Posted by: David Stewart | June 25, 2013

Quiet day in Tel Aviv, then Back to Barcelona

These are some notes I took about our Spring 2013 trip

Tel Aviv - Jaffa

Old Jaffa

Saturday, May 4

Tel Aviv - Jaffa

Imponderable art in Jaffa

On the Sabbath, there is not as much going on in Tel Aviv, so we decided to head over to the more Arab city of Jaffa. Here we wandered through the old port, pondered the sculptures in the park and walked over to the flea market. Unfortunately, the flea market is closed in Jaffa on Saturday. Bummer. But we did find a place that had just opened called Gibberish, where we ate some salads for lunch. We then saw a nail place nearby, so Deb had her toes done while I wandered around the town some more and sipped a Guinness at a pub next door.

After our wander through Jaffa, we ate dinner at Mexicana because it was one of the only places open on Saturday, and we liked the food pretty well. Interesting choices though – the fish tacos that Deb ordered were served with sauerkraut – a bit of a difference from the raw cabbage you usually get in US.

We spent much of the evening packing up for the next leg of our trip, because it would be an early morning.

Tel Aviv - Jaffa

The famous Jaffa Flea Market is supposed to be here… just on on Saturday


Sunday, May 5

We gassed up the car and slammed out of the apartment at 6:00AM to avoid the expected delays in security at Ben Gurion airport.  Fortunately we were able to execute on all of our plans, return the rental car and get to our ticket counter with two plus hours to spare. But unlike the frustrations of arriving in Israel, our departure could not have been smoother. I was expecting considerable scrutiny of luggage and our intentions. We did get a round of Twenty Questions when we first arrived for check in, but after this, we were handed through to passport control, and there was little questioning there. “Come back again!” said the customs officer.

We flew that day through Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, which was our third visit to that city on the trip. This trip was my first experience with Star Alliance partner Turkish Airlines, and I was very impressed with their in-flight service. They offered printed menus to economy class with nice Turkish meals on all of the three flights we took with them. I would be delighted to fly with them again.

We arrived in Barcelona in the afternoon, and took the airport bus into town. Our hotel, the Ayre Hotel Gran Via was conveniently located just off of Placa Espania, and the airport bus took us right past it. But beyond its convenient location, the Gran Via had a few issues. The internet was totally nonfunctional for the first day of our stay, which really made it tough to take care of trip business. For one thing, we urgently needed to get laundry done, and we couldn’t look up where to find a place. Our SIM cards from Yoigo were of no use to us, because they could not be recharged with additional internet. So we struggled. The hotel desk gave us a map for a laundry place down Avenuda Parallel, but the listing must have been old, because the address now had a cafe. The other problem with Hotel Gran Via was that the room was really oddly shaped, with an acute angle making a chunk of the space unusable. Our internet woes were not completely solved the next day, as only one of our computers could be connected and the connection was really erratic.  On the plus side, when we commented on these issues, they did give us a free breakfast on our last day.

On this flight Sunday, we were expecting a lot of places to be closed, but surprisingly there was very little Sunday business closure that we could see. We wandered over to the Ramblas and walked about, soaking up the ambiance.

That night we had tapas at a lovely little hole-in-the-wall place we found in our previous trip last October. Just pick out the plates you like and save the toothpicks. At the end of the meal they charge you based on the number of toothpicks left, one euro per pick.


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