Tel Aviv – OGAE UK beyond the bubble


So that’s that, another contest over, and the annual void of Post Eurovision Depression sets in. It’s also the chance to catch up with life outside Eurovision and get round to doing all those chores we’ve not done over the past few months, as there’s been that all-important Romanian semi-final or preview party to catch up with.

Thank you very much for following our blog over the past two weeks, led by Hass Yusuf, with video support from Robin Scott, and social media activities from Alasdair and Danny.

Most of the blog has, rightly, focused on the goings on in and around the arena. However for many OGAE UK members in Tel Aviv, the real highlights took place outside the bubble. In this article we look at some of the other activities that took place in Eurovision week, a memorable few days in Israel.

The UK Embassy reception

It has become a tradition that the British Embassy in the host country organises a reception for a number of people visiting for the contest. In some years this has been for a select few, with just a handful of passes going to OGAE UK members. However this year, following discussion between OGAE UK, the BBC and the Embassy in Tel Aviv, invitations were extended to all those members who had finals packages.

(Four-fifths of) the OGAE UK Committee in Tel Aviv

The reception took place on the Monday of Eurovision week in the lush surroundings of the Ambassador’s residence. His Excellency David Quarrey CMG is approaching the end of his posting to Israel, and what a way to end his tenure by throwing a big Eurovision party!

The food and drink was exquisite – a taste of home being provided by Pimms and Fish ‘n’ Chips, and the atmosphere was perfect, as guests mingled in the balmy evening. As is traditional, a live performance was given by our very own Michael Rice, but that wasn’t the end of the fun, as guests were also treated to an amusing drag show.

We’d like to thank Mr Quarrey, Dana Bernstein and all the staff at the Embassy for extending so many invitations to OGAE UK members.

The OGAE cruise

With Eurovision taking place on the shores of the Mediterranean, then what better place to have a Eurovision cruise! Al Bel, who has organised a number of Eurovision parties in recent years organised a cruise for members across the OGAE network.

In glorious weather we headed out of the ancient port of Jaffa, to the sounds of Eurovision music and to the taste of the free cocktails on board.

All aboard!

We bobbed in the Med for a couple of hours, with some members taking the chance for a dip in the sea.

This was a wonderfully relaxing way to spend an afternoon, and it was good to see a number of UK members among the wider OGAE UK contingent. In fact the cruise was so popular that a second cruise was organised a few days later.

It would be good for something similar to happen next year….although the waters of the North Sea may not quite have the same allure as the sparkling Mediterranean!

OGAE UK day out to Jerusalem

A day out for OGAE UK members on the Wednesday of Eurovision week has now become part of the calendar. In 2017 there was an unforgettable – and surreal – trip to Chernobyl, and last year in Lisbon a wine tasting trip was organised to the hills around Setúbal.

This year we organised an informal day out for members who wanted to visit Jerusalem, but who didn’t want the expense of paying for a formal organised tour.

The sights of old Jerusalem

We set off by train from Tel Aviv, with us taking over one carriage of an Israel Railways train – apologies to our fellow passengers who may have been less than interested in our chat about potential qualifiers! As part of the trip, we took part in an excellent walking tour around the old city, taking in all four quarters of the historic and fascinating city – the Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim quarters. We also had a chance to explore the Western Wall, and wander around some of the old markets.

Let’s see where next year’s day trip takes us!

OGAE UK meet-up

Once again the Thursday afternoon of Eurovision week saw the annual OGAE UK meet-up. These have become a staple of Eurovision week, and are a chance for all those members travelling to the host country to meet up and chat over a few drinks.

This year the meet-up took place at Queen B, a small but popular bar in the Sarona district of Tel Aviv. With the party having to compete with the beach and the sunshine there was a fear that numbers would be down on usual, but in fact we had a great turnout.

As well as large numbers of OGAE UK members, the meet-up was also attended by ITV News and Good Morning Britain, who interviewed a number of members.

OGAE UK would like to thank all the members who came to Tel Aviv and made it such a joyous week.

And back in the UK….

Of course there was plenty of fun for those members staying at home, with a number of venues showing the contest, including Eurovision Party London at the Rio Cinema in Dalston.

Photo (C) Johnny@Nightcapture

We’d also like to say a particular thank you to Jason D’Arcy for organising an incredible party at Bar Pop in Manchester. Featuring the likes of SuRie, Suzy, Lindsay Dracass and Belle and the Devotions, it was a storming success!

If all this has whetted your appetite for joining the fun next year, then don’t delay sign up now!


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