Saturday, 7 February 2015
White City, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is Nice
Did I tell you I spent some time in Israel recently? I was very much looking forward to visiting Tel Aviv, particularly the White City at its centre. The White City is a Unesco World Heritage Site and contains 4000-odd buildings built in the Bauhaus modernist (or international) style.
The foundation of Tel Aviv is quite fascinating. I will leave you to read up on the history if you are curious. I will tell you that I found the place most agreeably relaxed and civil. Does the original urban planning of White City help?
Because of the climate life is lived outside in Tel Aviv. You will feel completely at ease walking anywhere at any time of the day or night, which is good as you have a lot of ground to cover if you wish to ogle at some of the modernist wonders around the White City.
You know something? I might just place Tel Aviv in the top three of my favourite cities along with Madrid and Vienna. Am I rushing things? Let's put it there for now. I can always change my mind. Go and take a look and tell me what you think.
White City Walks
So this is my primary recommendation for your visit: after a hearty breakfast of shakshuka (spicy poached eggs) take a good long walk or two around the White City. And on your walks you will encounter a well-educated and hospitable population who do not appear to go to bed ever.
Grab a city map and head to Dizengoff Street and there will be something of interest whichever direction you take from there. The Bauhaus Center, which is located in Dizengoff, can help you immeasurably; and they can also provide guided tours if that's your bag.
As you walk around, I defy you not to start mentally moving in to some of the places you see, picturing a van der Rohe chair here and a Le Corbusier table there.
I have scattered a few of my snaps around this article. I was enjoying the city so much that these photographs were often take hurriedly at twilight — but I did not completely forget my obligations to you, chums.
Not wishing to exhaust you, but I noted other streets worthy of a diversion on your walks.
Sheinkin Street has many independent shops and coffee houses, many open on shabbat (I think).
Shalom Shabazi is located in one of the oldest parts of Tel Aviv and has nice restaurants and art galleries; it is rather bourgeois and altogether quiet and pleasant. I needed to go through the old market to get to Shalom Shabazi. You might find a quicker way.
Joppa or Jaffa
The ancient sea port of Joppa — or Jaffa, as it's now called — is on the doorstep of Tel Aviv. So try and squeeze in a visit. You can walk along the seafront from the centre of Tel Aviv to Jaffa — they're practically joined — in half an hour or so. The history of the town of Jaffa is ludicrously extensive. You should spend some time reading about Jaffa too.
The 'old city' around the harbour in Jaffa is being gentrified and is nice for the evening. Try the Abouelafia (1879) bakery for hot sachlav (milk drink) and cake. Or you might want to try Dr Shakshuka who do an incredible shakshuka, as their name suggests. I became rather addicted to shakshuka whilst I was there, I must say — incredible stuff.