Today was our first full day in Yafo (Ya-fun, according to David… ugh) and it was packed. Like, just now David and I were recording our budget for the day and he was like Wait, that was this morning?! It was one of those days, I guess.
I think time slows down when we break free of our usual schedules, places, people, etc. The tendency we sometimes have to spend the day on autopilot fades away in light of the energy and attention required to travel to a new place. We simply can’t just be, we have to actively engage and interact with the new environment. And that’s what makes the days feel so darn long and so darn full. That’s my theory, anyway.
Dave and I woke up around nine feeling groggy from the Nyquil we took to help us sleep through the night (gotta beat that jet lag!). We ate corn flakes and granola sitting on the edge of the bed, since there isn’t a real table in the apartment. Then, we set off to find the Yafo port.
Yafo (also called Jaffa) is one of the oldest port cities in Israel (and that’s saying something!) and is the setting for the biblical stories of Solomon, Jonah, and St. Peter. It’s also the setting of the Greek myth of Perseus and Andromeda. According to the wikipedia page, Yafo has been continuously inhabited for the past 7,500 years.
We passed through the Yafo flea market on the way to the port, where we found some ginger tea for David’s sore throat. Then, on to the port!
The old Christian section adjacent to the port had some surprisingly steep stairs. While the stone and architecture were beautiful, many of the oldest homes were filled by touristy jewelry shops with signs like “Birthright special!” in the window, although there was one house that was authentically preserved. Simon the Tanner’s House in old Yafo is where, according to scripture, Peter the apostle received his vision to preach Christianity to the people of Israel.
We sat beside the port for awhile, watching people trying to brave the waves in a rowboat and taking in the seventy-five degree sunshine. We found the restaurant a friend had recommended us, The Old Man and the Sea, and decided to save it for later, maybe our last night in town. Then, we walked another steep path up to a park on a hill overlooking the port and a vista of Tel Aviv:
Looking down the coast at Tel Aviv.
We found the tourist center in Old Jaffa and picked up a free map, then headed home for some lunch. On the way home, we found a produce store, and discovered that, while groceries like bread, peanut butter, and cereal were expensive, produce is relatively cheap. David ambitiously bought the ingredients for a homemade Israeli salad, while I bought some Jaffa oranges and some roasted pumpkin seeds.
Once home, Dave chopped veggies for the salad while I took in the sunshine on the terrace. We tried one of the Jaffa oranges, and they were amazing. Halfway between the size of a tangerine and a regular orange, they are easy to peel and pull apart into sections. Also, they taste as sweet as mandarins, and juicier. After we ate our pb&js, we took a little siesta…
Around three we decided we should probably get moving, so we walked down to the coast to look at the beach:
We took a long walk into Tel Aviv proper to find some delicious humus ful (humus with a smooth bean dip on top). I realize this is probably pretty clichéd but my first experience with humus in Israel was eye-opening. This is what humus is supposed to taste like! Happiness…
We walked down to the beach intending to watch the sunset, but it got too cold and we had to go home. Dave snapped this pic right before we left, though:
We came home to shower, and ended up hanging out till about nine o’clock, when we realized we were hungry and needed to rush before all the restaurants closed their kitchens! Most of the restaurants close by transition into bars around nine. We’ve been too jet lagged to check out any of the bars so far, but hopefully we’ll get the chance to go out later this week.
We walked around looking for a place to eat for awhile before settling on a tiny place with six tables and multi-colored holiday lights decorating the entrance. When we asked for the English menu, the waiter said,”The food is deleecious,” and we were sold. We tried a regional variation on humus called masabaha, which is essentially humus without tahini and with fennel mashed in. It was pretty good but after my eureka moment with regular old humus earlier in the day I can’t really vouch for anything besides the original humus.
Here’s one more selfie from the top of the old Jaffa port: