Old Tel Aviv
We left the old, historic city of Jerusalem and headed out on a day trip to the lively metropolitan city of Tel Aviv. We began our tour of this old town on the hill overlooking the downtown area that sits on the shores of the Mediterranean.
We walked across the Zodiac Bridge where each zodiac sign has a post. As you walk across the bridge, stop and put your hand on your zodiac sign and make a wish. On the other side of the bridge was a wonderful zodiac mosaic on the ground and a beautiful sculpture of all the zodiacs.
This old part of the city has become an collection of artists’ homes and galleries. The small paths through the city are adorned with decorative pieces.
We left the paths of the old town and made our way up the coast of the Mediterranean Sea towards the downtown area where we got to see the beautiful clock tower standing guard over the city.
Museum of the Jewish People- University of Tel Aviv
Next we went to the University of Tel Aviv to explore the Museum of the Jewish People. This museum is bright, engaging and really looks at the people and what being Jewish means to them.
It features a wall of famous Jewish people and includes some articles from those people. The museum has entire section dedicated to Jewish people in the world of music, movies, performing arts, sports and how that culture has influenced those areas.
While this museum is still very informative and interesting from a historical standpoint, you can tell that they also wanted to share some of the lesser known aspects of Jewish life and culture in the present day and the many differences that being Jewish means.
There was a an entire section of the museum dedicated to Jewish humor in media and how that influence has spread into popular culture. My favorite part was the recreated set of the show Seinfeld.
Another section had a large array of replicas of synagogues from different parts of the world and different eras of history. This museum was a wonderful walk through Jewish culture throughout history, but I really loved the focus on the people themselves and what that means to them and their families.
We stopped at the Carmel Market in the middle of the downtown area. After a quick lunch we walked through the market looking at all the stalls of food and spices and trinkets, loving the smells and the sounds of the market and wishing that we had more markets like this back home.
Bullet Factory Historic Site
Our last stop of the day was at the Bullet Factory Historic Site, more commonly known as the Ayalon Institute. It was 1945 and at the time, Israel was occupied by the British. Knowing that a war for their independence was on the horizon, they set out to create a store hold of ammunition so they would be prepared for when that day arrived. And so they built an underground bunker where workers could make the bullets needed. The bunker was built and completed within 3 weeks and to hide the operation a kibbutz, or small community, was built on top of it. Many of the people who lived in the kibbutz had no idea of the factory that was running under their feet. Secrecy was paramount to success and all the workers kept the secret from the other in the kibbutz including spouses.
The laundry building was atop the factory, with a washing machine that would slide forward revealing the secret staircase down to the factory.
The workers timed their entrances and exits precisely and even timed testing the ammunition with the train schedule as the train rumbled above ground from where they were. The bullet factory closed in 1948 when independence had been achieved and they no longer needed to keep the production secret. The site was restored and opened to the public in 1987 and became a national historic site. Tours through the underground factory gives a look at a lesser known part of the history of Israel in the journey for independence.
We ended the day back in Jerusalem where we wandered through the western mall area called Mamilla and then dinner at a local favorite restaurant- Hatzot Steak House which absolutely lived up to all the recommendations we heard about it.