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|
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.|
|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.)
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|
|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:
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.
Time to depart Tel Aviv. In the morning, we hopped onto a regional bus and headed to Jerusalem.
I'll talk about Jerusalem next.
Linking up with Chris and Heather; Lauren; Ashley; Amanda and Brian; and Carolann and Macrae for Weekend Wanderlust, and with Lyn, Arnie and Jo, Sally-Ann, Anda, and Anisa and Katherine for The Weekly Postcard.