8 Free Things to Do in Tel Aviv
Get up, lazybones, and meet your guide at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at the Clock Tower in Old Jaffa for a walking tour of one of the oldest ports in the world. Jonah set out for his meeting with the whale from these shores, and Alexander the Great, Saladin, and Napoleon all left their mark here. The cobblestone lanes lead you past ancient catacombs, the Church of St. Peter, restored Turkish-period houses, artists' studios, and you'll see the wave-battered mythological Andromeda's Rock.
Could anything be more fun than exploring the city streets at night on rollerblades? Join the "Nightriders" on Sunday, at 10:30, at the Habima Theatre parking lot. The route takes about 90 minutes, on a 20 km. (12 miles) course. Call 050/848-4819 for more information.
If spinning a Frisbee is your sport, and you've tucked your favorite Disc, Hammer, or Aerobie into your suitcase, join the crowd of disc-folk at Rabin Square in front of City Hall (where Ibn Gvirol meets Frishman St.) on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m., or meet up at HaYarkon Park (enter from Rokach Blvd.) on Saturday at 3 p.m.
One of the great pleasures of Tel Aviv are the free beaches and a beautiful Promenade that runs alongside most of the strand, from the Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel to Jaffa. The stone breakwaters keep the waves at bay, making for easy bathing. The cleanest stretches of soft, golden sand are behind the Dan and Sheraton Hotels (Frishman to Gordon streets, also behind the Hilton Hotel). Swim only where there is a lifeguard.
Tranquil on weekdays, a bit crowded on Saturday, HaYarkon Park, at the northern edge of Tel Aviv, is heaven for beleaguered city slickers. The park has miles of rolling green lawns shaded by lovely trees. Wooden bridges cross the water here and there, giving access to either side. It's pleasant to bring a book to read under a tree, or visit the Rock Garden. Playgrounds for the kids abound and people watching is always fun. (Enter the park from Rokach Blvd., north of Ibn Gvirol.)
Check out the eclectic range of structures that inspire good scholarship at Tel Aviv University. Every Monday at 11 a.m. the Architecture Tour looks at buildings designed by internationally renowned architects like Mario Botta, whose intriguing Cymbalista Synagogue is a wonder. You can also see an astonishing array of sculpture by well-known Israeli artists. The University is in Ramat Aviv. For the tour, take the Einstein St. entrance.
That's the affectionate name for Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, who lived in Tel Aviv when he wasn't pioneering at a kibbutz in the Negev. You can visit the Old Man's humble home near the sea, at 17 Ben-Gurion Blvd., look into the tiny kitchen with the oilcloth-covered table, and then climb the stairs to see his well-loved library of 20,000 books. Charming, inspiring, and a real slice of Israel's history.
Did you know that Tel Aviv has the largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings in the world? At the Bauhaus Center Gallery, 99 Dizengoff St., there's an interesting display of objects in the International Style, that distinctive genre that was brought to Tel Aviv by European immigrant architects in the 1930s. The tour meets on Saturday at 11 a.m. at 46 Rothschild Blvd. (corner Shadal St).
Time Out magazine is just waiting to be picked up at any hotel. It's packed with information about everything going on in the Big Orange (a former mayor's appellation after a visit to the Big Apple). Comprehensive and very helpful.