Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Day 1 in Tel Aviv, the Beaches, a Walk to Jaffa & Walking around the City

I slept in today, did not get out of bed until after 11 am, Israel time.  I was up late last night, a late flight, late hostel check in, and hostel mates who did not go to sleep until well after 4 am.  I think I finally got in the bed around 4 this morning.

I did not have a plan for the day when I got up.  I paid my  hostel fee to the owner, he gave me a map, and marked a suggested route.  I set out sometime after noon to get food and explore Tel Aviv.  My first destination was Tel Aviv's Carmel Market, in search of food, I was not interested in shopping.  I saw a busy food shop, always a good sign, the food looked good Shawarma wraps, etc. I decided to get in line. I got the Chicken Shawarma wrap and a bottle of grapefruit drink.

I found a place to sit and eat lunch, it was good, I could not finish it all.  I resumed my walk, I did not seem to be going in the direction of anything I was looking for, then my stomach started feeling queasy, a bad sign. I decided to start walking back to my hostel, nothing worse than being caught out in a country with limited public bathrooms and a stomach ache.  I returned to the hostel until I was feeling better and ready to set out exploring Tel Aviv again.

I talked to a few of my hostel mates about their travels, one was thinking about visiting Ramallah. They gave me some suggestions for my Israel trip, everyone I have met says 7 days is not long enough to see Israel.  I met another hostel mate from Russia, she offered to show me how to get to the beach, I thought it was a great idea, you usually can't go wrong going to the beach.

The beach was a short walk from the hostel, my hostel mate went for a run, I went and sat down near the water.  I figured someone charged for the chairs and umbrellas that lined the beach, I decided to sit down anyways, and move if someone asked me.  After I had sat in the chair for about 5 minutes a man approached and said "Shalom" I responded "Shalom", he then told me the cost of using the chair and umbrella.  I cannot remember the price, I do not think it was unreasonable, but it was not worth it for me, I did not know how long I planned to stay at the beach.  I told them man I would move.  Next time I am in Tel Aviv I may spend a day at the beach and rent a chair and umbrella, just relax.

Tel Aviv Beach Front 
After I got kicked off the beach chairs, I walked to the water, took my shoes off, rolled up my jeans. The water was cold to me, water I would rather sit near and look at than swim in. Others must have thought the water was a good swimming temperature, there were many people swimming, enjoying the water. 

Lynnae on the beach in Tel Aviv
I relaxed on the beach for awhile, talked to some French tourists, they spoke limited English and asked if I spoke Hebrew, I told them I did not.  We spoke in English, they asked me about CIA, I told them some of my story. We got on a different topic and I asked them if they knew where Jaffa was, I had it marked on my map, I just needed to know the direction.  They pointed out Jaffa to me, we could see it from where we were sitting on the rocks.

I walked to Jaffa, my backpack was heavy today, I carried my laptop with me, there were no lockers in the hostel large enough to hold it.  I met some Israeli guys on my way to Jaffa and asked them to take a picture for me, they asked, you want it in front of the Mosque, I said that is a mosque?  I was used to looking at the ornate Turkish mosques, I did not recognize the building in Tel Aviv was a mosque. The Israeli guys said, yes  it is a mosque, that is where Muslim people go to pray. They took the pictures for me, and told me Jaffa was a long walk, but I could walk along the beach, it would be nice.

Me at the Jaffa Clock Tower
I spent about 45 minutes walking around Jaffa, looking at the views of the water from the Jaffa cliff.  After Jaffa, I walked back to Tel Aviv, continued walking down the beach front, I stopped at the Russian Embassy, I am considering getting a visa to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg, Israel seems like a good place to do this, I plan to be here at least a week.  The embassy was closed, I did not see the US Embassy during my walk.

Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv
I walked down Ben Gurion Blvd. toward Rabin Square after passing the Russian Embassy, I did not have a destination, I was just walking around Tel Aviv, seeing the city.  I passed Ben Gurion's home and office, it now appears to be a museum.  There was a  lot of activity on the street, different coffee and juice stands, lots of people walking dogs, joggers, bikers, everyone out enjoying the weather. I turned around and walked back towards the beach.  I considered going to my hostel through the city, but changed my mind, I preferred the beach walk, and it is not  often I get to stroll along a beach. I watched the sunset over the Tel Aviv beach, a nice end to a relaxed day.

Sunset over Beach in Tel Aviv
I found my way back to the hostel eventually, walking most of the way along the beach.   People were out playing volleyball, netball, Tel Aviv even has weight machines on the beach, people were working out on those.  I stopped and got a hamburger at  a restaurant after I found my hostel, the burger was good.  I then headed back to the hostel, met some new hostel mates.  They recommended a trip to Petra, Jordan, not far from Israel.  Tomorrow I travel to Jerusalem, I am not sure how I will get there, but I have heard it is a simple, one hour ride.

Day 1 in Tel Aviv Photo Album

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