Israel three

August 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Daily blogs and thoughts | 1 Comment

DAY 3 – August 5, 2010

Tel Aviv

 We awoke early for a trip to the beach.  The plan was get up at 7:30, breakfast at 8, and to the beach by 9.  We almost made it.

As we read about yesterday, there was some fighting occurring on the Israeli – Lebanon border.  All morning, as we lie on the beach, we could hear the sounds of jet aircraft flying overhead.  We didn’t see anything though – I’m assuming they were jet fighters too high and too small for us to see.  The only airport that handles jet aircraft is Tel Aviv, which is about 35 miles south, and there was way more air traffic than they have a Tel Aviv.

Judging by the voices we heard around us, most of the beach goers were Israeli, and nobody even looked up at the sky to see what was going on.  As I said yesterday, military activity is a fact of life.

The Mediterranean was warm, and a brisk breeze from the water kept us cool.  We stayed until 11:15, ran back to the hotel, showered, collected our luggage and checked out by 12:00 noon.

Then we drove the half hour ride to Tel Aviv.

Unbelievable is the only word I can use to describe Tel Aviv.  It is a modern, bustling city on the shore.  We are at the Carlton hotel, which is at the Northern end of the beach.  The hotel is a modern American Style hotel with strong air conditioning in our room.  Jodi’s friend from work, Bob M, had a friend in Israel and got us upgraded from a standard room to a deluxe beach front room on a higher floor.

Our room, however, wasn’t ready, so we gave our baggage to the bellhop to store and we drove the rental car to a local Tel Aviv Avis counter in the David Intercontinental Hotel, about two miles down the beach.  After leaving off the car and the broken GPS, we decided to walk to the old city of Jaffa, which is a predominately Arab city at the southern end of Tel Aviv.

Jodi had read on the web about a restaurant called “Abu Hassan,” which is rumored to have “the best Hummus in all of Tel Aviv.”  Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best directions to find it, and the five or so people we stopped on the street didn’t have such good directions either.  After walking through some pretty run-down neighborhoods, we found a small government building were one of the security guards gave us fairly good directions.  “Make a right at this corner, walk down that street about 300 meters until you come to a stairway on the left and go up it.”  Which we did.

We found ourselves in someone’s back yard.  Nonchallantlly backing down the stairs, we decided to follow the road up a hill where found a couple of tradesmen putting an airconditioner into a building.  We asked them if they had ever heard of Abu Hassan and they said “right there” and pointed around the corner.

We were served two large soup bowls full of hummus, a plate of raw onion and some Pita breads.  The hummus was good, but after walking three miles in the 95 degree heat, the cold soda was better.

We then headed to the market section of Jaffa, where we sweated like pigs, looked in some art gallery’s, and argued.  It seems that I get a little crabby when hot and thirsty.  We decided to find a cab to head back to the hotel, and are walking along some narrow cobblestone streets when I suddenly hear the opening riff of Bruce Springsteen’s version of “London’s Calling,” which is on the DVD Jodi bought me for my birthday.  We follow our ears and end up at a  nearby tavern which is owned by and Israeli Springsteen fan,  “although,” he confides me, “I like the Johnny Southside a little more.” 

We sat down in the shade in his comfy chairs and he made us “lemon and sugar cane juice,” an amazingly sweet concoction made by running sugar cane through an industrial sized squeezer, adding two drops of water and a sprig of lemon leaf.  He said it was very healthy because it helped your pancreas and stomach.  Personally, I found it a tad sweet.  It was the equivalent of two cups of sugar and a shot glass of water.  All I wanted was something wet.

We said our good-bye’s and were going to go to a water stand we had seen about half a mile away, but an empty cab drove by and we grabbed it while we could and returned to the Carlton Hotel.

At the Carlton, we got our keys and went to the room, and were soon joined by the bellhop with our luggage.  He put our bags away for us and I tipped him and said “Bevakasha,” (You’re welcome).  Really, I’m getting my Hebrew a little confused, but it’s getting better.

We changed into our swimsuits and went up to the rooftop pool.  The pool area is small, and the lounge chairs a really tightly packed in.  We found two empty chairs, but one had a towel on it.  I asked the girl lounging next to it if was her towel and she said no, so I pushed it aside and claimed the chair.  I’ve spend enough time at resort pools without a seat because someone though the towel would save it for them.  Whoever it belonged to never returned anyhow.  There was a warm breeze that cooled us as we napped in the sun.  Like the past 8 hours in the sun wasn’t enough, right?

The pool boy wandered over to us at 6:45 and said the pool was closing at 7:00, so instead of fighting with him, we gathered our belongings and went back to the room to shower for dinner. 

My plan was to walk along the waterfront and look for a restaurant.   Jodi, showing better organization, planning and initiative, asked the Carlton’s front desk manager if he could recommend a good fish restaurant.  “Benny’s Fish Market,” was his answer.  “Good fresh fish and you don’t need a reservation.”

Pulling out a Tel Aviv map, he indicated a location about twenty minutes from the hotel and we headed out.  We walked a while and didn’t seem to be having any luck finding Benny’s, even with the map, but Jodi saw a large display map of the waterfront at  the entrance to a parking lot.  You know – the kind of maps they have at shopping malls.

They showed that Benny’s was in Building number 8, right past the ACE hardware.  I looked up and we were right next to ACE hardware.  I looked across the street and saw a large, mall –sized building with a Number 8 on the side.  That’s efficiency.

We had about a twenty minute wait for a table at Benny’s, and sat outside, on the patio, overlooking a tremendously crowded pedestrian walkway.  As we ate, we noticed passers-by looking at our food, and laughed about it among ourselves.

Our dinner came with “14 Choices of Salad, ask your server.”  We ordered dinner, and I never got around to asking about the salad.  In a few minutes, two waiters show up and put a large bowl of Israeli salad on the table, then put down 14 different plates of toppings:  Tahini, Hummas, Babbaganouche (I’m sure I’m spelling that wrong), Garlic dipped cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers, beets, and about a dozen other things I can’t remember or can’t identify.

For dinner, we had “Whole baked Sea Bar,” which was an entire fish packed in salt and baked in olive oil and spices.  The waiter brings it out, peels the skin off, cuts off the head, lifts out the spine (and most of the bones) and parcel’s the meat onto your plate.  It tasted like a sea bass – light, very fresh, and oozing with oil.  It was really good.

We found a fro-yo place nearby and had our now obligatory frozen yogurt.  Then back to the hotel and pass out after a long day.


1 Comment »

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  1. Read every minute and loved it all. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you are there and having such a wonderful time. Keep writing I’m enjoying every minute of it.

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