Let’s face it, apart from the gorgeous sandy beaches of Tel Aviv, there aren’t really too many open spaces in The City That Never Sleeps. So the chance to check out HaTachana and indulge in a pleasant walkabout in a large traffic free zone is a welcome respite – and all just 5 minutes walk from the built-up, congested areas of Tel Aviv.
Once the terminal for the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway, The Station (HaTachana in Hebrew, and yes, that’s a cccchhh, spit it out!) has been remodeled into an area that to the well-traveled tourist, conjures up a heady mix of the nonchalance of St. Mark’s Square, Venice and the theater of London’s Covent Garden.
It took 5 years of redevelopment and conservation to change the old railway station building and the immediate environs into an attractive complex of boutique shops, restaurants and cute, little markets but any trip to Tel Aviv really should include a stop-by here.
Even if you happen to not make the connection of old meets new when you are greeted with the old railway carriage at the entrance to HaTachana, just appreciate the quirkiness as a taste of things to come. But, it’s quirky in the best sense.
That previously jumbled mass of railway cars, tracks and an ugly old concrete factory at HaTachana is now where uber-modern meets bohemian chic, where arty meets practical and where some of the best shops and restaurants ply their trade. You walk on wooden pathways laid between the old rails which are still on show between gaily colored market stalls or stand under the shade of an umbrella watching any of the street performers that have already become part of a visit to HaTachana.
When you plan your visit to HaTachana you should probably allow a good half day, with time for a big pit-stop in one of the many great little cafes or restaurants…and any time of the day is good, though if you make it on Friday mornings you have the Orbanic market (an organic/urban fusion). On other days you’ll find craft shows, and open air performances but to be honest Friday is probably the most happening day (as is the case for most of Israel…).
Some things to definitely check out if you’re in the mood to splash some cash (just so you know, the shops keep amenable hours of 10am to 10pm):
- Made in TLV: There’s no “I heart Tel Aviv” tourist tat tees here but stylish objects d’art that you won’t just throw away when you get home.
- A must for the ladies is the Ahava shop selling a range of products made from Dead Sea Salts.
- Gaya Games shop: where the inner kid in you will joyfully wile away some minutes, trying to solve those awesome puzzle games they have. Be warned – it’s addictive!
- Plenty of swanky boutiques where you can sample home grown designers, including: Ronen Chen, Naama Bezalel, Ido Recanati, and Charlie Paloma.
After you are all shopped out and your wallet can’t take the strain, stop by at one of the cafes and restaurants. Dining alfresco in HaTachana is de rigueur and all part of the experience. Traditional and modern Israeli cuisine is well represented as is Italian; we’d recommend Cafe Tachana, which is located in one of the original buildings from 1892 and Shushka Shvili, which is in an old templar’s home, and has a great view of Jaffa.
This lovely complex really does have enough sights and sounds to thrill the senses and it may well be the new kid on the block, but already its reputation is such that you really have to check it out.
Location: HaTachana is at the south end of Neve Tzedek at No. 1 Koifmann Street, Tel Aviv. Parking is available right next to the complex.
Also check out their website for details of the latest exhibitions and events: www.hatachana.co.il