Tel Aviv was our last stop of our 2.5 month Middle Eastern tour. We wanted to save the best for last and that we did. Tel Aviv is considered one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Titled the ‘Mediterranean Capital of Cool’ by the New York Times, this colorful and fun city combines sandy beaches with a buzzing cultural scene, incredible food (many many options for vegans), UNESCO recognized architecture, and a surprisingly international outlook.
We decided to stay on the water at the Crowne Plaza (utilizing IHG points and the IHG Premier credit card which gives your 4th night free when you redeem points). As a runner, it was lovely to be able to finally run again on the beach (Egypt and Jordan were not the best for a woman to run on her own). It was also great to see so many cared for dogs being walked on leashes and enjoying the park.
Walking on the coastline from the hotel to Jaffa we noticed how much Tel Aviv reminded us of southern California. The beach front is filled with free athletic stations for kids and grown ups alike with runners stopping to do a few pull ups before continuing on their way. The sand is clean and has many cafes and bars beckoning locals and tourists to take a break and enjoy a coffee or cocktail. The vibe is relaxed with a hint of healthy sporty competition.
Arriving at Jaffa’s old city we were struck by how Tel Aviv’s most southern neighborhood is one of its most culturally diverse and interesting ones. Mostly inhabited by Jews and Christian Arabs, the area is renowned for its old architecture, its picturesque port, its bustling flee markets and surrounding bars and boutiques, and of course, its cuisine. We submerged ourselves in the local atmosphere and wandered the streets of Jaffa for hours stopping for lunch at Hummus Eliyaho.
We found that Tel Aviv offers a dynamic and colorful selection of art spaces, as well as street art, spread out across the city. From elegant galleries and exhibition spaces to a more gritty side of Tel Aviv, the area is full of alternative installations and graffiti art. Strolling along the galleries on Gordon and Ben Yehuda Streets we got to see a wide variety of creative self expression.
Since the Carmel Market was so highly recommended by many of our friends from Tel Aviv, we headed there next, making our way through the bustling stalls and enjoying the colors of spices and fruits. Next we headed down Allenby St to the Great Synagogue.
In 2003, UNESCO designated a significant part of Tel Aviv a World Heritage Site for its unique collection of building designs in the spirit of the 1930s Bauhaus style. Bauhaus style can usually be identified by its white buildings and rounded corners, which is what gave Tel Aviv its nickname, the ‘White City’. Tel Aviv’s municipality offers a free Bauhaus architecture tour on Saturday mornings at 11 am, beginning at 46 Rothschild Boulevard on the corner of Shadal Street.
On our last day in Tel Aviv, we got to witness a real marriage proposal unfold (in pantomime) from our hotel window. I must say I am such a sucker for romance – this was a great way to celebrate the end of our stay in Tel Aviv.