After our Thanksgiving dinner Thursday evening, we stayed in a Crowne Plaza hotel right on the beach. It was a standard hotel room, even a bit ragged, that we chose for location & because we got a good price on priceline. But, we had a room at the end of the corridor and Noah was impressed with the views to the west and south that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea and the beach. He kept saying that the room was “like a palace” and we enjoyed hanging out on the balcony watching the beach volleyball players on the sand and the kayakers and sailboats in the water. It was so sweet that he was so impressed with something we take for granted.

Since we were in TA on a Friday, we wanted to make sure to get to a couple of markets that are only open a couple of days a week, one of those days being Friday. After breakfast, we took a nice long walk on the tayelet (promenade) from the hotel down to Yaffo to check out the famous flea market. The walk was only supposed to take about 30 mins, but that didn’t account for a boy wanting to climb on every available rock.

Noah took this of us on hatayelet

Tel Aviv, November 2010

Noah was a good sport walking so far in 80 degree weather and we stopped along the way to let him enjoy a playground. The flea market was too hard to navigate and negotiate with a 5-yr-old, so we just soaked in the craziness and didn’t try to buy anything. To really find a treasure would take some effort getting through the first layer of junk that sits out on the sidewalk, but we weren’t about to put Noah through that. One old lady called out to Noah: “Yeled, yeled, atah rotzeh doobie?” (boy, boy, do you want a teddy bear?) Except that it was this disgusting, raggedy old thing that not even a 5-yr-old would be tricked into wanting.

We then walked over to HaTachana (the station), a former train station near the Jaffa/Neve Tzedek border that has been turned into a shopping/entertainment center and just opened this year. The city preserved about 20 of the original buildings, train tracks, and an old rail car with an exhibit inside. The main building of the former station is now an upscale souvenir shop and most of the other buildings are shops or restaurants. They have done a good job of keeping the shops local. I didn’t see any international chains and only a couple of local chains. One restaurant is on the roof of a restored villa that was the turn-of-the-century family home of a tile factory owner. On Fridays an organic farmer’s market is held, where we partook of fresh-squeezed meetz tapuzim v’ meetz rimonim (orange & pomegranate juice).

HaTachana, Tel Aviv

We continued our tour of Tel Aviv’s Friday markets by taking a cab to Nachalat Binyamin, a pedestrian mall arts & crafts market. Noah picked out a special glass dreidle for his souvenir from one of the artists.

Back in the hotel room, we took a rest and caught a special Channukah edition of Rechov Sumsum (Sesame Street).  We asked Noah how much he understood, and he said “Most of it!”  After just three months, I’m so jealous! Then we went out for a nice dinner at a restaurant on the beach. The food was modern middle eastern, with a seafood emphasis and was really good, but a couple of weird things happened. First, since the outdoor seating is on a deck on the beach, the stray cats wander around where the customers eat. I’ve seen people leave cat food out on the sidewalk or feed strays bits of food and I guess these particular cats were used to getting gourmet handouts. One cat was especially aggressive and sat on the ledge right next to our table. When we ignored him, he put his paw on Roy’s arm. Then, when Roy tried to shoo him away, he hissed at him! We obviously didn’t understand that we were in his territory. The other weird thing about this meal is that if/when you order the mezze, a waiter brings out a huge tray of about a dozen to choose from. We casually said, we’ll take all of them, thinking that the price on the menu was per person. Um, no. It was per dish. So, that was a pricier meal than expected. We are such high-rollers – “give me one of everything!” We took the leftovers back to the hotel for breakfast the next morning because we couldn’t bear to waste anything!

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