Last year was one of the few times I didn’t do a motorcycle tour. Having been on two tours the previous year I was using 2014 to save up for something big. Still, keen to get away for a short winter break my girlfriend and I ended up in Tel Aviv. With November temperatures still in the mid 20 Celsius range, miles of beach, and great nightlife, Tel Aviv was an easy choice.
As an overlander it really does pain me to fly. Standing in long security cues and being squeezed into cattle class on budget airlines doesn’t often appeal to me, but in this instance there was little choice. We picked up return tickets with Easjet for around £150, travelling from London Luton. The flight in total was about 5 hours which is probably the maximum amount of time you’d want spend on an Easyjet plane (reduce that tolerance to 2 hours for Ryanair).
When visiting cities for 3 days or more I tend to lean towards renting a complete apartment as oppose to booking hotel rooms. You often get a larger space, better wifi, washing facilities, and a friendly host. Airbnb makes this pretty simple, even if it is getting more expensive these days, and accommodation in TLV isn’t cheap at the best of times, but we picked up a good sized apartment on Nachalat Binyamin, just off Rothschild Blvd, for cheaper than decent hotel.
Some miscommunication with the host meant that we were unable to get in for about an hour. Whilst standing outside an elderly lady came out of her apartment, and tried to speak to us in Hebrew. We didn’t quite understand what she said.
By the time she returned we were still outside. Not knowing us at all, and being unable to speak any of the same languages, she invited us into her home and offered to make us drinks and some food. Whilst we declined the refreshments we did taker up on the rest of the offer.
Shortly after, I got in touch with the host and managed to get into the apartment. Here’s shot I took from the balcony:
Located the heart of the ‘White City,’ Rothschild Blvd is one of the most important and iconic streets in Tel Aviv. Those expecting to see lots of pretty white perfectly maintained Bauhaus buildings will probably be disappointed though. Like most of the buildings in Tel Aviv, many of the Bauhaus styled dwellings are dilapidated, with plaster and rending falling off, dirty from traffic fumes, or just in need of painting. Fortunately we weren’t there for the architecture our concern was food and drink.
On our first night and not knowing any better we ate outdoors at a small bar/restaurant called Rothschild 12. It was a good call. Inside was nothing to write home about but outside, on a mild evening watching the people on the Boulevard, was an enjoyable experience. The food was good, in fact the food was good everywhere we ate in Israel, (which is more than can be said for Spain), more importantly, it kept the girlfriend happy, and their excellent Beer 12 (6.5% with a hint of something sweet) kept me happy.
Out and about
I’m not one for paying for attractions or queuing up to visit them. Instead I prefer to walk around a city, get lost (almost), and look around. For that, Tel Aviv is perfect. Even in November the weather was warm, the sun was out, and the beach was busy(ish).
I did pay to go to the top of the Azrieli Tower, which is the tallest building in Israel at 187m high. I love getting up and above the city. Unfortunately it was disappointing, as the comments on trip advisor prove. The entrance is via the shopping mall beneath the circular tower, and costs in the region of £3 per person. Then it’s a lift up to the observation desk and restaurant on the 49th floor. Mr Azrieli’s office is on the 48th.
Despite being a popular attraction, the tower itself isn’t geared up for tourism, and wasn’t busy then we visited. The restaurant was empty, not that we wanted to eat, there was no ambiance, no information about the city, and outdoor observation deck. That last one is the killer since the windows are dirty, and the internal lights create reflections. All in all it’s a poor experience if you want to get decent shots of the city beneath.
Jaffa / Yafo
The 4,000 year old port of Jaffa was probably the highlight of the trip. A comfortable 20 minute stroll along the beach and we were with the walls of this ancient city. With it’s narrow streets, markets, and food outlets, a visit to Jaffa is my top recommendation for those travelling to Tel Aviv.
Whilst we were there we stumbled up on a wedding. I quickly snapped the shots below.
Having enjoyed wandering around Jaffa by day, we returned in the evening for dinner and drinks. Pundak Deluxe, is an American BBQ restaurant that came highly recommended. It had only been open 6 months when we arrived but was already popular. Of course it’s all about the meat here, and sitting outside with a beer and a mixed meat platter is definitely the way to go. Sorry veggies. Between this and my best hamburger post, I’m probably not doing well with vegetarians.
Back in Tel Aviv proper, we visited a variety of bars. There’s a thriving party scene in Tel Aviv, even during the shabbat, it must be mad-crazy in the summer and when ‘pride’ and other festivals are going on. We visited Dizzy Frishdon, BuXa, Norman Bar (great for Belgian beers), and Kuli Alma, but Tangier Bar at 93 Yehuda Halevi St was probably our favourite. It’s a Moroccan themed bar/restaurant offering set priced ‘all you can drink’ menus. It turns out we can’t drink that much, but the place was nice and relaxed and the bar staff happy to chat.
All in all we had a great time in TLV, it’s a pity we couldn’t stay for longer, but perhaps we’ll be back once summer to experience more of what the city has to offer.
P.S If you enjoyed this article be sure to follow my blog with Bloglovin