Visiting Old Jaffa, Israel

Visiting Old Jaffa, Israel

I know, I know. Many of you are wondering when I’m going to write about the violent realities of a war-torn Israel but it’s simply not what I’m experiencing right now. Today, I toured Old Jaffa. Narrow streets and courtyards filled with markets, vendors, ancient buildings sometimes restored and sometimes not, museums, shops, and galleries make up the city of Jaffa, Israel. I wandered through the streets for hours today and this is what I enjoyed. 

Sea view from Old Jaffa

We first walked along Jaffa Port. Although it’s no longer used as a port, many sailing ships lined the dock. Here you can take sailing lessons or fish from the pier. Locals cast their long lines into the Mediterranean Sea with hopes of reeling in their catch for the day. A few small boats dotted the water and Tel Aviv lay in the background. I said hello to the fisherman as I walked by. Most greeted me with a smile or light, casual conversation.

Gallery in Jaffa, Israel

We weaved through the streets and up the mountainside. Small shops selling jewelry, clothing, paintings, and arts and crafts filled the narrow streets. I browsed in several stores without purchasing anything. It was like being in Laguna Beach with unique boutiques and original artwork.

Views of Old Jaffa from Ilana Goor Museum

Ilana Goor Museum features original sculptures and deigns of the artist Ilana Goor and other artists. It also serves as her private home. We explored the museum and admired her eclectic collection. Goor claims that  it is only if one touches, feels, and uses art that one can understand what it really is. Rather than being exhibited in a sacred space, the museum’s art is interlaced with life itself- an art form that is not out of reach, but easily accessible to the visitor. We even had the opportunity to meet Ilana. Regardless if art interests you or not, the views from the top floor of the museum are not to be missed.

Ilana Goor Museum Artwork

Ilana Goor Museum Artwork

Views of Old Jaffa

My day continued with a visit to Carmel and Levinsky markets. When walking through the bustling streets, I was amazed by the long line of colorful fruit and vegetable stalls. Shopkeepers were wonderful for allowing us to taste their products. I tried several dates, nuts, dried fruit, bread and pastries, and spicy olives. The market offered the perfect combination of flavors, colors, tastes, aromas, and textures. I chatted with the shop keepers anout the weather and my experiences in Israel so far. One man had been to California before and he asked questions about LA and certain food areas. Another man asked about my flights and what brought me to Israel. Although I was obviously a tourist, I felt like I was getting a look at daily life in Jaffa.

Markets in Jaffa

Markets in Jaffa, Israel

The Grape Man, Israel

We finished up our tour of Jaffa with wine tasting at The Grape Man Wine and Spirit Center. I had no idea about the rich history of wine making in Israel. After trying a few glasses of local wine and listening to the history of wine in Israel, I was ready for the short walk back to the hotel.

Boardwalk in Tel Aviv

Beach in Israel

The sun was beginning to set again in Israel yet I saw the city in a whole new light. There is definitely violence in Israel and we’re not talking about petty theft in the streets. We’re talking about bomb shelters and Iron Dome missile defense systems, but I spent the day in a beautiful city wandering through the streets and interacting with locals. I spent the day taking photos and eating fresh foods. I spent the day looking at the stunning Mediterranean Sea and unique artwork. This is the only Israel I know so far.

*Tomorrow I will tour Tel Aviv including Sarona, Ha Tachana, Tel Aviv Port, and Nahlat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for up-to-the-minute photos or stay tuned here and on the website for more Israel posts. I will be using the hashtag #IsraelBucketList during my 6 day visit.

I’m here thanks to the support of Israel Tourism, but all thoughts and opinions, like always, are my own.

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48 thoughts on “Visiting Old Jaffa, Israel

  1. Looks amazing Lesley. Looking forward to your next post. I know Israel has long term difficulties but it is nice to see and hear a different side to it also. It gives me a broader insight into the country rather than viewing it through a ‘war’ perspective all the time.

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    • I honestly didn’t know what to expect when traveling to Israel. I had heard so many war stories too, but I’d also heard about the immense beauty. I’m grateful that I didn’t just follow the word of the media. The beauty is everywhere. πŸ™‚ Have you traveled to this area before?

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      • No. But I was a ghostwriter for a gentleman who was stationed there during World War Two – he brought it to life. My favourite book when I was little was a children’s bible. I loved the stories and have always wanted to go to bring it all to life really. I shall get there someday. Will make do with enjoying your posts for the time being! πŸ˜€

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        • I think Jerusalem will have the biggest impact on me during my time in Israel but Tel Aviv has been amazing. No post today but surely I’ve have something new again tomorrow.

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      • Hey Lesley! Thank you for visiting my site! I realized that my “Search” widget was deactivated! Thanks for alerting me to that.

        I have not been to Israel. Definitely on my bucket list! My posts revolve largely around Spanish-speaking countries, since I am a Spanish teacher. Can’t wait to see more Israel posts from you!

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          • Hey Lesley- I have to give you a complicated response to a simple question! It is nearly impossible to pick a favorite Spanish speaking country. Spanish-speaking countries have offered me something different depending on what stage I was experiencing in my life. When I was in my early 20s with nothing but a tent and a pair of hiking boots, I was all about Central America- the dirt cheap prices and the laid back atmosphere. I spent 8 weeks bussing, hiking, and camping from Belize City, down by boat to Guatemala, down through El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. I spent from $10 – $20 per day. Now in my late 20s, I’m obsessed with Spain. I leave for Spain this July for my second trip full of museums, seafood, olives, and tinto de verano. I will go to Peru (Lima) for the first time this December for New Year’s Eve / my birthday, and then in February 2016 I will go to Colombia with girlfriends. Colombia (Cartagena, BogotΓ‘) has been on the bucket list a long while already! So glad we have finally put the plan in motion. Slightly off topic is that after Spain this summer I will rent an apartment in Berlin, in Kreuzberg. I studied abroad in Germany (Trier) and haven’t been back in 7 years! On my way home I will visit friends who recently moved to London (also my first time there). I have a lot of amazing Bucket List travel coming up to look forward to! What’s your next stop after Israel?!

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  2. Great post. Beautiful photos as well. There is no need to justify not dwelling on the negative aspects of any location. Probable a nicer/safer place to be right now as opposed to some cities in the Americas. Thanks for your positive outlook.

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    • I was torn between including the recent conflict or avoiding it completely. Since I usually only write about my actual first-hand experience, I decided to leave it out. I feel safe here. I would bring my family. It is an amazing destination.

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  3. I love love love this post. The views are amazing. It is also amazing how much propaganda the media uses. There are horrible parts to every country, and beautiful parts too; unfortunately the bad stories are the ones that make the news. Thanks for sharing this lovely perspective.

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  4. Wow. I was aghast when you mentioned you next destination was Israel, but this is not what I expected. I couldn’t even imagine how you would land let alone visit. This is a whole new bird’s eye-view. Fantastic photos too. Thanks so much for sharing. ❀

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  5. So glad to hear you’re enjoying your time in my homeland. πŸ™‚
    No need to apologize for not mentioning violence. There is nothing the Israelis want more than to live peacefully and to keep on building and progressing, while the neighboring states do exactly the opposite.

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    • I’m glad to read that others admit to having a misconception of Israel. (It makes me feel less naive. πŸ˜‰ Now, I would gladly travel here with my family. I will still use caution, of course, but I always use caution when traveling with my family.

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  6. It is always interesting to contrast what you see on the news with what you see on the ground. I just returned from 2 weeks in Jordan and Israel, and had a wonderful time. Based on the news reports, everyone thought I was crazy to go. I never felt unsafe even once…

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  7. I was kind of worried when you said you were traveling to Israel that you’d be right in the middle of the crud that’s going on out there, but I know you’d never do that. I’m also glad that even though the country’s had a bad few moths, that your pictures give it a chance of hope that it will rebuild itself just as it always has! Hope you’re enjoying yourself! πŸ™‚

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