Sunday afternoon we received an email from a local guide, archeologist and big Israel lover whom we had contacted early on about a tour of Tel Aviv. She did not respond to our initial email but instead had Moshe Frank contact us and he gave us our initial tour of TLV. Apparently Dorit had heard from Moshe that we were adventurous and so she asked us if we would accompany her in her jeep to some very unique areas. We met her in Jaffa Monday morning and indeed she did take us on an exceptional tour. We drove about 30 miles south to Kiryat Gat where she showed us ancient ruins of a wine pressing site with an associated mikveh which is a ritual bath designed for the Jewish rite of purification.
We then drove to a national forest which was begun in 1956 and is now an outdoor recreation center. The Jewish community of Los Angeles raised funds for the project, and in honor of their contribution, the northern part of the forest was named Hamalachim Forest, which means the Angels Forest, true to the meaning of the city’s name in Spanish – City of Angels.
After taking a short hike through the woods and seeing remains of an old lime kiln we drove into an area that the Israeli Defense Force uses for training purposes. We drove through some large deep mud-holes and up a steep, muddy rutted road until the jeep could go no further even in low and locked in 4wd.
We then slogged through the mud to some fantastic caves where ancient people lived and worked. While viewing underground olive presses, we could hear the IDF training on their shooting range.
Dorit was a terrific instructor and archeologist, teaching us about this amazing ancient country. She is also an animated person who is so friendly and full of life. We learned all about her life, family and grand kids. We met two of her sons, one of whom met us for exploring a very large underground ancient olive pressing factory.
We drove through some new settlements and also into an orthodox Kibbutz where we were temporarily locked in.
Before returning to Dorit’s home in Rishon LeTsiyon we drove a bit along the wall separating the Palestinian West Bank from Israel.
The Nahalat Binyamin arts & crafts market located in the heart of Tel Aviv takes place every Tuesday & Friday and is one of the best places to find original handmade items from all corners of Israel.
We walked over two miles from our home to this market on a beautiful Tuesday morning. As you enter you go through security and transition from the noisy bustling streets to a pedestrian only meandering outdoor gallery with a bohemian atmosphere. The artists who ply their wares here must adhere to three main criteria: their products must be original; they have to be handmade; and the artists themselves have to commit to coming twice a week to sell their goods. We enjoyed our walk through this market backdropped by some beautiful 1920’s buildings without buying anything.
We then wandered our way home again covering over 8 miles.
Wednesday February 3 was our second sculling lesson with Dror on a picture perfect, warm, sunny day. Jim is a seeming natural at this sport while Sandy on the other hand is getting constant corrections yelled at her from the instructor but he is very handsome so she doesn’t care. Be sure to watch the video below.
After the sculling lesson we walked a few short blocks south to the free house museum of David Ben-Gurion which we feel is a must see in Tel Aviv. This is one of the homes that David Ben-Gurion, a pre-state zionist leader and then first prime minister and also defense minister of Israel, and his wife Paula lived. We really enjoyed the one hour self guided audio tour through the rooms which are all preserved in their original state with the addition of many fascinating documents and pictures on the walls.
The most amazing thing about the relatively small modest house was that it had four rooms of books containing his personal collection of periodicals and over 20,000 books, in ancient Greek, Latin, English, Hebrew, French, Turkish, German, Russian and other languages. Ben-Gurion preferred to read these books in their original languages. He died in this home in 1973 at the age of 87.
From the Ben-Gurion house we walked east on Ben-Gurion Avenue to Rabin Square continuing on to Azrieli Center which houses a large modern shopping mall at the base of three towers, one circular, one triangular and one square. Our destination was the observatory on the 49th floor of the circular tower which gave us a great view of Tel Aviv and the surrounding area.