Tel Aviv + Istanbul
Replies: 22 - Last Post: Nov 7, 2012 2:22 AM Last Post By: catw
Oct 27, 2012 2:08 PM
In both cities, I plan to use AirBNB to find a rental. I would love neighborhoods with a healthy mix of low-key casual restaurants and bars, plus interesting history and architecture. I'm not one for loud dance clubs. I prefer quiet bars where I can talk to a bartender, meet locals, or just read by myself.
To take advantage of the sunny weather and beaches, I'm thinking of getting a place in Tel Aviv for the first few weeks as I recover from surgery. That would be my home base and I would enjoy the beach for a bit, then take a side excursions to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa, Safed and so on.
As it gets a little warmer in Turkey in late February, I thought about getting a place in Istanbul around the Cihangir neighborhood. I would have a few weeks to explore both peninsulas of the city, and maybe a side trip out to the country.
Does anyone think this is a decent plan? Anything I should keep in mind, things I definitely should do or not do? Thanks!
Oct 27, 2012 2:28 PM
1It's your plan and all those are great places, so why not?
I'll mention that given your interests Tel Aviv might be the right place for you to base; however, I'm not sure you'll be spending much time on the beach at that time of the year and Jerusalem is a far more fascinating city than TA.
Both Jerusalem and Istanbul are two of my three favorite cities in the general region (Cairo being the third).
You didn't mention it, but I assume you are flying between the two cities. That's the only way to do it given the war in Syria and politics of the region.
Oct 27, 2012 2:33 PM
2Thanks! Yeah, I would fly. But from Tel Aviv, I figure I'd take buses or trains to the other Israeli cities. I assume that's safe?
I agree, there is technically more in Jerusalem I'd like to see. But I wasn't sure if it was the kind of city you could just hang out and relax? I'd be too tempted to be seeing sites, etc, at least a first. So the beach in TA in February is a no-go? Weather.com suggested it'd be in the upper 70s.
Oct 27, 2012 2:36 PM
3January and February are definitely not beach weather in Israel! There may be days on which it's warm enough to sit on the beach for a while, but not to swim, unless you like very cold water...
Since you are interested in architecture, you probably know that Tel Aviv has the world's largest concentration of International Style (Bauhaus) buildings.
Would you rent a car, or use public transport? Public transport is generally speaking plentiful, efficient and inexpensive in Israel, but some areas are not very well served - Galilee being one of them, and a car would be useful there.
As for "definitely do or not do", what are your interests?
Good luck with the surgery.
Oct 27, 2012 2:39 PM
4Yes, it's quite safe.
I'm not a TA beach expert and was thinking more about the January part of your time there. I certainly could be wrong about that though.
As mentioned, TA may very well be the better city for you, it's just my opinion that Jerusalem would offer more over a longer period of time and provide a more convenient base for most day and short term trips around the region.
Oct 27, 2012 2:52 PM
5There seems to be a general misconception that Jerusalem, being the Holy City and all that, has nothing to offer beyond religious sites. That's absolutely not true. While of course there are plenty of those - Jewish, Christian and Muslim - there is far more to Jerusalem than holy places, and you can of course hang out and relax there as well. There's also plenty of architectural interest in Jerusalem, from all periods from Roman to 21st century, and from the sublime to the hideous, enough to keep any architecture buff enthralled!
Upper 70s in February in Tel Aviv? That's wildly optimistic. February is the coldest month, and heavy rain is very likely, although when it does rain it's usually not for more than a couple of days. See here:
Tel Aviv is definitely warmer than Jerusalem, though. It occasionally snows in February in Jerusalem, which is 2,500 feet above sea level.
Tel Aviv is a better hub for public transport than Jerusalem (with the exception of Bethlehem - the only way to get there is by Arab bus from Jerusalem). Since you won't be rushed for time, you might like to take the train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It's infrequent and slow, and the Jerusalem station is out in the middle of nowhere, but the ride is very scenic and well worth doing once.
Oct 27, 2012 2:57 PM
6I was just using this as a guide as far as weather -
I hear what you're saying, re: Jerusalem, I'm sure there are ways to relax for a low-key time. I was just a little worried there is so much there of such great religious importance that it would feel flooded with tour groups, etc, and psychologically I'd feel like there was a ton I was supposed to be doing. I think in the first 2 weeks, I just wanted to relax and take it easy, which is why the Tel Aviv beach sounded nice, but maybe the weather won't allow it.
BTW, I won't have a car in either city so I was hoping to either rent a bicycle during days, or take buses for these side trips.
Oct 27, 2012 3:04 PM
Oct 27, 2012 7:20 PM
8I love weather.com when i am in the US, but the Israeli information is like a fantasy. If I met the person who put it together my first question would be to ask if he was sober when he correlated the figures, I suggest you use the Israeli Meteorological website. It is much more accurate. ( although now i understand why I see so many freezing tourists in the winter months--they used weather.com)
http://ims.gov.il/IMSEng/All_tahazit/ --don't forget to look at the spread
and to convert all that Celsius to Fahrenheit. may I suggest
Oct 27, 2012 10:27 PM
9Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are only an hour's bus (or sherut) ride apart, so basing yourself in Tel Aviv longterm will not have that great an effect on your plans to visit Jerusalem. Public transport between the cities is excellent and very frequent at all times of the day. And I agree that, according to what you have posted, Tel Aviv would be more appropriate for you as a base. And, of course, the weather in Tel Aviv is MUCH better at that time of year.
Oct 27, 2012 11:06 PM
10The city of Tel-Aviv keeps about 5 beaches open throughout the winter, i.e. there are lifeguards present most of the day. (Note: NEVER go into the water if there is no lifeguard !!!!!!). But the beaches will be closed on rainy days and the lifeguards won't let anyone go in the water if the waves are too high (up to 20 ft. in bad weather !). The water temperature in the winter is about 60F.
Oct 28, 2012 1:29 AM
11If you intend on renting an apartment, you could base yourself in TLV taking multiple day trips to Jerusalem, Haifa, etc., all accessible by bus/train but you have enough time to also move bases at least once while you’re in Israel.
In TLV, you can join the bike shared rental program for the duration of your stay: http://www.tel-o-fun.co.il/en/
You should go to the Dead Sea area and/or Eilat on the Red Sea for a few days both for the obvious attractions and for the warmer weather.
Winters are mild in TLV compared to Europe and most of the US, but Jan-Feb are the coldest months and you’re more likely to be sitting on the beach with your clothes on, reading a book, than swimming in the sea.
As for neighborhoods in TLV, once you've looked at a few options in your price range, come back and you can get more specific results. I suggest you begin by looking at anything near Rothschild Blvd. or west of Ibn Gvirol St.
Oct 28, 2012 4:27 AM
12Tel Aviv is a small city geographically - so most of the places you stay you will be within reach of the beach, as well as neighborhood bars and eateries. Just try and stick to the West part of the city.
To be in the center, you'll want to stay south of the Yarkon River, and West of Ibn Gvirol Street. The area adjacent to the river is the called The Old North, as opposed to the urban sprawl north of the river. It's a quiet neighborhood built in the late 40s, older in terms of population, but very quiet, very treen, and on the Park. that stretches on both banks of the river.
Further south, you're hitting the center which is busier and lively, but still has a lot of quiet streets and is full of little cafes.
Going southward from the center, you may also consider the neighborhoods of Florentine (young and lively) or Never Tzedek (more artsy and pricey). Further south is Jaffa, which can also be a great option - though it's not near the center of Tel Aviv, it's got plenty of charm, is becoming very gentrified - so there are plenty of bars and restaurants and cafes.
Jerusalem is only 40-50 minutes away, Haifa about an hour, Acco a bit more than that.
You should probably book your flight on Turkish Air to Tel Aviv, and just have a layover on the way back in Istanbul.
Oct 28, 2012 10:35 AM
Oct 28, 2012 10:54 AM
14Also I have one more question - sometimes when I travel for longer periods, I like to take a class in something. It's a nice way to meet locals and interact that doesn't involve sitting on a bar stool. Is there a class in something cultural & native to Tel Aviv that would be fun? A bread-making class or something like that?
Cape TownBook now
(0 star Hotel)
From US$13.95 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$550.00 per night
Cape TownBook now
(4 star Hotel)
From US$136.63 per night