After a long but pleasant flight from Toronto, I arrived in Tel Aviv, the so-called ‘White City’, impressive with its vibrancy and defining architectural style. People walk their dogs along the leafy boulevards and you can see students stopping for falafels at newspaper kiosks. Even the locals partake to noshing on the run. Everyone’s’ in a hurry and apparently hungry!
Tel Aviv is the hub of Israel with so much to offer including an ideal location on the Mediterranean Sea with wide sweeping beaches and a boardwalk that stretches for miles. Walkers and runners alike are seen throughout the day and into the evening taking advantage of the year round warm climate and gentle breezes.
An integral part of Tel Aviv life is café sitting and there is one on every corner. The locals love their ‘café hafuch’, and once introduced, I too got hooked on the brew. The coffee is outstanding!
The last decade or so has brought infusion cuisines to Israel where you can easily whet your appetite with palate pleasers. Not to be forgotten, the fast food staple of Israel is the falafel sandwich and stands are found dotted all over the busy downtown streets of Tel Aviv.
Evening at a popular local restaurant, Kimmel, where an endless number of taster dishes were brought serving up the most delightful local fare. It was an unforgettable gastronomic experience that we talked about for days after.
Although the cosmopolitan Tel Aviv is unique in its’ own right, my visit to the iconic city of Jerusalem resonated with me. The old stone walls, (which glow at sunset); embrace the ancient city defining it from the rest of Jerusalem. Beyond its’ religious shrines are ancient sites, panoramic walks and museums where you can poke around without ever overdosing. Stumbling upon hidden courtyards, and narrow cobblestone alleyways are a large part of it’s charm which beckons you back in time. This old city will not leave you unaffected.
One cannot visit Jerusalem without a stop at the Machaneh Yehuda market. This not to be missed landmark is filled with intense colors and aromas, Arabic music and a burble of languages. Here you can sit and indulge in a delish Israeli pastry as you watch the shoppers swirl by through the outstanding produce market.
‘Must’ sees and dos:
1. Wow Factor; Old Walled City – including Via Dolorosa, Tower of David
2. New and Old; Israel Museum –a visit that offers both an indoor and outdoor experience where you can view a number of modern sculptures along with ancient history.
3. Roll Away! – via a Segway tour. I, myself, thought this was kind of a corny activity but it’s a lot of fun and great way to see some of Jerusalem that wouldn’t ordinarily be accessible. Rated A+ for those with a little sense of adventure.
Jerusalem Marathon -Pre Race:
The week is quickly escaping me and has now brought our group to race-eve where we mentally and physically prepare for the big day ahead. For some, it will be their first race ever, whereas for others, it represents a notch on their belt in completing a challenging run in a monumental city. Marathon 2014 brings with it a total of 26,000 runners of all ages covering a variety of distances. Our evening is filled with anticipation as we wait for the morning ahead.
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