Day 27: Bikes and Peepers

Trip Start May 19, 2009
Trip End Jun 16, 2009

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

(Day 27, Tel Aviv, Sunday) Just a couple days left. What should we do today? Decided it would be a nice day for a bike ride. Walked down the street, where we got 10% off on the rental (less than $12/person for the day) and headed a few blocks west to the "Tayelet" (promenade), which runs the length of the Tel Aviv shoreline, full of a steady stream of beachgoers, walkers, joggers, and cyclists.

We passed four quite different beaches in quick succession: the "Hilton" beach (though all the hotels are separated by the seaside boulevard and the Tayelet), where went on Wednesday, all lounge chairs and waiters and children and plunk-plunk games of matkot (paddleball) on the beach; the gay beach; the "separated beach"; and Metzitzim ("Peepers") beach. The gay beach has some shelters and chairs and showers but not much else. The Separated Beach is for religious people. It is literally walled off on three sides, including into the water some distance. Men can go on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; women on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays (it's either closed on Saturdays (Shabbat) or no one goes then). Metzitzim beach is named for the now-cult movie from 1972 by the same name that was filmed there. Kevin and I saw it just before leaving Seattle. It's changed quite some since then, and now has a really appealing beachside restaurant.

On to the port area, which also really appealed to me. It is revitalized, now full of restaurants and shopping and giant clubs just across the boardwalk from the crashing surf and fishers on the pier at this, the northernmost point of the city, where the Tayelet ends. Small airplanes take off and land overhead at Sde Dov, the small domestic airport just across the Yarkon River (where Kevin and I got our flight to Eilat on Day 3). The tall tower of an energy plant dominates. The mix of industrial and commercial gives the place an interesting, edgy feel.

We crossed a bridge over the river to Yarkon Park, a very large park serving the city. We biked along the river, past the rowing center, the tennis courts and soccer fields, the war memorials, following the bike trails to a few of the many attractions in the park: a tropical bird sanctuary (we saw the green parrots flying about); a catcus garden; a children's area; an amphitheatre; a water park. That last one we really could have used, but again--closed. D'oh!

Exiting the park, we took what turned out to be the long way to Tel Aviv University, in search of the Diaspora Museum there. As we had lunch on the way, a much-needed, air-conditioned break, we had less than an hour there by the time we found it, but the guy at the front desk gave us a break on the admission price, and we took a quick walk through the several floors of exhibits.

After a ride back to the port area where we took a break, Kevin headed back to return his bike and rest, and I biked down the Tayelet again, past all the hotels and restaurants and traffic and honking and music on my left; ahead of me, Jaffa on a hill; on my right, the endless beach: volleyball, matkot games, bars, lounge chairs of all colors, the crash of the surf, and the sinking sun. Near the far end, at the Dolphinarium (site of a suicide attack that killed 21 in 2001, all but two ages 14-21), I turned around and headed back.

We grabbed a quick dinner at Little Prague (thanks, Joseph), a Czech restaurant not far away, where we had a great meal, finally feeding the adorable but thin cats in the alley off the patio, one of whom repeatedly climbed up the little fence to poke his nose in our direction. We shared a shot of absinthe, decided not to get anything at the kosher Burger King (tempting as it was), and went back to the apartment for Israeli "Idol" (auditions over, now it's whittling-down time) and the Israeli teen vampire series on demand online. Sorry we'll miss the debut of Israeli "Project Runway" on Wednesday.
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