Tel Aviv

17:30 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

When we looked at travel for 2014, Paul and I each chose a place that was top of our list to visit in 2014, along with some second and third options. My first trip selection was Jordan (and it's coming up soon!), Paul's was Israel. So, when a trip for work came up, we jumped at the opportunity to make a long weekend out of it.

I spent a few days in Tel Aviv before Paul doing work during the day, and some sight seeing by night. My first full day there, we ventured down to Old Jaffa to watch the sunset, then wandering along to the markets one evening before grabbing a bite to eat.

The next, we went a bit further out to Caesarea - a port town north of Tel Aviv that dates back to BCE. Originally established by Herod the Great, it's been ruled by Romans, Byzantines and Muslims, although it fell into disuse after attacks by the Mamluks, as the extensive fortifications from the sea were destroyed. While it seemed interesting, we got there about 30 minutes before closing so just had enough time to wander the ampitheathre and checkout the information video before being herded back out! Further down, you could see the hippodrome and ruins of some of the structures with a seaside view.

When Paul arrived for the weekend, I was excited to go exploring even more with him - checking out restaurants, marketplaces and sites.

The problem? Everything closes down on the weekend for Shabbat, which starts Friday afternoon and goes all through Saturday. So, Saturday, we did a quick (free) tour of the Bauhaus' outlining unique architecture in Tel Aviv, then joined in with the rest of the city and their Saturday pastime - the beach!

I was happy to soak up a few rays, read a book and relax, but Paul wanted to be like a local, which meant playing matkot. This is a bit like beach tennis with a ball and paddle. Since I'm not much of a tennis player, I wasn't much of a matkot player either making it boring for Paul and probably hilarious for watchers. We finally got into a groove with a few good volleys and decided to end on a high note.

Sunday, with the city back into the swing of a work week (as they work Sunday - Thursday), we headed out to catch a few market places and go to Old Jaffa again. It was much quieter at 10 am on a weekday, so we enjoyed some gelato as we did lots of people watching. The weather wasn't in our favour and it was overcast and grey. Instead of hitting the beach again, we decided to bike along the beach back to our hotel for one last view of the city. Just like in London, there was a great bike rental system and even better bike trails. Unlike London where you share the road with drivers, in Tel Aviv, you get a lane all to yourselves, with stoplights and all to make sure you yield to the walkers.


And then, we were off, back to London and, honestly a bit disappointed. I wanted to like Tel Aviv, but it just seemed like something was missing. Usually, I'm happy to find myself on a beach or near the water, anywhere in the world, but I had high expectations for Israel, expecting a quirky culture mixed in with history and beauty. Perhaps, I expceted too much and will always be disappointed, or perhaps, it was poor timing to come for only the slow weekend and another trip will reveal a side to Tel Aviv that is more in line with my first thoughts of the city. Who knows - I guess the only way I'll find out is through another visit, but this time, just not a Friday and Saturday.

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