T from Timewalking in Tel Aviv – Day 3

T from Timewalking in Tel Aviv – Day 3

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Neve Tzedek

” Neve Tzedek is a real oasis in the bustling city of Tel Aviv. The magnificent buildings are all renovated, individual, and a relaxing stroll through the neighborhood is a great way to spend some time.”

Enough of a reason to add it to the tight planning. I thought it would be perfect for a romantic midnight stroll after sunset and it was on a walking distance from our flat in Florentin as well. All of this was supposed to end in a late night dinner at Suzanna on Shabazi Street. I don’t know what specifically went wrong, but that didn’t happen. We probably didn’t walk the ‘right’ part of the area. The neighbourhood was ghostly and desolate to a point where it became scary. I’m not exactly your number one hero after dark. The pretty, renovated houses were difficult to admire in all their glory because the streets were poorly lit. Sure, there were some fascinating street lamps and cute lampoons here and there behind the window facades. But in this district, there are supposed to be small side passages lined up with boutiques, galleries, and craft shops. We didn’t really see any… And by the time we reached Shabazi street, I was getting a bit too tired to fully enjoy the delights that were staring right back at me. Plus the exuberant lunch from Hinnawi was still being digested and we weren’t really hungry at all.

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But for some reason, I feel like we haven’t given Neve Tzedek a fair chance to shine. I want to go back next time, earlier in the day and find the magic there, sitting on a shaded courtyard of an Oriental style building with the cool sea breeze in my face. And venture a bit further, to visit HaTachana, Tel Aviv’s Old Railway station. Another bullet point on my to do list is the Levinsky Market, somewhat around there, to shuffle through the dried fruits, nuts, pickled produce, exotic meat cold cuts and salted fish.

We walked back to the less regenerated Florentin, that was still bustling with happy people, and we enjoyed a light snack and a beer in one of the many lively bistro’s before heading to bed.

Shopping extreme from Dizengoff Center to Shuk Carmel.

Waking up on my last morning in Tel Aviv hit me hard. I usually love short city breaks. The passion, the intensity because you know everything will come to an end soon and you just want to soak up every single sight. You keep going, whether your feet are about to fall off or not, because it’s all worth it. But this time, I simply did _not_ want to leave. And N. didn’t want to let me leave either.

Fortunately there were a couple more hours to enjoy the city and each other before having to return to the airport.

N.’s brother was very kind to let us borrow his car for the weekend, but I hadn’t fully realized until now how excruciatingly bad the average driver is in Tel Aviv. It was Moscow and Italy combined. During the Jewish sabbat day, there was hardly any traffic and we pretty much had the city to ourselves. But on Sunday, which is ‘monday’ for the Israeli, the city came back to life and so did the traffic jams. Fortunately, N. is an excellent and careful driver, so he safely steered us through the jungle danger, and straight into the very centre of the modern Tel Aviv: Dizengoff !

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Dizengoff Street is one of the city’s most iconic streets. Along with King George’s Avenue (which we walked up and down to go to Carmel Market) and Allenby Street, it’s kind of like the “Champs-Élysées of Tel Aviv”. Because of time restraints and blisters, we didn’t walk down Dizengoff street but N. told me there is an interesting fountain. So I googled it: ‘Fire and Water’ was designed by Yaacov Agam in 1986, one of the pioneers of the ‘kinetic art’ movement. Next time!

Instead, we went for a quick peek in the Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv’s first major shopping mall. Pretty unique in design, it’s located on BOTH sides of Dizengoff Street, with bridges connecting the two malls. It twists and turns on the inside, with glass elevators and winding balconies as far as the eye can see. It’s cool !! And they house some pretty damn cool shops ! Like a gothic & occult themed collection’s shop, where I bought this gorgeous dream-catcher and we strolled past the art studio where N. had gotten all of his tattoo’s done. Gotta love the massive Predator statue right in the middle lol !

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When you walk from the sophisticated Dizengoff towards King George’s Street, you can feel the atmosphere change from very upmarket to more bohemian and ‘cool’. King George Street caters more to younger people, students and young creative professionals. In King George Street, you kind of instantly feel part of Israel’s ‘capital of cool’. It’s really authentic and unpolished, yet very cosmopolitan, if you know what I mean. And as you continue your climb upwards, you can choose to ‘pne smola’ (turn left) to the chique Allenby Street or ‘pne yamina’ (turn right) – thank you, gps-woman – straight into the wonderful kitch of Carmel Market. Guess which one I chose? 🙂

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You know what I like most about the markets such as Shuk Carmel? They are so delightfully colourful and smell of ‘foreign’ wherever you turn your head to. Sure they aren’t quite as clinically clean as a Dizengoff shopping mall and suuuure there’s a few shacks one could honestly frown upon but that’s part of the charm. Despite of the heat of an average Israeli winter day (go figure), everything looked remarkably fresh and who can resist a piece of fresh bread or baklava? This time, I had one of the best bourekas I ever tasted (with cheese and spinash) and a traditional malabi for dessert. It was so cool as well, while we were having a little break eating, I was watching large portions of fresh malabi being made in the kitchen !

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I wanted to buy a set of spices to take home. I feared they’d give me shit at customs so I left it there, but I wouldn’t mind trying to reproduce that taste of hummus I had the chance to try here in Israel.

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Instead, I bought a token of luck: a small Hamza hand with a Hebrew inscription to guide me to safe harbour in life and traffic. Vixxie is not superstitious. Not at all.

Perfect fit with the black cat figurine that N. gifted me in Yafo the day before. It even looked a bit like my Dubio. Handmade, by a local glass artist !

The long way home.

All good songs must come to an end. As did this one. Sadly.

By the time we had reached the airport, my mood and my heart had sunk down to my shoes. I’ve seen N. leave Belgium a couple of times but it feels so much worse having to be the one who leaves the other behind. It’s like leaving a part of yourself behind and it feels so wrong.

Add to that the fact that my plane was delayed by half an hour, and I was stuck on a ridiculously narrow seat on the back row, next to a special-needs-person who rummaged around in his seat during the full 4,5 hours of flying and went for a piss at least 9 times. I was literally stuck solid in my seat and I had no other option but to sleep most of the time out of boredom. I was not able to move my arms enough in order to read nor eat. All other seats in Brussels Airlines planes are perfectly comfortable for a big girl, but I know now why those were the only 3 seats left in the plane when I checked in.

Although, there was some light at the end of the tunnel.

I FLEW IN THE TINTIN TRIBUTE PLANE !!!!

(TinTin needs no introduction, he is Belgium’s most famous cartoon citizen known allover the world)

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And, when I finally arrived home, soaked from head to toe by the pouring down Belgian rain (oh how I have not missed thee!), I was greeted with lots of love by my two bandits and my lovely mum, who cooked me up a curry that was more spicy than all the things combined I ate in Israel. =)

So, what’s next?

Going back of course! I don’t feel I’ve even begun to scratch the surface of this fascinating city.

There is PLENTY left to go back for in Tel Aviv and perhaps some day, I’ll even be able to cross Jerusalem off my bucket list.

I found this gorgeous panorama online.  (click to enlarge)

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A perfect blog ending for a perfect city trip.

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