Israel Is Alfa Romeo Crazy!
Israel has a really strong car culture, but it seems Alfa Romeo has a huge following there. It had been a while since I had last seen another Alfa but as soon as I arrived in Israel I began to spot them in the streets again. The Israeli Alfa Romeo club is very active, and when I announced on Facebook that I had made it to Israel they got in touch.
I got a phone call from the Israeli celebrity chef Haim Cohen, who is a judge on the Israeli Masterchef show. He invited me out to his restaurant in Tel Aviv for dinner which of course I could not refuse. Haim has a growing collecting of vintage Alfa Romeos, but the one I really wanted to see was his Giulia Sprint GTC, the convertible version of my car, built by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan. There were only about 1000 ever built.
I arrived at Haim’s restaurant, to find his GTC parked right outside the doors, with a space next to it for my GT. The restaurant was really packed, as it’s a hot spot in Tel Aviv’s already very vibrant nightlight scene, but he made time to sit down and have a chat with me. He’s a super warm and friendly guy, and his passion for his work and his Alfa Romeos comes across instantly.
I had just about the best dinner I’ve ever had at Haim’s restaurant, and it was lovely to chat vintage Alfa Romeo for the first time in a long time. The next day I went to the Israeli Alfa Club’s Friday night meeting in Petah Tikva, which was a little overwhelming. The club is very active, and every Friday evening they meet up with their cars to catch up and see what’s new in the club, I arrived at the meeting to huge support from the club. I met up with a lot of the guys who I knew on Facebook in person at the meet. Shay Vered and Reuven Sommer were there to meet me when I arrived, and I’m using a lot of their photos in this post.
The Friday evening meeting happens every week and there must have been 40 cars there. I got a spot right in the middle and I spent a good few hours meeting all the Alfa guys around the Tel Aviv area, which was great, they’re a wonderful bunch of enthusiasts. The following morning we met up just outside Tel Aviv to head out on a mini road trip to the north of the country, near the border with Lebanon.
We convoyed through almost half of Israel, to Tiberias on The Sea of Galilee and onto the mountains on the border with Lebanon. I had to work pretty hard to keep up with the club, as they were not afraid to give their cars a little push on the open road.
Not only does the club do frequent road trips around the country, and meet up every Friday, they also meet up for dinners once a week at Goomba, and Italian restaurant in Petah Tikva. Two nights before I was due to leave Israel I met up with the club again for dinner.
It was really amazing to spend time with such passionate Alfisti. I loved Israel but the Alfa Club really made it stand out for me on this trip, and I’m looking forward to visiting again soon. It’s a stunningly beautiful country with a fascinating history, but mostly it’s full of great people, so Israel has a special place in my heart, especially its Alfa Romeo Club.
Not long after our last supper I said goodbye to my hosts and headed up the coast again, to Haifa, where I was due to catch a ship to Greece. It really was very difficult to put Israel behind me, it was the perfect break from the road. I loved relaxing on the beach in Tel Aviv and exploring the country with the Alfa Club, but I had been in Israel for three weeks, and Europe was calling.
So after a rather blissful few weeks in Tel Aviv I boarded MV Alios, bound for Cyprus and then Greece a few days later. I waited until nightfall in the ferry terminal in Haifa before loading my car up and sailing a thousand miles across the Mediterranean.