Sunday, May 15, 2005

A day in Old Yafo

I hadn't paid Old Yafo a visit since the days in which I used to live in Tel Aviv when my long strolls along the beach front would usually draw me to the colour and the bustle of Israel's ancient port. With my mother in to visit for a few days and the weather in Tel Aviv still far from its summer oppressiveness, it seemed a perfect opportunity to head for the coast for the day.

As a new Oleh, straight out of Ulpan and just prior to joining the army, I moved with 3 friends to an apartment in North Tel Aviv which we furnished at not to great a cost, largely with pieces from the flea market (Souk HaPishpeshim). It's still doing great business, stores standing shoulder to shoulder with an eclectic variety of pieces offering a viable alternative to IKEA. I'm sure we'll be back at some stage to find some interesting objects for the house.

A good deal of thought seems to have gone into developing the ancient city in a way that is sensitive to the preservation of its character. I have a feeling that Jerusalem could learn a lot from the Yafo development company which has done a splendid job.

It is usual to find brides and grooms having their pictures taken against the background of Old Yafo. The views of Tel Aviv from the park at the top of the hill are particularly stunning.

View to Tel Aviv from Old Yafo Posted by Hello

The park is accented by Bougainvillea, Geranium and other colourful plants; the perfect blue sky and green foliage provide a wonderful natural palate.

Colourful view of the park Posted by Hello

Yafo is also renowned for its artists colony; the multitude of studios amongst the old stone buildings are a mecca for collectors and souvenir hunters. The streets are the background for many pieces, the most interesting of which was the suspended tree below - we weren't able to find an artist's name in evidence on this impressive an unusual work.

Art installation piece Posted by Hello

There is no shortage of restaraunts dotting the area but if you eat kosher then you'll be fairly limited. In a port city you'd expect fish to feature on many menus and we weren't disappointed when we sat down for a meal at Shirat Hayam, a strictly kosher fish restaraunt with views to the sea. Although the meat dishes were a little on the expensive side, the fish cost roughly what I'd expect to pay at a decent place in Jerusalem. The expertise of the the Chef in preparing our mullet, sole and red snapper was evident - highly recommended!

Yafo during the day is relatively quiet; in the evenings it livens up but is nowhere near as busy as it was prior to the intifada according to one of the shopkeepers with whom I chatted. The city is a jewel in the sprawl of Tel Aviv and is certainly worth paying a visit.


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