Tel Aviv (April 27-29)
We flew from Manchester to Tel Aviv to spend a few days before picking up our tour. We arrived in the evening, so we didn't see much the first day, but we did have our first meal in Israel at a chinese restaurant.
Next morning, we walked out of our hotel and right across the road was the looming American Embassy!
American Embassy, Tel Aviv
We spent our first morning exploring the streets around our hotel. Within a short walk was a picturesque street market, the Carmel Market. It was a popular place for locals and for tourists.
After our morning stroll (and lunch) we walked along the beachfront of Tel Aviv, which was only a block from our hotel.
Tel Aviv beachfront
Our walk took us towards the old Arab town of Jaffa, but we deliberately didn't go into the town, because we knew it was included on the tour we were about to join.
The Hassan Bek Mosque built in 1916 which falls along a long disputed boundary between jewish Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa. It has been the site of many demonstrations and the occasional riot since Israel was created in 1948.
Near the mosque is the original Jaffa railway station, the Hatachana, which was the terminus for the Jerusalem - Jaffa railway line. When the railway was closed, it fell into disrepair and was eventually converted to a shopping mall.
The Hatachana, now a shopping and dining complex
We ended our afternoon walking back through some of the old streets on the edge of historic Jaffa.
The next day (which was the Israeli Sabbath) we took it VERY easy, knowing that the next day we were going to Jerusalem for out tour and we would be VERY busy. Turned out we were right.
We spent the entire day moochin up and down the beachfront, although this time we went on the opposite direction.
Giant artwork (!)
A string quartet playing mostly for fun
Entirely for fun
People just hanging out on the beach
People being energetic
And yet, this is still Israel. The country has existed for less than seventy years and it was on this beach back in 1948 that a ship carrying arms for the Israeli resistance, the Irgun, was fired upon by the newly formed Israeli government. Nineteen soldiers died during the shelling and Civil War was only narrowly avoided. This memorial reminds those who read it that although Tel Aviv is now a mediterranean resort, many died to bring the city and country into existence.