Treats of Tel Aviv




The number of super fit and beautiful people running past us on the bustling beach promenade was incredible. And not only at noon or at 3 o’ clock pm but also as we were returning from dinner at eleven o’ clock in the evening. Saying that Tel Aviv is a sporty city is an apt description. Also, you’ll have no trouble finding an outdoor gym as there are numerous of them sprinkled along the beach strip. And if you take a look towards the sea, past the teens playing beach volley (in December!), you’ll see a class of young surf school participants practising the basics of surfing in the water.

Though not everyone was doing the muscle work themselves: I’ve never seen that many electric scooters anywhere else. But still, Tel Aviv exercises around the clock and the atmosphere does wonders to spark one’s exercising motivation.


We spent our Christmas holiday this year in Tel Aviv. Strong recommendations to the city, I really liked it. 19 degrees Celsius during the day, a long beach promenade along the Mediterranean coastline, the sunrays caressing our cheeks, the savory treats of the Middle East cuisine, the busy Carmel market with its rich sweet pastries, the laid-back atmosphere and the gorgeous sunsets with twenty shades of orange: everything really that I had wished from our compact Xmas holiday.

Every city has its own sounds and the soundscape of TLV includes the rhythmic hits echoing from the Matkot beach padel game, the calls to worship from the mosques, the sounds of traffic, the rhythms coming from the lively beach bars and restaurants and the unique Hebrew language.



It is impossible to talk about Tel Aviv without writing about the food and the culinary joys. Try the full-bodied hummus, the luscious falafels, the fresh white fish, the delicious olives and the Flam Blanc white wine. We had a tasty Christmas Eve dinner at Beit Kandinof in Jaffa (Rehov Hatzorfim 14): it is an atmospheric and relaxed place and an art space with a lively bustle, good vibes, cocktails with local spice and such good food. I recommend that you also visit the bohemian district of Neve Tzedek and there the restaurant Dallal (Rehov Shabazi 10): it is romantic, cosy, beautifully lit with light twines and their kitchen combines Middle Eastern and European flavours. One treat that we’ll need to try on our next visit is shakshuka, the superstar of the Israeli breakfast: North-African styled poaches eggs in a spicy tomato sauce.


One thing I want to mention is that I felt very safe during our whole trip. There are tensions in Israel, but you can’t sense or see them in Tel Aviv. Though it was a bit strange to see a handgun tucked in the belt of a man fishing next to us in his civilian clothes. Not necessarily threatening but strange. In the airport it’s good to reserve some extra time for the security checks.

What else what else? Tel Aviv is a city with 15 kilometres of shimmering coastline. It is a culinary hotspot, bustling and vibrant. The White City area with its Bauhaus architecture is worth a visit and near it are many alluring boutiques. The price level in TLV is high, but luckily gazing at the stunning sunset and its mind-blowing tones by the beach is completely free.



Have You Heard of a Pearl Called Pallanza?




I hadn’t, not before last summer. We we’re wondering what to pair with the hiking trip to Matterhorn in Switzerland: key words for the search were Italian lakes, Italian food, sunshine and beautiful views. And, after some google maps and image browsing, Pallanza popped up! And what a delicious and pleasant little pearl by Lake Maggiore it turned out to be.

What made me fall for Pallanza? First, the extra wide jogging and cycling road, which follows the waterfront and leads to the next district, Verbania Intra. There was such proper road width reserved for the runners, so delightful! The morning run from Pallanza to Intra and back with a stop for some stretching, (catching one’s breath) and a water break took around 50 minutes. Our plan on the first morning was to enjoy espressos after the energizing run on the terrace of the café right next to our hotel, but this proved to be a utopian idea since we were sweating like two little piglets and the salt was stinging our eyes. But, anyhow, it was a good workout in a pretty setting.


What I also didn’t know beforehand was that Pallanza is quite the culinary hotspot. The stylish aperitivo in the lakeside garden of Ristorante Milano, the superb and nocturnal Spaghetti allo Scoglio (spaghetti with seafood) of La Tentazione by the market square (nocturnal because we are quite late eaters and their kitchen was open a bit past 9:30 pm), the rich ravioli of Ristorante Il Portale… Il Burchiello was also delicious but during the holiday season remember to book in advance.


And what would be sweeter for an Italian food lover than an Italian food festival taking place right outside our doorstep by the lake. It was sotto le stelle, a dinner and a gastronomic taste journey under the stars. You could buy the tickets either at the entrance or beforehand in the local restaurants. The long tables were covered with white tablecloths and flower compositions and there were candles placed in white paper bags waiting to be lit up after sunset. We got a stamp card with which we could get an apertitif, 5 different small dishes, two glasses of wine and a desert from the different stands of the local restaurants. A local elderly lady who apparently knew everyone in town was kindly pointing us towards the wine and food stands to ensure that we got the hang of it. The evening was tasty and bustling and a good gastronomic dive to the offerings of the district.



Pallanza has its own ferry stop and after some running and culinary delights I recommend you take a lake cruise to the islands (Isola Bella being the botanical crown jewel) and to the city of Stresa: a stroll by the beach promenade, marvelling at the extravagant luxury hotels, a cone of creamy pistachio ice cream, doing some bric-a-brac discoveries in the shops of the old town and sipping a strong espresso on the terrace before heading back to the boat, the components of a happy day trip.



Isola Bella and its peacocks and unicorns


You know the feeling when you’ve had a small and futile argument with your special loved one about something utterly unnecessary and then you come to a place that is breathtakingly mesmerizing or beautiful and so skillful. The sun is shining, the warmth of the sweet summer day caresses your cheeks and the lake water sparkles as the sunrays dance on its surface. Very soon you come to realize that you really don’t want to lose any time from experiencing the beauty, the gorgeous day, the efforts of the gardener and moments of this life that we have. Perhaps a bit sappy but actually very true once you start thinking about it.

One place that has this effect is Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore in North of Italy. And in there particularly the blooming baroque garden of the Palazzo Borromeo.




The island got its name from Isabella D’Adda, the wife of Carlo Borromeo III, when the spectacular palace was built for the aristocratic family in the 1600s. The high rooms of the palazzo include for example the decorative Ballroom, the ornamental throne and the Sala di Napoleone where the French emperor stayed with his wife. Not to forget the numerous artworks from old masters, the ornate grand piano decorated with a painting even from the inside, the magnificent halls, the detailed ceilings and in the bottom floor the impressive grottoes, with walls made of pebbles and lava stone. The palace is still the summer home of the Borromeo family.


When we step outside to the palace gardens we see first the gallant white peacocks strutting on the green and well-attended lawn. They don’t care about the visitors but are wise enough to escape the sticky hands of an energetic toddler who sweeps past us reaching towards the fascinating white birds.


The gardens include well-kept verdant boulevards, tall obelisks, a unicorn statue, geometrically trimmed trees, many terraces, ponds with water lilies, a parrot house and the imposing Teatro Massimo. And a myriad of flowers.


Isola Bella can be reached easily with ferries from the cities of Stresa, Laveno, Pallanza and Intra. The last ferry back to Pallanza goes quarter past seven. After the palace has closed the island quiets down quickly. The entrance fee to the palace is 15 euros.


Isola Bella is definitely worth visiting but I wouldn’t opt to have the accommodation there. It is beautiful, crowded on the small streets during the day and a fine place to spot skilled Italian style gardening. And oh yes, a lunch spot tip is Il Fornello Bottega con Cucina: a beautiful terrace, friendly service, quality bubbles and a tasty antipasti plate.