Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Visiting Israel: Tel Aviv

I got back from Israel late this past Sunday night. The visit was an amazing, eye-opening trip that completely changed my perspective on many things. I am still reflecting and trying to process the whole experience.

I am overwhelmed with all the pictures and thoughts I'd like to share. I will attempt to break things down into a few more-manageable posts. When I last left off, I had just arrived in Tel Aviv - so let's continue from there.

I found Tel Aviv to be an energetic and cosmopolitan city with beautiful beaches and incredible art, history, and nightlife. I'm told Tel Aviv is considered the trendiest, hippest city in the Middle East, and for good reason.
View of Tel Aviv's skyline from Jaffa
Brace yourselves for an onslaught of pictures!

Day 1
Adam and I started with breakfast at a restaurant on Ben Yehuda Street called Benedict.

I had an "Israeli-style" breakfast:

2 eggs any style, fresh-baked breads, yogurt, tahini, tomato-cucumber salad, cheese, tuna salad, smoked salmon, and fresh juice (I chose apricot)

Adam got blueberry pancakes, which were by far the thickest I've ever seen in my life. Just one of the pancakes was the equivalent of about three or four normal-sized pancakes.

Source, since the picture I took doesn't do the pancakes justice but this picture does.

We headed out to enjoy the beaches along the Mediterranean Sea. They were SO clean and pristine, and were filled with ample public seating and shaded areas:




Getting to know the locals on the beach

Schlomo Lahat Promenade


We gradually made our way into the old city of Jaffa, where we had a late lunch at a shawarma hole-in-the-wall. As soon as we sat down, the servers brought out a seemingly endless array of mezze (appetizers) and enough bread to feed an army:

The green object in the basket on the left is an enormous piece of  rolled-up flatbread covered with a pesto-like sauce. It was one of two huge flatbreads in the basket. Plenty of carb-loading options all around!

Next, we took a Free Walking Tour of Jaffa. This is one of the world's oldest ports from which Tel Aviv developed. For many Jewish people returning to Israel from around the world, Jaffa was the main entry point. Jaffa is filled with archaeological, religious, and historic sites.







The streets are maze-like and filled with private residences along with restaurants and shops - especially art studios. It was fun to wander through and get lost. The locals are an interesting mixture of Jewish and Arabic.

We spent several hours walking around and taking in the views before making the long walk back to our hotel.

For dinner, we grabbed a quick bite at a local pizza joint on Dizengoff Street and had some great smoked salmon pizza. (No pictures, unfortunately.)

Day 2
The original plan was to take a day trip to Caesaria and/or Haifa. However, we were wiped from jet lag and from doing so much walking the day before. Plus, the public transit to Caesaria and Haifa was overly difficult. Therefore, we decided to stay in Tel Aviv and visit the Israeli Museum at the Yitzhak Rabin Center.

When I am traveling, I love taking public transit because I think it gives a really good sense for local life. Enroute to the museum, I enjoyed riding a sherut for the first time. This was the view from my passenger seat:


The Israeli Museum chronicles the history and development of Israel as a state while sharing the influential life of Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was the fifth prime minister of Israel and was assassinated in 1995.

I knew very little about the history of Israel's development and was unfamiliar with Rabin. In short, the museum was quite an eye-opening learning experience.

Dizzying array of photos

Walkway seals commemorate the nations that have become partners in preserving the legacy of Yitzhak Rabin.
This is the United States's seal.

In memoriam to Yitzhak Rabin
 
Candlelight memorial

View of the Tel Aviv skyline from the Israeli Museum

That night, we ate dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant on Dizengoff Street called La Shuk. We had some very creative spins on tabbouleh and other seafood. I am planning to try to recreate everything at home soon! 

My food pictures didn't turn out well, but here's the mint tea with which we finished:


Dizengoff Street
While in Tel Aviv, we stayed at the Dizengoff Avenue Hotel on Dizengoff Street. The hotel was small but very nice with extremely helpful staff.

Being unfamiliar with the city, we were lucky to pick this hotel as its location was fantastic. Upon arrival, I learned that Dizengoff Street used to be described as the "Champs-Elysees of Tel Aviv." It is filled with restaurants, shops, cafes, and people milling about.

Here are a few pictures, which definitely don't do it justice:


Lots of mouthwatering fruit stands on almost every street

Dancing water fountaint

It was cool to just walk around and observe locals enjoying themselves and going about their daily/nightly lives.

In summary - I thought Tel Aviv was amazing. What an incredible city with so much to see and do! I loved the energy and felt very comfortable there.

Day 3
Time to depart Tel Aviv. In the morning, we hopped onto a regional bus and headed to Jerusalem. 

I'll talk about Jerusalem next.

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Linking up with Chris and HeatherLaurenAshleyAmanda and Brian; and Carolann and Macrae for Weekend Wanderlust, and with LynArnie and JoSally-AnnAnda, and Anisa and Katherine for The Weekly Postcard.  

38 comments:

  1. Wow! What a trip! I can't wait for the next installment.

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    1. Thanks Wendy! I'm drafting as we speak!

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  2. Looks like a wonderful trip, and wow, the food looks to die for - yum!!! Thanks for linking up with #wednesdaywanderlust

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    1. Thanks so much for hosting Wednesday Wanderlust, Malinda! I really enjoy reading everyone's contributions!

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  3. I'd be at that fruit stand every day. It's hard to get fruits and veggies when I travel so if I saw something like that, I'd stock up :)

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    1. Isn't that the truth!?!?!? Eating healthfully while traveling is one of the biggest challenges ever. It's really too bad it's not possible to bring fresh fruits and veggies with us from home, just to ensure we have them on the road!

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  4. Even just this portion sounds like it was a wonderful time!! That photo of mezze cracks me up!! We had that happen in Italy once ... both my husband and I looked at each other like - did you order this? It was entirely free! LOL!

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    1. Thanks Natalie! Where in Italy were you when you had that happen? I can only imagine the assortment they must have served you out there - yum!!!

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    2. We were at some wine & coffee shop off the beaten path in Rome. The assortment was amazing - bruschetta, mini pizza, roasted potatoes, I don't even remember everything. A meal in itself!!

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    3. I LOVE going off the beaten path. That is when you find the BEST places! My mouth is watering just reading your description of what they served!

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  5. I love seeing your photos! :) And looks like such a great place to explore.

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    1. Thanks Alexandra! Indeed, Tel Aviv was a surprisingly intriguing city! It would have been nice to have a bit more time there to explore more of it!

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  6. Great pictures and so much food in that picture! Sounds like an unbelievable trip!

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    1. Thanks Pete! Israel is definitely a place where it's easy to carb-load. They have the most amazing and delicious assortments of bread!!!

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  7. I know nothing about Tel-Aviv so it's nice to be able to see all of your pictures and hear you describe the city. It seemed like you got so much food every time you ordered! I'm curious, did you see anyone out running or cycling while you were there?

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    1. I knew virtually nothing about Tel Aviv before going there, myself. (If you're familiar with the older episodes of NCIS, the only things I'd heard about it were in reference to Ziva's character.) From my experience, there was definitely food aplenty everywhere we went! Not surprisingly, I did see lots of runners and a good number of cyclists along the beach in Tel Aviv - but not nearly as many in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem is VERY hilly, whereas Tel Aviv is fairly flat.) I didn't go running in Tel Aviv but I did torture myself on those hills in Jerusalem, LOL.

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  8. Your pictures of Jaffa are amazing!
    When I think about Jonah or Solomon, or Kind David actually being in the same place it seems crazy!
    Omg, the food!

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    1. Thank you, Karen! Yes, it's crazy to think about all the history with Jonah, Solomon, King David, or all the hundreds of other prominent figures over time walking in those same streets. Just a completely surreal experience. The food was awesome and there was so much of it!

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  9. Wow! Definitely beautiful pictures! Everything looks so pretty and beautiful and makes me want to take a trip there too.

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    1. Thank you so much, Zenaida! Definitely go to Israel in the future - I think you would be blown away by all the amazing sights and experiences!

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  10. All the food just looks SO GOOD. YUM! Steven would love a breakfast like that!!!

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    1. The food was amazing! I think Steven would really enjoy the breakfast - it was so simple yet so delicious! Simple can be the best!

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  11. Emily, what an experience! The photos are gorgeous. I can't wait to read about your experiences in Jerusalem.

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    1. Thank you so much, Betty! I wanted to share a lot more photos but didn't want to go overboard. =)

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  12. Tel Aviv sounds fascinating. And those pancakes look amazing! #weekendwanderlust

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    1. Indeed, Tel Aviv is an amazing, vibrant city! I'm still trying to figure out how they were able to make pancakes so thick. =)

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  13. Tel Aviv looks so amazing! I´ve heard about its beaches and nightlife, but the historical sights look pretty cool as well! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. I had heard a lot about Tel Aviv's beaches and nightlife, too, so I was pleasantly surprised how much culture and history it had to offer! It's definitely a destination that offers something for everyone!

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  14. I am a pictures person so I have enjoyed your photos. Israel is on my travel list. I have to go there one day. In some way, I am interested in the food but I know I will be captivated by other topics.

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    1. Ahhhh, picture-people of the world, unite! Thank you so much, Ruth! I hope you get to visit Israel very soon. There is so much history and so much diversity of sights to see and experience. The food is amazing, too. Truly a destination that offers something for everyone!

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  15. Your post came right on time, Emily, as I am getting ready to go to Israel next spring. I'll definitely bookmark it for future reference. Thanks for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. Anda - that is so wonderful that you are going to Israel in the spring! You are going to have such an amazing experience! Where in Israel are you planning to go? Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are must-sees, in my opinion, and there are so many other great options. Can't wait to hear about your experience! Thanks for co-hosting the linkup!!!

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  16. I think I'd find Israel and Tel Aviv a really fascinating place to visit, and even more so now after looking through this post. Love a good free walking tour and the old stone buildings. Bookmarked for later. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Go visit Israel! It's a small country but it has SO MUCH to offer! Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were both amazing, and there were so many other destinations in Israel I wanted to see but ran out of time. Yes, free walking tours are the best! Thank you for bookmarking! =)

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  17. This looks amazing, I just never think about visiting Israel but maybe reconsider. I wasn't expecting such nice beaches! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Thank you so much, Anisa! Israel is absolutely amazing. It truly offers something for everyone! Similarly - I had no idea the beaches in Tel Aviv were so beautiful. The whole Israel visit was an incredibly eye-opening experience. Please do consider going!!!

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  18. I've been thinking about going here next year so I really enjoyed seeing what you did and ate. I heard the food there is amazing.

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  19. We should establish Jewish entry to Har Habayit as a norm. דילים לחול ברגע האחרון

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