Duration of the trip from 18 to 25 January 2019
We arrive in Tel Aviv and after renting a car and we leave for the Negev desert, on the border with Egypt. Final destination Ezuz.
We are fortunately able to dine in the only local café - Caffè Ezuz http://cafe-ezuz.co.il/לקוחות/- where we try lentils and other strictly vegan dishes! All accompanied by an excellent local Malbec of the winery Ramat Negev http://eng.rnwinery.co.il
We stay in a B & B without breakfast ... Chen Ezuz https://www.booking.com/hotel/il/chen-in-ezuz.it.html, very picturesque I would say, stopped in the '70s and without a restaurant as a booking claimed!
The next day on board our machine we go to the desert. The panorama is amazing! The roads are magnificent and without traffic, along the route there are expanses of solar panels and greenhouses, but before arriving at our final destination we stop at Avdat, a Nabataean city on the Incenso road that connected Petra to Gaza. The ruins are impressive and before our visit we stop to have a coffee from Aroma - famous all over the country - and a taste of cheese borek - fillo cheese cannelloni stuffed with goat cheese - the best are Turkish.
Continuing along the road we arrive easily at Mitzpe Ramon where there appears the immense crater Makhtesh Ramon that was created millions of years ago when the ocean has withdrawn to the north. It measures 45 km by 8 and reaches 500 meters deep! You can either see the ibexes of Nubia jumping from rock to rock. Spectacular!
For lunch time, considering that being Saturday, their Sabbath, and it is practically all closed, we choose the only open bistro InnSense http://www.innsense.co.il famous for teas and teas; of course I try the Fattoush typical middle eastern salad with a mix of fresh vegetables, from radishes to cucumber and feta cheese with crispy pita.We should here mention that the portions of the dishes in general and throughout the trip are very abundant.
Let's go back through other beautiful landscapes, the sky is clear, the air is fresh, the sun is warm.
In the evening, however, it is quite cold and we soon realize this, infact our new destination is a lodge in the desert
The place Khan Beerotayim https://www.beerotayim.co.il/it/ is very famous in all of Israel, Spartan but full of charm, the lodge consists of a series of small buildings where the only interior furnishings are some mattresses resting on each other and a wood stove! Dinner is served at 7:00 pm and consists of a series of vegetables, rice and lamb stew, good but essential and is eaten on low tables; in the center of the structure a fire burns with always full teapots and coffee pots from which you can serve yourself freely.
The next morning, after a good breakfast, we leave for Masada, passing through the Dead Sea.
We descend below sea level of about 400 meters and the view is surreal, in the middle of nowhere is a famous tourist resort with big hotels and very sad commercial centers, Ein Bokek. The beaches are kept very well and the water is turquoise and salty, we did not take a bath but we observed people who did it and floated reading the newspaper next to small salt concretions. Who was not immersed walked on the beach covered with mud!
We arrive at Masada, the last stronghold of Jewish resistance to the Romans who conquered it by building a ramp of carryover, still visible today, in 74 AD. The archaeological remains are very interesting but the view from up there - 450 meters above the Dead Sea level - is exciting. To get to the top there is usually a cable car that, unfortunately, was out of order and then armed with a will iron we climbed the the Snake Path! We arrived on the top almost at the end of life !!
We continue to Jerusalem through the West Bank and our prestigious navigator, just before entering the city, makes us divert ...
We enter the east of Jerusalem in a maze of streets where we get stuck in a chaotic traffic composed of trucks and collective taxis ... We remain locked for 45 minutes and finally passing the check point with a passport control performed by a beautiful armed girl with blue eyes. Finally we arrive at our Hotel. Stay Cooks http://www.staykook.com great location and perfect rooms.
Jerusalem in the evening is much more fascinating than during the day and our friend and guide Emanuela Panke, has made us discover corners that the next morning turned out to be much less suggestive. We have dinner from Eucalyptus http://www.the-eucalyptus.com run by the famous chef Moshe Basson who serves a modern reinterpretation of the biblical dishes flavored with herbs grown by himself. Suggestive location in an ancient stone building where, in summer, you can dine on the terrace enjoying the sunset. Among the proven dishes, the Maklubah - chicken, rice and vegetables - and the King Solomon cous cous with braised lamb. Do not take the tasting menu, but choose from the menu a la carte, try the Montefiore wine https://www.montefiorewines.net/yemin-moshe-red/ it's a perfect pairing with food.
The next morning we took an excursion to the highlights of the city. The Old Citadel with tourist shopsand the Haram esh-Shafir or Temple Mount, where access to the mosques and the famous Dome of the Rock is reserved only for Muslims. Lunch in a small restaurant inside the shuk, Abu Shukri known for Hummus.
In the evening we went into the Mahane Yehuda market, fantastic! I always like the markets but the Middle Eastern ones are by far the best. In this case the market in question is also an evening meeting point for the youth of the city. There are small bars and street food places where every kind of drink and food is served, from pomegranate juice to beer, from felafel to hamburgers, all seasoned with a festive atmosphere.
If you pass through the adjacent streets, you will discover famous restaurants always full, like Machneyuda where it is difficult to book and in front of it, Yudale https://www.timeout.com/israel/restaurants/yudale-barthat, incredible but true, had a place for us ... we must also say that it was just 19.30 and it was Monday. The concept is open kitchen, counter around, food and drink. All superb with a welcoming and festive atmosphere. We managed, after detailed explanations, to get a Martini cocktail and wonderful lamb chops!
I personally went back to the hotel particularly drunk ... must have been also the taste of Arak, the typical anise liqueur of the place - see Ouzo in Greece or Raki in Turkey - grape juice and anise with a high alcohol content.
Next stage Tel Aviv but before arriving in the sparkling capital we hijacked to Galilee and exactly in an archaeological park called Bet Guvrin https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/bet-guvrin-national-park/.
Too bad that our visit was very disturbed by a thousand girls squawking on a school trip! However, the tour of the quarries was worth it and then we found a refreshment in the area that has cheered up the lunch time! I tried my first Shakshouka, a typical dish of Israel made of peppers, onions and tomato in which the eggs are cooked! Fantastic, all related to hummus and labaneh - typical sour creamy cheese seasoned with oil and zaatar - https://www.facebook.com/HumusDuee/
We leave the car in Tel Aviv and our prestigious friend collects and settles us at our hotel, the Florentine House https://florentinhouse.comlocated in the street art area of the capital.
Long walk to steal the city in the evening with an aperitif in Jaffa da Puaa https://misadot.rol.co.il/sites/eng/puaaand dinner to Romano http://telavivian.com/city-guide/romano/one of the restaurants run by the famous chef Eyal Shani who often appears on television. The restaurant is hidden inside a crowded courtyard of young people located on the first floor. We eat on the balconies that overlook the downstair bar, but there is also an interior. The service is very approximate but it seems that is typical of the restaurants here. Waiters who stumble with your focaccia and barely know what they are bringing to your table. They do not use ceramic dishes but thick golden cartons on which rest your order which consists purely in open sandwiches filled with beef stews and vegetables or herring and salads, everything is very good but chaotic.
Tel Aviv is a city of many faces, located on the sea with its beaches full of people even in January. The atmosphere is lively and the contrast between the modern skyscrapers, the Bauhaus buildings - not all of them perfect -, the fluffy atelier of Florentin and the old part of Jaffa, hit decisively. The number of kiosks, bars and restaurants is impressive, very popular on Thursday evenings and on Friday for brunch. It is not a big city and so you can walk well, the alternative is the bike or the electric scooter, means of common use here, there are various sharing ... the scooter impresses me, I saw guys with the surf suit and feet naked to go to the beach on board the two wheels with the surf anchored behind! The young people from here are very sporty and well kept!
There are two important markets in the city, Carmel, a real market with kiosks and stalls of vegetables, fruit, spices, sweets and breads and the other Levinsky, made up of the finest shops where local chefs go shopping. The vegetables are fresh, fragrant with a strong flavor and they do not have a high price, the meat is beef and lamb, the fish I have not taken much into consideration since they prefer the salmon ... Near Carmel Market we stopped to drink a beer at Beer Bazar https://beerbazaar.co.il/#home-enga Dodash to be exact, and then lunch at Habasta, excellent tartare on croutons, fried aubergine on lebaneh and salad with blue cheese and hazelnuts.
After an afternoon spent in the streets adjacent to Rothschild Boulevard admiring some Bauhaus palaces and a stroll in the Neve Tzedek area, we went to dinner at Florentin House https://www.florentinhouserest.com, the Vietnamese restaurant under our hotel. The Dumpling variety is very tasty both filled with prawns and veggie as well as the Banh - small white and soft traditional Vietnamese bread - both pork and crab all accompanied by Martini cocktails that have been taught properly by Stefano.
Wake up, breakfast and tour in Jaffa, the only old part of the city. There is a market crowded with interesting shops and in particular we stop to buy perfumes from Zielinsky and Rozen where soap making is an art. The port of Jaffa is full of little restaurants and fishing boats so the kingdom of fish and chips. I recommend The Container http://www.container.org.iloutside tables and fantastic fried calamari and anchovies accompanied by Gold Star beer. The climate is perfect for walking in the alleys of the old Jaffa while admiring the art galleries.
On our last evening in Tel Aviv I reserved a dinner for Israeli "co-workers", Habanot https://www.eatwith.com/users/420093the most famous Eatwith hosts of the city. Eatwith is a portal through which you can access dinners, food tours and cooking classes in over 200 cities in the world, easily booking online and having real culinary experiences with the locals, I have been part of it for 5 years! https://www.eatwith.com/users/376634
Back to us, we were 4 Italians and 24 Israelis, the menu was very varied and plentiful, the food was washed down with vodka and red wine. The table was always crammed with saucers of all kinds, hummus, aubergines, a cream of almonds and garlic, challah the typical braid-shaped Jewish bread; and to follow meat carpaccio, beetroot and goat cheese, fish marinated with oranges and pink grapefruits. Main courses consisted of calamari cooked to perfection with lentils and a cut of beef with bone marrow presented whole cut in half.
The desserts were presented portioned on small spoons filled with chocolate cream and hazelnuts. An experience to be repeated and which I recommend to everyone.
The following morning is Friday, practically our Saturday and everyone on the beach surfing or playing beach tennis! The day is magnificent, warm and sunny. We could not find a place for brunch if you did not book it before and even parking is not easy without a garage. Let's go to the Sarona Market, located in a modern building with various dining options in various ethnic groups. Modern but less interesting than the real Carmel open-air market. It's nice to see a city like this expand upwards, the skyscrapers are impressive and built quickly sometimes at the expense of the successful technique ... But overall a long weekend past here makes you discover a part of Israel that you never imagined.
Next time I want to visit the North in the Golan for a tour of wineries and woods.
See you soon!