Ever thought of taking your kids to a place you’ve lived in to revisit it through their eyes?
I did that on our recent trip to the ancient city of Jaffa with my two teen sons.Over the course of a rainy afternoon, we ended up having fun and even learned a few pointers along the way.
Set the Mood
We set off from our Renaissance Hotel on the Tel Aviv promenade on a lazy afternoon to explore the beautiful town of Old Jaffa. My initial plan was to coax the boys to walk there (20-30 minutes leisurely affair) but decided against it, since my autistic son was not having the best of days, and his younger brother was in his usual teenage, solemn mood. So, instead of arguing over that we just hopped into a cab and asked to be dropped off at the clock in the heart of old Jaffa.
Sweeten the deal with snacks
It was the last day of Hanukkah, and the local bakery was still offering sufganiyot which are very similar in form and texture to the American donuts— so I treated my kids a quick snack before starting our stroll.Our sensory food tasting experience, however, didn’t stop at the bakery. Soon after, we passed by the famous bakery Abu Lafia (where I used to come every lunch time) and shared my all- time- favorite sesame bagel with za’atar.
Keep your stories short
As we continued up Yeffet Street, I pointed out my old high school Tabeetha on the left side of the street, right next to the French high school (and across from the now-defunct French hospital.) Last May, Jeffrey and I walked in and chatted with my old principal and some of my old teachers. He got quite a kick out of hearing my teachers’ stories of my high school years and visiting my old classrooms. This time, unfortunately, we couldn’t enter the school—it was out of session for Christmas break.
Spice it up with legends
Turning right, we arrived at the old port. Since its foundation approximately 4000 years ago, the area has seen many changes. While its days as a major port are long over ( it currently serves as a local fishing boat dock ), the area’s restaurants and art galleries are hugely popular with tourists and locals alike.
Every year my classmates And I would brave the narrow stairs and walkways to Simon the Tanner’s house, where according to belief Saint Peter helped Tabitha rise from the dead (which in turn, inspired Jane Walker-Arnott to name the school after her) and visit the lighthouse.
Our class trip would always culminate in the place: the old port to gaze out at the famous Andromeda’s Rock.Since both the tower and the home are undergoing renovations, all we could do this time was to sneak a peek at the smaller- than-I-remember rock.
Add spectacular views
As a teen, I use to enjoy climbing the small, cobblestone steps and wondering around the different art galleries in the area known as the “Sheath HaGadol.” With its open amphitheater setting and old Ottoman Sarai that currently houses the Jaffa Museum, this is also a superb vantage point to look out at the Mediterranean Sea and Tel Aviv skyline (not to mention also teach your kid some quick photography techniques).
Mix a dab of pixie dust
Voted by both my kids as the favorite stop we had on our one-hour walk of Jaffa was none other than “Gesher Hamishalot,” which translates as “The Wishing Bridge.” Legend has it that if you touch your zodiac sign marked on the stone while gazing into the sea, you will get what you wish for. To my surprise, Jeffrey decided to venture up the steep stairs in the blowing wind, twice to maximize his potential of fulfilling more than one wish.
Conclude with retail therapy
Last but not least, after acting as the impromptu travel guide, I got my reward which was a short stop at one of my favorite local stores called Mango. Its setting inside of an old Ottoman building provides a fitting backdrop to the boutique, which sells eccentric clothing and leather shoes and belts. After spending my fifteen allocated minutes in “retail therapy”, I walked out with my Jaffa version of Elton John-like clogs souvenir.
Have you ever thought of taking your kids back to some of the places you’ve lived in?
If you did -would you recommend it?