Ricci -Lee better known as The Big Bad Wolf explored Israel. Here’s what she got up to on her adventure


The Holy Land Razzle The day arrived for my 10 day journey though Israel. Mother, father, brother and boyfriend in tow we hit the crowded and (often) dirty streets of Tel aviv to explore this country in all its historical, cultural and cosmopolitan glory. An ‘adventure’ for the senses is a more apt description of that first day in Tel Aviv. Unique smells ( often from the cat-pissed-stained streets), Interesting architecture (Tel Aviv is famous for their Bauhaus architecture), delicious food and such intense heat that I genuinely thought I was melting.

Firstly, I want to talk about the food. Tel Aviv offered up the most delicious meals I have ever had. Each restaurant surprised me with how perfect their food was. You could be sitting at a corner cafe in a seemingly mundane neighbourhood and have the best salad of your life or perhaps you could be eating at one of the many beach restaurants and stumble upon a Schwarma like no other. Plus, not only is the food delicious the portions are massive and I am not over-exaggerating. Think American sized portions- but much, much tastier. I literally rolled home after this trip.

beachIf you know anything about Israel ( or Israeli’s) you will know they love their Shuks (markets). Don’t go thinking that Israel is filled with NeighbourGood styled markets. I am talking authentic, smelly, crazy, loud markets where you will not spot a hipster for a mile. From the Hacarmel market, to the Jaffa market and Serona there are infinite amounts to choose from. Hacarmel ( Tel Aviv’s largest open-air market) offers you a more authentic Israeli experience where most people go and do their actual grocery shopping. The alley is lined with the freshest fruits and veggies, the most colourful sweets and the smelliest cheeses. It is an experience to say the least.

Serona market is certainly not your common shuk. Extremely well designed, Serona market is both inside and outside. A choice between some of Israel’s finest restaurants or some yummy on-the-go food, from chocolate covered waffles, burgers, milkshakes and nuts there is something for everyone. Even a little parooz through some of Israel’s finest boutiques. Serona market is an absolute must see for any tourist.

Jaffa ( more of a neighbourhood than just a market) offers you the perfect combination of old and new. Filled to the brim with jewellery, it will take you hours to find that perfect piece. After meandering through the market you will find yourself ogling some of the best interior design stores and boutiques.

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Day or night a couple of hours spent in Jaffa is well worth it. A tiny area that I feel most tourists do not know about is Neve Tzedek, a tiny little neighbourhood hidden in the streets of Tel Aviv. Possibly one of Tel Aviv’s oldest districts, Neve Tzedek offered a calmness not found anywhere else. Art galleries, boutiques and coffee shops lined the streets, this has become known as Tel-Aviv’s oasis of art and architecture.

The beach front is the perfect place to spend most of your days. From swimming in the bizarrely warm sea to eating your weight in watermelon. The Tel Aviv beach front may look like Berea on the sea yet there is loads on offer. Frishman and Gordon beach is where I spent most of my days though there are a throngs to choose from, including many yummy restaurants with even yummier waiters ( girls, you know what I mean).

A mandatory walk along Dizengoff street is a must for any tourist. Probably the liveliest street in Tel Aviv, Dizengoff is open till the wee hours of the morning with ‘Tel Avivians’ either having a drink with their friends or having a late night walk with their dogs. One of my favourite aspects of Tel Aviv is what a dog friendly city it is. It is not unusual to see a table of 10 having a merry time at a local bar while each of their pooches happily sit, soaking in the good life.

It is impossible or perhaps really stupid to travel all the way to Israel and not visit the holy land of Jerusalem. Whether you are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, black, white, Asian- Jerusalem is the birth place of religion and to be able to walk through the old cities streets is a once in a lifetime experience. Of course, being Jewish, my number one stop was at the Kotel ( The Western Wall). There are not many things that make me cry, but standing at the feet of this wall with people from all over the world, tears, uncontrollably started trickling down my face. There are few moments I will never forget, standing and praying at the Kotel is one of them.

Jerusalem, unlike Tel Aviv, is extremely pretty. Everything is built in Jerusalem stone giving the whole city an ethereal feel. Besides for the religious and cultural aspects it offers you, Jerusalem is like any normal city- big streets covered in restaurants and boutiques. Ben Yehuda is the go to place to experience the more secular side of Jerusalem. You will be eating alongside some of the most religious people on the one side and on the other, a hippie covered from head to toe in tattoo’s and that is exactly why I love it.

Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial museum is an absolute must see. Whether you are interested in the stories or perhaps are fascinated by architecture and design. Yad Vashem meaning ‘Museum of Martyr’s’ gives you an insight into all aspects of the Holocaust. From the beginning phases of the Nazi party to the ignorance of the western powers. You will need to spend a good 3-4 hours going through some of histories darkest moments and do not forget to enter the child memorial- it is nothing like I have ever seen.

What is great about Israel is how tiny it is. Easily fitting into the Kruger National Park, Israel can be scaled from one side to the other very easily. So go and explore different cities and beaches! We decided to do day ‘excursions’ to the upper class suburbs of Herzliya Pituach and Ramat Aviv. Perhaps a little boring compared to the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv, both are extremely pretty and classy and provide an insight into the lives of the wealthy. All in all my trip to Israel is one I will always remember. A place that I will forever hold dear to my heart and my stomach ( still trying to lose those last few pounds). I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, no matter your religion, beliefs or background.

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See what else The Big Bad Wolf gets up to here http://bigbad.co.za/