When my friend Nava suggested we go to Shuk Bezalel, I agreed, not because I’m fond of shopping but because it is impossible to say no to her hypnotic enthusiasm. While Nava was browsing for colorful scarves and chatting with the merchants, I practiced my street photography, following her around like a paparazzi. From behind my lens I noticed another side of the bustling outdoor market.
Tel Aviv’s has plenty of upscale boutiques for the fashion conscious but Shuk Bezalel, it turns out, is just so much more fun. This market has been around since 1920, sharing the city’s history and integrated within it. Prices are fair, the atmosphere lively and there are plenty of options for any fashionista. It also has the dynamics and character that can never be found in hastily built malls where the turnover is high and the sales clerks always seem too sugary nice.
Here people zig- zag across side roads taking shortcuts to their favorite stall or rummage through huge jumbles of items on clearance sales. Owners sit out front swapping tales with old timers while others observe the world quietly from the back of their stores. They keep an eye out for customers, competition and shoplifters. Clothes, accessories, toys, household goods and useless trinkets jostle for attention, tempting anyone passing by. Even for me this market seem to awaken some nascent love in shopping and at the end I put down my camera and joined in.
In the vicinity there are a plethora of eating options from bourekas shops, bakeries, cafes, swarma joints, falafel stands and sabich sandwich shops. We visited café Sonya (named after Sonya Getzel Shapira, a prominent resident of the city ) nestled away from the commotion of the early morning . Sonya serves a typical Israeli breakfast, but it has the Tel Aviv bon vivre with its chic décor and shady outdoor garden. It’s a pleasant place to escape the city chaos. We also passed by another café called The Little Prince, one that seemed to have a European student vibe and where books are available while you’re waiting for coffee.
Thank you Nava for being the best Tel Aviv guide! For more pictures of the shuk please visit my other blog. Also, for tips on how to stuff grape leaves please visit Nisrine’s wonderful blog, Dinners and Dreams.
Located between King George and Bezalel Roads, Tel Aviv
Sonya Getzel Shapira Cafe
Simta Almonit 1
Open all week 9:00-24:00