Tel Aviv is such a beautiful and fascinating place. I have arrived during the weekend (Friday and Saturday) and have been surprised that Israel seems more relaxed and calmer than I was expecting. Perhaps it will change with the coming of a new week today!
Friday was a perfect day. The weather was warm, the sun was shining and the atmosphere relaxed and welcoming. Ran's cousin, Netta, took me through the centre of Tel Aviv. I sipped the smoothest, most delicious coffee in a busy cafe in Jaffa, the old city. We strolled through the popular narrow streets of the first Jewish suburb, and visited a few art museums and collections, which were very interesting. We ate gelati (after we finally managed to push through to the counter to order amongst the impatient crowd!) and we wandered through the old train station, which has only very recently been renovated to a type of park and museum area. This was the first train station in the Middle East, and was abandoned for many years. Now, there is a renovated train carriage sitting on the tracks, exhibitioning past artifacts and photography inside, while brand new designer shops line the border within old sandstone buildings. Cafes and restaurants bustle with people, and free tastings of the first wine of the season were on offer for all.
Next we met up with Netta's boyfriend, Or, and we all talked about travelling as we settled down on the beach. The sun was perfect in the late afternoon, and the sand soft like in Australia. There are no waves, and we watched many beginner surfers practice on the almost still Mediterranean Sea. I felt so relaxed as I counted down the hour or so till Ran arrived.
Saturday saw a drive to Jerusalem, about 45 minutes from Tel Aviv, to have lunch with Ran's aunty and family. All the buildings in Jerusalem are built of the same material to perserve the uniformity and look of the old city. Whilst I only saw a small portion, it felt very special and unique, and I look forward to looking around there more when we go back to see the sights. Last night we were given two tickets to see Ran's cousin perform in the most amazing and extraordinary show I have ever seen. It was incredibly artistic, mixing rythmic beats, music, dancing and lighting in an outstanding exhibition. Each spectacle set a new bar that you thought could not be topped, but each time they performed something new and exceptional. We met with Gali after the show, and dined in a quaint restaurant that not only made a delicious chestnut gnocci, but couples as a flea market during the day! Everything used in the restaurant is for sale, the plates, cups, crockery, even the chairs!
It is early Sunday morning now (Australia's Monday) and I finally feel mostly over the jetlag. We have two days until we will be going to Eilat for a few nights to enjoy the sun and water of the Red Sea... I will keep you posted! (PS I will try to upload photos from the camera - I'm not sure I have the cable!)