Made In the City and WAFFLES

A couple weeks ago, Jerusalem had a “Made in the City” Festival. The festival was intended to showcase various forms of music and art from the different sectors of life around the city. The festival highlighted both Jewish and Arab cultural contributions to the city, and exhibits/shows were intended to draw people from both groups.

Noah and I went to one of the festival’s events called Just Singing. Just Singing was a concert featuring Jewish and Arab performers. In addition to music, the big appeal of this particular event was a FOOD TRUCK! Remember food truck days back in the lovely state of Minnesota? See here and here. The food truck at Just Singing was advertised as having been imported (?!) from the USA and having a menu created by Jewish and Arab chefs.

The event was held on Shushan Street. Shushan Street is located near the Ben Yehuda area, and the street is lined primarily with bars. This was my first time to that area, and it was definitely a different feel from the other parts of the city I usually spend time in! Check out some of this crazy graffiti/art:

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Of course, stopping by the food truck was essential.

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In addition to the food truck, several of the bars along the street were open and serving drinks:

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Eventually, we made our way to the stage area. At first, there was hardly anyone near the stage, but as soon as the performers came out, quite a crowd gathered:

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We stayed for about an hour of the music and then headed home, passing this great mural on the road:

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The mural shows a map of Jerusalem as the center of the world, and it’s based on an actual map from the 1500s, depicting the belief of the medieval time period that Jerusalem was, in fact, the center of the world. Even though our maps have changed, I sometimes think the notion remains.

In others news…WAFFLES!

Jerusalem has a thing for waffles. Restaurant chains called Waffle Bar and Waffle Factory abound, and dessert waffles are on the menu of many other restaurants. While you could probably find a savory waffle or two if you really tried, the basic Jerusalem waffle formula is as follows:

ice cream + whipped cream + delicious sweet waffle + toppings of choice = GET IN MY BELLY

I have partook in two waffles during my time in Jerusalem so far. The first was a banana/white and dark chocolate sauce/vanilla ice cream waffle from Waffle Bar:

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The second was a nutella/chocolate and vanilla ice cream/POUND of whipped cream waffle at Landwer Cafe at the Tahana.

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Waffles are pretty dang good. I think they are best enjoyed, however, as a ‘sometimes’ food. 🙂

48 hours is Tel Aviv: Day 2

After a full day walking and biking around in Tel Aviv, I was ready for a relaxing dinner and a good night’s sleep! After looking around a bit for a dinner spot, Noah and I decided to go to Piazza, an Italian-style restaurant, that had good reviews on Trip Advisor.

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We sat outside underneath a clementine tree:

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For the meal, we ordered a small focaccia with egg and tahini spread, pea/zucchini/artichoke risotto, and a tomato and cheese salad:

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After the meal, we were stuffed and completely crashed at the hotel.

The next day, we did a lot more walking around. We stopped by the Bauhaus Center for some shopping and reading about architecture in Israel, and we also visited the contemporary art building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art which was featuring a series of short films. The main stop of the day was the Tel Aviv Tahana.

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Tel Aviv’s Tahana (station) is extremely similar to Jerusalem’s Tahana Rishona – which is not surprising considering these were the first two stations between which the first Israeli trains traveled. Tel Aviv’s Tahana had a lot of open square space, several shops and restaurants, and a couple old train cars for people to look at:

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We considered getting lunch at the tahana, but all of the restaurants were packed, so we decided to find a place to eat in the Nave Tzedek neighborhood that was next to the station. We went to a restaurant called Cafe Suzana and shared a delicious lunch of kubbe (basically dumplings filled with ground beef) and a chicken roll:

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We also tried a local drink that was listed on the menu simply as ‘almond drink:’

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The drink was sweet and served with mint. I really liked it!

After lunch, it was already after 3:00pm and we had expended most of our energies getting to and from the tahana (it was about an hour walk each way), so we gathered our stuff and headed back to Jerusalem on a sherut (shared taxi). Overall, it was a great weekend away! There are about a dozen museums in Tel Aviv that I really want to visit, so I’m already itching to go back. 🙂

Tahana Rishona

The Tahana Rishona (First Train Station) is a historical site that has now become a center for culture, music, and socializing in Jerusalem. Service on the train tracks that used the First Station ended in 1998, and after that it stood abandoned until renovation started to open it as a cultural center in 2013. Part of the initiative was also turning the train tracks into the rekevet pedestrian and bike trail. As planned, in 2013, the station – called The Tahana for short – reopened and has since become a great location for both Israelis and tourists to soak up Israeli culture, enjoy a good meal or drink, or even go to the ‘beach’ (there is a sandy area with a volleyball court and wave simulator!).

The Tahana features several full-service restaurants as well as places to get a drink, an ice cream shop, and a smoothie/juice joint. A couple weeks ago after Shabbat ended, I went with some friends to Fresh Kitchen for some coffee drinks and cookies.

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Fresh has a lovely outdoor seating area and a broad menu with lots of appealing dishes – so appealing, in fact, that I went back for a real meal last night.

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The Tahana also features a rotating schedule of events for people to enjoy fitness, music, and dancing. Every morning there is yoga, Friday mornings there is a running team, on Sunday and Wednesday nights there is dancing, Tuesday nights feature a live Jazz Trio, Thursday nights there is Zumba, and every Friday at 5:00pm there is a musical welcoming of Shabbat!

Last Friday, I went to the Tahana’s musical welcoming of Shabbat to see the prayer/music group, Nava Tehila. The group playing Shabbat music at the Tahana rotates each week, but I assume that – similar to how it was with Nava Tehila – it is generally a lively playing of Shabbat songs with lots of singing along and dancing from the audience. This past week, there was quite a crowd for the welcoming of Shabbat, and it was a lot of fun to see all the people and families there – happy to enjoy the music and excited for Shabbat!

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Beyond the music and events, the Tahana also features rotating art exhibits…

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…stores where you can by Jerusalem gifts, jewelry, and knick-knacks…

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…and, during the summer, a daily arts and crafts fair as well as a farmers’ market on Fridays:

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Overall, the Tahana is a great spot for pretty much any activity, and I’m definitely planning on visiting more of the restaurants and taking advantage of more of the cultural activities in the near future!