Saturday February 10: After our run along the Yarkon river today we head to the beach to watch Israeli folk dancing. The dance sessions take place every Saturday at 11am rain or shine. Most of the dancers look like they have been doing it for years and know the steps by heart. We enjoyed standing on the sidelines and watching the bodies in synchronized motion and immersing ourselves in the traditions of early Israel. Sandy, never being able to resist a dance, did give it a quick pitiful try as you can see in the video below.
Following this we took a walk along the boardwalk and came across an amazing exercise station on the beach with many wonderful pieces of gym equipment, some of them used our own body weight for resistance. We did a short workout and decided to incorporate this place into our own fitness regime.
By now we had almost 7 miles of running and walking for the day so we treated ourselves to a nice meal at one of the many restaurants that set up tables and chairs right in the sand. We ate and toasted each other with an ice cold beer remarking on how truly blessed we are to be living our retirement dream.
Sunday February 11: We walked three miles to a section of Tel Aviv called Florentin. This up and coming neighborhood likens itself to New York City’s SOHO. It owes its hipster vibes to the bohemian cafes and laidback bars with craft beers and an eclectic mix of ethnic restaurants. Our first stop en route took us to a post office to mail some letters in what seemed to be a non-descript shopping center. We soon discovered we were in a very significant building, the Shalom Meir Tower named after the father of its two developers, brothers Mordecai and Moshe Meir. The tower was built on the site of the first Hebrew high school in Israel which was razed, a decision which was later regretted. This was the countries first skyscraper and in 1965 when completed it was the tallest building in the middle east. A tour of the buildings exhibition spaces unfolds the Tel Aviv-Yafo story. The photos, mosaics, model houses and maps show how the city developed from Yafo beginning with the first Jewish neighborhoods and ending with the ring of cities that now surround Tel Aviv.
We spent an unexpected enjoyable hour here, never knowing that this ugly, decaying, concrete building had such an entertaining educational experience for us.
We then finally headed south to our destination of Florentin and enjoyed wandering the streets of this gritty, but hip area of town including the well known Levinsky spice market.
After looking at several different restaurants we opted for Mexican food and were rewarded by an outstanding meal with exceptional service.
Monday February 12: We have a new keep-in-shape plan that we initiated today which is run one or two miles to the beach where the outdoor exercise station is and do a workout on the machines. Then run the mile back home. We feel that this switches things up a bit along with the rowing so that we get upper and lower body strengthening. The exercise station at the beach is so impressive not only for quality and variety of equipment but the inspiration that you get from watching people of all ages doing serious workouts. For example, we watched an elderly gentleman do sit-ups on a slanted bench, he then got up with the assistance of his cane and moved to the bicep curl machine. At the other extreme you have young fit people doing extreme workouts. Everyone kind of keeps an eye on each other and will helpfully correct you or explain how to use the equipment.
It seems that different sections of the beach are designated for certain activities such as yoga, folk dancing, parallel bar gymnastics, volleyball, paddleball, dog-friendly, gay beach, windsurfing, paddle board. Walking this 8K beach promenade is a people watching delight for sure.
In the afternoon we went to see The Post starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks about the 1971 Washington Post coverage of the Vietnam War Pentagon Papers.
Tuesday February 13: The weather in Tel Aviv is either like a lamb or a lion. This morning the lion appeared with pounding rain and roaring winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour, at one point Jim thought that he felt the building shake. The patio furniture bounces around despite being piled in the leeward corner. We love watching and listening to the wild weather from our penthouse perch of wraparound five feet high windows. We just lounged on the couch and watched the olympics.
By late morning the lion departed and the lamb arrived with sunny skies and milder breezes. We opted to walk just over a mile to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The first entrance that we encountered was the new west wing designed by architect Preston Scott Cohen which opened in 2011.
Our first order of business was to have lunch at the famous restaurant Pastel which is designed as an integral part of the museum and has earned the title of best designed restaurant in a world wide competition of space design.
The food presentations are also works of art and were very tasty. Regrettably we forgot to take pictures. After Lunch we decided to concentrate todays visit in the contemporary art exhibit. The only joy we get from this art is making fun of it. We can be very irreverent with our interpretations of what we see so you may want to skip going to a modern art museum with us unless you have a good sense of humor. We will be back to visit the older section of the building at another time.
Valentine’s day, 2018: On the water with Dror who is back from Aspen, by 8am. This is number 4 of 8 lessons and we feel that it is finally coming together. See video of our first extended continuous row.
For those of you who have never done it, sculling is so much harder than it looks. It takes a lot of concentration and coordination involving multiple body parts: hands, arms, legs, back and core; not to mention head. Jim is more relaxed in the shell while Sandy needs to let go of her death grip on the oars. Today we felt modestly proud of ourselves and Dror said that we made good progress.
Pumped from such a good row we ran two miles to our beach exercise station and worked out on the machines. We then treated ourselves to a delicious healthy breakfast on the beach while enjoying the scene.
It was the perfect way to start off the day of love. In the afternoon we watched more Olympics and then early to bed as we are on the water again tomorrow at 8am.