things to do in tel aviv

daniella-lehavi
Tel Aviv is a city just like so many world-class cities across the globe, something I’d not really realized or even expected, truth be told. The city is in its infancy, particularly compared to neighbouring cities like Jerusalem; Tel Aviv celebrates its centennial in 2009 and the city is alive with a festive flair, with events planned throughout the year. Everywhere I went, I found myself charmed by the people and the character in this young city. And there’s so much to do. If you’re not sunbathing on the shores of the Mediterranean, there are plenty of places to shop. In fact, the shopping here is spectacular. There are many areas to visit; try Sheinkin Street, perhaps the trendiest street in the city, lined with beautiful boutiques and cafes. I had to drag myself out of stores like DL by Daniella Lehavi, which boasts a gorgeous collection of bags and shoes featured in the photo above. DL by Daniella Lehavi, 35 Sheinkin Street, Tel Aviv, Tel: 03-629-4044. Along Sheinkin Street you’ll find all kinds of local designers with collections the likes of which you’d see in Paris or New York. After a few hours giving your credit card a workout, take a load off at Orna and Ella, the most popular cafe on the street. Coffee and pastries will give you the energy you need to continue! Orna and Ella, 33 Sheinkin St., Tel: 03-620-4753. Tel Aviv has got a vibrant nightlife with bars aplenty, perfect for a pub-crawl if that’s your scene. Or, if you’re more interested in lively places for dinner, definitely hit the Tel Aviv Port, an action-packed place any time of day, lined with trendy restaurants that attract a hip, young crowd. TIP: Bring a sweater or pashmina if you’re dining al fresco in the evening. It can get chilly along the water.

My trip to Israel came to a close far too quickly. I could easily have spent a month discovering more of the history of places like Nazareth and Galilee or exploring more of Tel Aviv’s vibrant culture. This tiny country has so much to offer travelers. If you go, plan your time wisely to make sure you see as much as you can. As I boarded my El Al flight back home, I made a silent promise to one day return to this special place.

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ilana goor museum

ilana-goor-kitchenHow incredible is this kitchen? It’s in the Ilana Goor Museum in Old Jaffa, just outside Tel Aviv. The museum features an extensive collection of Ilana’s own works, (unique sculptures, furniture and other art pieces) and her personal collection of art from around the world. The pieces are a bit eccentric – not quite my cup of tea. But the space she has claimed for her museum-slash-gallery is spectacular. The old stone building, built in the 18th century is a converted hostel, now a gallery and is the artist’s part-time home. The rustic kitchen pictured here is used to cater events held out on the adjoining rooftop patio that just happens to, you know, overlook the Mediterranean. It’s worth a visit for the kitchen and the view alone. Ilana Goor Museum, 4 Mazal Dagim, Tel Aviv, Israel, Tel: +972 3683 7676.

tel aviv: streetside delights

What a great day! Walking the streets of Tel Aviv, there are visual delights at every turn. The city is in bloom and everywhere you’ll find a kaleidoscope of colour, flowers in shades that seem brighter and more beautiful than any I’ve ever seen. Bougainvillea can be found creeping along walls and fences all over the city.

bougainvillea
My day was spent leisurely strolling through the Carmel Market (Shuk Ha’Carmel), Tel Aviv’s largest marketplace. The long, winding street is lined with stalls selling everything from:

peaches
fresh fruits and veggies …

jerusalem-bagels
breads and pastries …

… clothing, DVDs and sunglasses. Carmel Market is open every day but closed for Shabbat.

On the walk back to my hotel, I walked along Nachlat Binyamin Promenade, an outdoor pedestrian shopping mall. Originally the textile center of the city, it still boasts shop after shop selling vividly coloured, beautiful fabrics that’ll excite the fashionista/designer in you.

fabric

flying el al

el-al
Over the last few days, I’ve been entertaining you with blog posts about travel must-haves, products I love and other tidbits of travel talk. But today, we’re actually traveling, not just talking about it! Yesterday, I boarded an El Al flight to Tel Aviv. The 10-hour and 44-minute flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv was as easy as can be. That might be because I travel with an endless assortment of ways to amuse myself on long-haul flights. What was in my carry-on bag? Well, for starters, there were snacks. I never travel without snacks! Plus, I had three magazines, my book, my iPod Touch (good for music, games and movies) and my laptop. But I didn’t really need all of that to while away the hours. Truth be told, when you’re comfortable on a plane, the time really does fly. And that’s how I felt on this flight. They played four movies: Mall Cop, Bride Wars, Yes Man and Unforgiven. I admit, I only watched Bride Wars but it’s amazing how easily a movie passes two hours. The food was great; I pre-ordered the Asian vegetarian meal, which consisted of stir-fried seasoned zucchini, potato wedges and rice. Breakfast was a fresh and tasty bagel with butter and more veggies. The flight attendants were friendly and attentive, ready to serve juice or hot tea at any point during the flight.

El Al, which means ‘to the skies‘ in Hebrew, is Israel’s national carrier and flies daily between Toronto and Tel Aviv. Its hub, Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, is bright and modern and provides a wonderful welcome to visitors, especially first-timers like me. Airport security at both ends and during the flight was tight (El Al is one of, if not the, world’s most secure airlines) but it wasn’t aggressive, obvious or intimidating. Door to door, the experience was pleasant, easy and yes, even relaxing.  To say I was excited to land at Ben Gurion here in Tel Aviv would be an enormous understatement. Visit elal.co.il for more information or join their Facebook group to learn more!

After landing, I took the 35-minute drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is where I am now. I look forward to telling you more about that soon!