Day 8: November 19—Jaffa and Tel Aviv: eat, sleep, shop

Diana C. Stoll and Jane Wooldridge   in Jaffa

Diana C. Stoll and Jane Wooldridge in Jaffa

It is an immense luxury, and a test of faculties, to change hotels daily. Without Avital’s careful planning and Yosef’s cheerful attention to how many bags each of us are hauling on a day-to-day basis there would be far more casualties than the occasional lost charger. The plus side is that we have reveled in extraordinary spaces, each with their own unique character and charm.

We started off at the David Intercontinental, overlooking the Mediterranean, then headed south to the exquisite Beresheet Hotel. I’d carried memories of the fresh honeycomb (noted in Lin’s book Solutions from the Land) in my head for five years, so to see it and taste it again was pure joy.

Diana’s written of the Austrian Hospice (room 212 has the balcony from which I watched the sunset-moonrise-sunrise-moonset). From the quiet simplicity of that well-situated abode we arrived at Mitzpe Hayamim, and here’s how immersive that was—I didn’t take a single photograph. Not one.

I was last out the door of Mitzpe Hayamim, and leaving reluctantly, though we were headed next to one of my favorite places in all of Israel—Akko. The Efendi Hotel was still in construction when Diana and Lin last visited, but it is completed now, and clearly a labor of love. From fresh roses in the room and dates on the table to the sound of the sea outside my window, every part of my hours there were divine, and restorative. All I loved in eating at Uri Buri—nuance, cheekiness, the anticipation of not knowing what delight would come next—was manifested in the space Uri Jeremias has created.

Once again, I did not want to leave. Once again, I was transported when I nestled into the cosy surrounds of the Market House in Jaffa. After a full night’s sleep, I threw open the shutters to the enveloping smell of freshly-baked bread, palm fronds caressing my balcony, and warm sunshine.

Yesterday was market day before the early closure of many stalls and shops for Shabbat, and we were on the prowl, seeking treasures. I did not think I’d been accumulating much along the way, though my bulging luggage tells me otherwise. And so the last thing I needed was another pair of boots. But Vida (handmade shoes!), where Lin and Diana had also succumbed on previous trips, was irresistible.

Jane found her treasure trove at Mors, the boutique of Mor Hamed, a graduate of Bezalel who cut her teeth at Alexander McQueen studio in London before returning to Tel Aviv. There’s a jacket there I haven’t forgotten….we’ll see how much space I can create in my suitcase.

The sun is now filtering through the courtyard at The Norman, tucked into a residential neighborhood on Nachmani Street. Its elegant décor (the glorious closet, in particular) provided the perfect setting for this morning’s photo shoot. Fresh flowers with a personal note from the manager sit to my left; espresso on my right. Saturday begins.