I worked from the hotel business lounge on Wednesday morning, because they wanted to charge $6+/hr for internet access in the guest rooms. I was on my own for lunch, so I took a stroll after eating The Jerusalem Humus.
I stayed at the Sharon Hotel, on the beach in Hertzilya, which is about 15 minutes north of Tel Aviv. It’s a nice community; much quieter than Tel Aviv proper. The hotel was old, but it was right on the water, which was GREAT! This is the pool and sun bathing area. The shorter building in the foreground had some guest rooms, and the business lounge (large dark windows near next to the tip of the closed umbrella). I was on the eighth floor of the hotel, which is the lowest floor you can see here. My room was the third from the left. Notice how all the rooms have balconies angled towards the beach; a very nice touch.
The 20 NIS (New Israeli Sheckle) note was made of some sort of plastic. It even had a clear spot in it. Note the brown table showing through the star in the bottom/left corner. Like most Americans, I don’t carry a lot of change. But in Israel, the smallest bill is the 20NIS, which is about $5 US.
For dinner one night I had the “kebabs”. I tend to think of “kebabs” as pieces of meat and vegetables grilled on skewers. In this case it was basically a grilled meat ball, that I don’t think had ever been on a stick. I’m not sure why the term is used so differently, but I am sure that these were DELICIOUS! They were made of heavily seasoned beef, and were only cooked to medium-well. In America our omniscient government says ground beef has to be fully cooked. Honestly our food production/transportation conditions probably make that necessary. I’m not sure if this beef was any safer than what I’d eat at home, but it sure tasted wonderful!
Thursday night I managed to get back to the hotel before sunset.
Friday is the first day of their weekend, so I had no meetings. Since my flight didn’t leave till almost midnight, I had plenty of time to play tourist. I started by taking a cab to Rothschild Street, which is a nice thoroughfare, with big wide sidewalks down the middle of the road. There are endless shops and restaurants lining the street.
There was a cab waiting outside my hotel, so I asked him how much it would cost to go to Tel Aviv (pointing to a specific spot on the map). He told me it’d be 90 sheckles. I had been told by both my business associate and the hotel’s front desk that it should be about 70 sheckles. So I hopped in the back, and as we took off I asked him to start the meter. He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. I told him 90 sounded high and I wanted to use the meter. By this point we were n0 more than 0.1 km from the hotel, but he seemed to think I was trying to cheat him out of fare by not pulling the meter at the hotel. After offering to lower the fare to 80 “as my friend”, he finally agreed to start the meter, but turned around and drove past the hotel again, just to be sure he got his due. haha So we cruise down to where I had asked to go; and he actually took me farther than I asked. As we neared the stop he reached over to the meter and pushed some button that added 4.5 sheckles to the fare, which was probably an airport fee or some such bogus adder…but the fare ended-up only being 71 sheckles. Oy vey!
After a bit of shopping in the Carmel Market (a HUGE open street market), I needed some lunch. I found this little cafe on a side street, with a musician just outside. Just inside the door you could see a bunch of prepared dishes, and the staff was putting together palates at the customer’s direction. I chose the mushroom stuffed chicken with stewed veggies and white rice. It was rather yummy.
As you can imagine, there is a significant security presence in Israel. The guards here were checking people’s bags prior to entering the Carmel Market. They’re very polite, and everybody just accepts the search as routine/necessary. The Burger King in the background had their own guard at the entrance, too.
I’m not really much of a beach guy, so maybe this is more popular in the US than I realize, but in Tel Aviv it was an obsession. Frescobol is played with a wooden paddle and a hard rubber ball. The idea is to hit the ball back and forth without letting it hit the sand. The really good players were really smashing it back and forth, but lots of folks just gently volleyed back and forth. There were literally hundreds of people playing this game along the beach. The noise was really quite loud; it sounded like popcorn!
The architecture along the beach was decidedly modern, with lots of new construction.
The Israelis are surrounded by Muslims who want to “push them into the sea”, yet they’re remarkably tolerant of their Muslim citizens. This mosque is on prime real estate, right across from the beach.
The beach in Tel Aviv is right on the final approach path to TLV airport. Notice the cool stone promenade. This is very much a multi-use area. There were people walking, running, riding bikes, skateboarding/blading, sun bathing, picnicking, flying kites.
This mural was painted on an abandon outside bar. It’s hard to tell from this shot, but there was a working bar here with the “patrons” painted as if they were sitting on the other side of the bar. I should have taken a self-portrait while having a drink with my boy Albert.
Just south of the very cosmopolitan beach of Tel Aviv is the old port city of Jaffa. It seemed rather well maintained, and I just loved the old architecture!
I really liked the contrast between the weathered outside of the shutters and the protected insides.
This is some sort of succulent ground cover. There were pink and yellow blooming varieties.
This beautiful promenade winds for miles. I can’t even imagine how many man-hours went into laying this down!!!
I noticed a de facto segregation at the beach. The Muslims tended to gather on the grassy areas just off the beach, enjoying lunch or just lounging. The Jews tended to be down on the beach sun bathing and playing frescobol. I took this shot rather randomly, and didn’t notice till I got home that the man and woman are scowling at me. Oops. Stupid Americans! :)
At this point I took a cab back to the hotel. I got my luggage (which I had left at the front desk), changed into some clean clothes, then took a cab to the airport. The sun was down, meaning that it was “Shabat” (the Jewish sabbath day). Nearly everything was closed down, so there was no traffic at all and the ride only took 30 minutes. They tell you to be at the airport 3 hours early, due to the lengthy security process. I’ll write another post about that soon.
All in all, I had an AMAZING trip to Israel, and can’t wait to go back. Our biggest customer there says they’ll probably need me to come back in August. It’ll be blistering hot then, but I’m anxious to go back whenever I can!