Dispatch from the Road

Tel Aviv Diary, Day 4

by Jeralyn Gerba
Levinksy Market. Photo by Jeralyn Gerba.

On her fourth and last day in Tel Aviv, Jeralyn sees old things from a new perspective.

The oldness and the newness of this place can be really disorienting. Age is relative, literally: You can stand on the streets of Old Jaffa (biblical) in front of a Christian church (medieval), and see Bauhaus buildings (mid-century) in the distance.

How old is Jaffa? Well, according to legend, it was built by Noah's son (of Ark fame) and was the site of Andromeda's rescue by Perseus. For the Phoenicians (the ones who invented the alphabet), it was simply a major port.

Of course it's a tourist attraction. Actually, it can be hard to take a picture without getting tourists taking pictures in the frame. But you can lose everybody if you take one of the narrow stone alleyways (marked by zodiac signs) that wind around stone buildings overlooking the sea. Around a bend you might find a Franciscan church, a Muslim minoret, a tiny Greek Orthodox temple, or a quirky young French artist showcasing satirist paintings and postcards (think: rabbi on a skateboard).

There's also the private home/public art gallery of Ilana Goor, an Israeli sculptor with a really eclectic design sense. You can roam around her several-story building, as I did, and make your way to the insanely gorgeous rooftop garden. The staging evokes Rennaisance Italy. And 1950s Riviera. And contemporary Tel Aviv. As I said, it's disorienting.

I could have stayed up there forever, but I needed to get to my lunch date. My friend suggested we meet on the corner of Nachalat Binyamin and Levinsky. It's a residential neighborhood where old men in comfortable clothing peddle spices, dried fruit, nuts, legumes, coffee, and tea from delightfully dingy little kiosks. Basically, my idea of heaven. We ducked into a cafe packed with good-looking young people, indie music, and a British-Israeli waiter who brought us small cups of a fruit drink made from a fruit I had never heard of. We snacked on mind-bendingly delicious hummus and a salad of wheatberries, yogurt, candied nuts, and spices.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Rothschild Boulevard, noting the hustle and bustle of shoppers before Shabbat dinner. We stopped by the adorable Hotel Montefiore for a coffee on the patio (where a waitress gave us a slice of cake for no particular reason, except that it goes well with coffee). I had to run to my own dinner — at a cozy place called Dallal in the cozy and hip Neve Tsedek area), but not before snapping one last photo of the age-defying city.

Read Fathom on the Road: Tel Aviv, Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3

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