When I was in Israel in 2009, I thought it would be Jerusalem that made an impression on me. But while I found Jerusalem an unique experience in its antiquity, overall it was a bit too stuffy for my liking with its overwhelming religious zeal. Tel Aviv, rather, was more my speed.
My hotel was right on the beach. For an ocean-loving gal, this location could not have been more ideal.
I’ve never felt such soft sand anywhere. I tried to tread lightly over the freshly groomed terrain out of fear of sinking into and being swallowed up by the earth.
Maybe it was the overcast morning, but the beach was blissfully empty while I padded about with my camera. There are few things more than I love to having an entire beach to myself.
I did run into one guy midway through my walk. My new thing seems to be stopping unsuspecting tourists on beaches and taking self portraits through the reflection in their glasses.
Kidding! That’s actually my Canadian friend Mark, whom I randomly met in Switzerland; as these things tend to happen only to me, our paths crossed again in Israel just two months later.
After breakfast, I rejoined my tour group and we moseyed on down past the surfers’ beach and to the ancient port city of Jaffa.
Jaffa is believed to be one of the oldest cities in the world, though has since become a part of Tel Aviv.
It was an interesting contrast to see the cosmopolitan skyline of Tel Aviv just beyond the ancient stone walls.
There isn’t a whole lot to do there once you’re through wandering the labyrinth of tight, steep, windy ways.
Truth be told, aside from tasting the best falafel I’ve ever put in my mouth, Jaffa proved to be a bit anticlimactic. But it did offer a varied perspective on Tel Aviv from the park at its peak.
Tel Aviv as a whole was a great place to just chill out. Plus, it had some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. Whereas in San Francisco, with our magnificent light, the sky changes from fiery orange to dusty pink each late afternoon like clockwork, Tel Aviv was afire in brilliant shades of yellow and black.
It was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed.
Even the locals don’t seem to tire of it. Can’t say I would either if I lived there.
Stunning shots (as usual). I’ve been to Israel a few times and when I describe it to people I never talk about the beaches – but your photos have reminded me that they are incredible.
I felt a little uneducated, geographically, when I got to Israel because I didn’t expect pretty beaches let alone water that bright. You think Israel, you think ancient architecture, desert, Jerusalem. Tel Aviv was such a departure from everything I saw elsewhere in the country!
Great photographs, I am really itching to get over to Israel and explore. Your photos just intensify that desire more! How perfect you got to enjoy the beach to yourself, and that sunset looks alright…well pretty awesome actually 😉
You should! Just be wary: If you book yourself in a tour, do your research on the guide before you go. We had a *terrible* one who ruined a lot of my trip for me…but I had free time without him in Tel Aviv, which is perhaps why it was my favorite part of the experience =)
As you know, I’m not much for visiting cities so it’s really fun to travel with you. I like the old stonework and the artistic metal over the windows. And that sunset, WOW!
Beautiful photos! They make me want to visit Tel Aviv and wiggle my toes in that extra-soft sand.
Gorgeous! I didn’t even know I wanted to go to Tel Aviv until just this moment.
Haha, I didn’t either until I was already there! I was surprised how cosmopolitan it is…not that I’m at all a partier (I like to be in bed by 11!), but it has quite the nightlife scene, too…or so I hear! The food is great, as well.
The sunset pictures are beautiful. Israel is one of my favorite places- so old and so new at the same time…
I wish I’d had a better experience there…we had a terrible tour guide who got into yelling matches with everyone in my tour group! But I loved Tel Aviv and really liked some of the nature, such as the Negev Desert and the Ramon Crater…even Jerk Face couldn’t ruin THAT for me =)
Wow, gorgeous ocean sunset photos!
a) That iron-work over the windows in the alley needs to be copied in some future, abstract mansion of a house we’re going to purchase one day.
b) How do you possibly come up with enough material to post THREE TIMES every single week? And have it be great content each time? sheesh..
Aww, I’m blushing! Though something tells me you may be biased… =)
Sorry Kristin, I agree with SVV…I continue to be amazed by your posting magic. AND I feel like my list of future destinations grows with every post of ours I read. While I thank you for that (!), my bank account does not.
Haha, well thank you…I think =)
A wonderful collection of photos! I’ve never seen sand quite like that. Isn’t it interesting how beach sand can be so different in different parts of the world?
Yes, very! And then places like Hawaii, that people often think of more as “beach destinations,” are more laden with black and volcanic rock than velvet-y, yellow sand like Tel Aviv.
Beautiful shots Kristin! Can’t wait to visit Israel one of these days
Kristin, like you said I wasn’t expecting Tel Aviv to have beautiful beaches but these photos look really great. I guess that is one more reason to visit the city. I have heard the food and the shopping are great.
You heard right! I bought a couple of really cool articles of clothing in Tel Aviv at streetwear shops, and I’m not even a streetwear kind of girl! And the food was delicious.
Can you expand on “overwhelming religious zeal” at all? I’m curious to hear your take on that.
I met a Kiwi couple last month who just spent 3 years living by the Sea of Galilee. They’ve connected me with a Christian guest house and I’m seriously considering going to spend some time serving there. What an amazing country to experience!
Basically, I felt that in Jerusalem religion was suffocating and religion forced upon you–it was a flashback to my horror years growing up in the Southern Baptist Church where our minister made us “kidnap” friends who weren’t saved, bring them in to church then embarrass them in front of the whole congregation (shortly after our church went this more radical route, my family and I joined a non-denominational church instead). I think religion should be a choice, and how people choose to participate or express themselves spiritually should also be a choice. In Jerusalem, it didn’t feel like a choice. That said, of course there were some gorgeous churches I really enjoyed, the 15 stations of the cross and Via Dolorosa were interesting, and the Wailing Wall was moving.
Overall, though, I felt very trapped in Jerusalem. The hordes of tourists everywhere you look didn’t help that feeling either. Tel Aviv just felt more contemporary and more spread out. I could breathe there.
Thanks for sharing that. As for your Southern Baptist horror years, yikes! I would have left too. I definitely agree that people should be free to choose what they believe. Interestingly enough, I picked up an Israeli hitchhiker coming back from a tramp yesterday. When I asked him about his belief, he shared a similar adverseness towards “religion.” It led us to a great discussion about belief and meaning in life.
I’ll definitely have to visit Tel Aviv if I make it to Israel someday 🙂
Next time you go to Israel-go hiking in the mountains up north. A whole different world. Plan to go camping and make sure you try rappeling the waterfalls and go on the water hikes- the best hikes I have ever been on. Yehudiya- very Israeli- and really awesome.
Being a Christian and all I should really want to go to Israel, but I don’t. Not at all. Seems like lots of sand and heat and … boring.
Ahhhhhh, I wanta go oh so bad!!! Gorgeous pics!
Beautiful shots! I have a good friend from college from Israel who’s been inviting me over to visit… but I have Indonesian passport and it can get a little tricky to get in there. One of these days though 🙂
Your photography skills blow my mind- but I particularly love the surfers watching the sets come in and the staircase photos. First of all- dumb me, I had no idea there was a break or waves there… good to know! I could totally see myself watching surfers there. And, Bob’s mom is a flight attendant and her favorite place in the world is now Tel Aviv. She tells us so many stories about the people, the food, the shops- I can’t wait to get there myself.
Aww–thanks, Jade! You’re so sweet.
I think the surfing there is relatively well known in the Middle East and maybe even in Southern Europe, but I don’t know why you’d hear about it here, seeing as you’re surrounded by some of the best surfing in the world! It’s like how I’m so into diving and didn’t know there’s a fairly famous dive spot, Ein Avdat, not far from where I was traveling on the Red Sea–and I didn’t even get to check it out! Next visit…
I love your blog and travels. I’m considering going to Israel in September of this year. Can you tell me when you went to to the desert did you stay in those ancient, (eco-friendly designed) huts?
If yes, can you book online?
i think they are in Negev ?
I will be travelling from Australia (not sure where you’re from) but any other recommendations are greatly appreciated.
Am very inspired now. Itchy feet.
ps what camera do you use?
We stayed in the Isrotel Ramon Inn (http://www.isrotel-eilat-hotels.co.il/en/Negev-Desert-Isrotel-Ramon-Inn.asp). It was a bit of a bizarre place as it felt more like a massive community center, but there was a restaurant, large pool and other facilities on hand–and it was just about 10 minutes away from the crater in town.
As far as what camera(s) I use, all my photography equipment is here:
Beautiful selections of photos! Thinking of heading to Tel Aviv myself next year *fingers crossed* 🙂