Jaffa is an ancient port city located in the southern most part of Tel Aviv. Thousands of years ago, when Tel Aviv as we know it today was merely sand dunes, Jaffa stood as one of the great ports of the Mediterranean Sea. Today Old Jaffa sits in stark contrast to the modern metropolis of downtown Tel Aviv, offering a potent Arabic atmosphere. It is a wonderful town to explore by simply wandering the old streets and alleys, with numerous flea markets dotted throughout the old quarter.
We visited Jaffa for the day having ridden bicycles along the sea front from downtown Tel Aviv. Arriving at the centre of the old quarter I immediately felt the heady atmosphere. The streets and alleys were very busy and the sprawling flea market was in full effect. The sound of the place was infectious, as locals bartered for goods so I recorded a short sound walk as I moved around one section of the flea market. As well as the bustle of people, we hear pots and pans being banged together as people looked through the various wares spread out on the floor.
A little further on we came across another market. Whereas in the previous recording the market sellers had spread their goods out on the floor, in this area the sellers all had more solid structures with parasols protecting them from the blazing sunshine. In the recording I captured we hear an interesting mix of Hebrew and Arabic.
Jaffa is also an amazing place for food. There are thousands of street-side cafes and restaurants and many serve some of the most delicious food in the region. In search of some good hummus we had been told that one particular establishment, Ali Caravan, was the Mecca of hummus. A tiny restaurant near Jaffa Port, Ali Caravan is popular with both locals and tourists and we had to queue for quite some time before being served. But it was well worth the wait, the hummus was incredible!
During our walk towards Ali Caravan we passed numerous street-side cafes, all of them full with locals drinking tea. I stopped outside one of the busier cafes and recorded the ambiance.
It’s very easy to imagine how Jaffa must have been thousands of years ago, when the port was a trade hub with boats coming and going. Today there is not much in terms of modern infrastructure and the town has a real charm that is largely due to this preservation of it’s history. The sights, smells and sounds make this a fantastic destination that vividly awakens the senses.