Sun Kissed Tel-Aviv-Jaffa
I’ve finally gotten round to writing about Tel-Aviv-Jaffa. Tel-Aviv is such a big city that after deliberating for a while on where to begin I finally decided on Old Jaffa, which historically is the starting place. Today both Old Jaffa and modern Tel-Aviv are managed by the same municipality.
Before diving into the post, I just wanted to mention a unique and fun way to get around Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, which is via bicycle rental. There are various locations throughout the city in which you can rent bikes or drop them off and return to for later use. In Old Jaffa there is such a rental spot near the ‘Na Laga'at Center’ so you can either rent a bike there or leave the one you came with at the rental spot till you finish your tour.
Trip Agenda Options:
The Old City of Jaffa
Option 1 – Walk East:
The Flea Market (Shuk Hapishpeshim)
Option 2 – Walk South-West:
The Jaffa Port Boardwalk
Na Laga'at Center
Jaffa Slope Park
Part 1 - The Old City of Jaffa
The Old City of Jaffa is mentioned in several ancient writings. In the Bible it is mentioned in the book of Joshua 19:40-48 as the settlement of the tribe of Dan. It is also mentioned in the book of Jonah 1:1-4 in which Jonah took the boat from Jaffa’s port to Tarshish in his attempt to flee from his fate and lastly, it is mentioned in the book of Chronicurum Part 2 Chapter 2 as the port to which cedar trees were sent from Lebanon to Jerusalem for the building of King Solomon’s first temple. In Greek mythology, Jaffa is mentioned as the location of Andromeda’s rock. Throughout the ages, the city has been destroyed and rebuilt several times due to its strategic location as a natural port leading inland towards Jerusalem. There are so many anecdotes, including Napoleon’s conquering of Jaffa in 1799 and the rebuilding of the city and port by the Ottoman empire that followed, that in order to do justice to the location, the best way to visit the old city is by booking a guided tour.
There are year-round tours at the “Jaffa Tales Old Jaffa Visitor's Center” that is a municipality owned center and offers fairly priced tours. It is located at the top of the small hill on which the old city was built (follow the signs for ‘Kikar Kdumim’). The tour is guided and includes a visit to both the visitors’ center and a walk through the streets of the old city. The visitors’ center presents a film and a display of both archeological findings and more recent findings such as suitcases from the Jewish settlers who started arriving via Jaffa’s port towards the end of the 19th century. The old city of Jaffa is currently populated by artists and you can return to their lovely shops once the tour ends or enter the ‘Ilana Goor Museum’ that features artwork and is located in the only building left standing from Napoleon’s time.
Additional Options - Part 2
Once you’ve concluded your tour of the old city, there are a few options for continued activity depending on your interests.
The Flea Market (in Hebrew ‘Shuk Hapishpeshim’)
The flea market is home to a variety of second hand shops with an abundance of antiques, knick-knacks, memorabilia, local fashion designer stores and numerous cafés and restaurants. Even younger children will enjoy walking around with you, so it is a great family option. To get there, you go down the hill and walk East (i.e. in the opposite direction of the sea).
The Jaffa Port Boardwalk
Jaffa’s port also affords a pleasant walk and options for boating etc. The boardwalk has several plaques along the way pointing out certain sites of interest, for example: where Theodore Hertzl stopped by on his visit in 1898, or where the Jaffa oranges were transported or the point where sea level is measured. You can find cafés and restaurants (especially seafood) along the way. Again, you go down the hill towards the sea (West) and then follow the boardwalk South (i.e. in the opposite direction of modern Tel-Aviv).
Na Laga’at Center
On your way down Jaffa Port’s Boardwalk, there is a unique non-profit center for the deaf and blind. The center offers several exceptional experiences such as their “Blackout Restaurant” in which blind people serve the guests in utter darkness or their “Kapish Café” in which deaf waiters communicate with the guests using sign language. The center produces plays and workshops and you can purchase tickets in advance.
Jaffa Slope Park
If you continue further down the Jaffa Port’s Boardwalk, you’ll reach a lovely green public park spread out on a hill overlooking the port. Since it is at least a 20 min walk from Old Jaffa, if you have younger children, you may wish to drive there directly. There is a large free parking lot nearby. If you’re likely to get there, don’t forget to bring a frisbee or ball in order to enjoy the grassy expanses, although there is a playground inside.
There are restaurants everywhere, but I’ll name a few for your convenience.
Since the Flea Market offers an active night life, you may want to stay in the area. A few hotels in the vicinity of the Old city of Jaffa include ‘Casa Nova Hotel’, ‘Old Jaffa Hostel’, ‘Margosa Hotel’ and the ‘Ruth Daniel Residence Hotel’.
The options above are supposed to fill an active day from morning to night based on your choices.
This is what it looks like on the map:
I hope I’ve done justice to Tel-Aviv-Jaffa. There will be several other posts over time since Tel-Aviv has been nicknamed ‘A City Without A Stop’. What looked good to you?
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