Last weekend, Noah and I took a lovely two-day trip to Tel Aviv. A mere 45 minute drive from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv feels like an eternity of difference. While by no means are all of the people living in Jerusalem religious, the city definitely has a certain feeling of piety about it, and there’s a sense of holiness and connection to the past that seems to linger here. Tel Aviv, on the other hand, is by every measure a modern city, complete with sky scrapers, clubs, a beach where tzniut (modesty) can be completely forsaken, and trefe (food that is categorically unkosher, ie, pig or shellfish) can be easily be found on menus.
While in Tel Aviv, we stayed at The Cinema Hotel, in Dizengoff Square. The Cinema Hotel used to be a movie theater, and old movie posters and video cameras comprise the bulk of the hotel’s decor:
Our room was comfortable and clean with a view looking out to the city:
Dizengoff Square, where the hotel is located, is an elevated square above a busy road crossing. The highlight of the square is the Dizengoff fountain which, four times a day, puts on a fabulous fire/water/music show. I thought the show wouldn’t be that cool (it’s a fountain, right??), but in the end it turned out to be AWESOME (in my humble opinion). Spoiler alert: there is FIRE in the fountain. YES, REAL FIRE!
Can’t get over that one. In addition to the fountain, there was also an antiques market at the square on Friday selling clothes, books, and basically every knick-knack you can think of:
We were also right next to the Dizengoff shopping area (essentially like any American shopping mall) and the Dizengoff tower:
Breakfast was included with our room, and the hotel offered a fairly typical Israeli breakfast spread – eggs, cheese, bread, vegetables, fish, fruit, coffee, juice, yogurts:
In addition to breakfast, we also got a free happy hour at the hotel which included snacks, wine, and great views off of the hotel’s terrace:
We saw this fun sculpture on a neighboring building:
On our first day there, we rented bikes through Tel Aviv’s bike-sharing program, Tel-O-Fun:
We biked about an hour north of the city center, primarily on protected bike paths along the beach promenade:
Along the way, we got some great views of people heading out for a beach day, and we also saw a portable beach library!
Originally, our plan was to bike to the Yitzhak Rabin Center and view their exhibits, but we ended up getting to the museum too late (it closed early on Fridays), so we had to satisfy ourselves with looking around some of the HUGE (and, oddly, empty) rooms of the building:
Instead of more biking, we decided to walk back to the city center…which turned into quite a journey!
We meandered our way along the Yarkon River for a bit…
…taking us through a park with a Coffee Bar (non-stop!!!)…I had a laugh about the name
and, SURPRISE, a zoo!
We were extremely surprised to find this mini-zoo in the middle of the park. And it was way more than just a petting zoo! There were ibexes, deer, turkeys, emu, and – somewhat strangely – a single white bunny rabbit:
In the words of Noah, this was, “the best zoo ever.” He has the gift of being easily entertained.
By the time we were out of the park and back in the thick of the city, it was late afternoon and we were ready for lunch. We stopped at a cafe called The Streets and ordered a cocktail and cold coffee while we waited for our food:
For the meal, I ordered an Israeli breakfast and Noah ordered a roast beef sandwich:
Continuing after lunch on our walk back to the hotel, we passed by Habima, the Israel National Theater, and the surrounding Habima Square:
The square included some interesting artwork including this sculpture called “Ascension,”
And a small garden that moves from, on one end, desert plants to, on the other end, beautiful and abundant flowers. Clearly a metaphor for the land of Israel itself!
Finally, our last stop for the day was Rabin Square, so named after Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated there in 1995. The spot were Rabin was shot is now marked by a memorial and some preserved messages in response to his death:
Rabin was shot by an Israeli terrorist who opposed Rabin’s peace initiatives. Sadly, Rabin’s efforts and progress towards establishing peace for Israel and Palestine has not been replicated since his death. Visiting the square, it was somewhat tragic to think what things might be like today if he had remained alive and continued the process of peace negotiations at that time.
Besides the memorial, the square also offers a lot of open space, an artificial pond (where there were lots of people laying out on chairs, sunning and reading), and a memorial sculpture commemorating the Holocaust:
After a long day of walking and exploring, it was seriously time for some down time!
Check back soon for a post about the rest of the Tel Aviv trip!