It’s one of my New Year resolutions to be up to date with my blog and so here I am finally sharing my Israel+Istanbul trip. Since there’s just so much to share, I’ve broken it down into many posts by area and in trip order. Email me if you are heading there and have questions because there’s so much more info than what I’m able to talk about here. Enjoy!
The photo above was taken at the Kitson shop at LAX while I waited for my flight to Newark. It was a festive send off. I flew from LAX to Newark where I met up with my uncle David and his friend Brian (who lives in Tel Aviv) and we all continued to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, arriving at 4pm Israeli time.
Here we are in Newark getting ready to board our plane (Left: me and Uncle David. Right: me and Brian). I should mention that in Newark’s international terminal, they require an extra pat down and security scan before you can enter the Israel gate. It’s funny because none of the other gates require this, but it does make us all feel very safe. So much security.
After going through passport control (which took no time at all) we taxied on to Brian’s place and then to the Tel Aviv Hilton where we spent the next 3 nights.
Above is the view from our balcony. The Hilton’s right on the Mediterranean and sits at an excellent spot along a walking path/boardwalk that runs along the coast.
After meeting up with my sister Erica (travel blogger As Her World Turns) at the hotel, we all took an advil pm and crashed. The next morning we set out to meet up with Brian’s partner Andy (also living in Tel Aviv) at Carmel Market. On our way we walked along the water even seeing this Agam faced hotel on the left. Yaacov Agam is a colorful artist and sculptor who has work featured throughout the city.
On our way to Carmel Market, we took a route through Dizengoff Square where a weekly flea market was taking place.
In the center of Dizengoff Square is another Agam piece. This square is also surrounded by Bauhaus architecture and the Bauhaus Center is right off of this plaza. Visit this center!! They have a cute gift shop but also offer a Bauhaus walking tour of the neighborhood. It was worth doing. More on that in my next Israel post.
Oh yes, we continued on to Carmel Market passing some new beautiful homes and also some in ruins. It’s such a varied city, and yet all the buildings are various shades of white.
Above is Magen David Square on Allenby and a central location just north of Carmel Market. Carmel Market is like a mini Grand Bazaar (like in Istanbul-more on that in my Istanbul posts). Lots of people, tons of stalls and lots of yelling/haggling. Tuesdays and Fridays are big market days where everyone gets their food for the weekend (Shabbat), as Tel Aviv shuts down on Friday night to Saturday night.
We met Andy here and he guided us through the stalls. Since it was Friday it was one of the busiest market days and a prime time to people watch.
There were plenty of people to watch as each alley we walked down seemed to have more and more people.
As a door lover, I can tell you Tel Aviv had some amazing old wooden doors. The graffiti in Israel was also so unique and all over. You’ll see lots of graffiti throughout the images in my Israel posts.
Carmel Market has an arts and crafts section, a clothing section, and then they busiest area: food. Even the food is broken down into alley ways by the types of food they sell. The meat/fish alley was the smelliest.
There were so many people going by (and of course I’m guarding my bag against pickpockets), so it was difficult taking pictures here. I managed to get close enough to these vendors to get images without people cutting in front of me. We had our taste of the market and worked our way out and back over to the beach front.
Fun graffiti, am I right? This above would be a Bauhaus Jack Daniels.
Back along the water we decided to walk north up the boardwalk.
You can see that the boardwalk is actually very busy, with lots of people out exercising. The next morning I was shocked that at 8am on a Saturday (Shabbat!) it seemed like the whole city was out jogging/speed walking. I mean people of all ages. I was very impressed. Anyway, back to our Friday adventure. See the people on the left in the photo. They are playing a loud paddle ball type game called Matkot. It’s very popular here and makes a very loud sound that is echoed along the waterfront.
Also note the wood fence on the upper left of the image. This is the south wall of the religious beach. It’s the only beach that separates men from women. For example, Monday Wednesday Friday might be female days and Tuesday Thursday Sunday might be male days. So this beach is completely fenced off and private.
We continued along north as the sun was setting. The Promenade leads to a revitalized area called the Tel Aviv Port. This area clearly was a warehouse neighborhood that has been made over into a giant walking area filled with hip restaurants and fun stores. This is a great place to catch the sunset (as you can see below).
The photo above is deceiving, because the walkway had lots of people on it doing laps and families with children playing.
For dinner our first night we met up with Andy and Brian to get a pre-dinner drink at their favorite spot. Unfortunately we were too early and ended up cabbing over to a cute wine bar called Jajo Vino near where we had dinner reservations in their neighborhood of Neve Tzedek (it’s like the Brooklyn of Tel Aviv- hip, filled with history and up and coming).
After a delicious dinner at the adorable Suzana we went to the best gelato place in town: Anita Cafe “La Mamma del Gelato”. It’s so good they have two locations across the street from each other to handle all their customers. It’s amazing and Andy and Brian’s favorite place in the city for a tasty treat.
I would say this is a pretty packed first day of vacation as we spent it walking all over the city. Turns out every day would be equally as packed, but it meant we got to see SO much. Up next, Israel II: Jafa!