Israel Diary: Week 1
I’m absolutely everything about my incredible first week in Tel Aviv, Israel!
Israel Diary Week 1
Being of Jewish, Eastern-European decent, Israel has peaked my interest and fascinated me from a young age. I finally got the chance to visit and I am going to be traveling throughout Israel for nearly three weeks with my one of my closest friends! I thought the best way to go about documenting my trip would be in a sort of travel diary form, so this will be my first post of three. Upon arriving, I felt an amazing sense of belonging and energy here, and of course, the humidity! I've walked through the streets of Tel Aviv and laid on the beach nearly everyday. My best friend, Emmy, comes about every summer since she was born in a city outside of Tel Aviv and having her with me has been a lifesaver since she speaks Hebrew! The majority of people in Tel Aviv that I have so far come across speak English, but having her with me speeds up processes at restaurants, on the beach, taking taxis, etc. If I could compare Israel to somewhere I have been before, the hustle-bustle reminds me a bit of New York City, and the humidity and beach is similar to Miami. The buildings are old, yet there are a ton of beautiful new modern buildings appearing as the city continues to gentrify. One of my favorite areas I have visited so far is called Nvet Tsedek. Nvet Tsedek has a sort of old European feel to it with narrow streets and colorful restaurants and shops lined with bougainvillea. Read all about my first week here below...
Getting to Israel from Los Angeles has a lengthy flight time of about 14 hours when flying non-stop. I flew ELAL, Israel's airline, and even though I was asleep most of the time, they made those 14 hours go by as smoothly as they could have! We left LA on Thursday at 2PM and landed in Israel on Friday at 2PM local time, which was about 3am PST time. Emmy's family friend picked us up from the airport and took us to their house in Afeka (about 20 minutes from what you could call downtown Tel Aviv) where we would stay for he next 4 days. As you can probably imagine we were drained so we took some time to settle in and then went to Magazzino, and Italian restaurant in Tel Aviv to celebrate her sister, Romi's birthday.
We accidentally woke up early, since the time difference is 10 hours from back at home, and we were extremely jet-lagged, so we decided to go on a walk around the Afeka area. We then went to Aroma on Gordon Beach. There is an Aroma on seriously every corner, kind of like Starbucks in America, and I got what they call their Iced Coffee, but it's more of an iced blended! We laid on the beach behind the Hilton Hotel called TopSea for a while and then got lunch at Jeremiah. Everything is relatively close, but walking in the heat can sure get the best of you, so we went back to the house, ate dinner there and went to bed on the earlier side since we were so sleep deprived.
We woke up early again, but this time to get to the Sarona Market and walk around before it got too crowded. The Sarona Market is an indoor market place that has everything from ice cream to flowers, to wine, to ramen, to coffee! It was super cool! We got coffee and sat outside in the Sarona area which is beautiful! We then went to Benedict for breakfast and got their Shakshuka, an Israeli dish of poached eggs in a tomato sauce with different seasonings and a whole lot of flavor! After eating myself into a food coma, went back to where we are staying and decided to walk about 2 miles to Tel Baruch beach which was calm and isolated. On the way back, we stopped for lunch at Fresh in the Afeka area for some midday salads. Later that day we went to dinner at Cafe Suzane in Nvet Tsedek for a beautiful outdoor dinner followed by drinks at a really cool rooftop spot called the Prince behind Shuk Hacarmel.
We started our fourth day in Israel, which was a Monday, with a morning walk to Aroma for their iced coffee, followed by a day at TopSea beach. TopSea was nice because they play good music and have servers to cater to you while you lay out in the sun. We stayed there all day eating both brunch and lunch there. For dinner we went to Hakosem, an amazing falafel place that all of the locals love, it was sure tasty! After dinner we walked on Dizengoff, one of Tel Aviv's most happening streets with endless shops, restaurants, and bars, and then throughout the confusing Dizengoff mall after!
We finally moved into our apparentment on Ben Yuhuda in the downtown Tel Aviv area and it feels so good! After unpacking and buying some groceries, we ate at Loveat, an organic restaurant, and then walked through Shuk Hacarmel, an outdoor market with fresh produce, candy, jewelry, clothes, etc. Definitely a site to see! Since we loved the Nvet Tsedek area so much we walked back over there for some lunch at Cafe Suzane, followed by a little bit of shopping! My favorite store I visited was called Numero13 and they had some great clothing and jewelry! We took the bus back to our apartment thanks to an app called MoveIt, which shows you how to get from point A to point B by using public transportation. There is also an app called Gett, which is essentially Uber in Israel, but Ubers can quickly add up which is why we decided to take the bus! For dinner we went to a bar called Biggie Z for taco Tuesday. It didn't compare to the amazing Mexican food we have in Los Angeles, but it definitely is a cool little place on Bugrashov that usually serves Italian and it hear it is pretty good! After dinner I wanted something sweet (of course) so we walked a few blocks over to a place by the name of Cookeez that has ice cream and cookies to make your own ice cream sandwiches, similar to Diddy Riese in Westwood (but not as good, just being honest!). We wanted to go out somewhere fun since the night life in Tel Aviv is amazing, but after walking nearly 6 miles our legs were aching and we just couldn't ourselves to get out of bed... The struggle is SO real.
Emmy and I walked to Bucke for their spicy shakshuka for brunch and it was so good! We then went to the Norman Hotel for a day spent poolside at their beautiful rooftop pool and then after grabbing a light bite at their downstairs restaurant. The Norman is a beautiful and chic hotel that I had been wanting to visit for a while! I'm so glad they were able to ho st me for even just the day! Check them out: http://www.thenorman.com.Following our relaxing day, we went bar hopping on Dizengoff, one of Tel Aviv's busiest streets. We went to Fasada first and then Cerveza!
On this day I visited Jerusalem with Emmy's family friends who were luckily nice enough to take us! We met them in Petah Tikva and we had breakfast at a little cafe called Biscotti. We got on our way quickly so we wouldn't waste any time. The drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is an around 1.5 hours. On the way up we passed through some divided Arab territory where there were tall gates surrounding the Israeli highway which eventually turned into a stone wall as we got closer to Jerusalem. The divide between religions and nationalities is truly fascinating. We started our Jerusalem tour at a viewing site called the Haas Promenade. It had quite the view of the old city and everything else. We then parked and did a segway tour. I know it sounds super cheesy but it was honestly really fun and the breeze while we rose felt great in the Israeli summer heat! We then made our way down through a huge marketplace to get to the Wailing Wall, the most significant site in the world for Jewish people and what is known to be the last standing wall of the second Jewish temple ever built. People from all over the world come to the wall to pray and touching the wall and seeing those around it was the most surreal spiritual feeling I have ever felt. I feel every Jewish person should experience this if they are able to. It made me feel so proud to be Jewish and gave me a strong sense of inner-peace. Following our long day of sightseeing, but we were all starving so we went to eat at a place nearby called Abu Shukri for some great falafel, chicken, and hummus! We went out later that night to a really cool underground-type of club called Ismi Salama and we had the best time. They play great music and everyone is dancing! I'm so excited to continue checking out the amazing night life in Tel Aviv!