Saturday, May 10, 2014

anniversary in jaffa

Our anniversary is not a day for working, but for celebrating. So we headed out early in the morning and rented two bikes. It was our first experience with the Tel Aviv bike rental system, and it looked similar to the others we'd used (like Velibs in Paris), but as we found out later in the day, not so.
Like many things in Tel Aviv, the bike rental was a little more expensive than in other cities, so we planed on making half an hour hops from place to place, and return the bikes while we hung out. Our first hop was to breakfast closer to the beach on Ben Yehuda St. We ate on the patio of a nice little cafe and had a traditional Israeli breakfast, which involves many little things (which ended up being a food theme for the day, without us even planing it).

Our Anniversary Breakfast

After breakfast, we rented two more bikes and rode to Jaffa. We hadn't gone there yet and even though it's a different city, Tel Aviv and Jaffa are as close as conjoined twins. Jaffa is actually a much older city than Tel Aviv, with a history stretching back three millennia, and is mentioned in both the old and new testaments.

They have a rustic shopping district that we decided to find ourselves an anniversary present in. We had been talking about getting a Mezuzah as a souvenir from Israel and realized there was no better time. So we spent a while perusing the selections and made a decision. From there we made our way to the Jaffa Port to met up with Andrew's friend at his work.

When we got to Jaffa Port, the difference between all other cities' rental bikes and Tel Aviv's rental bikes became apparent to us. There is a special lock you must fully engage to return the bike. Well, one of the first bikes we returned before we went to breakfast must not have been 'fully' engaged, because we received an email telling us that it still hadn't been returned and we've been getting charged since. We didn't have phones, only wifi. We searched Jaffa Port for a wifi connection and finding one, went to the rental bike's website and began a labored process that ended with us finding out that it was a mixup on their side, and we would not be charged.

With that settled, we met up with Andrew's friend and got a tour of the news station he works at.

Jaffa Port

Jaffa's Lighthouse

Bird Buddy

Andrew and his friend at his friend's work in Tel Aviv

After the tour we went back to Jaffa Port for some drinks and dinner. While there, we were consumed by a orange stick wielding mob. It was some new Tae Bo thing were you could do dances and workouts with the orange sticks. There were enthusiastic instructors teaching everyone how to use them--how could we resist?

After some exercise, it was on to dinner at The Old Man and The Sea, a famous Jaffa restaurant. Like breakfast, it was many small things they piled onto your table until there was no room for anything else. And as soon as you finished something, they would take it and fill that gap on the table with something new. It's a place to come to hungry to, because you could eat yourself silly.

Orange Stick Workout

Hanging at the Port
Eating at The Old Man and the Sea
Maggie being angelic as always

Friday, May 9, 2014


When in Israel, you have to go to Jerusalem. Possibly the most fought over city in the world, the history behind this place is staggering. We had no idea what to expect as we took the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The first thing we were struck by was how hilly of an area it is. You just keep going uphill from Tel Aviv and then you really hit the hills and you can see Jerusalem in the distance sitting atop the highest ground in the area.  After seeing this, it became quite obvious why this place is so sought after, it is very defensible.

We left the bus station and took the light rail to the old walled city. Going through the city we were surprised to see how different the city looked from Tel Aviv. Almost all of the buildings we made out of some sort of white sand stone that gave the city a very together feeling. We entered the old city through the Jaffa gate and starting wandering through the tight streets looking for the West Wall. Breaking through the tight press of buildings, the West Wall complex finally opened up in front of us.

Andrew's friend told him about a tour of the tunnels that had been excavated below the Western Wall complex. It sounded like a really neat experience, so we signed up for it and took the tour. We had no idea, but we were in Jerusalem on Jerusalem day, which celebrates Israel reclaiming the area during a war in the 70's. While we were waiting for the tour to start, there was a bomb threat at the Western Wall and we were locked in the tunnel where the tour started until they could verify that it wasn't a threat.

The tunnel next to the Western Wall where the tour started from.

The Western Wall below the surface and the original ground level in 0 AD.

Walking along the below ground tight corridors that follow the Western Wall.

The exit of the tour and the Israeli Military that escort you back to the Western Wall through the Muslim district.
After seeing the Western Wall we headed to the other major site in the old city, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is the spot where supposedly Jesus was sacrificed and then buried. The Pope had been in Jerusalem the day before, so the approach to the Church was still filled with Papal Seal banners and pictures of the Pope.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

After walking around the old city for a bit we were ready for a break and headed back outside the walls. There was a park just on the other side that we found a shady spot in and sat down with a bottle of wine with a view of the Jerusalem city walls.