Israel through the eyes of a wanderer- Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is not just a city, but a state of mind

I should be habituated by now with the sudden changes in my life, but no matter as often as it might happen, it is always taking me by surprise. I was booking a small hotel near Kavala Greece, then made an itinerary around north and west part of Greece while dreaming about dining in a taverna close to the sea surrounded by fireflies.Yes, I know, Kavala is not Tel Aviv and Greece is not Israel but bare with me…So, to continue my blabbering, my dreams of wandering around Epirus deepening in Vikos gorge and then to have a well-deserved rest on one of the beautiful beaches of Corfu Island were shattered one week before departure date when I just find out that my long dreamed road trip was canceled…But since I am not the type which sits and mourn after lost things for too long, and if a door is closing I will definitely knock on another one, I booked a flight to Israel…destination..TEL AVIV!

Tel-Aviv and the full Moon
Tel-Aviv and the full Moon

It is a funny thing with these doors unexpectedly opened because those doors are the one offering the most wonderful surprises.

Door in Jaffa Old Town
Door in Jaffa Old Town, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I have been to Israel by now so many times, but I still find it so intriguing, and although I am finding new things about it with every new trip I take, I still feel like not knowing enough. Although the city vacation is not my kind of vacation, because of sea vicinity I decided to make a concession, to listen, see, taste, try everything Tel Aviv has to offer….

HaShalom Railway Station, Tel Aviv
HaShalom Railway Station, Tel Aviv, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

All the good things are starting in the morning, so my adventure in this surprising city started when I fell out of bed early in the morning and  I found myself in the middle of a bustling city full of vitality. Since I was staying close to Azrieli  Towers the moment I reached the street I felt like being swiped away by the flowing energy I felt around me.

Azrieli Towers, Tel Aviv
Azrieli Towers, Tel Aviv by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

It was like I stepped into a tornado. I was carried away by an invisible force which dragged me on the streets but instead of resisting that force I just follow it letting it guide me. I was caught in that twirl and found myself passing through that city which was being awakened by the sun shining in its windows. Although, since Tel Aviv is the city which never sleeps I can say that only part of it need it to stretch its arms in the sun with a yawn beginning a new day because the other part was never asleep to begin with.

Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Still not knowing what is happening to me, that twirl released its grip when I reached the streets of old Jaffa, the place I love the most in Tel Aviv. There, finally, I could take a breath and walk on my own pace breathing in the millennia of history which that place was exhaling through every stone.

Street in Jaffa Old Town
Street in Jaffa Old Town, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

It felt a bit strange that after passing through a very modern city which  looked to me so very European almost forgetting that I was in fact in the Middle East, to find myself in Jaffa,  a place of tradition and history which is the quintessence of what I was expecting to find in a city, in Israel.

Street in Jaffa Old Town
Street in Jaffa Old Town, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I found to be fascinating by this quality of Tel Aviv of incorporating the true essence of Israel. A perfect mixture of modernity and tradition which are not excluding one another, a truly cosmopolitan city deeply rooted into its traditions and beliefs.

Street in Jaffa Old Town
Street in Jaffa Old Town, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

A perfect example of  cohabitation of so many extremes under the same umbrella…

Street in Jaffa Old Town
Street in Jaffa Old Town, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Tel Aviv,  considering the situation now in the Middle East, I think that it can be an example of how the big cities should incorporate the religious aspect of its life and the modernity. because after all, the world is evolving and religion should evolve alongside with the world and not become an obstacle for the evolution of the society.

Jaffa Port
Jaffa Port

Normally I am not writing about food, but this time, I could not mention Jaffa without adding the flavor of the food, and spices, and how the best food that one might taste can`t be found in some fancy restaurants in Tel Aviv but in the small restaurants in Jaffa, where I had the best Hummus with roasted pine nuts and chickpeas, sprinkled with zaatar and olive oil. I can say I ate a lot of Hummus in my vacation in Tel Aviv and I did come back home with some extra weight, not in my luggage, of course, but on the most undesired places on my body..Bloody hell! Anyway..don`t tell anyone..pleaseee!!

Hummus the Israeli Taste
Hummus the Israeli Taste

But Israel does not mean only Hummus but also Felafel. I haven`t really liked Felafel till now, but the moment I ate a really delicious one in an Arabic small restaurant  I knew that I wanted more, and only the thought that I will get some undesired proportions kept me from eating a lot of it, and when I say a lot of it…I really mean a looot..I think that my increase appetite I should blame it on the Sea. Only the presence of the Sea and its salty smell messed up with my overly increasing hunger.

Felafel IN Jaffa Old Town
Felafel IN Jaffa Old Town

 

Shakshuka which I adore, and it is absolutely delicious, I can eat it anytime anywhere because it has the flavor of my childhood, my mother uses to make this, and although we are calling it differently it was my favorite dish since always.

Shakshuka in Old Jaffa Town
Shakshuka in Old Jaffa Town

Last but not least the Druze pita I ate in bazaar with zaatar and olive oil my all times favorite, because in my opinion that Druze pita is the best pita and the combination with zaatar, which brings the true flavor of middle east, and olive oil, and feta, for me is like bringing Greece and Israel together  and I am experiencing the both countries in a single bite ..

Druze Pita
Druze Pita

Hmmm.. Now I am hungry!..Where could I find all this now when I am back home ..? Tasting the same definitely, there is no place in my town where I can find such thing..So…maybe I should book another trip to Israel…?!

Eliezer Kaplan Street, Tel Aviv
Eliezer Kaplan Street, Tel Aviv, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

 

After this spice flavored trip on the streets of Jaffa one find himself the moment steps out from this corner of history in front of a modern city and all it has to offer. I always enjoy my walks on the promenade having the closeness of the Mediterranean sea and its salty scent on one side and the enticing arms of the city which are trying to lure me on its streets. One thing which I loved about this city was the fact that is so bicycle friendly. bicycles are available to rent everywhere in the city, and the free internet around the city, which in a country where everything it is so expensive, comes like a breath of fresh air.

Tel Aviv Marina
Tel Aviv Marina, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Renting a bicycle allowed me to do the thing I loved the most, to ride on the sea shore from Jaffa till far north reaching the town of Herzliya experiencing my fifty shades of blue, some might like fifty sades of gray, personally, I prefer the fifty shades of blue because my intricate love story with the Sea goes way back and probably it will last forever, with no suffering involved only pure pleasure in every walk on its beaches, in every dip in the sea, in every touch of its waters….

Tel Aviv Shoreline
Tel Aviv Shoreline

Tel Aviv it was that drop of perfume combining together so many scents of Israel,  at the beginning it hits you and it makes you dizzy but after  it starts to decompose in so many scents and I found myself intrigued and fascinated by each of them, and without knowing becoming a bit addictive…

Sharona Comercial Center, Tel Aviv
Sarona Commercial Center, Tel Aviv, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Followed and listen to each of those scents and I am still not sure that I manage to identify all of them. I left feeling so sorry that I could not spend more time there, but in the same time I knew that I will be back, next time probably not to Tel Aviv but still in Israel to that place which still represents such a powerful attraction for me… The Desert.