Israel Trip: Special Travel Edition Part 1 - Hertzliya
We had a whirlwind time in the holy land of Israel. From delicious kosher eats to family excursions and Secrets of a Kosher Girl media and clients, I’m going to try to capture the agenda in the blog posts by featuring each location we stayed in separately:
Day 1. We arrived late afternoon at Ben Gurion airport. After having difficulties finding a cab to fit a family and luggage of our size (b'h), we finally piled into what Israeli’s call a “Van” or what we Americans would categorize as a “Minivan”.
We arrived in Herzliya about 1.5 hrs later (traffic is typically an issue) and went straight to our Air BnB right off the beach. Seriously, the view was amazing. The apartment had an interesting layout of 3 floors, with 1 bedroom on each. Plus, it had a little sun deck on the top floor and breakfast deck on the first floor.
Luckily, there was a kosher, shower Shabbat (closed on Shabbat) restaurant on the bottom floor of the building. Its name was Ratzon and it was DELICIOUS! The salads were true Israeli style, we had a feast after starving on the airplane! You do need to be cautious in Hertziliya to ensure that restaurants are fully kosher, but there is a lot more selection than an area like Tel Aviv, especially on the beach.
We ventured onto the beach as the evening progressed (I guess we were ancy from the flight). The beaches are free of charge and super clean. The area is being built up each year and now includes a boardwalk. There are two restaurants near our entrance (not kosher), but both have a bar (one is just a bar with a small plates menu) with tasty drinks. The sunset was beautiful and we took our time coming in for the night.
Day 2. The first thing on my agenda was finding a grocery store, or “Makolet” (market). I got lost walking when in reality, there was a small shopping complex right in the area. Carrying more than I expected (as usual) I hefted the bags back to the apartment with goods to get us ready for Shabbat.
We spent the day walking about 10-15 minutes to the Marina, the area for the boats and a shopping complex with a few kosher Mehadrin restaurants. Inside the mini-mall, there is a free indoor playground for small children. After that, we decided to eat at Lechem Basaar, a meat restaurant with great reviews, since that evening began the 9 days where we could not eat meat for its duration. I got the salmon (I know, I’m the genius getting fish at a meat restaurant) and I was a little disappointed in its lack of flavor. The presentation was beautiful though. It was the first time I wish I ordered meat. My husband had a grilled chicken and the kids shared a burger and fries. The cost was pricey. Other restaurants in the area that also looked great was FRESH, where we ate at in Jerusalem (stay tuned for that post).
Because we were eating meat and would then have to wait 6 hours before eating dairy, we had to try the fresh ice cream store, Gelda, nearby. The ice cream was delicious, of course, but melted super quick in the high Israeli heat.
Shabbat Night. This was the first time I felt I truly spoiled myself personally. I knew we would be exhausted from the trip with a quick turnaround time to prep for Shabbat. So we quickly called the two hotels within walking distance to sign up for Shabbat meals. On Friday night, we went to the Daniel hotel which was about a 7-minute walk from our apartment. Because of Sephardic requirements with red meat, we didn’t eat it there. But, they had a huge buffet with many other options. It seemed they either had a Moroccan Chef and/or cater to that market (we met a lot of French Moroccan in the area) because it definitely had their vibe. I wasn’t complaining, because I love Moroccan food. Randomly, like any Jewish commercial establishment, there was also sushi. It was beautiful to have our first catered meal and we felt we truly honored in the Shabbat.
Saturday. It was such a nice coincidence that the Dan Accadia hotel was directly across the street. We decided to eat there for lunch (we priced out the two hotels and went with the cheaper option for each). We weren’t expecting their lunch not to start until 1:30 pm but we hung out in their lobby for a little. Another Moroccan themed buffet, but this time a somewhat looser interpretation, I wish I could’ve brought it back to the apartment with me. It was cute to see the chamin all separated in bowls but also fish options and tons of vegetables. Their bread selection was also impressive. And the desserts were perfectly portioned.
By the time we finished lunch, it was later afternoon. We decided to go hang out by the little pool area our building had (the Dan Accadia one was super crowded).
Day 4: Sunday. If you’ve been following our journey, you may be just as surprised as I was to learn we didn’t do anything but go chill by the beach. I thought I would want to hustle and go see everything there was to do in and around the area, but the beach was so gorgeous and easy we couldn’t turn down the temptation to not move. Even though we had our own chairs, purchasing plastic chairs and umbrellas on the beach was so easy and cheap. We stayed until really late and met up with NY friends on the beach.
Day 5: Monday. Our last day in Hertziliya didn’t end up being in Hertziliya at all! I had an exciting meet up with Jamie Geller to chat Secrets of a Kosher Girl and visit the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv for both of our first times. But first, we organized a graffiti tour that came recommended. Unfortunately, they canceled as we were on our way there. Stranded in not-the-nicest part of Tel Aviv, I pulled up a graffiti tour from the internet and we made our own way. My kids weren’t so into the experience, plus it was hot, but it made for awesome pictures!
We walked over to the Carmel Market (we kind of gave up on the whole cab idea with a family our size- it’s just easier to walk even though it was hot outside). I met with Jamie and as always, it was loads of fun! Jamie was the absolute best person to experience this with for the first time. She acclimated to the Israeli lingo and foods so well since she’s been living here. The produce was gorgeous and I loved the displays (especially the creative pomegranate ones). We also had such a cool tutorial for the making of Iraqi bread. Sadly, we had to be super careful about eating anything, even the produce, in Tel Aviv due to kosher and halachic reasons.
We headed back to Herzliya (in 2 cabs again), quickly brought our prepackaged suitcases down and met our driver (the original one with the “Van” from the airport), to head over to Jerusalem! Stay tuned…
MUST KNOW’S FOR ISRAEL-HERTZLIYA TRAVEL:
Air BnB Info: We highly recommend him! He’s so accommodating and supplied beach chairs, beach towels, milk and juice in the refrigerator and other “homey” feels. FYI- booking an air BnB for this many people saved us at least half the cost during prime season for hotels in Israel.
Cabs: Best piece of advice, ask for the business cards/numbers of the cab drivers you like, especially ones that fit your entire family. Always negotiate upfront and/or ask them to put on the meter. Ask trusted locals how much a fee should be to get somewhere in case you don’t know yourself. We did not take buses/trains because it was simply too hectic with all our little kids, but it’s great if you figure out how to do this!
ID Cards - You MUST have these on you at all times, along with your passports, for anything like renting cars and apartments or you will be charged VAT.
CHANGE- Change for SHEKS. The best thing is to do at the ATM. Make sure you check the rate beforehand on your phone before going to a CHANGE location and make sure you aren’t getting ripped off.