Circling Back to Tel Aviv
My friend and I traveled back to Tel Aviv mid trip, arriving via Israel Railways—Haifa-Bat Galim to Tel Aviv-Savidor Center. This was the point in our trip where we parted ways with my husband (who stayed in Haifa to work), and we explored Tel Aviv and then Petra, Jordan on our own.
A few words first about Israel Railways. It’s easy, clean, safe and efficient. Bonus, there’s WiFi. I was pleasantly surprised by this rail system, but have found most international transit to be superb. And it was incredibly cost effective. Our nearly one-hour train ride was approximately USD $7.00 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the station via a kiosk or online with frequent departures to popular destinations throughout Israel.
(Note to travelers: Plan your trip ahead using Google maps and the Israel Railways website to plot out the stops closest to your departure and destination. I hope to write more about the ease and use of public transit for places I’ve visited around the world, but that’s a post for another day.)
At the train station, we transferred to a bus. Even though the bus website wasn't user friendly, we learned all you need is a bus number, transit direction and ILS (Israeli new shekels) 5.90. The bus is a flat rate for a single ride for each segment.
We went straight to the Beachfront Hostel to check in and found it to be the perfect location, central to city activities and the beach.
From the hostel, we walked to the Carmel Market, an open-air produce, restaurant and shopping area in the city. It was a Tuesday, the ideal day for the market because of the neighboring artist bazaar, Nahalat Binyamin (held every Tuesday and Friday). It was full of affordable art and handmade crafts from local Israeli artists, as opposed to the items in Carmel Market which were mostly mass produced.
We wandered through the market and surrounding streets to find local street art (video above). Afterward, we went back to a beer stand in Carmel Market, the Beer Bazaar, to sample Israeli craft beer. Until this point, I was unaware of the Israeli craft beer scene. There are now 20+ breweries in Israel and growing. Malka (especially the Blonde Ale), Jem and Sparrow were our favorite.
For dinner, we opted for home-style Israeli food at a nearby café on Ben Yehuda Street and called it an early night to wake early the next morning at 4:00 AM to catch our flight to Petra, Jordan.
Hello Again, Tel Aviv
Our flight to Eilat (a city on the border of Israel) was scheduled as the first flight out from Sde Dov airport, a small commuter airport about 15-20 minutes from central Tel Aviv.
When we arrived, I was barely awake and it was difficult to appreciate the thoroughness of Israeli security. Declared best in the world, it’s an experience of its own and completely unlike the TSA screening process in the United States. Questioning from an Israeli agent coupled with travel fog (jet lag mixed with a lack of sleep and travel exhaustion) can feel like a never-ending examination and an interview for a Lifetime channel original movie.
I’ll leave it at that for now.
Two hours and a few flight delays later, our tour to Petra was cancelled and rescheduled for the next morning due to flash flooding in Eilat. So, we swapped the days on our itinerary and made our way back toward the city to the The Israeli Museum at the Yitzhak Rabin Center.
A Moment of Reflection
The visit to the museum was to gain a better understanding of the historical narrative surrounding the development of Israel. We spent more than 4 hours there. The downward spiraling path through the museum mirrored the unraveling conflict that divided Israel from its inception. It provoked considerable thought and many emotions. And reminded me why I travel.
To me, these experiences provide an understanding that books and other literature do not: Context to historical events; meaning to life that is often overshadowed by daily routine; and a new perspective (as gained from the entire experience—the culture, food, sightseeing, personal observations, and meeting and talking to people).
These moments and all of those that follow a travel experience, cause me to see our country, our politics and my life differently. And the realities of globalization, a little clearer.
I greatly appreciate these opportunities for the personal growth, but also the enjoyment, memories and opportunity to understand people better.
The museum was a sobering experience that preoccupied my thoughts from the moment we left until we arrived at Sarona Market. There, my friend and I ate lunch and discussed it. Sharing this experience with her made all of the difference in the world—it mattered even more. There we sat; two friends just trying to make sense of a extremely complex situation and world. A memory we’ll keep for rest of our lives.
Later that afternoon, we walked back toward our hotel via Eliezer Kaplan Street through the German Colony to Dizengoff Street to enjoy the architecture of the White City, an area in Tel Aviv with a collection of buildings built in the Bauhaus style. It was built during the 1930s by German Jewish architects who immigrated (to then Palestine) during the rise of Nazi Germany.
Dizengoff Street is a main street in the city filled with boutiques and restaurants, and is well-known for its night life.
We caught the sunset that evening—a perfect end to a long day. Our night was early with Petra on the horizon.
This post is a series of posts about travel to Israel and Jordan, from February 24, 2017 to March 5, 2017. They are posted in order of the trip itinerary. Continue reading this series by jumping to the previous post about exploring Haifa or learn other things to do in Tel Aviv and on Shabbat here.
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