I got back last week from my holiday to Israel, and then of course life got in the way and it took me a week to even get the pictures from my camera to have a look at them! I spent six days in Israel, staying with my friend Carla in Tel Aviv but doing some travel to see other parts. This post will just be about the city of Tel Aviv and I’ll write about Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Dead Sea later on! Tel Aviv is a metropolitan city on the coast line of Israel, with the Mediterranean sea lapping at its shores. Shores that have gorgeous soft sand, palm trees dotted about (Admittedly i’m fairly sure they’d been planted on purpose) and gorgeous warm water, makes a change from the sea I’m used to where it’s only warm enough to swim in for two weeks of the year!
Carla lives a five minute walk from the beach in the city centre, with the markets a few minutes away in the other direction. The city is a fun mix of old and new, though not that old seeing that it was founded in 1909 or thereabouts though obviously there has been a settlement there for donkeys years before. To the south of the city is the older area of Jaffa, which is where we spent my first day. The iconic church perched up on the hill got closer and closer as we walked along the beach, it was a bit of a climb up a few flights of wide stone steps but once we got there the view back towards the city was stunning! I found my Zodiac sign on the Wishing Bridge, and as the legend goes you get a wish granted if you touch your zodiac sign and gaze out to sea! There is also a stunning mosaic display with all the zodiac signs in a circle on the Kdumim Square side of the bridge. On the other side is Peak Park, where there is a stone ‘gate’ with three biblical stories mashed together in sculpture form and some amazing views too!
By this time we’d been walking around in the heat for a few hours so decided to find somewhere for lunch, and after strolling past some of the Jaffa Flea Markets we ended up at Cafe Puaa, and shared a few different dishes at a table outside so we could do a bit of people watching! There is nothing I enjoy more than people watching when i’m on holiday, and as it was a public holiday for much of the week I visited there were even more people out and about for me to watch! The national holiday was Sukkot, a sort of harvest festival lasting seven days where traditonally small tents (for want of a better word!) are put up and decorated and families and friends eat and celebrate in them. I saw a lot of these dotted about the city, both on the streets and in peoples gardens. Anyway, the food was amazing, though expensive but that’s a common theme in all restaurants in Israel. you’d be hard pressed to find a salad for less than the equivalent of £12, for example.
The tiled streets of the Old Town are really picturesque, and surprisingly quiet too for a public holiday! We walked through the street markets and headed back towards the city, eventually hopping onto an air conditioned bus as it was pretty sticky by that point! Tel Aviv is incredibly humid, and the temperature was about 20 degrees that day! We got off the bus on Rothschild Avenue, which is one of the smarter streets, with some super luxury apartment buildings and a huge choice of restaurants too. We walked back towards the seafront via Carmel Market, which can be easily found as it starts right next to this amazing building! Full of weird and wonderful things, the ‘Shuk’ sells fashion, food, and all sorts of other things too. I picked up a tie-dye dress and some trousers for myself, and got the kids a woven pencil case each for about £12!
Of course we had a couple of days of laying on the beach sunbathing and chatting and of course paddling in the sea. You can see fish swimming around you, which is a bit weird! The sea is clear and warm and for me it was a real change to have a cityscape as the scenery for my swim!
Tel Aviv is full of amazing architecture, this rainbow building was one of my favourites I think, and I also spotted a whole heap of graffiti, but i’ll stick that in a post of its own! at the opposite end of the beachfront from Jaffa is the Marina, and dotted along the seafront are restaurants with tables in the sand to relax at. We ate at both La La Land and a new restaurant that doesn’t seem to have an internet presence yet – but it had lovely big fans blowing out a fine mist which was much needed!
I’ll definitely be back to visit Tel Aviv again, there is so much more I want to do but I spent this trip visiting other places too!