Tag Archives: Shuk

Holy Land Finale: Israel – Day 6

Our last day was epically long and filled with activities and new culinary experiences.  We started by visiting Yad LaKashish, Lifeline for the Old, which is a wonderful non-profit that provides employment and social services to elderly immigrants.  The seniors make crafts and Judaica in artisan workshops and their work is sold at the very reasonably priced gift shop.  I bought an adorable, super comfy travel pillow for less than $12.  I HIGHLY recommend stopping by.

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Yad LaKashish/Lifeline for the Old

Artisan Workshop at LY

Artisan Workshop at Yad LaKashish

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Have you ever seen a cuter travel pillow? I didn’t think so.

We walked to the Old City and visited some shops in the Cardo, which is an arcaded street from Byzantine times.  The street has been reconstructed, but some ancient pillars remain, which reminded me a little of the Roman forum.

Gorgeous mosaic in the Jewish Quarter

Gorgeous mosaic in the Jewish Quarter

The Cardo leads into the Old City Shuk, which is definitely a must see because the setting is so historic, but the vendors are aggressive and most of them are selling the same touristy goods.

Shuk

Old City Shuk

Spice shop in the Muslim Quarter

Spice mountain at a shop in the Muslim Quarter

We stopped at the landmark Ja’far Sweets to try the famous Arabic pastry knafeh, which consists of cheese soaked in sweet syrup and topped with crunchy phylo bits.  The sweet cheese was not to my liking, but it was unique.

Knefah

Knafeh

We walked to the Kotel (aka Wailing Wall, Western Wall), where we had reservations for the underground tunnel tours.  The tunnels were fascinating to visit and our tour guide was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.  I definitely recommend this activity and ordering advance tickets online (thank you R.B.L. for this recommendation and other suggestions!).

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The lesser known section of the Wall

The tour left off on the famous Via Delorosa, where we saw a couple pilgrimage groups and school children.

Off the Via Del

Street off the Via Delorosa

Back in the Jewish quarter, we were fortunate to run into a porter from our hotel who took us to the obscure staircase that leads to the Old City rooftop walk.  It was cool to see families wheeling their groceries home via the rooftops.  Less exciting were the many stray cats.

Rooftop view (Dome of the Rock is in the background)

Rooftop view of Jerusalem

Rooftop walk

Rooftop walk

After leaving the Old City, we had lunch at Sabichiya on Shammai Street, which is known for having the best Sabich (an Israeli sandwich composed of pita stuffed with fried eggplant, a hardboiled egg, cucumber, tomato, and pickles topped with sauce).

Shula and sabich

Shula and sabich

We went back to Mahane Yehuda to pick up rose tea and spices.  Along the way we stopped at Marzipan Bakery and bought some of the famous chocolate rugelach to take home.

Ruglach at Marzipan Bakery

Rugelach at Marzipan Bakery

Sufganyot (for Chanukah) were everywhere!

Sufganiyot (for Chanukah) were everywhere!

We stopped at a café in Mahane Yehuda to have mint tea.

Mint tea

Mint tea

For our last dinner, we ate at Little Jerusalem, which is a dairy restaurant in the lovely garden of the Anna Ticho House Museum.  This was my favorite dining experience in Israel and if we had gone there earlier in the trip, we probably would have had repeat meals there.

Little Jerusalem/Ticho House Museum Restaurant

Little Jerusalem Restaurant at the Ticho House Museum

The salad sampler was WAY larger than I was expecting!

The salad sampler was WAY larger than I was expecting!

After dinner we went to the bar on the roof of the Notre Dame Center.  The Notre Dame Center is a stunning building, but the views from the rooftop are even more spectacular!  The bar specializes in wine and cheese, but we skipped the cheese and had some prosecco.  I found it a little odd that the menu was only in dollars, but this was actually good because I was able to pay in USD and avoid a final ATM visit.

Beautiful Notre Dame Center

Beautiful Notre Dame Center

Rooftop Bar

Rooftop Bar at the Notre Dame Center

This was the perfect end to a fabulous trip.  Shalom!

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Around Tel Aviv: Israel – Day 5

We started the day by enjoying the hotel’s complimentary breakfast buffet (similar to the Prima Kings, the Prima Tel Aviv’s buffet was outstanding).

Breakfast at the Prima Tel Aviv

Breakfast at the Prima Tel Aviv

After breakfast we walked to the Bauhaus Center on Dizengoff Street.  I was a little disappointed because I thought it was going to be an educational center, but it was a cool store (they had lot of architecture books and Tel Aviv guides, as well as cute gifts).  The center offers walking tours of Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv, but we decided to do on our own more informal version by just wandering around.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the Bauhaus architecture, but there is A LOT.  I was also surprised by how many buildings in Tel Aviv appear to be in need of renovation, but I know there are more pressing issues in Israel.

Renovated building

A well-maintained historic building

We explored the small boutiques on Shenkin Street, which I read is a Bohemian neighborhood à la Greenwich Village in the 60’s.  I could see a slight resemblance.  We decided to go back to Neve Tzedek, since we liked it so much the day before and walked through Carmel Market (Shuk Ha’Carmel) again to get there.  The food products at the Carmel Market were similar to the items sold at Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem, but the first half of the market was comprised of junk/touristy goods, which I found less interesting.

Carmel Market

Carmel Market

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Olives galore

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So many strawberries!

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Colorful fruit

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Arabic sweets

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Cosco-sized blocks of cheese

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Shiny looking dates

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Candy!

My favorite Tel Aviv neighborhood, Neve Tzedek, is known for low historic buildings and cool designer boutiques.  It was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside of the walls of Jaffa and the architecture is charming.  We stopped at a colorful home décor store called Ginger that reminded me of a mix of American Anthropologie and French Antoine et Lilli.  I wish they had a shop in the U.S.!

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Neve Tzedek

Love the little sculptures crawling up the building

Love the little sculptures crawling up this Neve Tzedek building

Ginger

Ginger home decor store

In Neve Tzedek we also visited the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre, which is a pretty complex that houses the country’s most renown dance companies (random trivia factoid, Suzanne Dellal was the aunt of HBO Girls actress Jemima Kirke…aka the one with the English accent).  We had coffee at the Israeli coffee chain Café Café, which has a location at the center.

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Café Café

We walked back to Dizengoff Street and had lunch at the fish restaurant Barbounia, which provides small salads upon seating and has a limited menu of fresh fish, served grilled or fried.  It was essential to have fish in Tel Aviv and the restaurant met all expectations.  We walked around Dizengoff Street some more and were amused by the many bridal store windows.  When it got dark, we took the train back to Jerusalem.

After checking back into the Prima Kings Hotel, we headed to the King David Hotel for drinks.  The King David is the most famous luxury hotel in Israel and is historically significant, since it was bombed in 1946 when it served as the British headquarters (this event is depicted in the book and movie version of Leon Uris’ Exodus).  The hotel was established by an Egyptian Jewish banker and is decorated in faux-Egyptian style.  It’s a lot of fun to see!  I was also impressed with the cocktails and the complimentary bar snacks.  I would definitely recommend a visit!  Coming up…our last full day in Israel.

King David Hotel

King David Hotel

This photo was taken on a different day at the back of the Mamilla Mall, but you can see the King David in the background.

The King David Hotel is the distant, rectangular building in this photo.

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Exploring Jerusalem: Israel – Day 2

On my first morning in Jerusalem, we took photos and tested the weather on our balcony.

Jerusalem in the AM

We had breakfast at the Prima King’s impressive complimentary breakfast buffet.  There were salads, vegetables, egg dishes, different types of cheeses,  breads, cereals, etc.  I have never seen such a huge breakfast selection!

Breakfast at the Prima Kings Hotel

Extensive cheese selection

After breakfast we walked to Mea She’arim, which is a Hasidic neighborhood that I had heard resembles an Eastern European shtetl.  Having been to Borough Park, Brooklyn many times, I found it less interesting than I was expecting, but there were some nice Judaica stores.

We walked from Mea She’arim to Mahane Yehuda (aka “the Shuk”), which was a visual feast!  There were 250+ vendors selling colorful produce, spices, olives, baked goods, etc.  I found it interesting that so many vendors can stay in business selling the same products right next to each other, but the market was packed, so I guess there are enough customers to go around (it was also particularly crowded because people were buying food for Shabbat).  We bought burakas and a couple prepared salads to have for Shabbat lunch the next day.

Mahane Yehuda (it was busy, so it was difficult to get a good photo)

Baby tomatoes

Exotic fruit!

Challah

Halava (sesame paste dessert)

After a falafel lunch at Moshiko on Ben Yehuda Street and some more Judaica stores (loved Danny Azoulay!), we visited the Museum of Italian Jewish Art and the attached Italian Synagogue.  The museum was in a back alley and required some assistance to find, but I am glad we did not give up.  I am very interested in Italian Jewish life and the collection of art, ranging from the Renaissance to present was lovely, though I would have liked if there was more text with the pieces.  On a related note, I HIGHLY recommend the book and movie version of “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” which is about Italian Jews on the eve of WWII.

Museum of Italian Jewish Art and Italian Synagogue

Pretty window in the building

Gorgeous historic alter in the functioning sanctuary

Nice chandelier

Italian Art

We walked to the German Colony, which is my favorite Jerusalem neighborhood because of the beautiful houses.  The main street, Emek Refaim is known for trendy coffee shops and we enjoyed coffee on the covered terrace of Caffit.  We then walked to the old and upscale neighborhood of Yemin Moshe before heading back to the hotel to change for services.

The German Colony

Caffit

Caffit

Yemin Moshe

Yemin Moshe

It was raining, so we attended services at the Great Synagogue, conveniently located next to our hotel.  The services were Orthodox and entirely in Hebrew, with an all male choir.  I cannot say it was one of my favorite religious experiences, but the synagogue has one of the largest collections of mezuzahs on display in the lobby, and I would recommend visiting for that alone (though maybe not on Shabbat).  After services we returned to the hotel for a nice Shabbat dinner, where we had made advanced reservations, since most restaurants in Jerusalem are closed on Shabbat.

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