Israel's Good Name

Exploring Tel Aviv-Yafo

In Israel, Tel Aviv on August 2, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Wednesday (Day #3) was dedicated to Tel Aviv and Yafo (Jaffa) so it was intended to be a somewhat relaxing day, free of transportation woes. What transpired was a long day of exploration and enjoyment, however there were transportation woes as well. I had in mind to join the free walking tour of Yafo at 10:00 AM but the bus that was supposed to take me there decided not to show… so my plans were changed. When I did make it to Yafo, my first notable stop was this marvelous antiques store, with so many things I wanted to buy (including a typewriter and a banker’s lamp):

Antiques for sale!

Beyond the store, heading for the Old City of Jaffa and the Mediterranean Sea, I came upon the Jaffa “flea market”. I don’t like that name – it was more like a “awesome old things market”. I did make a small purchase there, and received a cup of cold water as well.

The Jaffa ”flea market”

From the market I reached the famous clock tower, what used to be the centre of town, and took a few photos of it. It is interesting to note that there are a few of these clock towers all built by the Turks and scattered around Israel, one of them in Akko (which oddly never works no matter how often they try to fix it…).

Jaffa clock tower

Beyond the clock tower, on a little hill, is the Old City of Yafo. A picturesque little town, similar to Tzfat (Safed), offers extreme heat and humidty… and old buildings too, as indicated by this nice man:

Welcome to the Old City of Yafo

Having been in Be’er Sheva the previous day, the humidity levels were shockingly different. I was feeling assaulted by the harsh elements, as was, no doubt, everyone around me, so I took shelter in the visitor’s centre. This cannon, “parked” outside, is from the Ottoman Empire times, somewhere between 1515 and 1917:

Historical cannon

Here is a photograph of the peaceful side alleys of Yafo’s Old City, nearly identical to those of Tzfat:

Tzfat-like alleys in Yafo

After exploring the shaded alleys, I headed out to the port area and was greeted with more heat and humidity – but also great gusts of cool air coming in off the water. Here, taken beyond the port, rounding the corner of the “cape”, is Tel Aviv and the green-blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea:

The green sea and the buildings of Tel Aviv

Climbing back up towards the Old City, I found a place to do a short panoramic shot, which came out just a tad askew:

Short panoramic of the view from Yafo

Back on the road I came across something rather peculiar. It is a large abandoned building with arched ceilings and a large population of giant fruit bats. To add more peculiarity, these humanoid statues made from palm pieces… and weird sets of wings swinging from the ceiling. I was really curious, and wanted to go inside, but the gate was locked and the bats flapped and screeched out of my reach:


As soon as I had seen just about everything there is to see in Yafo, I headed north and found the Etzel Museum. Dealing for the most part with the Jewish resistance and defence operations in the area in the late 1940s, the location of the museum directly ties into the stories and exhibits inside. The museum, built on ruins from a neighbourhood that was the site of the historical battle for control of Jaffa:

The Etzel Museum

Once inside, cool and refreshed, I indulged myself with historical data – the battles, the operations, the hierarchy and the strife with the other Jewish groups. Those times must have been quite trying!

An Etzel trainee

After the Etzel Museum, I found HaTachana, the really old train station that has been converted into a complex of restaurants, gift shops and exhibits – a popular place for tourists and locals alike. I prefer the historical aspects but they have been mostly redone and have lost some of their antique appeal. Built in 1892, the train station was the beginning of modern transportation in Israel.


After HaTachana I entered the chic Neve Tzedek neighbourhood and strolled around. I sat down on a bench and studied some maps, the sound of music emanating from a dance studio across the park. After a little while, duly exploring the area, I chanced upon this cute stencil graffitti. It reads, in English: “This is not you, it is me” spoken by the Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, with a sly grin on his face:

Street art

My next stop was the Shalom Tower where, according to one of the information pamphlets I picked up, I could watch the sun set from an observatory. The guard informed me that the observatory has been closed for some time now and that I would not be able to watch the sunset from way up high. So, in a seemingly mindless manner, I found a redeeming feature in the tower – a photographic collection of the area in the 1920s and 30s (my favourite era). Here is a old photograph of the photographer, whose name slipped my mind, sitting on the beach with Yafo in the background.

The olden days…

After seeing the collection, a gem hidden in an obsure building, I headed for the water to see the sun go down. I found a pleasant area with rocks breaking the surf, and settled in for the show. Here, in the middle stages of sunset, a wind surfer takes to the waves, giving me a pretty nice picture:

Wind surfing at sunset

With the sun gone and the full moon making its presence, I took my travels to the Allenby and Rothschild streets – getting one of the last buses back to my hosts’ quarters in Ramat Aviv. All in all, a long and eventful day of exploration, research and travel – a success story.

  1. I really like it but … Hello … To write about Old Jaffa Alleys ….” Tzfat like Alleys ” …. ?! We are lucky You Didn’t wrote ” San Geminiano ” Like Alleys !
    Jaffa’s beautiness stands for it self … With all the / my respect to Safed !
    Arik Sadan

  2. I’ve seen that abandoned building with the bats! I spent a good amount of time contemplating how to get inside

  3. Hi Dew … Sorry you mised it … You could have taken Jakob Ladder … And even Meet The Angels and Joshua !

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