurovision bubble - so it was always going to be a make or break year for me and it was with some trepidation that Daniel and I planned on coming, for personal not political reasons. It was a real tough choice, but what finally made up my mind was that I did not want the bad memories of Lisbon to be possibly the last Eurovision memories I had…

Anyway with all that in mind, flights were booked, Airbnb was booked, the bank balance was destroyed with buying tickets and the countdown began. There were still times over the previous few months when we were going to cancel the whole thing: when the enjoyment has dipped is it time to call it a day? Would we regret not coming? Was I just being a tad paranoid? Even three days before leaving for Tel Aviv we were about to cancel....what a messed up head space!

Still we got on the plane, we arrived and while it’s been mixed for sure, overall it has been a positive experience so far, meeting old friends and mixing with delegations that we admire, respect and call friends these days… And overall it has reaffirmed that we still love Eurovision, and still want more...

On Israel in general:
OK politics aside, the people here are pretty much wonderful. No one has shown us the alleged “rude” side of Israelis; no one has been unhelpful; the volunteers in the press centre have been amazing; the press centre worked; and nothing is too much trouble. This is a 10/10. And Tel Aviv is a great city too. It’s not our first time here so this time it’s been a little rushed and we have not really done any tourist stuff, but the beaches and sunsets are to die for. So if you are coming as a tourist it’s perfect. Maybe it’s a little on the expensive side, but just perfect. We are even thinking we may come back in August for our annual beach holiday but that's something to think about once we get home.

On Jerusalem:
A visit to this iconic place has always been on my bucket list, and Daniel and I were not disappointed in any way. The churches, the history, the Western Wall and just the general ambiance of the city made a lot of things melt away in my head and I found some real inner peace there. Being an atheist this was surprising - but not in a bad way. I totally get why this place arouses such passions in people and probably will for all eternity - another 10/10. I would have loved to spend a week here visiting the many historical sites - previous Eurovision venues not included - but the day taster we had was just pure joy. The two sites that were a must stop for us met every expectation - cannot wait to return one day.

On the press pack:
Most of my bad experiences in Lisbon were related to the press side of how Eurovision works - the dramas, the backbiting, the naked ambition of people who really need to think about whether this is a business or a hobby, the sheer rudeness of some of them, and the total disrespect for people who work damn hard year in year out just because they love Eurovision.