Tourist Tip #327 / September at Jaffa Port: Shopping and Feasting

The one-time entry point to the Land of Israel has been transformed into a snazzy compound where you can spend hours eating, drinking and shopping.

The city of Tel Aviv has invested a great deal of money and effort into renovating the Jaffa Port, which for thousands of years has served as the entry point to the Land of Israel. With the Old City (and new one) of Jaffa spread out around it, the renovated port is no meeting point for grizzled fishermen and their odiferous catch: It's a glittering tourism venue much plied not only by foreign tourists but by Israelis as well.

Aside from restaurants that stay open all the time and boat rides, the port also hosts a wide variety of seasonal activities.

During the month of September, every Friday from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. the port is home to a farmers' market, with offerings of fresh fruits and vegetables, boutique breads, flowers, cheeses, olive oils and much more. Don't expect bargains but do expect quality.

Come Saturday, from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. the Jaffa Port hosts an arts and crafts and antiques fair. Entry is free.

We mentioned restaurants. Throughout these weekend hours the port is also a great spot for foodies, and not just at the signature fish restaurants, where a meal typically starts with salatim - the local meze. The main port building houses not boat-repairers but a wide selection of stalls offering meals ranging from can't-not-have hummus to shellfish to tapas to high-end sausages and meats. There are stalls that sell spices and nuts and stalls that sell kitchenware and stalls that sell organic produce. Boutique beers, foreign and local, and simpler quaffs, are sold in more than one spot too.

Boat trips by the Sailor yacht club and school are available on Thursdays and Fridays, but not Saturdays. For a fee you can sail out of the Jaffa Port into the Mediterranean, along the Tel Aviv coast and back. These rides aren't exactly available on demand; for clarifications call 077-212-0366. Do note that the water may be choppier than you think and these boats aren't aircraft carriers. You'll feel the waves.

Perhaps the most salient point is that if you like rubbing shoulders with a lot of people in a crowded place, the Jaffa Port is a pretty, lively and fun place to spend some hours. It's also a great place to put together gifts for the loved ones at home – spices, earrings, antique silver spoons or esoteric coins. The only thing you won't find there is cliche gifts like canned Holy Land air or sabra dolls.

Haim Yafim Berblat