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.

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