Day 4: Rental Car, Market at Port, Old Jaffa

Trip Start May 04, 2012
Trip End May 27, 2012

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What I did
Market at Tel Aviv Port

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking back on the day, it seems our theme is "how many ways can…" At breakfast, we found on the buffet, honey made from dates. We think of honey made from bees, but here is date honey that is the same consistency and very tasty over our morning croissants.   A quick Google search reveals that date honey is hard to find  and easy to make.  The recipe ingredients are: pitted dates, lemon, water, ginger and agave syrup.  So the next time I think that something is done one way, I hope I'll remember date honey and that there might be other possibilities as well. 

How many ways can you dent or scratch a car?  We looked at our rental car paperwork and on the car diagram for marking the location of scratches & dents there was one big circle and the words  “everywhere”.  Most of them were located in the lower portion of the front and back bumpers.  With a little imagination, I could see previous drivers maneuvering into tight parking spaces.  That anyone could find a place to park on the streets let alone fit into these tight spaces is a measure of parking skills that amazes a parallel parking challenged person such as me.

Having been advised by the Miami Herald Travel Guru to always take photos of your rental car before departing the lot, Harvey took videos with his phone and I took stills with mine.  The porter had never seen this before, and he stood patiently by.    

How many ways can you find a parking space in Tel Aviv?  Well, the obvious is to cruise the streets looking for an open space.  Fortunately, our Melody Hotel has made parking arrangements for their guests.  Before we left to pick up the car from Eldan Car Rental, the hotel concierge checked and there was space in the hotel garage.  If there had not been, they have an agreement with the Hilton across the street for 40IS guests can park there, then take the parking card and pay for it at the Melody at the reduced price.  These parking options make it easy for an out-of-towner.

It’s Friday and most everything closes in the afternoon and re-opens on Saturday evening.  That’s the reason that we picked up our rental car this morning so we will be ready to depart Tel Aviv tomorrow morning.  We have another project in preparation for our departure - pick up delectables for tomorrow’s picnic lunch.  Shoshana told us about the Friday market at the Port, so we’re strolling in the late morning heat along the promenade and beach towards the Port.  We walk past bright yellow beach chairs and umbrellas, trees with yellow flowers at their base, and people wading in the calm Mediterranean

Within moments, the peaceful walk is subsumed by the sights and sounds of lots of people as we walk into the market area of the Port.  We are surrounded by booths each offering different specialties.  How many different types of olive oils would you like to try?  Did you know how many different types of dates there are?  What is that aroma?  Ask the same question over and over for the variety of offerings for fruits, veggies, nuts, fish, fruit smoothies, meats, wine, flowers, etc., etc., etc.!  It’s a feast for the eyes, but too much overload for Harvey who gets overwhelmed with too many people in tight spaces.  So we walk away from the area after getting an overview then swoop back in and quickly do our picnic shopping.  We select a large challah, sliced garlic salami, and homemade fruit and nut bars.  We plan to fill in with items from our morning breakfast buffet.  So, on to the next activity!

As we walk back to our hotel to stow our goodies, we walk through a park near the Melody Hotel.  I find myself breathing deeply and soaking in the view of the open space and the open structure of the trees’ trunks (see photo).  With one deep breath, I find myself longing for open natural spaces.  Tomorrow we leave the city and will be in small towns and nature, so that will become a reality

At Shoshana’s recommendation we are in Jaffa for lunch, the ancient port city that is part of modern day Tel Aviv, and sitting at the Abulafia Restaurant.  Since our last trip, the famous Abulafia Bakery has opened a restaurant, across the street from the bakery at 7 Yefet Street, and here we are.  What a great recommendation.  The arches and walls are ancient stone adding to a comfortable informal ambience, the waiters are friendly, and the lunch special looks like a feast.   The waiters bring 15 small plates of assorted appetizers and we ask – how many different ways is it possible to prepare eggplant?  We’ve got it stewed, fried, roasted with tomatoes, babaganoush style.  Pungent pickles, two types of pickled cabbage, two types of corn, of course hummus and a flat pita type bread for scooping.  This would have been enough for us for lunch!  We stuffed ourselves on the kebab and schwarma that was flavorfully spiced.  And almost finished off the pitcher of freshly made lemonade.

Old Jaffa has narrow stone steps and charming narrow streets with art, Judaica and clothing boutiques tucked away.  On this particular day we see only several other people.  We strike up a conversation with two techies from the U.S. who come periodically to work at their company offices in Tel Aviv.  Each time they come they try to see another part of Israel and we swap suggestions.  It’s fun to strike up conversations with people and hear about their lives.  These young men remind me that there are so many different ways to collaborate on projects across borders. 

The best is yet to come.  There it is.   Is it real?  Who would ever have thought of hanging a tree with its root ball safely tucked into what looks like an egg and suspended in the air with cables from nearby buildings?  I walk around it and marvel at the pre-visualization of the artist and the follow through to get the community approvals to hang this but also to actually make the components and install it.  Most of all I am impressed with the out-of-the-box thinking to hang a tree – and that I noticed that I felt an opening of my mind – an opening of possibilities – inspirational!  It would be fun to find out who did this and look at more of their work. 

In the taxi back to the Melody Hotel, we have musings about being well rested with a good night’s rest and how much difference it makes in how we greet a day - with openness and curiosity.  This is our third full day in Israel and we’re just about feeling like jetlag is receding and we’re back to our normal (?) selves.

Late afternoon, Reut picks us up and takes us to her mother’s for family Shabbat dinner in Rehovot, roughly 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv.  On our last trip to Israel, Avi, Harvey’s friend, was with us when we visited his family.  There are other changes as well since our last visit and when one drops in on people’s lives these stand out more brightly than the gradual changes from day-to-day.  As we sit and talk after a warm welcome, we reminisce with Avi’s mother, Bella, and listen to how she is doing and remember Avi’s father, Josef, who has passed away since our last visit.  We meet Guy, who is now two years old, and Claude an old friend of Avi’s mother and father.  We watch Elan barbecue and Keren and Reut play with the boys.  I take lots of snapshots.  As I am sitting and looking at all of us around the dinner table, I wonder at how life has its twists and turns.  When we were here four years ago, who would have ever anticipated these changes?  I wonder at our personal resilience and at the Kigel family that gets together for Shabbat dinner every week.  I wonder how it is that with all the threats to Israel, we are having a relaxed family gathering – and the only sense of any danger that creeps in is over dessert when a lively political discussion ensues.    Sometimes what appears to be normal is really something that fills me with wonder when I pause to look as it from a distance.

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