Archive | February, 2011

Exploring Jaffa Port

27 Feb

Tel Aviv as seen from Jaffa.

Tel Aviv as seen from Jaffa on a very windy day.

Yesterday morning Brad and I drove into Tel Aviv. Brad has been driving into work lately but he wanted to explore other routes and other parts of the city. By pure happenstance we ended up in Jaffa Port. It was Brad’s first visit to Jaffa. I’d been there twice before but had not yet visited the port area.

I found Jaffa Port full of ambience…a bit gritty and rough around the edges. A refreshing contrast to the shimmering glitzy marina of Herzliya Pituach. We found a huge nearly empty parking lot near the sea and parked for free. The wind was extremely strong today, whipping up the Mediterranean into a froth and sending sprays of water over the the seawall into the parking lot.

We began to walk towards the port in the direction of a huge warehouse. As we got closer we realized there was a Palestinian art gallery housed in the warehouse. We stepped inside to browse. The yawning space and rusting industrial fixtures added to the charm and enjoyment we had as we viewed the impressive artwork on display.

We walked on past a ramshackle fish restaurant and ship docks, pausing to take a look out into the sea to view Andromeda’s Rock where, according to Greek mythology, Andromeda had been chained. We had a brief debate as to which of the rather unassuming rocks was Andromeda’s.

We climbed up stone steps and more stone steps into Old Jaffa. As it was Saturday, most establishments were closed, including the famed Flea Market. No matter, it gave us more elbow room to wander among the winding alleys of the old city, past Crusader-era fortresses, a mosque, the lighthouse and the clock tower and into parts of Jaffa I hadn’t seen on my last two visits. We came across a modern amphitheater and saw an Ethiopian wedding party assembling for photos in front of an unusual modern gate carved out of white marble. The bride was gorgeous and the men looked snazzy in their shiny white satin suits.

We stopped for a wonderful lunch in a mezze restaurant. We each ordered a main dish. But before our main dish was served, we were presented with a bountiful array of appetizers and homemade pita bread. We had some of the best hummus I’ve ever had, two types of tahini dip, roasted eggplant, zucchini and cauliflower, oh the list goes on and on and ¬†everything was delicious. I’d ordered fish as my main course and I was curious to see what I would be served. It was listed as “Dennis” on the menu. We tried asking the waiter what kind of fish Dennis was but did not understand what he was saying. Well, whatever kind of fish, it was it was prepared wonderfully. Dennis arrived whole, encrusted with scrumptious spices, and served on a platter with roasted sweet and white potatoes. It was some kind of white fish, delicate and done to perfection.

As we headed back to the car we passed by the other side of the warehouse. Now we saw that there were several other galleries housed in the same building. I entered one space that had dozens and dozens of strips of twisted clear lucite hanging from the ceiling. The only light came from the gaping door. The lucite strips caught reflections in differing ways and depths of color. As the strips spun around they gave the sensation of movement. It was eerie yet magical and a perfect way to bring our venture into enchanting old Jaffa to a close.


Local Birds Meet Telephoto Lens

25 Feb

When we first moved to Herzliya Pituach I frequently walked¬†through the neighborhood running errands accompanied by my Nikon DSLR and its 52mm lens. Then I got my smart phone and began leaving the Nikon at home. But I kept coming across photo opportunities and my little LGKP500 just wasn’t up to the task. So, one day I attached my telephoto lens to my Nikon before running some errands, hoping I’d see something worth capturing in pixels.


Lucky me, I came across a hoopoe! Not in the most scenic spot and not in the most ideal lighting situation (shooting into bright sunlight), but I did manage a few shots before he flew away.

Hooded Crow

I knew I’d see some hooded crows; they are ubiquitous here. Some of them appear to be tamer (or bolder) than others. This guy let me come fairly close and even did a comical strut for me.

White-spectacled Bulbuls

Then I saw two bulbuls nuzzling each other atop a wire. How sweet!

I need to take my telephoto lens out for walks more often.

The Kit Next Door

23 Feb

Baxter and stray cat

Baxter catches sight of the interloper from our kitchen window

Black and White cat on our front wall

Here's lookin' at you!

Cat takes a dive

The cat takes a dive into our front yard

This little Baxter-look-a-like kitty recently set up residence in our garage where we had placed boxes emptied from the move. He took to curling up in a tall box filled with cozy packing paper, jumping out every time we entered the garage.

This week the movers came and picked up the boxes, effectively evicting the hapless kitty. Or so we thought. Today, I found him perched on our front wall. He sat there for a bit, jumped into our front yard, then sauntered through the front gate. I think he actually lives in the house on the corner.

Bin There, Dump That

22 Feb

Recycling Bins on HaNassi

That yellow bin may be the only place to recycle tin and aluminum in Herzliya Pituach

Recycling Bins on Shalwa

Paper and plastic recycling bins

Tel Aviv may soon boast one of the world’s largest and most innovative eco-parks, Ariel Sharon Park. The park will transform Hiriya, a huge waste dump just outside of Ben-Gurion Airport, into a grand recycling theme-park that some predict will become the new Stonehenge.

Even so, Israel has a long way to go to catch up to U.S. standards in recycling. At least that’s the way it appears in my neighborhood just north of Tel Aviv. Here in Herzliya Pituach there is no recycling pick-up. Citizens must tote recyclable plastic bottles, batteries, paper and tin cans to recycling bins located here and there on street corners. Attempts have been made to give the bins more aesthetic appeal, but let’s face it, they are simply eyesores. As far as I know, there is only one bin where one can recycle tin cans and aluminum products in all of Herzliya Pituach. There is no recycling of plastic bags and there are no recycling bins for glass whatsoever.

Oh, but I forgot to mention that some glass and plastic bottles are sold with a deposit for which you can get a refund at most grocery stores. Does that remind anyone else of the 50s?

Trees That Hug Themselves

21 Feb

The first time I rode down Basel Street near Hanassi in Herzliya Pituach I gasped. I’ll wager that’s the reaction the majority of people have when traveling down this street for the first time. The street is lined with statuesque ficus trees planted so close together they form a tunnel. An impressive array of ficus trees also lines several blocks of Hanassi.

These trees are ficus benghalensis or banyan trees. They produce aerial roots that reach to the ground and eventually become woody trunks that wrap themselves around the main trunk. The ficus benghalensis bears small figs that are inedible to humans but eaten by birds who then propagate the seeds.

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Weird Weather

20 Feb

Yesterday I took a drive to the local natural food store. The sky was really hazy. It looked a bit like fog. I parked the car and got out. It didn’t feel like fog. I looked up. The sun shone feebly as if from behind a gauzy curtain, pale as the moon in a cream-colored sky.

I found out later from an Israeli that what I’d seen was a sandstorm stirred up by winds from the Judean desert. Thankfully we are far enough away that we could see the storm but could not feel the sand swirling about.

Today has been a blustery rainy day. We’ve had very strong winds and intermittent torrential downpours. It’s a good thing the rain came a day after the sandstorm. If not, as I’ve been informed, it would have been raining mud.

Shadows and Light

19 Feb

sunlit living room

Baxter soaks up the sun while Lulu lurks in the shadows

click on the photo to view larger size