Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Open House Tel Aviv - בתים מבפנים - Stay Home!

I have attended the annual Open House Tel Aviv (a weekend of open houses) for the past several years.  What was originally a wonderful and well-run event has become a very unpleasant experience as the organizers fail to grapple with expansion.  First, there are the venues which require registration one week prior.  The website provides the date that the registration opens but fails to provide the time (roughly 7:00 AM).  The event organizer let me in on this little secret when one year I stayed up until midnight the day before to register; according to the event organizer, the time is not disclosed on the website in order to prevent the website from crashing (not sure that her answer is the appropriate solution to the problem).  Even with the knowledge that registration begins at 7:00 AM, rarely anyone will succeed in registering for anything.  Events closed out so quickly that I actually am starting to wonder if the system is rigged.  Then, there are the "open events' where one can just show up and wait on line.  The lines literally can run around the block.  However, more aggravating is that holders of the Maximum Tel Aviv card are allowed to jump to the front of the line.  This is acceptable if one or two do that while the regular line continues to move, but at some point I realized that the regular line had come to a standstill as every few minutes one or two cardholders showed up and were allowed to jump to the head. 
Some of the venues are open to the public year-round so there is no reason to visit on the event day.  And any enjoyment from the venues that only open to the public on this particular day is negated by the horrible logistics and lack of proper organization.  The event organizers might take a page or two from Disney amusement parks which have perfected the science of lines and crowd control.  Until then, I will stay in my own comfortable house before attending another Open House!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wake Up School - amazing water sports on Lake Kinneret

We agreed to three hours on a boat trying our hand at wake boarding and wake surfing (think water skiing but with boards instead of skis), despite that none of us had any experience in water sports.  To our pleasant surprise, it was an amazing experience where everyone of all ages not only had tons of fun but succeeded!  The boat was beautiful (just sitting and enjoying the ride on the lake was lovely) and the very professional instructors were patient and helpful.   Most importantly, there is a strong emphasis on safety.  For the younger kids, the boats are also equipped with tubing.  We definitely plan on coming back to this well-run professional establishment.

Wake Up School - Kibbutz Ein Gev boat deck - www.wakeboard.co.il - reserve in advance!


Herbert Samuel at the Ritz Carlton - a culinary masterpiece

As you know by now, I am a foodie who has frequented many of the kosher restaurants in Israel.  I have had many excellent meals over the years, but my recent meal at the newly opened kosher Herbert Samuel in the Ritz Carlton Herzlyia is in a class of its own.  This is the first kosher restaurant for Jonathan Roshfeld, an Israeli celebrity chef.  Words cannot even do justice to the creativity of the dishes, the combination of interesting flavors and the impeccable service.  We asked the waiter to choose dishes that he felt would give us the best dining experience.  We sampled all sorts of beef, poultry and fish, accompanied by a variety of side dishes - nothing disappointed.  The evening was not inexpensive, but it truly was a dining experience that was well worth it.

Herbert Samuel - Ritz Carlton Herzlyia - RESERVATIONS A MUST - 073-203-7707 (hotel desk - 09-373-555)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ariel Sharon Park - garbage made beautiful

The newly opened Ariel Sharon Park was constructed on the Hiriya landfill which was in use from 1952 through 1999.  The park was built using recycled materials and is slowly expanding to become the largest park in the Middle East.  Guides provide interesting explanations regarding the history of the park, as well as the overall problems with the production of waste in the world.  It is a lovely place to walk, picnic or just spend a nice afternoon.  Currently, the park is hosting the Trash People exhibit - a travelling exhibit consisting of life size figures made entirely out of recycled materials.   Even if you don't make it to the exhibit, the park is a worthwhile destination.
Ariel Sharon Park - www.parksharon.co.il
Trash People Exhibit - www.hadran.co.il
NOTE:  Cars are left in the parking lot and buses transport visitors to the site

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nili Wine House and Restaurant - lovely place to lunch in Zichron Yaakov

Nili Wine House and Restaurant is a lovely restaurant located on the central pedestrian mall in Zichron Yaakov.  The tables located on the terraces are a perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon people watching.  The food is typical of Israeli café style but is fresh and tasty.  The pizza is a sure pleaser.

Nili Wine House and Restaurant - 43 Hamayesdim (on the pedestrian mall), Zichron Yaakov - 04-629-2899 

First Aliyah Museum

The First Aliyah Museum, located in picturesque Zichron Yaakov, depicts the challenges and hardships faced by the thousands who made Aliyah in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.  This museum contains traditional exhibits, as well as multimedia aids, to tell the story of these pioneers.  The museum is a bit dated compared to the newer museums built in Israel and may not be an exciting place for young children.  However, it is certainly an interesting place to stop as part of a visit to Zichron Yaakov.

First Aliyah Museum - 04-629-4777 - Zichron Yaakov

Friday, September 21, 2012

Beresheet - truly a five star hotel

Unlike the case of most Israeli hotels, the (very) high price of Beresheet, a hotel built on the Mitzpe Ramon crater, does correspond to an outstanding place.  The architecture and the outstanding views of the hotel will leave you breathless.  The many public areas (including beautiful outdoor and indoor pools) are beautifully done and the rooms are tastefully appointed.  The food was not great, but it was plentiful and good.  We splurged for a room that faced the crater and had a private pool.  Yes, the pools are not truly private nor very large, but we thought it worth the extra cost. 
TIP - this is a hotel where equally priced rooms are not equal.  Location of a room is very critical since some rooms are more private and further from the service road and gas station right next door.
Beresheet - www.isrotelexclusivecollection.com/beresheet/ - reservations required