05.06.2017 28 °C
Getting off the quick plane from Athens to Tel Aviv we grabbed a cab to head to our Air BNB. It was my first time using the service so I wasn't sure what to expect. The internet was right and a metered cab was much cheaper than the fixed price ones would have been! We were dropped off in a quiet street and left to find the place.
Our Air BNB was cute! We got a large room, the biggest we've had so far, and we share the bathroom and kitchen with the host, kind of like their roommate for 2 nights. They had left us a key so we didn't meet them until later, but they're both super sweet, fun people! I'll be leaving them a great review
It was only 6pm and we wanted to head straight to bed! We were exhausted, but we really didn't want to be all messed up time wise for the next day so we headed out to find dinner. The city was quiet as their Shabbat was just starting, the religious weekend where most things close. So we found an open restaurant around the corner and sat down. It turns out it was an all vegetarian pub! Score Israel was looking up already! The only problem was things were a little pricey, I would say just a hair higher than regular Canadian prices, which we are used to things being a bit lower since we're eating out at least 2 meals a day. I ordered the tehina and bread and was not disappointed, it was delicious.
We then walked to a grocery store to get some drinks to enjoy at our place, and walked back. The city was quiet but we felt so safe and right at home; we were definitely back to a first world country! Back at our new home we went up to enjoy the rooftop patio and unfortunately it's under construction! We still saw the view but then enjoyed our drinks from our room. We did enjoy some of the crazy graffiti here - it is EVERYWHERE. I think you'd have a hard time finding an open wall! Some of it is really cool.
Waking up yesterday morning we had a quick breakfast and set out to walk to the old town of Jaffa where we planned to attend the free walking tour. I attended these tours by the same company all over Europe and I was excited to do something that would properly introduce us to the city. The tour was fantastic - we learned all about Old Jaffa, going back to the start, about 500 BCE. I was surprised to learn that most of the town is only about 200 years old, all the buildings look like their 1000 years old! But Israel has been conquered and torn down, destroyed and rebuilt so many times that everything is relatively new. They used sandstone in the latest build about 200 years ago, and that's why it looks so old.
We learned about this building called the home of Simon the Tanner where St. Peter was staying and sat on the rooftop and had his vision where god told him not to make unclean what he had made clean, and St Peter became the first pope who converted people to Christianity and separated from Judaism.
We also saw this art piece where a tree was unrooted and hung and suspended in air and it is still continuing to grow. It's symbolic of the Jewish people and how they can still flourish no matter where they have been forced to move in the past.
We also saw this church that has a piece of rock on the top where the cross sits that comes from a holy site called Banias, where Jesus told Peter he was the rock from which the church was built.
After the tour ended we walked back towards new Tel Aviv and decided to have lunch at a really popular all vegan spot, one at the top of my list and also one that our host recommended, called Zakaim. It was fantastic - Josh had potato wedges with homemade mayo, we shared the bread and dips that included pesto and a vegan cream cheese, plus some spicy ones, and I had a Greek salad with homemade feta cheese. It was so, so good! I was stuffed. That kind of place made me want to open my own in Victoria!
Next we went "home" to change, grab some drinks and head to the beach. You can drink in public here, we found out on the tour, so we took full advantage! We had wine and beer on the beach and we tanned and dipped in the Mediterranean. The people watching was great, everyone plays this game on the beach with paddles and a hard ball, hitting it back and forth, and it seems like there would be a lot of bystander injuries since the beach is crazy crowded! Everyone brings their dog to the beach! There are no rules here. Beers, BBQ's, and tons of dogs running around but everyone is happy! You could never do that stuff in Canada, so many rules!
There's also a few outdoor gyms near the beach along the seawall - this place is so active and it is definitely in to be in shape!
After an afternoon of sun soaking we headed back to our place to change again and then went out to dinner. We found the cutest little spot that had lots of seafood, I wasn't that hungry since I went all out at lunch, but I ordered some veggie side plates that were to die for. Everyone knows what vegan is and every place has vegan stuff! My side plates were roasted cauliflower with garlic and tahini, and a roasted eggplant with spicy tomato sauce. They came with bread and I was stuffed again by the end. Josh ordered a roasted red pepper side plate and a crab dish. He got crab all right!
He wasn't impressed he had to break it all open himself haha, and it took some time but I sipped my wine and enjoyed the al fresco dining and couldn't have been happier. We're not in Egypt anymore!
After dinner, even though we were stuffed, we went to a gelato place right beside the entrance to our apartment. I was shocked at the vegan selection! Not just fruit sorbet but actual vegan gelato. They make it all in house, and they use hardly any white sugar in some of them. The lady was having me taste everything vegan and it was PHENOMENAL. By far the most amazing thing I've eaten all trip. I chose the 70% dark chocolate gelato and the hazelnut gelato, on a vegan cone, and I was actually in heaven. Josh too - the non vegan flavours were even more daring, and we will be back today for another round for sure!
Sitting enjoying our gelato and our host pulls up in his car, saying, "haaay!" Like he's known us forever. Josh had his back to the car and was thinking, who the hell knows us and is talking to my wife right now? Haha. We chatted with him and also with a couple who had their dog with them and they told us how liberal Tel Aviv is with dogs. They are allowed EVERYWHERE - the malls, inside all the restaurants, it's amazing. I let their dog have a lick of my cone! She was so sweet and really wanted some, I could just tell.
Full of gelato we came up to the apartment to relax and head to bed. I'm about to wander out for coffee while Josh still sleeps, a luxury we haven't had all trip (going out without each other). Today the Shabbat is over so the town will be open! We'll wander the huge market here, get some more gelato, and then head to Jerusalem in the afternoon.