Israel is one of my most favorite destinations and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to live in Jerusalem for a few years. Israel was never on my list of countries to visit. Isn’t that one of the greatest lessons we learn as we approach our golden years? That sense of discovery of a new destination that never before captured our imagination? To visit a land from where all of Civilization emerged? A land so rich in history and culture, upon your first venture into its history, you are overwhelmed by its magnitude. However the net has been cast - your spirit, your soul captured in its embrace, never to be the same again. Come as I share with you my adventures into discovery of one’s own destiny and reflective purpose.
Jaffa … according to the Bible is the location where Jonah set sail before being swallowed by the whale, and where Saint Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. The sea offered great riches to King Solomon and the Jewish legend says “that all the sunken treasure in the world flows toward Jaffa.” Napoleon I of France captured the town in 1799, and the Armenian convent standing today served as a hospital for Napoleon’s troops.
Within the past five years, Jaffa has been transformed from a decrepit city full of empty warehouse buildings, home only to sailors, lone artists and the homeless. Major renovations have taken place which now has Jaffa being one of the most expensive places to live! The culture is a mixture of Arab, Muslim and Jews all living in perfect harmony and respect. The port is teeming with night life, artist galleries, bookstores, bistros and best places to eat in the whole Middle East!
Start off at the city center where the clock tower is located, and walk up the hill to view the most famous bakery perhaps in all of Israel, Abouelafia and Sons (since 1879). Open 24/7 you will indulge in mounds of confectionaries and pastries! Next you will want to please your palate in tasting the staple in the Arab diet, called masabaha ma’aful, Arabic for tehina and hummus topped with a bit of cooked, mashed fava beans. Scoop with a fresh warm pita bread and your palate will be in heaven.
As you continue up the hill, you will pass the flea market, and Jaffa truly offers what the concept of a flea market was originally – not “chic” but truly mounds of “junk” - old computer cords, adapters for those flip phones that even the manufacturer does not offer!! I know, for I still have a flip Nokia that works perfectly but needed a charger that the manufacturer no longer makes! Old 1950’s radios, tv’s and items the Salvation Army would reject! I still so enjoyed going through all the piles of junk, for one never knows what hidden treasures lie beneath the rubble!
At the top of the hill is the magnificent St. Peter’s Church, built by the Franciscans in the 19th Century on the remains of Crusaders’ fortress. It is told that Napoleon stayed in the church when it was a hostel. It is magnificent inside and worth a visit.
Venture down the maze of alleyways, nooks and crannies that have been restored. Discover the many artist galleries, cafes, and stores that await discovery! Many of these little streets and alleyways are called zodiac alleys because each of them is named after a zodiac sign. You will be amazed when you pass the famous hanging orange tree sculpture by environmental artist Ran Morin! Just stunning!
Visit the Wishing Well Bridge and touch your zodiac sign and face the sea. Legend states your wish will come true.
I would devote a full day to spend in this wonderful port city – indulge in the fresh and healthy cuisine and perhaps my very favorite restaurant is Hazaken Vehayam, (Old Man and the Sea). Here you will be served many dishes of mezze – which is a spread of appetizers of small foods including hummus, salads like tabouleh, olives, pickles, chickpeas wherein you may be full before the entree comes! (You can order just the mezze if you prefer for it is filling!). Their lemonade with mint leaves is freshly made and delightful on a warm day!
When you have finished your day, why not begin a slow stroll up the coast to Tel Aviv and reflect upon the day’s adventure!
May 28, 2013