Trip to the liveliest city in Israel!
Perfect getaway in the Middle East.
Referred to Miami of the Middle East, Tel Aviv is Israel’s very own Sin City. Wauw, how about that for a reputation! We can assure you that it really lives up to that expectation. This is the perfect place if you want to take a little break from your hectic life.
For a change, I would like to write a more personal blog about our experience. Ugh, another one of those travel bloggers who wishes to convey their way of living and being on me, you’ll say. Absolutely not. It’ll be a fun post with survival tips and where to hide out.
Cheap bastards as we are (not really, just ordinary people looking for ways to save money), we booked a room on Airbnb somewhere in the center, hosted by a couple and their 2 small children. For most party lovers and night dwellers, this is a big no-no. But beside cheap, we’re also adventurous and continually looking for new thrills.
Unfortunately, our little break away started with an overdose. Narrowly escaped the attack at Brussels Airport, we managed to continue our trip with some delay and landed exhausted after an unexpected night flight. A short cab ride later, we finally arrived at our destination.
Tip 1 : Turnkey solution for Airbnb bookings
If the instructions to the apartment and the safekeeping of the keys are a little vague, don’t hesitate to ask for more details and specifics. Otherwise you might end up looking hours for a key hidden in an electrical junction box next to the door of the apartment and realize that EVERY door in the entire block has one next to it! We were shocked, to say the least.
Thankfully our vacation really started after a refreshing nap. The little bar across the street, Cafe Shneor, served good coffee, yummy shakshuka and several vegan dishes to my delight. Shak-what? Shakshuka! It’s a very simple dish, but oh so tasty! Tomatoes and eggs, that’s about it. Refined versions include other spices, herbs, some cheese, parsley, … We love it so much that we went through the trouble of searching for the best recipe!
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1 cup cubed tofu or feta (optional)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, roughly diced
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 lbs fresh tomatoes, unpeeled and cut in quarters, or one 28 oz can t
Place the tomatoes, garlic, salt, paprika, tomato paste, and vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, over low heat until thick, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the tomato sauce into a greased 12″ frying pan. Bring to a simmer and break the eggs over the tomatoes. Gently break the yolks with a fork. If adding feta, tofu, and parsley, sprinkle them on top. Cover and continue to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the eggs are set. Bring the frying pan directly to the table. Set it on a trivet and spoon out the shakshuka.
During our week in Tel Aviv, we ate in good, very good and excellent restaurants. Zakaim is one of those excellent places. No, it’s not because it’s a vegan restaurant, although that’s why it scores highly on my list as well. They just serve fresh and locally sourced vegetables, fruits, nuts and herbs. It’s kind of like going to the market and then have it prepared in front of your eyes. It’s all about sustainability here: no plastic, second hand furniture, plates and cutlery. Dining here makes you feel all warm inside… The shanti shanti (Israeli for shabby chic) styled interior is a bit wacko, but not as much as their toilets! Two in one room. Ok, ok, let’s stick to the topic: great eateries.
Another one of our favorites is The House Of Hummus. And guess what their specialty is! It this flavorful preparation of mashed chickpeas. And you thought I was going to say hummus. All kidding aside, we assure you, it really is the best hummus you’ll ever savor. It’s sooo creamy… It’s a chill, no nonsense street bar.
Tummies filled, we hit the beach. Crisp, clean, free Wi-Fi, food and drinks at your service… Buenvenidos a Miami del este! This is the way to relax after an intense few days… An to party after the sun has set! From the Hilton beach to the Gordon beach you can go bouncing in the club where the heat is on. All night, on the beach till the break of dawn. Yeah, yeah, Will Smith rapped it better, but I bet you’re humming the song right now!
Tel Aviv is actually a very young and modern city, funded in the early 20th century, in 1909 to be precise. And it has known a vast expansion from the beginning. This is very well reflected in its architecture: over 4000 residencies in the elegant and simple Bauhaus style. These beautiful white buildings are now named as a World Heritage Site and better known as the White City. At the Bauhaus Center you can book a guided tour or buy maps for you to explore by yourself. Highly recommended!
This Mediterranean city is also the playground of many street artists. There are so many colourful designs and skillfully sprayed graffiti, that tours are being organized. For those who like art but don’t want to spend the afternoon in a museum, this is an excellent alternative. A local guide will show you all the nice murals while strolling through the hoods.
From all this walking in the heat, we needed some refreshments. Water tastes about the same everywhere and sodas can be a bit too sugary. Therefor we decided on cocktails most of the time. What can I say? We have great taste. Ok, there were times we tried the local beers as well…
Tip 2 : You’re so fresh
Never try to impress a bartender with your wit or pleasant company, because he will set your drink on fire. Literally. And if this doesn’t heat things up, he’ll start winking and taking selfies with you.
Two memorable bars are French 57 and Kuli Alma. Luckily we still can remember them. The first one is a stylish New Orleans looking cocktail hub with plenty of class and excellent taste. I’m not only talking about the bartender here, the place itself is pretty fine too. The atmosphere is relaxed, dreamy and jazzy.
Kuli Alma is something completely different.
Old Jaffa is the ancient Arabic settlement now swallowed by the Israeli city.
Our flight back got delayed also, so with those few hours extra we decided to get ourselves a lasting memory of this amazing week: we got ourselves a tattoo! Completely unprepared we just googled ‘best tattoo shops in Tel Aviv and came across Psycho Tattoo (http://www.psychotattoo.com/ ). Sounds reliable we thought. So, we went without an appointment or even an idea about what we wanted. Well, we gave it some thought on the way to the studio.
TIP ? : How not to look as a first-timer in a tattoo shop
Tattoo artists don’t really appreciate it when their expensive equipment gets sprayed upon. If your friend asks for a drink when he’s under the needle, it’s better not to open a bottle of soda that you have been carrying in the heat… Just give him plain water. And just once more, for the record: I’m sorry Victor!
Bellboy was our last stop on the way to the airport. Boy, this was worth the little detour! Fortunately, we arrived during happy hour which means we could drink half-price or twice as much for the same value. We had some good cocktails before, but these babies were tha bomb! Not only did they taste sublime, they arrived in the most fascinating liquor holders, a seashell, a mini bathtub, antique crystal glasses covered in chocolate… They also have this really good blue cheese infused brandy which they let you try in a cute clean clam. And the setting! You get transported back in time to the roaring twenties.
After this intoxicating experience, it was time to get home. Back in the cab and off to the airport. This brings us to our last survival tip and the end of this blog post.
TIP ? : How to get away from your getaway break
If you have visited other countries in the Middle East, be aware that you might get grilled when are trying to catch your flight back home. You’ll need to give details about who you went with, their family background, their current whereabouts etc. Kind of awkward if it happens to be an ex you haven’t been in touch with for a while… So, don’t be drunk before boarding, you lose your memory. Just saying…