Thursday, March 12, 2015

The old stones of Old Jaffa in Tel Aviv

Old Jaffa, or Yafo, in Tel Aviv looks as if it cannot decide whether it wants to remain in the past or live in the present. 

So while it retains its more-than-charming appearance with ancient stone buildings, stone pathways, stone churches, stone... oh, you get the drift... it has embraced modernity with elan. You will see a splatter of chic restaurants and boutique lifestyle stores all over the place but also a sprinkle of old-time shops that look equally alluring.

But shopping in Tel Aviv is expensive. The Israeli shekel converts roughly to Rs 16 but the price tags don't leave much room for splurging. Living in Israel is not a cheap proposition. Still, the neighbourood tempts you to window-shop and just casually stroll around with no agenda except to admire the place, the people and the fantastic civic infrastructure. Walking around is an absolute joy here! 

Clock Tower
Old Jaffa, that orbits around the old Clock Tower (which by the way, is a photo op by itself) also has lines of flea markets in by-lanes running parallel to each other. They magically turn into thumping bars and night clubs in the night.

But it's all good. It's completely safe. Even for women. And it took me a while to get used to the idea that a woman can walk through these lanes and bars and not get worried! When i asked my companion who is from Israel about the safety levels, he gave me a surprised smile and said, "You are funny!"

The question in itself was amusing to him because all of Israel, except maybe the borders, is safe. Tel Aviv in particular. "Women and children can walk alone anywhere at anytime here," he added, seeing that i hadn't quite understood his initial response. 
My visit was in February and we were taken by surprise by non-seasonal rains, which should have disappeared by this time. Plus, it had started snowing in Jerusalem which had made the weather a bit uncomfortable for someone from Bombay. There was a chill in the air and no number of layers was going to stop it. Still, we tried to get around as much as we could.

We went to HaTachana, the Hebrew name for the old Jaffa railway station, which was the first railway station in the Middle East! The monument has been thoroughly restored with part of the old train standing in solitude in the middle of the ground.
The Old Jaffa Railway Station in Tel Aviv
It's pretty though; pretty enough to double up as a backdrop for wedding shoots! When we were there, which was for approximately 30 minutes, we were witness to at least three wedding shoots happening in different parts of the ground. The brides were dressed in gorgeous white will-power wedding gowns and did not wince even once in the nippy air. 

The Tel Aviv beach is close-by and you can even walk to it to enjoy the setting sun alongside the beautiful promenade. 

In my next blog, you will read about how Israel was born and what that tells us about the Jews - as a community that must be admired and emulated. Meanwhile you can enjoy 12 incredible photos of Tel Aviv that will make you want to visit Israel right away!