Six months of warm temperatures and unrelentingly blue skies require a certain inventiveness of Israelis, who have long since learned the importance of the afternoon siesta. Of course in the harried pace of 2011, one can’t always run home for a nap but there are places to find respite and enjoy summer’s slower pace and Israel’s more European ethos.
Kibbutz Ramat Rachel: This longtime kibbutz located on the south side of town, which was originally established in 1926, burned to the ground in 1929 and almost immediately rebuilt, only to be cut off from the city in 1948 and shelled by the Jordanians in 1967, is an excellent spot for a lazy afternoon at the pool that is part of its hotel and spa complex. You could take a walk over to the bunkers and the archaeological site near the pool, but you may just want to pull up a chair on the grassy lawn and enjoy the breezes following a refreshing dip in the pool.
Bloomfield Park: Just behind Jerusalem’s King David Hote is a cool and attractive spot of greenery with great evening breezes, overlooking the quaint walkways of the Yemin Moshe neighborhood. It even comes with a tomb – reputed to have been constructed in the latter half of the first century for Herod’s family. Take a walk over to the attractive lion’s fountain further down by the Scottish Church and dip your feet in the water along with the rest of the neighborhood.
Machane Yehuda: It’s not exactly cool along the crowded paths of Jerusalem’s main outdoor shopping market, but after you’ve picked up some fruits and vegetables, stop by Mousseline on Ha’eshkol Street for a delicious gelato or refreshing sorbet. You can also head for Ha’egoz Street to the Etrog Man whose concoctions will heal all that ails you and offer a great brain freeze.
Jerusalem Cinemateque: The Lavan Cafe offers tasty treats and fantastic views of the Old City, but the Cinemateque is the place to go for interesting films, documentaries as well as the well-regarded Israel Film Festival hosted each July. And like all movie theaters, it’s blessedly air conditioned.
The Jerusalem Zoo: Avoid it in the middle of the day, but later in the afternoon you can enjoy the animals and the truly beautiful surroundings when the mountain casts its shade and the breeze begins to build. Be sure to cool off at the blessedly dim and indoor Noah’s Ark exhibit, and pack an evening picnic for one of the late afternoon concerts.
In Tel Aviv:
Port: The port, or ‘namal’, is the place to be, whether early in the morning, in the evening or on Friday mornings when the farmer’s market is in town. This beautifully designed, wood-slatted boardwalk at the northern tip of the city always delights with its views and the ocean water that sprays bystanders and pedestrians.
LoveEat: This hipster hangout at the center of the Gan Hachashmal neighborhood has a great selection of iced coffee drinks and other homemade beverages. Get yourself an iced granita — it will restart your mojo and give you more energy for shopping.
The Rabin Museum: The museum’s exhibits, which tell the story of Yitzchak Rabin’s life alongside the backdrop of Israel’s history, are intelligently laid out and thoughtfully archived and arranged. The exhibit takes time to view, but the complimentary headsets make the trip worthwhile. And the air-conditioning? Glacial.
Banana Beach: This favorite spot on Tel Aviv’s winding beachfront is the place to go when evening approaches and sunset is near. Wade in the shallows, cool off your feet and then pull up a chair on the sand where you can order yourself a cold brew and some chips — the local term for French Fries — while you relax and watch the evening’s colors blend into night.
Go hang out in this seaside city, where the ocean breezes cool off the city each day, whether you’re down at the bottom of this hilly city on the beach enjoying the excellent waves, or up on top in the Carmel neighborhood. But to really stay cool, take the Carmelit, the funicular subway that is beautifully air-conditioned all the time, and stop at the Massada neighborhood where the cafes feature plenty of icy drinks and the atmosphere is appropriately cool.
Not known for being a hip kind of place to hangout, this center of religious mysticism is, of course, well-known for its galleries. Take a late day walk through the winding, stone paths of the Artists’ Quarter, when the breezes begin to blow from Mount Meron, the light fades and city is awash in ancient mystery. It’s a cool kind of experience.