One year ago the Boyfriend and I we were flying to Israel to celebrate the Boyfriend’s 30th birthday.
To tell him the news I gave him a little box with a date in it. I thought this was a good way to make him guess what his gift was but when he opened the box and immediately ate the date without wondering what a date inside a gift box was doing there, I understood I was wrong…
In a few words, we spent 1 week in Israel between Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem and we absolutely loved it!
Let’s start with our 1st stop: Tel Aviv, also known as the White City: white like its sandy beaches, white like sleepless nights spent in its hot-spots (in French we call sleepless nights “nuits blanches” which means literally “white nights”) but most of all white like its Bauhaus buildings in streets full of flowers.
But before telling you more about the areas where we liked to stroll, the restaurants we ate very well etc…I’d just like to say that I know Israel is a sensible subject but it’s not because I use the name Israel that I’m taking sides, I won’t fell legitimate to do so. The only thing I want is to share with you our impressions about this beautiful country, no matter what name you give him. I hope you will understand and will not use this blog for politic issues.
Let’s get back to Tel Aviv. We fell so much in love with this cosmopolitan city and its festive atmosphere that we are already thinking of going back! It must be said that Paris-Tel Aviv is only a 5h flight and the round trip only costs 250€ with Easyjet.
This crossroad for contemporary cultures city is divided in several neighborhoods: Rothschild, seafront, Florentin, Jaffa and Neve Tsedek.
Rothschild Boulevard is one of the main streets of the town. With its tree-lined, benches, bike paths, bocce courts and coffee shops it’s one of the best place to relax but also to admire classical Bauhaus style (buildings with smooth facades, simple lines, rounded edges, small windows, built on piles and overhanging a shaded garden). But it’s also the financial, commercial, cultural and touristic district of the city.
Nearby, don’t miss the vibrant Carmel Market.
The seaside promenade:
The seaside promenade is very long and Israelis cross it by walking, running, cycling, rollerblading… As for the beaches, they are beautiful and spacious and full of dogs for some of them. Tel Aviv is the most dog friendly city I have ever seen: dogs are everywhere (but no poops on the streets can be found), they are accepted in most of the shops, you can spot a lot of dog parks, water fountain and even sometimes dog food dispensers in some cafés. Is dog paradise in Israel?
Florentin, the neighborhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv is still under construction. What used to be a class neighborhood is now becoming a trendy people fief, like a Mediterranean East-Village. The curious mix between the 50’s and 60’s style provides a stark contrast! It sure isn’t the most beautiful neighborhood esthetically speaking but for us it was the most alive and welcoming. To give you an idea, the trendiest bars and the some of the best restaurants are located in this area which is THE place to be for underground night. You will also see that most of the spots we went to were in Florentin and even the hotel we stayed in.
Jaffa (« Yaffa » or « Yafo ») is the coastal city underlying the Israeli capital but it’s also one of the oldest cities in the world. Jaffa was a Muslim city which exists since 3500 years and was amalgamated to Tel Aviv in 1950 which explains why the official name of the city is “Tel-Aviv-Jaffa”.
Jaffa (means « pretty » in Hebrew) is located on top of a hill jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea and breaking into the horizon. Even though behind the walls of its fortress there is one of the oldest harbor in the world, it has managed to keep its authentic charm.
Good deal: Get your guide offers free 2h guided tours to discover the city of Jaffa. We did it and it was so interesting! If there is one part of the city a guided tour is almost mandatory is this one.
This mix of Jewish and Arab influences makes this place unique in Israel. This oriental atmosphere also meets an European-ish one.
Don’t you have the impression that these pictures above have been taken in the South of France ?!
In this millennia-old-history city, the flea market (Shouk HaPishpeshim) is a place you shouldn’t miss if you like antique shops but also if you like to stroll or if you want to eat on the run good local street food. It is open every day but let me warn you: you will probably feel frustrated by the small size of your luggage…
Neve Tsedek :
Neve Tsedek also known as the artist neighborhood or “the little Paris” is one of the most classiest districts. It’s like a cultural art center with a lot of craft, jewelry and pottery shops but you can also find museums, art galleries, cafés and trendy restaurants with beautiful terraces.
What I liked the most about it was the narrow streets, the colorful houses, the orange and olive trees that makes it look like a Mediterranean village.
THE ADDRESSES :
Now, here there are some addresses of places we went to and enjoyed. Just so you know, the food is very good in Israel and we can easily say that we took advantage of it!
Florentin House (Florentin neighborhood) :
We stayed at Florentin House that I can only recommend to you because the quality price ratio is unbeatable (usually hotels are quite expensive in Tel Aviv but if I remember correctly we paid less than 100€ per night for a double room with balcony). The hotel is located in the arty area of Florentin, it’s recent, modern but well decorated, rooms are big, clean and the staff is super friendly.
Florentin House – 6 Florentin street – Tel Aviv
Casbah café (Florentin) :
We took all our breakfasts at Casbah Café that is just in front of the hotel and which has made a partnership with (f you book a night with breakfast included, they’ll give you a ticket so you can have your breakfast at Casbah Café). The atmosphere is very cool, the vintage decoration is super nice and the quality price ratio is also very good here.
Casbah Café – 3 Florentin Street – Tel Aviv
Hère is another address located in the Florentin district but unfortunatly I can’t remember the name nor the exact address but what I can tell you is that the juives were fresh and delicious.
Dalida (Florentin district) :
Dalida was the restaurant where we had our 1st dinner in Tel Aviv and our last (even if it was a bit expensive). We discovered it by looking online for a good place to have dinner.
We had a huge crush on it because of the decoration, the festive atmosphere (we loved the local swinging music and waiters offering you shots of alcohol during dinner and then toasting with you) but most of all because of the menu, it was so freaking good (especially the crème brûlée like red pepper feta and so many more…). We could book again tickets to Tel Aviv just to go back to Dalida!
For your information Dalida is a famous singer. She was the daughter of Italians immigrants and was born and raised in Egypt before moving to Paris in France. She was not Jewish but she demonstrated her love for Israel by singing some songs in Hebrew. This explains why she is also famous here.
Dalida – 7 Zevulun Street – TEL AVIV
Saluf & sons (Florentin district) :
Another good and friendly spot in the same area: Saluf and sons. It serves simple Yemeni cuisine but tasty and generous. The atmosphere is casual and the prices are very cheap!
Saluf and sons – 80 Nahalat Binyamin Street – TEL AVIV
Ouzeria (Florentin District) :
We spent a nice evening at Ouzeria where you can taste the best ouzos with plenty different kinds of Mediterranean tapas and other mezze even though we paid too much for our taste.
Ouzeria – 44 Matalon Street – TEL AVIV
HaTachana (quartier Neve Tsedek) :
HaTachana used to be an abandonned railway station and it’s now a trendy shopping mall. It’s therefore the perfect place to do some shopping of course but also to have a drink in the evening. This is precisely what we did and evening with Masha, her husband and their lovely little girl, our first instameet in a foreign country. :) We kept in touch and we’d like to meet again in tel Aviv, Paris or maybe in Italy.
Falafel HaKosem (quartier centre-nord) :
If you’re looking for the best falafels in town you have to go to HaKosem! It’s a very simple place but popular for Israelis people which is usually a good sign. You eat fast but the food is super good and quantities are quite huge. Be ready to roll under the table. :)
Falafel HaKosem – 1 rue Shlomo ha-Melekh – TEL AVIV
Abouelafia Bakery (Jaffa) :
Let’s finish with the most famous bakery of Tel Aviv: Abouelafia Bakery. If you like oriental patries as much as I do, this place will be your sinful place. I recommend you to buy some pastries and to go eat them on the beach: ecstatic moment guaranteed!
Abouelafia Bakery – 7 Yefet Street– TEL AVIV
To end this 1st chapter I’m gonna answer to the most frequently asked question while I was there : “Is it safe?”. Do you know that I felt more secure in Tel Aviv that I do in Paris?! On top of that, people in Tel Aviv are “bon vivant”, open minded and super friendly. When you’re in Tel Aviv you almost forget what’s happening in the rest of the country, it’s quite a strange feeling. In a few words: Tel Aviv is such an attractive place to live that it almost make you feel guilty.
Was it the idea you had of Tel Aviv?