It seems that I have started a new Thanksgiving tradition without even realizing it; not having Thanksgiving in the same place twice. In 2013, I was at home in Washington state for Thanksgiving. The year after that was up-state New York. 2015 found me taking a long weekend in Las Vegas. This year I spent Black Friday wandering around Jaffa City Israel. I’ve been here since the beginning on November, and I’ll probably be here for several more months. It’s anyone’s guess where I’ll be for Thanksgiving 2017!
Thanksgiving Dinner, Mikes Place Tel-Aviv
Apparently there is a big enough American contingent in Israel that several restaurants in Tel-Aviv were serving a “traditional American Thanksgiving Dinner.” About fifteen co-workers and I decided to head up there for dinner and see what the nightlife is like. Accordingly, we all snuck out of work about an hour early (shh, don’t tell anyone) and fought our way through Tel-Aviv traffic.
The plan was to spend Friday exploring Tel-Aviv so I went ahead and reserved a room at the Renaissance hotel. It is an older hotel that is right on the beach and a 10 minute walk to dinner. When I checked in, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had been given a complimentary upgrade to an executive room. I’d like to think it was because of my charming personality, but in reality it’s because of my platinum status with Marriott.
Dinner was good, though the restaurant’s idea of turkey stuffing has very little in common with the American version. Our waitress was from Berkley California, American football was on TV and I was surrounded by friends. It was authentic enough for me.
After dinner a few of us wandered around checking out the nightlife. It seems they get a late start here. There were clubs that didn’t even open until 11:00pm. They make up for it by going late into the night though; most of the bars and clubs stay open until 4:00am.
We had a good time after dinner, but I was back in my hotel room by 2:00am. I’ve closed enough bars over the years that I didn’t really feel any need to do so here. Besides I had a long day of playing tourist planned for Black Friday and I wanted to get an early start.
Exploring Jaffa City on Black Friday
Friday started bright and early at around 11:00am. I met a friend and we drove down the street to Jaffa City. Jaffa City is old; ancient Egyptian writings have been found that reference Jaffa City. It is also mentioned several times in the Bible’s Old Testament. It is one of the oldest port cities in the world, being in almost continuous operation for nearly 4,000 years.
The port is formed by natural reefs that create a break water, but even after upgrading in the mid 19th century, it is still not large enough to handle the large cargo ships used today. Instead, Jaffa City supports a large fishing fleet as well as pleasure crafts. The waterfront and piers are dominated with a large selection of sea food restaurants. If you head a few blocks inland, there is a large bazaar with all sorts of trinkets for sale. The graffiti artists are pretty good and have some things to say.
All in all, it was a great way to spend the day. Jaffa City is beautiful and the weather was awesome, low to mid 70’s with a nice breeze coming in from the Med. I was very comfortable in a t-shirt, but did notice quite a few locals bundled up. I guess after the 100+ summer, low 70’s would feel pretty cold.
Stay tuned for more. I went to Jerusalem last week and I still have to sort through the hundreds of pictures I took. I’ll have some pics posed by the end of the week. And I’ve got a couple more things planned before the end of the year.
Until next time!