Saying goodbye to Turkey is something I don’t want to remember. So far their hospitality and kindness have gone unmatched. Being there was like an old friend welcoming me home for dinner and having conversation well into the night. Leaving felt like I was being forced out of a home I had lived in for 15 years without any advance notice. But we must all move on, change, grow, evolve.
A quick jaunt south to Israel was up next, and let me preface this by saying that everywhere I’ve been so far and every place I have yet to go has been or will be amazing. Israel, however, was a real honor to visit. For those of you who don’t know, I used to work for a Jewish non-profit back home in Detroit, and the people I worked with are really the ones who inspired the visit. It was their love, passion, and connection to the country that led me there, and it was an incredible privilege to finally see their homeland for myself.
First up was a short 2 days in Tel Aviv both at the beginning and end of my time in Israel. And I’ll be honest, as silly as it seems, Tel Aviv became a vacation from my vacation. I did some walking around, but for the most part, I spent my time at the beach. At the end of my time in Israel, I even splurged on a hotel because I need a couple of nights of good sleep to rid of the cold that snuck up on me.
On the train from the airport into the city, I met a fellow American who I ended up hanging out with the entire day. We ate cheap falafel for dinner, went swimming, walked through Carmel Market as it was closing, and sat on the beach and talked over drinks. It was quite the chillaxing evening and nice to have a companion around to ease into my time in Israel.
The first two nights in Tel Aviv, I stayed at Beachfront Hostel which was right on the promenade just steps away from the beach. Since I was on “vacation” it was hard to want to do anything else when the beach was right there. Anyway, it was a much nicer establishment than I was anticipating. I was expecting it to be run down, smelly, and potentially bed bug ridden, but it had none of those features, thankfully. The hostel had televisions in each of the rooms, balconies, and a rooftop with couches, games, and a TV. It was a major chill out zone., and if I ever come back, I would definitely stay there again.
The waves of this beach town wash up on the shore giving way to a promenade reminiscent of Santa Monica and big city life resembling Miami although much calmer. Aside from having one of the largest LGBT communities and night life scenes in the world, it is a bit run down, and the unrelenting summer heat will have you bathing in your own sweat. Many of the buildings’ exteriors look worn down by sandpaper giving no real character to color the city. When you visit Tel Aviv, you’ll only need 2-3 days at most to see everything you want to see.
My 4 recommendations of things you must do are as follows:
- Sit on the beach with a drink and watch the sunset. It is the most gorgeous sunset I’ve come across on my travels so far.
- Pick up some fresh fruit and do some shopping at Carmel Market
- Rent a bike and ride along the promenade down to Old Jaffa
- Take a stroll through Meir Gardens and visit Bauhaus Centre
Also, be prepared to eat a lot of falafel, schwarma, and hummus while you’re in Israel. They tend to be the cheapest items on the menu and mighty delicious. There is a restaurant just past the Carmel Market entrance, across from a kosher burger place called Burgeranch, that serves the most delicious hummus I’ve ever had (see photo above). I don’t know the name of it because it is in Hebrew, but it’s the first umbrella covered patio you come across on the right hand side. The staff are super friendly as well.
In terms of destinations, Tel Aviv was the half way point on my journey and ended up serving as a great place to take a break. It was a much needed and well deserved vacation from my vacation.