In Jaffa and in Neve Tzedek

Our hotel, David Intercontinental, sits next to the Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhood, Neve Tzedek. And that is where we headed for breakfast.

The neighborhood is a cluster of mostly decaying old dwellings, narrow streets, and tiled roofs. It is undergoing a major urban renewal, and has a potential to become one of Tel Aviv’s most charming neighborhoods. Several old houses have already been restored; there are new boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. A friendly dog-walker recommended the breakfast place she was heading to, and we followed her and her dog to Cafe Dallal. Cafe Dallal turned out to be a charming bakery with great pastries, an antique mirror, an outdoor garden, and cool people. We gobbled our chocolate croissants and apple with poppy seed rolls, sipped our cappuccinos, and ogled the customers.

After this most pleasant breakfast experience we walked to Jaffa to check out the daily flea market. The central square of the market is packed with booths selling unbelievable junk. It was sad to see people so poor that they were actually buying terribly worn clothes and beat-up shoes. But radiating from the middle square were streets with antique and vintage shops alternating with newly arrived hip shops and art galleries. That was how the flea market we visited in Paris must have looked like before it was turned into an upscale antique shopping mall. Here in Jaffa, the market was still authentic. And here, in one of the shops, I bought an English porcelain chamber pot decorated with painted roses. Now, all cleaned up, it will no longer be hidden in the darkness under a bed, but will grace a shelf in my office.

From the flea market we took a taxi to an industrial area in South Tel Aviv to an art exhibit called “Fresh Paint.” The exhibit features contemporary artists who have not yet arrived and I seriously doubt they ever will. That said, the prices they command for their art are in the thousands. I don’t understand how they come up with these prices and who pays it! Whatever happened to the starving artists who sell their art for nothing? If they can actually sell a piece a month, they are financially set.

The last event for the day was a small piano recital in the basement of one of the new and beautiful apartment blocks in Jaffa. We really know how to pack our days, don’t we?

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