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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.