Exploring Tel Aviv

November 1, 2009 - 8:49 pm No Comments

Today was a whirlwind of walking, picture-taking, eating, taxi-hailing, and stair-climbing.

While first two days were filled with clouds and rain, today’s weather was perfect, with a warm sun, a gentle breeze off the Mediterranean, and little fluffy clouds rather than big gray mean ones. My first impulse was to rock my sweet new gray shorts and head to the beach, but there was too much in the city I wanted to see. And since I hadn’t seen much on my first two days in Tel Aviv, I had only one day to do everything.

While everything is stone in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is a city of slummy stucco buildings, with more glorious and creatively designed high-rises around the city center. I walked around a bit to photograph them. Lots of Russian signage everywhere.

Finally found an ATM with some English on it that I could use. Israeli money is beautiful.

I walked down Allenby Street a bit to Carmel Market, a medium-sized alley crammed with stalls and site of a suicide bomber attack about 5 years ago. Cheap baby clothes, ugly sweatshirts, knock-off watches, boxes of fruit and candy, mounds of colorful spices with metal scoops in them, and tables of shiny and kitschy Judaica. A few of the vendors didn’t like photographers stopping in front of their stall to take pictures.

The people at the market, and most older Israelis in general, look, act, and talk as if they’re angry, whether they are buying or selling, male or female, talking to tourists or each other. I’m not sure they really are angry, but that’s how it comes out. They look like they’re on edge to begin with, and then the slightest thing will send them into a fit of screaming and arm waving.

Got a giant chocolate bar with raisins and hazelnuts but was disappointed with it. The chocolate is the cheap, sugary kind which kind of dissolves in your mouth, not the creamy kind that is so delicious.

The sun was shining and the wind was warm, so I finally had a good opportunity to hit the beach. The sand is light brown and very fine, almost like powder, but littered with rusty nails and broken glass. The Mediterranean Sea was rough and filled with kite-boarders. Put my feet in the water. COLD.

Walked the oceanside promenade down to Old Jaffa, where I visited a church, a wishing bridge, and snapped a few photos of Andromeda Rock, the spot where Perseus pulled Medusa’s head out of a bag, turning the gorgon to stone, and then rescued Andromeda, who was chained to a rock as a sacrifice for the gorgon. The rock was a lot bigger in Clash of the Titans.

Wishing Bridge

In Old Jaffa, I stopped at Aladin, one of the restaurants recommended in one of my travel guides. It’s perched up on the cliff above the shore and offers a pretty good view of Tel Aviv. At the waitresses’ recommendation, I had a lunch of Sea Bream and salad. Not bad, but it was served split in half and with the head still attached, so I got a close-up look of the brain and eyeballs. Not into that. My fish lunch was accompanied by Muslim chants from loudspeakers on top of a nearby mosque.

From Old Jaffa, I took a cab to Azrieli Center, a collection of huge, geometric and brightly lit buildings near the city center. The plan was to meet up with Elinor, who was going to go with me to the top to take some photos of the Tel Aviv from above. No easy task. Security was very tight around and inside the building, and access to the upper floors was restricted. So Elinor called a friend who worked in the building on the 42nd floor. He met us downstairs and took us to his office, where I snapped a few photos just after the sun set.

Tel Aviv from the 42nd Floor

Azrieli Center

Had a quick Chinese dinner with Elinor (sesame chicken doesn’t come with any sauce in Israel) and then zipped off to the Central Bus Station just in time to catch the super-cheap #405 back to Jerusalem at 8pm, and that’s where I am right now.

I return from Tel Aviv wrecked. A big storm rolling in means that we do NOT have to get up at 3am to go to Masada and that I can get a full night’s sleep instead. Will do me good.

Tomorrow, we’re going to have a chilled out day exploring the parts of Jerusalem we haven’t seen yet.

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