Israel: Tel Aviv

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Back in December I was stressing out about a number of things that in retrospect probably didn't matter that much ( this is my M.O., if you're new to this space,) when, in a last-ditch effort to cheer me up, Peter suggested I tag along for his work trip to Israel. It didn't take much convincing for me to say yes, so off we went a few weeks later...

I landed in Tel Aviv airport after a red eye and from there headed straight to Tel Aviv. We only had a few days total in Israel so I didn't want to waste any time catching up on sleep; instead we walked from our hotel on Rothschild down to the seaside towards Jaffa Port.

I have to say as far as trips go, this was one of the least planned out ones we've taken overseas. Usually one or both of us has some sort of bucket list of things we absolutely want to see/would like to check out if we have time. Unfortunately, 5 days was not enough, especially factoring in jet lag. But we did our best, had a blast, and soaked in the beautiful sunshine, so I'd still say it was worth it!

Jaffa and Tel Aviv are interesting bedfellows. One (Jaffa) is a town so ancient it's heavily featured in the bible, while Tel Aviv is a relatively new city, growing upward and outward from an old fishing village to a huge center for technology and culture in the past century.

Most of our time spent in Tel Aviv was just walking through beautiful neighborhoods- Rothschild Avenue for its beautiful bauhaus architecture, Florentin for cute cafes and an artistic/hipster vibe, and Neve Tsedek for beautiful houses and instagram-worthy doors. We tried to visit Carmel Market, only to find it was closed for the Sabbath (these kinds of mistakes became a trend on this trip, haha.) A lot of sites (less in Tel Aviv but moreso in Jerusalem/Nazareth) kept surprisingly short visitor hours, so if I could give one piece of advice for someone spending any amount of time in Israel, it would be to research opening hours for Markets, Churches and other religious sites you're interested in.

We were pleasantly surprised by the collection at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which has a great collection of Impressionist and Modern paintings.

The city as a whole is quite beautiful. I was impressed not only by all the natural greenery and parks, but also by how clean everything was. It was a stark (and saddening) contrast to the coastal Cretan towns where I spent my Fulbright, where the streets are rife with crude graffiti and litter. Obviously the financial and political climate in Tel Aviv is quite different, and they do a fantastic job of keeping the city clean and beautiful.

Where we stayed: The Diaghilev Hotel had been pre-booked by Peter's job, so we added a couple of days to the reservation. The location right by Rothschild avenue was super convenient, the rooms were clean and spacious, and the breakfasts were great (wish I had taken a photo, Israeli breakfast is so. delicious.)

Where we ate: We went based off of quite a few sources for this trip. A friend of mine had lived in Tel Aviv for 4 years, so for food and drink we mainly relied on a list she sent us, along with this post from Les Flaneries D'Aurelie blog. A few favorites were North Abraxis for amazing farm to table food with a menu that changes daily, the Old Man and the Sea for some truly amazing fish overlooking the old port (the colorful photo of a dozen or so small plates, above, is from that restaurant), and we got some incredible Falafel in Jaffa's Flea Market area (Falafel Danny.)

For Nazareth, a former colleague who is Palestinian and has quite a lot of family there gave us some great recommendations (more on Nazareth/Jerusalem later.) And of course you can't go wrong with a Lonely Planet Guide :)

Ok time to run catch another plane! Will post the rest of the photos some time this week :)