Israel - Jaffa

Israel is a strange kind of place. Always have been. For millennia it was the passing station of anyone who was anyone, and it just reeks of history if you look in between the cracks.

In a modern society where the shoreline is occupied by big hotels obstructing the view, a place like jaffa is exactly one of these cracks, where you can peek inside the real story of the region.

Only half an hour walk from the modern center of tel-aviv, jaffa is a reminder of centuries past, with houses almost old as the sea itself, a breeze that brings to shore memories and romantic stories of old and the best authentic arab food to be found.

As I am fond of real food, made by real people, jaffa is one of my first attractions to visit when I am in tel-aviv, and there is nothing more relaxing than sitting on a nice balcony in front of the sea, the sunset caressing the waves as you sip cold arak and enjoy a grilled fish or a plate of home made humous.

In the last years there has been a revival of jaffa as a local treasure of the area, and if you are lucky you fall on one of the many musical festivals held in the city square or the old quarter seaside lawns.



There is something special about the Mediterranean sea, some energy which is responsible for many of the good and bad things that happen in the region, the ancient thoughts of Greece, the everlasting passion of Italy, the restlessness of Israel. Jaffa is one of the best ambassadors of the Mediterranean,  combining the simple lifestyle with the magic of the waves and the modern influences from the big city on its borders. 

Well, not even borders, technically jaffa is in the municipality of tel-aviv, but that is just absurd as jaffa was there since the  dawn of times, or at least seems so, and tel-aviv is a modern creation. One might even say a trend. Instead of trying to modernize jaffa and make it just another part of the city, tel-aviv would be better learning a thing or two from jaffa.

The best introduction to jaffa is taking a late afternoon walk from the north of tel-aviv, going south on the boardwalk, enjoying the sea air and the activities along the beach. If you walk all the way through the different beaches and restaurants, you will see jaffa rising up in front of you, and the bay form assures you will get the best view of the stone walls going down to the water from far away.

Approaching the entrance to the city, where the walls surrounding it were once protecting the ancient citizens, you will come to the famous 'clock' square, which like big ben is a symbol from the british mandate to Palestine, and is logisticaly situated in front of the old police station.




If you are already there, make sure you try some of the pastries of the famous 'abulafya' bakey, specializing in local stuffed crispy thick pastries called sambusak and the best pita and soft bagles around, which are eaten with zatar powder, a mixture of spices and an ancient type of plant from the moss family. Mouthwatering.

Now that your appetite has been awakened, it is time for some of that food jaffa is known for, and the long walk back to tel aviv along the now dark sea, more heard then seen, is just the thing for healthy digestion.




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