Carmel Market, Again!

by - 3:18 PM

Israeli street cuisine - lafa, a kind of flatbread topped with hummus, boiled eggs, tehina, falafel or shawarma toppings -yum yum yum
Shabbat Shalom! It is the typical Israeli greeting on Fridays when Shabbat (or the Sabbath) is about to start at the end of the day when the moon rises. This is their ‘seventh’ day, and their Sunday. So for the Israelis, the weekend commences from Friday to Saturday (unlike for most of the rest of the world, where we have weekends on Saturday and Sunday!).

After zonking out at 9pm last night (is zonking even a word?), I was able to wake up at 6am this morning! I’m actually quite amazed that I didn’t succumb to jet lag at all. I just stayed awake until it was night and 9 o’clock was good enough to go to bed (but it was 4am Melbourne time!).

Anyhow, I got up early, and after a lovely breakfast at our hostel, I went exploring with my mom. We walked along Allenby Street and came to Carmel again. My mom was recovering from jetlag yesterday so she didn’t join me in my wanderings the day before when I stumbled upon Carmel Market, the Bauhaus City, Neve Tzedek and a few other really cool places typical to Tel Aviv! Today since it's Shabbat, the market is full of Israelis on their weekend break. Generally, I’m finding Israelis to be really kind and friendly people (apart from the occasionally hasty, grumpy bus driver perhaps). Also, they are really helpful when you do make it a point to ask a question or two if you need some advice on travelling about. I’m not sure if this is just Tel Aviv and everyone speaks English pretty much quite well (good enough for conversational style interaction), or if this is the same kind of vibe you get everywhere else in Israel. I guess I’ll have to do more travelling the next few weeks before I can say for sure what people are like here! But overall, it’s been really nice and easy to travel around. As long as you love walking, exploring and talking to people (and saying the wrong thing sometimes), it’s really such a cool place to backpack in – both as a solo traveller, with friends or even with family.

Carmel Market is probably one of the only places around Tel Aviv where you find ‘hawker-style’ characters (similar to the night markets in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok). You hear people hollering out their goods and the shekel prices or saying ‘Shalom, bevakasha!’ If I were to think in Australian terms, it probably translates to ‘G’day, please (have a look here)!’ I just love the feeling that I’m actually walking in an Israeli market. It’s so cool, I can hardly put it in words. It’s just the whole vibe and atmosphere, you know. When you hear people speaking in Hebrew, it’s so strange. Sometimes it feels like I were back in Malaysia or something, because in these parts, it’s quite a similar ‘market’ experience. But then you’d hear Israelis chatting in Hebrew or sellers shouting in Ivrit, and you’d be jolted back to the reality that wow, you’re really here in this place so, so far away from home. It’s a one-of-a-kind feeling I’ll always now identify with travelling!

Indulge in Turkish Delights at this sweets stall
A typically vibrant Israeli olives and pickled goods stall
We bought grapes and cherries for about 24 shekels and brunched at a cute little Israeli eatery called ‘Bar Okhel’ (but it’s in Hebrew letters, which I was able to read because I’ve studied Hebrew). We ordered a yummy plate of shakshuka with bread, hummus, tehina, salat hatzilim, tabbouleh and chicken kebabs. It was flippin' delicious! The chef was very nice to explain what the dishes were made of to us, and it was a pleasant first meal in Tel Aviv.

A delicious meal of hummus, shakshuka, tabbouleh, chicken kebabs and tehina with warm bread
I’m finding the Middle Eastern summer blazing HOT! By noon (or tzahorayim), the heat was near oppressive. I can’t imagine going to Eilat and the Red Sea this Sunday and living in forty-degree heat! But I’ve heard people say that it’s been one of the exceptionally hot summer days today. Amazingly, everyone appears to have flocked to the beaches along the Mediterranean coast. You see a lot of young blokes topless, and teenage girls strutting around in bikinis. It really, really reminds me of Surfers’ Paradise! It feels so good to be back in summer and escaping Melbourne’s wet winter, though. I've gotten a tan in pretty much no time at all, which is nice.

For more photos of Carmel Market, check out this album.

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