Carnet de voyage... by Gigi
Early April in Israël
Back since a couple of weeks already, but the memories are still vivid. As usual the journey to Israël, was an explosion of sensations... a potpourri of fragrances, colors and sounds... a medley of old and new, of history and modernness, a blend of chilling and excitment.
Eating & Drinking...
The Montefiore Boutique Hotel-Restaurant & Raphaël Resto-Bistro in Tel Aviv are no longer insider tips, yet definitely worth (re)discovering. Whether you fancy Asian fusion inspired dishes, British style afternoon tea with scones, or cocktails @night with a cool crowd, Montefiore is the place to be. At Raphaël’s, chef Rafi Cohen will embark you onto a savory sashay inspired by the oriental influences of his upbringing in Jerusalem as well as by his apprenticeships in numerous Michelin-starred restaurants in both Europe and the US. This time I also managed to have an early evening coffee at Delicatessen (Yehuda Halevi 79/81) above– a neat deli offering a fantastic outdoor breakfast or brunch... you can also buy good quality groceries, quite pricey though.
... and Lodging
Now that was a cool experience! Tried out the recently reopened Mendeli Street Hotel (good idea, Yaël). Just a few minutes away from Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade, the hotel has been designed by local Israeli artists who have succeeded in creating a clean, lean and bright environment, while maintaining the warmth that characterizes both the country and the city. The breakfast buffet is further highlight... catered by Rafi Cohen (see above). Rather than listing or describing the tasty dishes suffice to say that breakfast reservations for non-guests are sold out until August!! Finally, to make things perfect, the Mendeli Street Hotel features quite competitive prices.
Things to do...
This time around I visited two art exhibitions: a selection of Israeli art @ Tel Aviv’s art Museum. Organized in three chapters: Joint Identities, 1906–1960; Private Identities, 1960–1990; and Glocalism, 1990–2011, the exhibition translates into pictures many of the concepts coined by anthropologist and human geographer David Harvey - . This section of the museum also features an “all-embracing” and “monumental” piece of art “Lusitana”, by Portugal artist, Joana Vasconcelos - , which highlights the patterns of disruption, of blurred boundaries and sometimes subtle subversion which characterizes identity formation. Followed by “Life-Likeness” of artist Tsuki Garbian @ Rothschild Fine Art Gallery. In a nutshell, Life-likeness is about privileging the picture, the portrait of an individual over the real person... food for thought at a time where reality is distorted by our quest for paint-brushed perfection and where social media prevail. Benny & Hana, if you’re reading this thank you for taking me there (among others).
...places to see
While I have visited Tel Aviv and Jerusalem several times, Nazareth was a premiere. The city’s reputation as the hometown of Jesus of Nazareth, and hence its unique position in the Christian world, is known to most of us whether religious or not. Yet entering the city for real is a step up. Nazareth truly immerses you in history as you wander through its tight, steep streets and its many churches, among which the impressive Basilica of the Announciation. Largest city in the Northern District of the country, Nazareth is also known as the “Arab capital” of Israël. Indeed, it is home to the largest Arab community – and the largest Christian Arab population – of Israël.
To round off this first edition of Gigi’s travel journal, a few words about a historically less relevant place, but nevertheless a gorgeous spot of nature, unswayed by real estate developers : Beit Yanai Beach, North of Tel Aviv which I discovered thanks to Vanessa and Oren. Pristine and quiet under the week, Beit Yanai turns into a family resort and kite surfer paradise on weekends. Definitely worth a trip.
That’s it for now.... stay tuned for the next “carnet de voyage” in about a month time.... from the West Coast!