Israel in summer, part 1: Tel Aviv, or nothing is open

I joke that we are trying to visit all the “I” countries—Iceland, Israel, etc. It’s not true, of course. We’re in no hurry to see Iraq or Iran, despite the lovely things I’ve heard about the city of Tehran.

Actually this trip was Mom’s idea. Is it a religious thing? That residual Catholicism can be hard to get over. Who knows. Mom said let’s go to Israel, so to Israel we went.
We were met at baggage by a caricature Israeli—he really reminded me of the tour guide from the Simpsons episode—fast-talking and impatient. We made it to the hotel to find it perfectly adequate despite the tour company’s attempts to upsell me—I’m glad we didn’t pay more to upgrade. Our hotel was two blocks from the beach, which is amazing. It’s really nicely integrated into the city with a boardwalk and cafes and anything else you could want.

We had dinner at a place on the beach. Great ambiance, okay food, lousy service. Don’t be in a hurry!

By the time we got in and sat for a minute it was Shabbat, and our options were somewhat limited. We walked just a tiny bit, marveling at all the stray cats in the city. They meow with no discernible accent.

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Dinner at the beach.

Saturday morning the Husband woke up feeling unwell and didn’t join us for the day. The museums Mom wanted to see were closed on account of Shabbat, and the buses weren’t running, so we walked all the way to Old Jaffa (Yafo)—about two miles—along the beach. It was really lovely. The old city is amazing and well restored. Unlike a lot of ancient sites, it’s been in constant use, which is nice to see. We attempted to visit the market on the way back, but (duh) it was closed. So we just walked back.

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A typical scene from Yafo.
It is beautiful here. Oddly more "mediterranean" than I'd expected.
It is beautiful here. Oddly more “mediterranean” than I’d expected.

We rested a long while then sought dinner around sunset—only to find that it was some kind of fast day, and NOW, even the things that had been open for Shabbat in relatively easygoing Tel Aviv were closing. Oh, you haven’t eaten since breakfast? Well too bad. We finally resorted to eating at the same restaurant from the night before. Ugh. Why weren’t we warned about the holiday? Seems like something the folks we bought the tour from might have told us.

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