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Alternative Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a fascinating place. Strolling through its Old City – the cradle of Jewish, Christian and Muslim culture – is like walking across a set in some Hollywood blockbuster directed by Cecile B. Demille. This enclave breathes history in every stone holding up its temples and other buildings although, when it comes to travels, the capital of Israel has long been classed as a religious destination. Indeed, any pilgrimage to the Holy Land should include a fascinating tour of the city’s catacombs. In the following we reveal the most interesting spots in an alternative Jerusalem, pinpointing the bars and clubs in the renovated Mahane Yehuda market.

Adraba Books

A meeting point for the city’s literary community, Adraba Books is Jerusalem’s bookstore for anyone seeking stories that go beyond official accounts. Over and above its café – worth commending in a country which does not stand out for its espressos, macchiatos and cappuccinos – it is noteworthy for its section of art volumes and its stock of titles in foreign languages, particularly English. Sderot Ben Maimon 5

Casino De Paris

Located in the heart of Mahane Yehuda – a refurbished market filled with colourful food stalls by day, many of which become bars and clubs with live music by night – stands the Casino de Paris, formerly one of the most popular clubs among British officers stationed in Jerusalem during the nineteen twenties. A century later it is now reliving its days of glory, and can count among its die-hards a large, motley crew of night revellers. The revival is largely the brainchild of Sha’anan Streett, the vocalist of Hadag Nahash, one of Israel’s most widely acclaimed hip-hop bands, and Eli Mizrahi, the owner of the nearby Machneyuda, possibly the best restaurant in the city. 3 Mahane Yehuda Street

Gatsby

Next door to a fast-food eatery, Gatsby is half-concealed behind a drab black steel gate, lacking any sign that might denote its presence. Despite its brief history (it opened just over a year ago), it is actually Jerusalem’s first cocktail lounge to re-create the ambience of an American speakeasy from the Prohibition era. It is stunning to see their barwoman wielding the cocktail shaker. As in other locales of this kind, you can only gain access if you know the secret code of the day, or else pretend to be a strayguiri– it worked with me. 18 Hillel Street

Lev Smadar

Lev Smadar opened in 1921 and is one of the most emblematic cinemas in Jerusalem. Hidden in an alleyway in the German quarter, it is honestly more difficult to find than Wally without his striped shirt. It features American, European and Israeli independent cinema and is frequented by the city’s arty crowd. All the movies are screened in their original version and local films are in Hebrew with English subtitles. 4 Lloyd George Street

Razzouk Tattoo Studio

Lost among the winding streets skirting the Jaffa Gate lies Razzouk Tattoo, the first and only tattoo parlour in Jerusalem’s Old City. Like almost everything here, the story of Razzouk Tattoo is fascinating. The Razzouks, a family of Egyptian origin, have been tattooing since the 14th century. In those times Copts would have a small cross etched on the inside of their wrist to gain entry to churches. After settling in Jerusalem, the grandfather, Yacoub Razzouk, opened his studio in the mid-20th century. The family tradition is now furthered by his grandson, Wassim Razzouk. 31 St. George Street

Uganda

This club is ideal for dropping in on the night scene on weekdays. It has been operating for the last ten years and is one of the favourite sanctuaries of DJs involved in Israel’s electronic underground. It is also a place to feed on vinyls, graphic novels and other Israeli counter-culture publicity. It is also one of the few clubs in town where you can quaff on a pint of Taybeh, a Palestinian beer which is up there with the best German or Belgian barley beverages. 4 Aristobolos Street

Videopub

This is the only openly gay bar in Jerusalem and a winner if you want to have a memorable night in the city. If you strike it lucky, you will happen upon one of their popular thematic parties from the 80s and 90s, soirées where the punchiest hits from those two decades will sound out one after the other. And, if you get too heavily involved in the revelry, don’t be surprised if you get carried off by one of the drag queens, who will lead you onto the dance floor. You’ve been warned! 1 Horkanus Street

Yellow Submarine

Open since 1991, the Yellow Submarine is Jerusalem’s most emblematic concert hall, the venue where both good – and the best – stars (albeit, unknown here) of the eminently interesting Israel music scene have performed, as well as some of the leading international figures that have visited the country. In addition to their daily bowling schedule, this booster of local talent also hosts conferences and exhibitions, as well as being hired out for rehearsals and recording sessions. 13 Ha-Rechevim Street

Come and discover Jerusalem’s alternative scene – book your Vueling here!

Text by Oriol Rodríguez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Photos by Oriol Rodríguez, Cine Lev Smadar (© Alex Jilitsky), Uganda (© Udim), Yellow Submarine (© Uri Leshem)

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If you love healthy food, then Tel Aviv is your city

We bring you seven restaurants and bars for delicious healthy dining in Tel Aviv, from typical Israeli dishes to international eateries. Treat yourself to a superb gastronomic tour while exploring one of the most fashionable cities of the moment. Tel Aviv is a modern, cosmopoli-tan and vibrant city with excellent cultural and leisure options, good weather, lovely beaches and numerous great value-for-money restaurants where you can eat delicious healthy food.

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Neve Tzedek the Bohemian Quarter of Tel Aviv

Neve Tzedek, which in Hebrew means “home of justice”, was the first Jewish quarter to be built beyond the walls of the ancient port of Jaffa, twin to the still inexistent city of Tel Aviv (which emerged in the 1880s). From the outset, it was a place of refuge of the some of the most illustrious figures of Israeli culture. Now, a century after it was founded, its bohemian atmosphere is still in full swing. Some of the houses in this quarter are veritable monuments, built in such styles as the Bauhaus or Art Deco, while its streets are studded with cultural centres, restaurants, shops, cafés and bars you simply must visit on your stay in Tel Aviv. Here are some of the standout venues:

Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre
A must-visit spot on any art tour of Neve Tzedek. Fronted by a large mural by David Tartakover, one of Israel’s leading artists, the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre has four spaces which host performances by some of the foremost national and international dance companies. It is also the headquarters of the highly acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company. If you aren’t much moved by dance, you will certainly by stunned by the mesmerising interior plaza, the surrounding gardens or the Suzanne Café, one of the best spots in the neighbourhood to while away the afternoon chatting over a steamy cup of coffee. Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre, 5 Yechieli Street.

Dallal
It is important not only to replenish your energies, but to do so where eating is raised to the heights of pure pleasure. In Neve Tzedek, Dallal is such a place. Located in the heart of the quarter, the cuisine at this restaurant draws inspiration from both nearby Jaffa and its Arab roots, and the Mediterranean. Sheer bliss on the palate. Make a point of getting there early and have a cocktail in their enchanting outside square. Dallal, 10 Shabazi Street.

Chelouche Gallery
Dating from 1886, this was the first building to be erected in Neve Tzedek. Aharon Chelouche, a landowner, jeweller and moneychanger, was one of the leading figures in Jaffa’s Jewish community in the late 19th century. A co-founder of this neighbourhood, together with Shimon Rokach and others, the erstwhile home of Chelouche is now one of the city’s paramount art galleries. While the works on its walls are fascinating, no less so are the views of the quarter to be had from the roof terrace. Be sure to go up to the top. Chelouche House, 32 Shlush Street.

HaTachana
At the end of Shabazi Street, the main and most crowded thoroughfare in Neve Tzedek, stands HaTachana, the Hebrew name for Jaffa’s old railway station. Built in 1892, HaTachana eventually fell into disuse and was closed for years. In recent times it was restored and renovated to house a number of cafés, bars, restaurants, shops and markets, turning the former train station into one of the liveliest points both in the district and the whole city. HaTachana, 1 Kaufmann Street.

Jajo
This small wine bar, with a capacity of hardly 14 people, is sophisticated yet inviting and boasts an excellent wine list. Its standout items are imported from Spain and France, and it also features an exciting list of cocktails. It is the ideal spot for ending off a day’s sightseeing in Neve Tzedek. Jajo, 44 Shabazi Street.

Carmel Market
Carmel Market (in Hebrew, Shuk Ha'Carmel) is a must-visit landmark for anyone arriving in Tel Aviv. Located on the edge of the Neve Tzedek quarter, it is a blend of a regular market, street market and souq, and is divided into two sections. The first houses stalls selling clothing, footwear, electrical appliances, etc. often at laughable prices. The highlight of the second and far more attractive section is an area of florists’ stalls, but it also has food stalls (fruit and vegetables, meat, cheeses, breads…), and those selling spices, which provide a fascinating explosion of colour, textures and aromas. 1 HaCarmel Street.

Nachum Gutman Museum of Art
Nachum Gutman, an Israeli painter and sculptor of Russian origin, was a cardinal figure in endowing Israeli art with a style of its own. Indeed, he departed from the European influences of his masters, which he regarded as inadequate for portraying the uniqueness of his country and its landscapes. His works are on display in various public buildings in Tel Aviv and, of course, in the Nachum Gutman Museum of Art as well. Nachum Gutman Museum of Art, 21 Shimon Rokach Street.

Rokach House
The journalist Shimon Rokach was the founder of a neighbourhood which at the end of the 19th century was part of the old city of Jaffa. Built in 1887, the Rokach family home is now an interesting museum devoted to that period. It is also the home of Lea Majaro-Mintz, Shimon’s granddaughter and one of the most widely acclaimed painters and sculptors in Israel. Rokach House, 36 Shimon Rokach Street.

Be sure to discover Neve Tzedek – book your Vueling to Tel Aviv here.

Text by Oriol Rodríguez

Images by Israel Photo Gallery, Amos Gil, israeltourism, Julien Menichini

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Jaffa the Oldest Port in the World

Jaffa or Yafo, as it is known in Hebrew, is one of the oldest ports in the world. According to the Bible, it was founded by Japheth, one of the sons of Noah, after the Great Flood and it was from here, too, that Jonah set sail on his voyage, before being swallowed by a whale. Myths, legends and stories attenuated by the passage of time – the fact is that Jaffa is one of the most charming spots on Israel’s seaboard. Its narrow streets, craft stalls and views of Tel Aviv make this a magical place to wander through leisurely.

History, Artists and Street Markets

Various excavations in the area have unearthed remains dating back to 2,000 BC, making Jaffa one of the oldest active ports in the world.

After a period of splendour and its flourishing under the Ottomans, Jaffa went into a period of decline on account of the growth experienced by neighbouring Tel Aviv, which absorbed it in 1948. Today, however, it has become one of the city’s most vibrant districts.

The entrance to Jaffa is dominated by the Clock-tower, built in 1921 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Turkish sultan at the time. Radiating out from the tower are a number of streets that make up the street market. In Jaffa you can find souvenirs, craftwork and even second-hand objects. Be sure to visit the flea market, held every Sunday morning between Yefet street and the Jerusalem Boulevard. Their wares range from brick-a-brac to mid-century designer jewellery, furniture and crockery. If you won’t be visiting the quarter on a Sunday, however, rest assured all the streets make up one big bazaar where you can always pick up the odd gem any day of the week.

What’s more, the streets surrounding the market feature quaint, vintage-style restaurants with terraces where you can dip into a hummus or salad for just a few shekels.

Hub of Artists

While prices are no longer the way they once were, Jaffa is a still favourite haunt of local artists. Situated in the north of the district is the so-called Artists’ Quarter, a compact area of old Arab houses and narrow alleyways which have been turned into artists’ studios and craft workshops. One of the best known venues is the Ilana Goor Museum, an 18th-century building owned by this Jewish artist. It boasts a vast collection of ethnic art, as well as works by such established figures as Henry Moore, Diego Giacometti and Joseph Albers. And, if you’re lucky, you might bump into Ilana herself as she walks her dog through the museum.

The other major venue in Jaffa is the Old Jaffa Museum of Antiquities. Housed in a lovely 18th-century building, it features exhibits unearthed during excavations in the area itself.

A Mix of Religions

A stone’s throw from the Ilana Goor Museum stands the so-called House of Simon the Tanner where, according to the New Testament “Acts of the Apostles”, St Peter stayed. Israel is a land where various religions coexist, so don’t be surprised to find mosques, synagogues and churches in the same street. Indeed, the Catholic St. Peter's Monastery stands in Kedumim Square, underneath which we find a visitors centre, housed on the site of excavations from the Roman period. Immediately behind it and overlooking the sea is the Monastery of St Nicholas, dating from 1667, the seat of the area’s Armenian community. The quarter also has synagogues and two important mosques, notably the Sea Mosque, where fishermen traditionally go to pray, and the Mahmoudiya, dating from 1812, which serves the local Muslim community.

Make a Wish

There are two things you should not fail to do before leaving Jaffa. First, stroll through the Gan Ha-Pisga, a park sited atop Old Jaffa hill, with spectacular views over the Tel Aviv coastline.

And, lastly, you should cross the Wishing Bridge and make a wish of your own. However, make sure you do so while touching your sign of the Zodiac on the bronze statue while gazing out over the sea. It’s certain to come true.

Take a Vueling to Tel Aviv and discover the oldest port in the world.

 

Text by Aleix Palau for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Aleix Palau, amira_a

 

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