Like most dickhead millennials, we knew almost nothing about Tel Aviv before we landed there. We’d heard that it was a bustling cosmopolitan hub in the Middle East, there were rumours of a killer live music scene, I’d discovered through work that there were a lot of hot technology start-ups flourishing there… but, on the whole, we were pretty bloody clueless. On the one hand, this was great, because it meant that we were pleasantly surprised at every turn. On the other, I think it’s a bit of a bummer that kids like us with a taste for adventure might not know the rewards they’ll reap for making the sojourn to Israel’s second largest city.
I’m not going to give you a list of historical sites and tourists attractions – you can find those lists all over the Internet. These are the little things, the wonderful and unexpected details that make Tel Aviv well worth a visit.
Where we last left off, our wonderful weekend in Ein Gedi was drawing to a close; the morning of Day 7, we polished off a second buffet breakfast, and set off on our big road trip to Sea of Galilee!
Rowan’s favourite selection from the Ein Gedi resort’s buffet breakfast was the cinnamon scrolls.
Our route: we planned to head north, circle around Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, before coming back down to Tel Aviv and returning the car at the airport. We hit the road just before 10AM, and – all going well – we were on schedule to comfortably cram everything in before the hire car return cut-off at 6PM.
Here we are, with Part Two of my Ultimate Guide to Eating in Israel (if you missed Part One, you can check out my thoughts on all the places we ate here). This time around, I’m focusing on what we ate while we were there. Consider this the “best of” two gentiles ordering from menus that were often mostly Hebrew, or only approximate translations thereof.
All the Trief Goodies That the Gentile Heart Desires
What the heck am I talking about? Well, “trief” roughly translates to “not kosher”. And I’ll start out with the caveat that this applies almost exclusively to the cosmopolitan hub that is Tel Aviv. You can read my complete beginner’s guide to kosher later in this series, but I wanted to reassure you up front that honeymooning in Israel doesn’t necessarily mean foregoing bacon with your late breakfast!
Day 6, our second day in Ein Gedi, was possibly the most memorable of our entire honeymoon. It was the day we visited the Dead Sea, and undertook our now-infamous sunrise hike at Masada. An alternative title for this post might be: “the time I almost divorced my husband because we nearly died on our honeymoon”.
Setting Out (Very Early)
If you’re not familiar, Masada is an ancient fortification on the top of an isolated rock plateau in the Southern District of Israel. Its name is a rough translation/anglicised version of the word for “fortress” in Hebrew. Our friends at Lonely Planet have an amazing guide to Masada and the Dead Sea available here, if you want to know more.
Rowan miraculously awoke early enough to get us out the door in time long before sunrise. The national park was about 15 minutes’ drive from Ein Gedi. We found it no problem (thank you again, GPS!) even though it was dark and eerily quiet. There were a couple of tour groups milling around the entrance (almost exclusively American), but we seemed to be the only ones heading up solo. We paid our 56 shekels to enter, and made our way in just as it was starting to get light.
I asked Rowan where we were headed. This was the moment that things started to turn. My dear husband pointed at the sheer fucking cliff-face immediately in front of us, and said “Up there!” so nonchalantly that I was sure that he was kidding.
He was not.
One of the best parts of travelling – no question – is the chance to sample local food. To do this experience justice, I’m going to publish a series of posts (my Ultimate Guide to Eating in Israel) to cover all facets of our culinary exploration. This is Part I: where we ate in Israel, a highlights reel.
Ah, Benedict. While it’s perhaps not the rustic local street-vendor fare you’d expect from adventurous travellers, we loved Benedict so much that we ate there no fewer than three times during our stay (read about them here, here, and here).
We discovered Benedict when we awoke, jet-lagged, at 4AM on the morning of Day 2. We flipped through the Time Out Israel magazine, helpfully supplied by the hotel. The article that proved to be our holy book – 33 More Things That Will Definitely Happen When You Move To Israel – referenced a “drunk early bird special at Benedict”. We weren’t drunk (yet), but we were certainly starving early birds. Flipping through the magazine and a quick review on Google Maps led us to the nearest location: Rothschild Blvd 29, Tel Aviv – just up the road from our accommodation.
I’ll be honest: when it comes to travel, I’ve always been a DIY kind-of gal. I’ve spent hours scouring websites for airline deals, and I’ve plunged the depths of accommodation reviews. Doing the legwork had never been an issue for me… until it came time to book a honeymoon in Israel. Holy moly. Enter the secret sauce for a honeymoon that is both unforgettable and hassle-free: an amazing travel agent.