Travel influences a lot of things; a more balanced world view is one of them. We don’t live in the best of worlds, but not in the worst either. And there are many sorts of people, all mostly good. There are other ways to live, we don’t know everything. Needless to say, travel also inspires writing and characters, and so I shall post quite a few travel entries. (YES, I needed all those lines to justify why I needed to write about my travels )
Last year, I spent quite some time in Israel. It was not a country top of my bucket list, and now I think to myself, why not? I was lucky to be able to go there – the country is gorgeous, the food and people even more so. I spent many happy days in Tel Aviv and here are five of my favourite things to do:
- Beachfront: Stay here, eat here, run here, party here, or just sit and laze here. The TLV promenade is one of the best I have ever seen and I wonder why it’s not better known or talked about. The Promenade (also called Tayelet) runs along the Mediterranean seashore and is a 14-kilometer stretch of beautiful sandy beaches. Gordon Beach is the most famous (I preferred Metzizim though) but honestly there are plenty of shacks along the entire stretch, so set up base anywhere you like. Wake up in the morning to run/ cycle along with the locals from Old Jaffa to the Port. There are plenty of hotels along the coast – Hayarkon Street is where you should aim to stay. More on the beaches here
ping: So, I was told Dizengoff Street was THE place but I was bored. I dislike malls and even the street shops around had clothes imported from Europe. What’s the point? For trendy stuff, I preferred Bograshov Street. For local produce, I loved Carmel and Levinsky Markets – chaotic but great photo ops. The locals advised me to go to the Nachlat Binyamin Arts and Crafts Fair (happens every Tuesday and Friday in the evening – 10 am to 6 pm) but I missed it. More about the shopping scene here
- Culture: I kept a visit to Neve Tzedek and the historic train station (HaTachana) for this section. Although, Neve Tzedek is considered a place for hip local designer shopping but everything was far too expensive for me. But it’s a really cool place to do some window shopping, soak in culture, eat ice cream and drink at a bar. Plenty of street art too. Start at the Suzanne Dellal centre – take part in some impromptu dance sessions, then walk along the designer shops, then swing by HaTachana which was once the old Jaffa railway station and is now a heritage site slash boutique space slash souvenir emporium. The other place to visit for some cultural immersion is the Bauhaus Centre, a UNESCO world heritage site. The Bauhaus Center is an organization dedicated to creating a platform for Bauhaus architecture an
d design in Tel Aviv – that basically means all the white buildings you will see in central TLV. There is a free tour which happens every Friday at 10 am starting at the centre. Next, take a visit to the Old Jaffa port which is apparently over 7000 years old! It is the setting for biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon and Saint Peter as well as the mythological story of Andromeda and Perseus. The walk itself is quite nice – to the place and inside, around. Imagine walking on pavements centuries old. There are also a few odd shops inside but nothing I found remarkable. Lastly, try the museums. I had a very entertaining half a day at the Yitzhak Rabin Center.
- FOOD: Okay, how much I ate! Breakfast buffets, street food, ice creams. Yum, yum, yum. Keep enough space in your stomach to fill it any and all times. Try the Humus and Falafel – all available varieties (just writing this is making my mouth water. The pinenut Falafel is heavenly). Eat anywhere on the street, but I loved La Shuk and Segev Express. More on the food scene here
- Clubs: Rothschild Boulevard was nice, but amazing were the underground bars. The whole concept is so fancy. Walk along the bustling (and quite upscale) street and you won’t know that just behind the innocuous looking door is a rocking club scene. I loved Radio EPGB. Here’s a great plan. Do it. It’s amazing. I club sparingly these days, but this was memorable
Local Tours: I mentioned the Bauhaus centre free tour every Friday. Apart from that, there is the SANDEMAN tour I enjoy in every city; it was great in TLV too. There’s also an interesting street art tour which I did not do, but have heard good things about. I would advise against the Bein Harim tours and their offshoots (Egged, United): costs a lot and I did not find enough value. If you can, do your own.