Israel IV: Caesarea and Haifa

To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv
Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)
Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture

After spending two days in Tel Aviv, it was time to start our loop around the northern part of the country. We rented a car using a rental company that is based in the lobby of the Tel Aviv Hilton (that makes it easy!) and loaded up the car to head north. After spending our first 2 days in Tel Aviv using taxis, I think we were all a little nervous about how driving would work here. They have similar signs and there’s usually an English translation so I wasn’t worried about that… but the drivers were very aggressive and often jumping from lane to lane (or just driving down the center). But once we were outside of the city, it became a lot more like driving in America.


Before we knew it, we were in Caesarea. HERE‘s a map of out journey. We parked at the Caesarea Maritima and made our way into this fortress. You have to pay to get in, although I can’t remember the price it couldn’t have been much.


This fort has such a history and it’s a large piece of land which currently has shops, restaurants, and of course the ruins to explore. I highly recommend the free video telling the history of the land, which we saw in the building on the left above. It has been conquered and changed so many times throughout history and the video helps you see how it looked during each period of time.


Above you can see the ruins extend out into the harbor. On the other side of the harbor (not pictured) you can see archeologists actively digging and unearthing more ruins.


After watching the video of it’s history, we explored the ruins. It’s such a maze of passageways along the coast.


You can see the modern buildings built over the ruins to make this a true destination for tourists.


Ruins, ruins, ruins…


We made our way over to the theatre, exploring the ruins.

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After we had our fill of ruins we made our way over to one of the cafes. I had a traditional Israeli egg dish, shakshuka, which I had seen on many menus since arriving in Tel Aviv. HERE‘s a great recipe for it on Smitten Kitchen. Humus, coffee and shakshuka, yuuuum.

Once we had our fill we got back in the car and made THIS trek more up north to Haifa. Since it gets dark so early (like 3:30/4ish) we were trying to move quickly, as we still have a few more places to see before we were at our hotel in Tiberias.


We went directly to the Bahai World Centre in Haifa. It’s gardens are on Mount Carmel which gives great views of the city. The gardens were closed when we arrived, but you can see how beautiful and well manicured they are.


In a way, I think it was good we couldn’t go into the gardens because it meant the photos I have are all tourist free. While we were taking photos from the top of the garden many buses of tourists arrived and were also taking photos. It’s a Haifa must-see spot.


Okay, so one tourist got in my photo-me! I didn’t take many photos of myself on the trip, but I love the view from the top so I had to take one.


Beautiful gardens overlooking Haifa… be sure to stop here if you’re in Haifa.

Next up, we rush up to Acre (Akko) to see the city before the sun fully sets. Then in the dark we make our way to our hotel in Tiberias.

Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture

To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv
Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)

After exploring Jaffa, we made our way to the center of the modern side of Tel Aviv to visit the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.


The Museum has a modern addition above. It’s a bit disorienting, but still fun to explore.


None of the walls meet at 90 degrees. I do not envy the person who had to draw these sections and elevations. The art in the museum was interesting and after an hour (we were on a tight schedule) we finished at the museum and walked in the sprinkling rain to Dizengoff Square, where we were the day before.


Yesterday when we were here we stopped into the Bauhaus Center, but didn’t have time to do the walking tour. Today was our “museum day” so we hoped to get in the tour before the sun went down. The sun sets very early this time of year in Israel, so we had to rush.


I think my architect uncle and I expected that the Bauhaus buildings would be well maintained and an expensive place to live given their architectural significance. We were wrong. Many of the buildings needed a lot of help and you could tell they were affordably priced.

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Each had interesting features and all the buildings were unique. Sure enough we had to complete this tour in the dark. Night is not the best time to be taking pictures of peoples homes, and I now understand this: daytime photos of homes= thoughtful person admiring design, nighttime photos of homes=who is this peeping tom!? Lesson learned, start the walking tour around 2pm instead of 3:30pm.


The walking tour looped back to the Bauhaus Center in Dizengoff Square and we got to see this Agam sculpture in the middle of the square lit up at night. We had to rush off because we had dinner reservations at Popina in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood. It was an excellent meal and I highly recommend this place to people visiting Tel Aviv!

Check back in soon to hear about day 3 in Israel where we rent a car and drive up the coast.

Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)

To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv

After spending day one of our trip running around Carmel Market and modern Tel Aviv, we rejoined Andy and Brian on day two to experience more of their neighborhood, Neve Tzedek, and meander down to the old city of Jaffa.


This photo above was taken at 8am outside of the Hilton along the promenade. I did a quick walk before breakfast, as I like seeing cities wake up. Little did I know that at 8am on Saturday, the promenade would be filled with walkers of all ages. Very impressive. Also  we had beautiful 75 degree weather.


After breakfast we met up with Andy and Brian in Neve Tzedek and walked around their neighborhood a bit. Above is an example of what the homes looked like: beautifully run-down buildings with colorful courtyards.


We cut through the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theatre (which was a well manicured outdoor space) and made our way over to the HaTahana (The Train Station Complex) which was also a well taken care of property. The buildings look newly restored and there are cute shops and cafes.


We walking through the plaza and cut over to the promenade to continue on to the old city by the water. What a lovely day for November. TelAviv22

The graffiti is fun in Tel Aviv, and by the beach is no exception. It’s the last supper with famous Jews. It’s on a broken piece of wall by the water.


On our way to Jaffa!


In Jaffa looking back north at Tel Aviv. You can see our hotel several miles up the coast.


The Jaffa port is beautiful and a fun area to walk around. There are tons of venders and shops along the water.


We ended up eating lunch with a view of the water right in the port at Old Man and The Sea. It was my first time having mezze. This is where they place a bunch of small plates of food in front of you and then you order a main protein. Personally, the 20 small constantly refilled dishes is enough to fill up anyone, but you need to order a fish or meat as the main meal. Many restaurants serve this type of meal with varying quantities of food. This was my favorite (and first) mezze experience on the whole trip. The dishes were falafel, and avocado, and different types of hummus, and salads… and so on.


After the meal, we meandered around Jaffa exploring it’s history.


It was very photogenic and felt very old compared to all the places we saw in Tel Aviv our first day (duh- it’s the old city). But seeing this gave a nice taste of what was to come in Jerusalem later on in the trip.


I just love the stone pathways. Also, there are cats everywhere. Every single place. All over Israel and Istanbul. Funny enough, I only saw a few dogs (even as peoples pets) yet we saw probably a million stray cats.




In Jaffa, it is easy to imagine the history as it’s right there in ruins in front of you. Since most of Tel Aviv is so modern, this really was our first taste of “oh wait- Jesus was here? Kings? Rulers?”


Above is St. Peter’s Church in Jaffa. According to Wikipedia, Napoleon lived in two of its rooms in 1977 and also has Biblical sinificance. Unfortunately we went the one time it was closed and given our tight schedule we had to keep moving along.


On we went through Jaffa before we eventually cabbed it across Tel Aviv to see an artsier side of Tel Aviv. Up next, Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture.

Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv

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.

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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!

Bringing Israel + Istanbul to Los Angeles

Every time I travel anywhere from home for a New England weekend or a month in Spain (which I don’t get to do either often), I like to bring back some aspect of that lifestyle. This can be a smell, a plant, type of food, or activity. Like after a visit to Cape Cod I’ll buy hydrangeas, cook more seafood, and take time to go to the beach. After spending two weeks in Israel and Istanbul, I’m noticing a lot has come back with me.


1: Dreams- I can tell every night since I’ve been home, I’ve been dreaming that I’m still abroad. In my dreams people have heavy accents, and I wake up feeling like I spent all night visiting religious sites and walking the narrow cobble stone streets. Every morning I’ve woken up to the thought “where am I?” It’s disorienting, but a relief that in my brain I’m still on an adventure exploring the other side of the world.


2: Walking- I always love walking, but when I walk it’s often to do a loop for exercise (or secret stairs) and not about walking due to necessity. In Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Istanbul, walking is an essential part of every day. In Jerusalem, it’s nearly impossible to drive in the Old City so you see people (usually women) with their rolling carts for groceries they’re buying from the stalls. Lettuce from one vendor, meat from another, dessert from another. Tel Aviv and Istanbul both have similar markets (the Grand Bazar) where people buy their goods. Today was a rare drizzly LA morning and it was a delight to walk from my home to complete all my errands and shop local at the farmers market. It reminded me that I may be in a very modern city, but by walking it made me feel very connected to the past.

80016dbe584c11e39bef0e0423ac1ff3_7 (Photo courtesy of @asherworldturns) I’m the bottom left.

3: The Spa Lifestyle- I have to thank Brian for this phrase. While in Istanbul we all were brainstorming about hospitality needs and Brain said he’s decided to live the “spa lifestyle” and the phrase has stuck with me. I also equate this phrase with Israel because of the Dead Sea. I brought back some Dead Sea salt (Ahava) and just took a soaking bath. Amazing. There’s something really special about that salt. I also brought back some dried olive oil based soap (a Turkish specialty) which made the bath extra fun. The Middle East knows how to do baths right. It’s made me think about redecorating my long neglected bathroom, as baths are calming and stress releasing which is key to happiness. It’s time I also embraced the spa lifestyle.

(Photo courtesy of @asherworldturns) This (minus the chicken) was amazing. Hummus!

4: Food- Where to start with this one… I love hummus which was so readily available in Israel. It is common to order hummus as a meal. Just a plate of hummus with some pita. It’s all anyone needs in life. And mezze’s are what all meals should be: many tiny plates of food. In Israel it’s common to eat mezze’s before you even order any food, although by the time you eat the mezze’s you’re often too full for the dish you ordered. An example of mezze’s would be many small plates filled with mashed eggplant, hummus, olives, diced cucumber, plates of cheeses, guacamole (their equivalent), felafel, and so many more that are continuously refilled. Did I mention Israel makes great wine?

I think all travel is invaluable and you can’t put a price on these life experiences that end up changing parts of your everyday routine. It’s fun to travel and to see what everyday life is like for people in other places and absorb some of their ways. This trip has made me see how small this world is which puts things in perspective.

I’m baaaaack!

I made it back from my epic Thanksgiving Adventure! Turkey in Turkey was a success! I hope you followed along through my instagram photos. If not, no worries as posts will be up in the next week or so. It’ll take some time to organize all 1500 photos, but I promise to do it. Since I got in late last night I’m still catching up on work/blog emails so I’ll have my “Do This Today” post starting back up tomorrow. Here are some instagram photos (since the others are still on my camera):

Temple Mount, Old City, Jerusalem

4b7e2b5e56d511e3a2bd12f060f13058_7The Western Wall, Old City, Jerusalem

cf3dec8856ba11e3a52e12d4973c56e9_7Caesarea, Masada

80016dbe584c11e39bef0e0423ac1ff3_7Photo via As Her World Turns)

50083208560a11e3b148122f255355e2_7Mt. Bental (looking over to the DMZ + Syria)




The big trip has come! Today I embark on my journey to Israel and Turkey. Unfortunately this means my “Do This Today” (and all  other posts) will be on hiatus until December 3. My plan is to have phone internet access, so if you want to see up to the minute photos from my trip, check out my instagram where I’ll be hash-tagging #turkeyinturkey (as it’s in reference to Thanksgiving in Turkey). And to all home-burglers out there, I have two roommates with black belts so don’t even think about it. Shalom and L’hitaot!