This morning we woke up early to catch a free walking tour of the famous Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv. We left the apartment around nine-thirty, cutting it close to catch a ten o’clock tour. Walking through the city was a revelation: 95% of businesses were closed, there were no cars on the road, and surprisingly few pedestrians were out and about. The city was almost entirely at rest.
Dave and I enjoyed window shopping along the rows and rows of closed shops, and commented on how absent the market was of American and other international brands. There wasn’t one Starbucks, and we only saw two McDonald’s (one closed for Shabbat, one open). Dave said that might be because Israel encourages local business by imposing high tariffs on imported goods, or simply because styles (fashion, food, and otherwise) of this country are so varied that the population requires businesses that can cater to it’s unique needs.
Since we’re in Tel Aviv, a relatively young city known for it’s international tourism and industry, we’ve seen a lot of people in Western dress. But Western style is far from ubiquitous. For example, Dave and I can’t figure out why everyone here wears pants in the eighty-degree weather. In some cases it’s for modesty, but in others.. who knows?
Anyways, we ended up missing the walking tour by ten minutes, which was sort of a blessing in disguise. We decided to enjoy Rothschild Blvd., one of the main drags of New Tel Aviv, and sat down for brunch in what I can basically describe as a middle eastern tri-state style diner. Benedict’s served only breakfast food 24/7 (and it was open on Shabbat– and there was bacon on the menu!). Dave and I sat outside and split a vegan crêpe with chocolate spread on the inside and blueberry compote on top. I’ve recently resolved to cut out dairy entirely so the vegan crêpe was an awesome find! Dave sipped a cappuccino while I drank a lychee-flavored mimosa.
We walked home through the Neve Tzedek neighborhood, an artsy stretch of older homes with lots of trees and flowers. Then, we walked along the beach and spent awhile sitting on the steps watching families play in the sand. There’s a bar on the beach that looks like a lot of fun, and I’m hoping we’ll make it there before we leave in a week.
We ate a lunch of pb&j’s at home, and then took a little time to research and plan our trip for tomorrow: Jerusalem for Easter! Then, Dave got dressed to take a run, I packed my sudoku book and Kindle, and we headed down to the port. It turns out that half the city had the same idea as us, and the port/sea-walk was swamped. Dave decided to forego his run (it would have been impossible to run through those crowds), so we posted up at a coffee shop right across the street from the port. At one point, I was reading my Kindle (I’m reading a collection of short stories by Willa Cather– they’re pretty great!) when two little boys came up and tried to ask me something in Hebrew. Dave understood: they were wondering what the Kindle was!I think they thought it was a giant iPhone…They poked at the screen and then ran off to tell their parents their discovery.
We watched the sun go down and then ran home to get out of the cold. We ate some homemade Israeli salad, decided we were still hungry, and walked across the street get falafel at the only open restaurant on the street. For 10 shekels ($2.50), we got a pita with three different kinds of salad and falafel that the guy made to order. Dave explained how he had convinced himself that eating falafel every day was healthy while studying abroad in Jerusalem, “You got your vegetables, you got your protein. You got a balanced meal for $2.50.”