A jaunt around Jaffa
It is late afternoon and the sun is killing, despite a strong Mediterranean breeze, as we walked the couple of hundred metres from our hotel to the railway station Jaffa (yafo in Hebrew). Yes, Jaffa also has a railway station (Ha Tachana), which is however defunct now. Frankly, I didn’t have an inkling about this railway station until now. I do not read about the places before visiting them and let them surprise me. So, this is a nice surprise.
In its heyday the railway station was used to transport 1000s of pilgrims to Jerusalem. Now used as a place for people to come together in the evenings and also as a shopping and an entertainment centre. There are hardly any vehicles in the car park now, but would gradually fill to the brim by the time the Sun sets.
Jaffa is a beautiful, clean old town, with lots of wonderful meandering streets. It is apparently the first bit of land that Noah’s son discovered after the great flood and it is definitely worth a visit. A short walk south of the station gets us to the Jaffa flea market. Hundreds of small shops are trying to get tourists attention to their wares. Things seem to be expensive but with a reasonable bargaining skill one can get the prices a couple of notches down. I see a shop for second hand sewing machines which has all brands which I cannot even think of. The machines, I am told, come from all over the country for repair.
A left and right through the old city streets, we reach the Artist’s Colony. Almost every house, in these narrow streets is a workshop or a gallery or a studio of sorts, displaying their creations, paintings, jewellery and sculptures. A quick word of advice. Most shops open late afternoons only.
After negotiating a few streets we arrive at one of the most photographed tree in Israel !! The floating orange tree! This is essentially a work of art by Ran Morin, an Israeli artist, who likes to create art out of living trees! The live orange tree is in an earthenware container which is held a few inches above the ground by steel cables from the walls of the nearby houses. It is inspired by that great Israeli icon the Jaffa Orange. This is one of his several floating trees sculptures.
A couple posing for photos.
We see at least two couples getting themselves photographed here and other nearby places in their wedding attire! Our guide mentions that the old part of Jaffa has always been an important part of the wedding photo locations.
Restaurants at the waterfront.
Further up we reach the waterfront. It is crowded with restaurants and people. There is also a toy museum, which is closed for renovations. The port is almost 4000 years old. In fact this is the reason why Jaffa developed into a bustling community and has perhaps been inhabited continuously since then. The newer port is still used for leisure cruises. We can still see the rocks from the old port that was!
Luxury cruises at the waterfront. In the background are rocks from the old port.
The Jaffa clock tower built over 100 years ago, during the Ottoman Empire is considered to be one the seven in Israel.
And yes! Don’t forget to make a wish on the wishing bridge!
An open gym in the park by the sea… for free 24X7
The refreshing walk back along the promenade connecting Jaffa to Tel Aviv back to the hotel is indeed a fitting end to our explorations of the old biblical city of Jaffa. It is hard to believe that only a decade or so back the promenade did not exist! There are green areas for picnic and relaxation, and outdoor gym equipment for health conscious people too.
Tips:- Free tour every Wednesday at 10am starts at Tourist office in Old Jaffa. Excellent knowledgeable guide with a sense of humor who is also audible awaits you.
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