By foot and pedal

Trip Start Sep 11, 2013
1
24
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Trip End Oct 14, 2013


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Flag of Israel  ,
Friday, October 4, 2013

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on our balcony, watching the world go by, before setting out to explore Tel Aviv. We managed to find the way to the Old Station which has been converted into shops and restaurants. We then headed to the beachfront and walked part way along until we reached the tourist office to gather maps and information about the bikes available for hire. The system is great as you pay 17 shekkels for a 24 hour period and can then take a bike for up to 30 minutes at a time before returning it to any other bike station. There are stations about every 400m and so long as you wait at least 10 minutes you can then take another bike for another 30 minutes at no extra charge. If you go over there is an extra charge added.

We then found somewhere on the beach to stop for a bite of lunch and watch the locals at play before heading to the Carmel market, the biggest market in the city, which was packed and chaotic with vendors shouting out to sell their wares and locals doing their food shopping. It was interesting to see all the different food and spices being sold. Hygiene is obviously not high on the list here as all the food is displayed in the open air with vendors smoking while they serve and flies buzzing around.

After the frenzy of the market we decided to try out the bikes and eventually managed to work out how to pay and release the bikes, with the help of a local. The city is ideally suited to cycling as there is a cycle path all the way along the beachfront so we road up to the old port and then around the park as we had already exceeded our first 30 minutes as we could not find a bike station. From then on we stopped each 30 minutes and had a walk around the area and managed to see a lot of the city, a great and fun way to do it while getting some exercise.

As Shabbat starts at sundown on Friday night we had read in our faithful Lonely Planet that the locals drum it in at one of the beaches so we found the spot and sat and enjoyed the drumming and dancing and general entertainment as the sun set over the Mediterranean. It was a pity that it was a cloudy night so the sun set behind the clouds. By this time we were both exhausted so retired to our apartment for a quiet evening in.

DEREK'S COMMENTS

Tel Aviv is a modern city - it pretty much didn't exist until just over 100 years ago. The history of it (in simplified form) is that the southern suburb of TA called Yafo (anglicised as Jaffa) was the original southern port for Palestine - it is really just an area of sea sectioned off with a breakwater - the Palestinian area has no natural harbours on the Mediterranean as there are no rivers entering the sea. Yafo has a long history, but the area to the north (now TA) was just sand. Jewish settlers figured they needed a new city in the early 1900's and starting building TA. So there is no old history in TA. It is really a modern city in every way. It has a long beach and a totally secular hedonistic culture. However it is also unbelievably grubby and untidy - building sites have crap everywhere, old buildings (nothing over 100 years) are not maintained, and people could not care less about litter.
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