Lost in Israel: Tel Aviv to TiberiasCity Travel, Extras, Food & Wine, Israel, Tours & Attractions — By Brittany G on February 21, 2011 at 6:00 am
By Brittany Gowan, LG Foreign Correspondent
Stepping away from a cubicle job in NYC and taking a year off to write and travel, I have been fortunate enough to visit favorite destinations while also exploring new countries and cultures. My trips were scheduled to start back up in early spring but a last minute invitation to Israel sent me packing again.
Arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, I began a one-week whirlwind adventure. Tel Aviv, the first port of call, was new but familiar. The surf, palm trees, high-rise hotels, and renowned nightlife are like a postcard from South Beach but that is where the similarities end. Old Jaffa, part of modern day Tel Aviv, is an ancient seaport that time-travels visitors back 4,000 years. For Christians, this port city holds religious value as the setting for the story of Jonah and the whale.
To preserve Old Jaffa’s ornate and picturesque aura, the port is being restored and evolving into a booming area for artists and artisans. I enjoyed walking past the many art galleries and studios, while navigating a network of narrow alleyways named for zodiac signs. Find your sign, touch it, and face the sea for good luck. The local handmade wares are beautiful, well crafted, and worth a shopping stop. Impressive historical preservation, intriguing pathways that wind as you climb, and incredible panoramic views of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean make for a memorable day in Old Jaffa.
While in Tel Aviv, I was fortunate to have accommodations at the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel, conveniently located right on the beach. The staff was welcoming and my modern spacious room looked out to the sea. After a day of sightseeing, the rooftop pool is great for a relaxing dip and an expansive view. Check out late day surfers and the sunset over the water.
After a long day of touring, dinner at Boya is an excellent dining choice on the water and popular boardwalk. For starters, try the deep fried cauliflower in sweet chili sauce. My main dish was a tender beef and lamb kabob and it was delicious.
For drinks, try Haminzar, an evening hangout, loved by locals, that draws young and old characters alike. This laid back, vintage dive bar is a great place to relax, talk with friends, and meet new ones. 60 Allenby St., Tel Aviv
Traveling north up the coast, Caesarea is a great historical daytrip. Located halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, this coastal Crusader city was rebuilt by Herod the Great, over pagan ruins, and named for Caesar Augustus. Today visitors to the Caesarea National Park enjoy walking among the remains of The Theatre, Promontory Palace, and Herodian Amphitheatre. It is easy to envision how this well designed city must have looked 2000 years ago. An informative and entertaining video history of the area, available at the park theater, turns ancient ruins back into a living city. This was very helpful when I went on a walking tour of the site.
I didn’t associate wine with Israel until I visited the Tishbi Winery in the Haifa region. Atop rolling hills, this beautifully positioned winery looks out over the vineyards and deep valley. It is esthetically inviting, peaceful, and offers a wide variety of choices for wine lovers. The vine covered outdoor seating area and garden fresh dishes make staying for lunch a must. As a lover of Middle Eastern food, I can say without reservation that their tahini is by far the best I have experienced. That alone makes me hungry to return.
Tiberias ( Sea of Galilee)
For Christians, the Sea of Galilee and surrounding countryside are holy sites. Many important parts of Jesus’ ministry took place by these waters. This is where he is said to have performed the miracles of walking on water, calming the storm, and feeding the five thousand. As a Christian, my time here was very reflective and humbling. There are mountains leading down to the sea and while I was there a haze hovered over the water. Such an ethereal, spiritual setting tends to enrich your beliefs and gives a heightened sense of reality to religious teachings. The view from Mount of Beatitudes, the site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, looks out over pristine countryside and allows visitors to imagine biblical stories without modern distractions.
For dinner in Tiberias, check out Decks Restaurant. Here you can dine on a dock extending out into the water and enjoy a meaty meal at this gourmet BBQ joint. During the summer, Decks is a completely outdoor dining experience with breathtaking views of the water and distant terrain.
I stayed at The Scot’s Hotel in Tiberias, a 120 year-old luxury compound on the Sea of Galilee, looking out at the Golan Heights. The terrace has dramatic views of the sea, paths lined with herbs, and a small meditation hut that only added to my reflective experience in the Holy Land.
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