48 Hours In: Tel Aviv. Travel – The Independent

48 Hours in Tel Aviv, Israel

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Tel Aviv's port of Jaffa

Why go now

Blessed with beautiful weather throughout spring and summer, the White City is the perfect destination for a lively weekend away. It’s a party town, with restaurants, bars and clubs galore, and beautiful beaches for a restorative chill-out the morning after.

Get your bearings

On the glistening coastline of the eastern Mediterranean, Tel Aviv is located in the centre of Israel. To the south, the ancient port of Jaffa (1) has historic buildings and an alfresco restaurant-bar scene. In the centre, Carmel Market (2) is the beating heart of the city. The bustling Allenby Street (3) and Rothschild Boulevard (4) are near the market, while Dizengoff Street (4) carves up the city centre.

The weekend in Tel Aviv is Friday and Saturday. Saturday – the Sabbath – is a holy day, and shops and markets are all closed. Restaurants and bars start to open in the afternoon, so it’s worth planning your trip around these two days to get the most out of the city.

Tel Aviv has two tourist offices (tel-aviv.gov.il): the Boardwalk Booking Centre (5) at 46 Herbert Samual St and Jaffa (6) at 2 Marzuk and Azar Street, near the clock tower (both open 9.30am-6.30pm Sunday to Thursday, 9am-4pm Friday, closed Saturday).

Day one

Take a hike

Start your day with spectacular views of Tel Aviv and the ancient port of Jaffa from Ha Pisga Garden (7) to the south of the city. Walk across the park to Olei Zion Street (8) and continue on to Jaffa Flea Market (9) (open 9am-6pm Sunday to Friday, closed Saturday; Friday is the main market day). From rugs to jewellery, pick up a bargain, then fuel up with a creamy malabi (similar to a rice pudding) from Ha Malabia (10) (00972 77 432 6051, hamalabiya.co.il) at 65 Ami’ad St in the centre of the market.

Walk north on Yerushalaim Avenue (11) until you hit the beach and continue along the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Promenade (12). Turn right onto Yosef Levi Street (13) and walk onto Ha Carmel – Carmel Market (2). This bustling market (open 8am until late Sunday to Thursday, 8am-4pm Friday, closed Saturday) is a great spot to amble through. Stay refreshed with a pale ale from the Beer Bazaar (14) (beerbazaar.co.il) at 1 Rambam St (open 11am-12am Sunday to Thursday, 11am-4pm Friday, closed Saturday).

Carmel Market is the beating heart of Tel Aviv (Getty Images)

For a more detailed walking tour, try Delicious Israel (deliciousisrael.com). The Eat Tel Aviv tour costs $100 (£72) per person and starts at 10am, lasting four hours. This includes all your food and drink along the way.

Lunch on the run

Started by two brothers in 1937, the fabulous local haunt of Shlomo and Doron (15) (00972 54-667-5505, facebook.com/shlomodoronhumus) serves several different types of hummus, including meshulash (made with three kinds of hummus), ful, which is made from fava beans, and, my favourite, shakshuka hummus. All three are served with fluffy pitta breads, zhug (a spicy Yemeni dipping sauce) and raw onion. Open 7.30am-3pm Sunday to Friday, closed Saturday.

Window shopping

From designer denim to stylish streetwear, shop till you drop on Dizengoff Street (4) in the North of the city. Check out Badim TLV (16) (badimtlv.com) for contemporary women’s wear and cool home accessories (open 9.30am-8pm Sunday to Thursday, 9.30am-4pm Friday, closed Saturday) and pick up a pair of slick shades from Elison Eye Boutique (17) (facebook.com/Elison-Eye-Boutique) open 10am-7pm Sunday to Thursday, 10am-3pm Friday, and closed Saturday.

Grab some hummus for a light lunch (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

An aperitif

Tel Aviv is an outdoor city, so soak up the brilliant balmy weather with a drink at Port Said (18) (00972 3 620 7436, facebook.com/theportsaid). This tiny restaurant/bar is packed from the moment it opens until the last man is standing in the early hours of the morning. Open 12pm-3am Saturday to Thursday, closed Friday.

Carry on the party vibes late into the night at Sputnik (19) (00972 52 642 6532). Imbibe in style with a cool crowd on the terrace, and then head inside to their banging industrial bar and dance until the sun comes up (open 7pm-7am Saturday to Thursday, 9pm-9am Friday).

Dine with the locals

In a huge square around The Great Synagogue (20), Santa Katarina (21) (00972 58 782 0292, facebook.com/santakatarina2) is a modern Israeli restaurant with creative cocktails and a daily changing menu of delicious shared plates. Take a seat at the bar – the best seat in the house – and feast on tuna ceviche with mountains of herbs, tzatziki and chilli; spiced beef tartare kofta; and crisp asparagus spears on creamy labna. Open 12.30-4pm and 6pm-12am Sunday to Thursday, 12.30-5pm and 7pm-12am Friday, and 7pm-12am Saturday.

Day two

Out to Brunch

Take a seat outside Ha Basta (22) (00972 3516 9234, facebook.com/Habasta), a lovely little restaurant where you can enjoy a farm to fork Israeli brunch. Plates of labna, roasted aubergine and cured beef are served with spinach and Tulum cheese baked eggs. Brunch served on Saturdays only, 11am to 5pm.

Tel Aviv enjoys an enviable coastal position (Getty/iStockphoto)

Walk in the park

Why walk in the park when you can hit the beach? Saturdays in Tel Aviv are all about heading to the coast; make like the locals and head to Mezitim beach (23) in the north of the city. From here you can stroll down the boardwalk, past the beautiful Hilton Beach (24) – the city’s famous gay beach – where you can hire paddle boards from the Sea Centre Club (25) (levyam.co.il) and then carry onto Gordon Beach (26). Try your hand at a game of matkot (paddleball). When you are all whacked out, grab a cold beer from one of the many beach bars.

Cultural afternoon

Continue walking along the blissful beaches all the way to Jaffa, where you’ll find the Ilana Goor museum (27) (00972 3683 7676, ilanagoormuseum.org). Located in an 18th century building, this beautiful museum boasts over 500 works from Israeli and international artists, including Diego Giacometti, Henry Moore, Joseph Albers, Uri Lifshitz, Yigal Tumarkin, Pesi Girsch and Yaakov Dorchin. Open 10am-4pm Sunday to Friday and 10am-6pm Saturday; entry costs 30NIS (£6.40).

Icing on the cake

A trip to Jerusalem is a must if you can squeeze it in. This spectacular city is electric. The old town is packed with beautiful buildings, winding alleyways and historic monuments. The big three – The Wailing Wall, Temple Mount and The Church of the Holy Sepulchre – are all within walking distance of each other, and each is incredible in its own way. Dress modestly, covering legs and arms to ensure entry.

Tel Aviv is well-placed for a day trip to Jerusalem (Getty/iStockphoto)

Take the tram from Damascus Gate to Mahane Yehuda Market. This hipster hangout is lined with cool coffee shops, sizzling street food and vibrant stalls selling everything from fruit and veg to fresh fish and sticky sweet rugelach pastries.

Travel essentials

Getting there

British Airways (britishairways.com) offers two to three flights a day from London Heathrow to Ben Gurion Airport (28), from £300 return.

Explore the ancient port of Jaffa to the south (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

From Ben Gurion Aiport, take the train from Terminal 3 to Tel Aviv town centre. There are two stations, Hashalom (29) in the South and Tel Aviv Salvador Centre (30) in the North. The journey time is around 15 to 20 minutes and costs 13.5NIS (£2.90) one way. It’s easy to get a cab to your hotel from the station; Uber works brilliantly.

Staying there

With 12 elegant rooms, the best breakfast in the city and a killer concierge who can get you into any party in town, Hotel Montefiore (31) (hotelmontefiore.co.il) is the most beautiful boutique hotel in the city. Doubles from £330, B&B.

Overlooking Carmel Market, the newly opened Poli House (32) (thepolihouse.com) has a stunning rooftop pool with Balearic beats and boozy slushies to get you in the mood. Doubles from $270 (£209), B&B.

Hotels in Tel Aviv are on the expensive side, so for the best budget finds try using Airbnb (airbnb.co.uk). It has private studio accommodation for two, starting from $55-60 (£43-47), room only.

Article by: John Gregory-Smith, The Independent

Wednesday 5 July 2017 10:30

Article Link: https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/48-hours-in/tel-aviv-city-guide-israel-what-to-do-weekend-break-48-hours-best-hotels-bars-restaurants-a7824386.html

Petra Introduces New Electronic Ticketing System


PETRA – This summer, Petra park officials have introduced a new electronic ticketing service, to facilitate quicker entry for visitors, according to the Petra Archaeological Park (PAP). Petra ticket barcodes now indicate the numbers and nationalities of visitors streaming into the rose-red city each day.

The system, under which officials check tickets with handheld scanners, also allows park officials to check what time tourists enter and track peak visiting hours for future management plans at the park.

According to the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA), future plans include an expanded electronic service whereby visitors can reserve a day and time for their visit from kiosks to be placed in Amman, Wadi Musa and Aqaba.

Under the expanded system, visitors will be required to present their tickets at both entry and exit points, so that park officials can keep tabs on the number of tourists in the ancient Nabataean city at any given time, PDTRA officials told The Jordan Times previously.

Managing the flow of visitors has been at the top of park officials’ agenda, as peak times for tour groups lead to overcrowding, particularly in the Siq, which currently serves as both the entrance and exit to the park.As part of their plans for visitors, Petra officials have considered introducing an alternate exit and imposing limits on how many visitors can enter in a given hour.

PDTRA figures released earlier this week revealed that some 53,283 people visited the ancient Nabataean city last month, a 23 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2009, when 43,147 tourists visited the site. Approximately 515,000 tourists visited Petra in the January-July period, 40 per cent more than in the first seven months of 2009, when 368,000 tourists visited the site, the PDTRA indicated.

Tel Aviv’s Little Russia

On Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, T+L finds pork on rye, women in babushkas, and plenty of Russian vodka—all the makings of a cultural mash-up.

From March 2010By
“My hands are cold, but my heart is warm,” a tanned young Israeli girl coos to me in broken Russian at a Tel Aviv nightclub as we nod along to an incomprehensible ska beat. “Do you think I’m pretty? Are you a Russian billionaire? I only want to marry an oligarch. Like Gaydamak.”

That would be Arkady Gaydamak, the Israeli-Russian billionaire, aspiring politician, owner of the right-wing Beitar Jerusalem soccer squad (its fans famously refused to heed a moment of silence in honor of slain former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin), noted philanthropist, and fugitive from French justice for alleged illegal arms trading to Angola and the less glamorous crime of tax evasion. No book or screenplay has yet been written about Gaydamak’s fantastical life, an omission that may soon have to be corrected. “I am the most popular man in Israel,” Gaydamak once proclaimed (at least one opinion poll said as much), marking him as the most stunning representative of an immigrant group that has peppered the omelette of Israel’s politics, society, and culture since the 1990’s, when the Soviet Union collapsed and more than a million Russian speakers showed up in the Holy Land.

In Tel Aviv, Israel’s Mediterranean business and cultural capital, I meet the young, freckled, redheaded Masha Zur-Glozman, a freelance writer and Israeli-born daughter of immigrants from Russia and Ukraine. “The Russians are now perceived to be cooler, more cosmopolitan,” Zur-Glozman tells me. “They have connections to places like Moscow and Berlin [a city also home to a large Russian community] that the native-born Israelis do not.”

Zur-Glozman has written about the 10 stereotypes of Russian-Israelis. Among her menagerie: the bad-tempered veteran who puts on his World War II medals on Victory Day, can’t let go of his memories, and constantly toasts “Death to our enemies!”; the quiet, intelligent one with very specific interests like Greek pottery or Napoleonic campaigns who speaks shyly with a heavy Russian accent; the very bitter former-Soviet-bureaucrat-cum-third-grade-sports-teacher who drinks too much, terrorizes his family, and is forever torn between over-patriotism and hating Israel; and the sexy math teacher with a white-collared blouse, spectacular cleavage, and leather skirt who abuses her students, ignores the girls, humiliates the physically weak, and openly cheats on her poor schmo of a husband.

Walking down Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street I seem to run into all of the above and more, the Russian language muscling in on the spitfire Hebrew and the occasional drop of English. “Worlds colliiiiiiding!” Zur-Glozman does her best Seinfeld imitation with a comic flourish of the arms. Allenby, like many streets leading in the direction of a municipal bus station, has something not quite right about it. The street exudes its own humid breath, its faded buildings sweating like pledges at a Southern fraternity. When the sun goes down, darkened nightclubs with names like Temptation and Epiphany entice the passersby. Russian pensioners, some sporting the beguilingly popular “purple perm,” sing and play the accordion for shekels. Hasids try to snare male Jews with the promise of phylacteries.

At 106 Allenby the Mal’enkaya Rossiya (Little Russia) delicatessen has everything you need to re-create a serious Russian table in the Middle East. There’s vacuum-packed vobla, dried fish from the Astrakhan region, which is perfectly matched with beer; marinated mushrooms in an enormous jar; creamy, buttery Eskimo ice cream—a Leningrad childhood favorite of mine; tangy eggplant salad; chocolate nut candy; glistening tubs of herring fillet; and a beautiful pair of pig legs. “Israelis love these stores now,” Zur-Glozman tells me, and the pig legs may be just one of the reasons. Russian speakers, Jewish or not, have an abiding love affair with the piggy, and it was the influx of former Soviet immigrants that brought a taste for the cloven-hoofed animal to Israel, much to the dismay of the country’s religious conservatives. The wildly successful and ham-friendly Tiv Taam chain of luxe food stores came along with the Russian immigration; the aforementioned Gaydamak tried to purchase the chain and turn it kosher, but even his billions couldn’t temper the newfound Israeli enthusiasm for the call of the forbidden oinker.

Farther down on Allenby, the Russian-language Don Quixote bookstore—the Russian nerve center of Allenby Street—is full of curious pensioners and boulevard intellectuals feasting on a lifetime’s worth of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction, Russian translations of the kabbalah, and an illustrated Hebrew-Russian version of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, which is presented like a Talmudic text with sweeping commentaries crowding the words. “To Nineteen Year Old Gaga—so that he won’t be stupid,” an old tome is helpfully inscribed.

A few blocks down the street, the Little Prague restaurant is full of Russian boys hitting on Israeli waitresses, and young Russian women pretending to eat. Little Prague exults in a wonderful version of the Czech classic veprove koleno—a marinated and slow-roasted pork knuckle with a hint of rye, which in the hands of the chef is flaky and light. There is also a heroic schnitzel and excellent Staropramen and dark Kozel beer on tap. The interior is gloomy Mitteleuropean, but outside a nice garden deck beckons, fully populated by drunk, hungry people as late as 3 a.m. and at times bathed in the familiar sounds of the theme song to The Sopranos.

Allenby saunters into the sea, where pale ex-Soviets take to the beach like it’s their native Odessa and florally dressed babushkas offer me advice: “Young man, take your sneakers off, let your feet breathe.” A right turn at Ben Yehuda Street leads to the Viking, a languorous, partly outdoor restaurant that joylessly specializes in dishes like golubets, a stuffed cabbage peppery and garlicky enough to register on the taste buds. As I tear my way though the golubets and lubricate with a shot of afternoon vodka, a mother in one corner softly beats her son, who is wearing a T-shirt that says ready when you ready. Crying, beaten children, along with sea breezes and heavy ravioli-style pelmeni swimming in ground pepper, complete the familiar picture, which could have been broadcast live from Sochi, Yalta, or some other formerly Soviet seaside town.

Off the Allenby drag, Nanuchka is what Zur-Glozman calls a neo-Georgian supper club, a place where one can order a cool pomegranate vodka drink, featuring grenadine juice from Russia and crushed ice, or a frozen margarita made with native arak liquor, almonds, and rose juice. The décor is mellow and cozy like a shabby house in Havana, complete with gilt-edged mirrors, portraits of feisty, long-living Georgian grandmas, and many charming rooms stuffed with sumptuous divans and banquettes in full Technicolor. The highlight of the crowded and raucous bar is a photograph of the former prime minister Ariel “The Bulldozer” Sharon staring with great unease at a raft of Picassos. At its more authentic, the Georgian food can really shine. Try the tender chakapulu lamb stew with white plums and tarragon, or setsivi—a cool chicken breast in walnut sauce, bursting with sweetness and garlic. Pinch the crust of the cheburek meat pie and watch the steam escape into the noisy air.

On the same street as Nanuchka, the club Lima Lima hosts a popular Sunday night showcase for Russian bands called “Stakanchik,” or “little drinking glass.” Amid luxuriant George of the Jungle décor, young, hip, and sometimes pregnant people in ironic CCCP and Jesus T-shirts shimmy and sway by the stage. A young singer wearing an ethnic hat begins a song with the words “Now it has come, my long-awaited old age,” a sentiment somehow both Jewish and Russian.

I end my tour of Russian Tel Aviv at a much stranger place, the cavernous Mevdevev nightclub, located a stone’s throw from the American embassy but occupying, until its recent closing, a space-time continuum all its own. As the evening begins, a birthday boy in his forties, dressed in a plaid shirt and sensible slacks, is paraded on stage by the MC and forced to sing 70’s and 80’s Russian disco hits.

A young woman in a skimpy plaid schoolgirl outfit dances around a SpongeBob birthday balloon as the nostalgic Russian music, along with a detour into the early Pet Shop Boys, bellows and hurts. My friend Zur-Glozman meets an armed, cigar-chain-smoking Ukrainian, a graduate student of the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University who now lives in the occupied territories, as do many ex-Soviet immigrants. He invites Zur-Glozman and some of our friends for a ride in his car, which is the size of a school bus. We negotiate the gleaming white curves of Bauhaus Tel Aviv, looking for a nightcap. Over at Little Prague, the inevitable Israeli political argument breaks out between the right-wing Russian-speaking settler and some of my liberal Israeli friends. “You probably think our houses are built of Palestinian babies,” the settler huffs.

“Well, you’re the one with the gun,” an Israeli woman tells him.

I worry for the sanctity of the evening, torn between geographical kinship with the formerly Soviet settler and political kinship with the progressive Tel Avivians, but as mugs of Kozel beer are passed around and the nighttime temperature falls to bearable levels, the passions cool. “As you can see,” an Israeli friend tells me, “we aren’t killing each other.”

Gary Shteyngart is a T+L contributing editor.

Link to Original Article: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/tel-avivs-little-russia/1

Viva Tel Aviv!!

Conde Nast Traveler – June 2009
by Adam LeBor

In its centenary year, Adam LeBor traces how a city founded on a beach has become a 24/7 phenomenon of hyperactive Mediterranean style

Here’s the answer to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Not two but three states: Israel, Palestine, and Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is already a world of its own. Nowhere else in Israel—in the entire Middle East—has such a hedonistic lifestyle, tolerant mentality, and spirited gay and lesbian community. No wonder its nickname, half self-ironic jest, half jealous sneer, is Ha-Buah, The Bubble. I have been visiting Tel Aviv for thirty years, since I was a teenager, and something always draws me back. Part of it is the sheer sense of wonder that this city founded on the sands in 1909, by meshuga (crazy) Zionist pioneers, not only still exists a hundred years later but crackles with energy twenty-four hours a day. In a century it’s grown from nothing to a sophisticated metropolis, home to about 390,000 people. It has an internationally renowned university, a stock exchange, a vibrant media and music scene, numerous museums and art galleries, electric nightlife, and world-class restaurants. Its inhabitants are engagingly friendly and often extremely beautiful, and love to party. Phones don’t start ringing for the night’s action until ten at the earliest, and it lasts until dawn.

That said, Israelis appreciate straight talk. The Hebrew conditional must be the world’s most underused tense. So they won’t be offended when I say that despite Tel Aviv’s many virtues, on first impression the city is hard to fall in love with. Israel’s cultural and business capital is the epicenter of an urban sprawl stretching up the coast, much of which is not beautiful. The tower-block hotels strung out along Tel Aviv’s seafront look like downtown Frankfurt. Drab parking lots punctuate the spaces between the buildings. A four-lane road, choked with traffic, runs parallel to the Tayelet, the seafront promenade. Even the city’s name is a misnomer. Tel Aviv means “Hill of Spring,” yet the city is almost completely flat, and there is no spring. Cold, wet winters jump directly to hot, humid summers.

Link to Full Article:  http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/500770

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