Israel Trek: Tel Aviv

At this point, the state of this blog's tardiness probably has you readers thinking you've been waiting for this post as long as I waited for my trip to Israel. And while I appreciate your patience and admire your internet time-traveling skills and offer you a standing apology for my inability to write on a more timely basis, I must beg to differ: You haven't been waiting nearly as long as I did.

For whatever reason, Israel has held my fascination from the time I was a little girl. Every time I had to pick a country to do a report on, I chose Israel. When I learned about what a kibbutz was, I wanted to live on one. And when friends from church moved to Israel when I was about ten, I sent the daughters (older than me by a few years) hand-written letters (in the pre-internet days) to find out about their lives, and very very badly wished I could visit them.

But Israel is a long way from my childhood home in Pennsylvania, and my parents weren't about to pack all six of us up into a jumbo jet marked for the Holy Land for our annual family vacation. Then I got married at the ripe old age of 19, and two college students don't typically have the funds to go on spring break touring the Middle East. And then our careers began, we started saving money, we ultimately moved to Cayman... and time slipped away.

But somehow, 2012 was the year. We had originally planned a business/vacation trip to Asia, and when that fell through, a trip to Israel didn't seem like such a long journey. We had already set aside the time to be off work, and when we found out that October - a traditionally rainy month on the island - can be quite beautiful in Israel, we booked tickets.

To make a long journey short: We took the overnight Delta flight from JFK, arriving in Israel one sunny, autumn afternoon.

Isn't that a nice welcoming wall in the Ben Gurion airport? The funny thing is that I stood by this welcoming wall, feeling very welcomed indeed by the personnel (who were quite helpful, I might add) for a few hours, while NS got detained. And questioned. And re-questioned. Let's just say I'm very thankful that the airport had a free WiFi connection, because I got caught up on Facebook, and my Instagram feed, and my blog reading, and probably even some Pinterest, all while waiting for NS to convince airport security that he wasn't a threat.

After he'd answered a sufficient number of questions to their satisfaction multiple times, we took the train to the Hagana stop and then took a taxi through very hectic, loud, bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic to Brown Hotel at Kalischer 25.

First of all, you have to realize what a luxury it was for me to go directly from the airport (after an overnight flight on a full airplane) to a hotel and nowhere else. Typically, when we get off a long overnight flight, N has a full day of touring lined up so we don't waste a day for travel. And I get that. But it means that when we travel, I'm trying to absorb centuries of history on about 4 hours of interrupted sleep. 

Like in 2010, we flew into Rome and went right to the Colosseum while I was still in zombie mode.

In 2011, we flew into London and went right to Windsor. Actually, I think I felt okay for that one, but I was out cold by about 8:00 p.m. GMT.

This time, the only items on our agenda were showers (top of my list), dinner, and sleep.

N might have gotten things out of order. But who honestly does get adequate rest on red-eye flights?

Brown Hotel reminded me of how my parents decorated in the '80s: Dark, brown walls accented by dark, heavy furniture that altogether made quite the statement. Seriously, the bathroom in our hotel room reminded me a lot of a bathroom in the first house I ever lived in.

The decor and ambiance also reminded me of Jones, a Stephen Starr restaurant in Philadelphia that features '70s throwback furniture (dark greens and oranges) with a super casual vibe (they serve chicken & waffles and meatloaf).

In short, I loved it. And check out these views from the rooftop bar!

Also noteworthy were their fully-exposed rooftop bathtub and shower. Interesting, to say the least.

With our remaining energy, we took a stroll down Rothschild, a long, wide avenue with dedicated walking lanes that were popular among other walkers, runners, and dog owners.

Food plays an important role in our travel arrangements, as its such a key part of the cultural experience. Before we even grabbed dinner, we checked out a neighborhood grocery store - one of the best avenues to learn about how locals live.

Along with the brightly-colored fresh produce, I was attracted by the dozens of baskets hanging from the ceiling.

Our dinner destination was at Miznon - a bustling pita shop located at 23 Ben Yehuda, started by a Michelin star chef. 

The menu (detailed on the chalkboard above the counter) isn't the most traditional (N got a steak and eggs pita and I got a ratatouille pita), but we love anything that mimics shawarma, so this place fit the bill.

Along with our pitas, we ordered baked yams and a head of roasted cauliflower - their specialty.

The food was so incredibly rich in flavor, that I couldn't stop devouring it, even though we had certainly over-ordered. I left absolutely stuffed.  

Vacation had begun.

But what had nearly ended was our stay in Tel Aviv. We regret not devoting more time to this young, modern, interesting city, especially after walking along the beach promenade at night, seeing the after-work crowd get in their evening run or weeknight game of beach volleyball. 

The next morning, our plan was to eat breakfast, hop on a van, and start our tour of Northern Israel. Everything was going according to plan, until shortly after I took this photograph:

Yes, the mural is a bit strange.
I took a seat on of the white chairs you see in the photo and started to eat my breakfast, but before doing so, I started to remove my cross-body camera bag, not realizing that the top was unzipped...

...and my new camera - the camera that replaced my first DSLR that quit on me in Chicago - fell out of the bag, hit the edge of the chair, and landed in two pieces on the floor.

Well actually, the two pieces were the camera body and the lens, which had all but completely snapped off the camera body, leaving behind the attachment ring which was still connected to the camera while still hanging on by a thread to the lens.

I started dry heaving.

Less than 24 hours into our Israel Trek and off to an eventful start indeed!

More tales of our trip around the Holy Land to come.

For more Tel Aviv photos, click here.


  1. great writing, as always! can't wait to hear more!

  2. I totally agree with Katie! You could put all of your posts together in a lovely thick glossy book with your pictures and I would totally buy it and thoroughly enjoy reading it from start to finish!!

    1. Ha! You two are too sweet. Writing a book sounds fun, but given my track record, it probably wouldn't be finished any time soon! :)