Hooked on Jaffa

By Ann Goldberg, November 11, 2011

As you stroll southwards along the Tel Aviv boardwalk, the familiar promontory of Jaffa is always in your sight. Its ancient timeless beauty unchanged, it is a perfect contrast to the busy, bustling modernity of Tel Aviv.

Jaffa is 4,000 years old, making it probably the world's oldest port. It is mentioned several times in the Bible, including its appearance as the starting point of Jonah's ill-fated voyage, when he attempted to escape from his prophetic duty before being swallowed by the enormous fish and it is also the port to which the cedars of Lebanon were shipped for building the Temple.

Local fisherman still sit patiently hauling in their catch from the Mediterranean waters, while small boats take visitors on short trips around the port and out to sea along the Tel Aviv coastline.

But big changes are afoot in the port area. A new business-leisure centre is being built in the old dilapidated warehouses which include restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries shops and theatres. But at the same time the character of the fishing port is being preserved and the fisherman continue to haul in their successes while watching the visitors enjoying themselves.

When you need a break from the White City next door, it's a joy to wander around the little hidden alleyways and cobblestone passages and come across a cosy restaurant in one and an art gallery tucked away around a corner in another. Walking along the newly extended boardwalk at sunset is unforgettable and as the lights go on around you, you can find a quiet seafront restaurant to sit and enjoy a delicious fresh fish meal while enjoying the evening sea breeze

Walk up from the port area to Kedumim Square, the main square of the Old City and see the brand new zodiac fountain which echoes the zodiac theme of Jaffa's Old City. Many streets are named after the various signs of the zodiac and tradition has it that if a bride stands on the Wishing Bridge, with her hand of her zodiac sign and stares out to sea while making a wish, it is said that it will be granted. Take a walk from here past the Wishing Bridge and up to the park and enjoy the glorious view as well as several sculptures by famous Israeli artists.

Kedumim Square is also the place to find upscale shops and restaurants and beneath the square the archaeological remains of Jaffa are being readied for viewing by the public.

Don't miss the fun of the flea market where you can find everything from junk to jewels. Hone your bargaining skills and see just how low you can get the price. The best day is Friday morning.

If you're in the area on a Wednesday, be sure to join up with the free municipality tour of Jaffa. Meet at 9.30 am at the Ottoman Clock Tower at the northern entrance to the city, across the road from the new Tourist Information office.

Last updated: 4:09pm, November 11 2011