jaffa coastline 248.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This is a great time of year for a boat trip around the coast of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. The old, dilapidated port area of Jaffa, which until recently seemed to have barely changed since the day the prophet Jonah set out on his fateful journey, is now being torn down to make way for an upscale commercial center. All this fades into the distance as you sail away towards the high-rise coastline of its young sister-city Tel Aviv.
The 40-minute trip is pleasant and fun for city-dwelling children and gives them a different view of Tel Aviv than the one they know from inland. When you disembark, take a stroll through the picturesque paths, green parks and old-world alleyways of Jaffa. Visit the art galleries and see if you can spot a bridal couple being photographed against the backdrop of the setting sun over the sea or on the Wishing Bridge which spans the park.
You can call 050-760-7170 to arrange a trip; however, during Hol Hamoed there are frequent sailings, according to demand, so even if you haven't booked you will probably be able to enjoy a trip.
If you're used to the usual trip around drinks factories where you see not much more than the filling, bottling, capping and packing of the liquid, a visit to the Coca-Cola plant in Bnei Brak will be quite a surprise.
In my youth, Coke's motto was "It's the real thing," but nowadays they market themselves as part of an "active lifestyle." But it was still a surprise when we found ourselves sitting astride exercise bikes, cycling together "behind" a young, lithe cyclist on a large screen, through a park and up and down hills. At the end of our exercise, a computerized counter told us how many kilometers we "real people" had collectively cycled.
That was just one of the activities on our visit to the plant. We were first introduced (virtually of course) to the founder and told about the history of the world's most famous and most popular drink. Then we learned how it had spread all over the world before arriving in Israel. We were encouraged to express ourselves musically in a music studio and experienced Coca-Cola's "circle of senses."
Our final experience was feeling how a bubble in a bottle of coke feels as it goes up and down the bottle.
Our guide took a photograph of us and when we reached our final station on our tour we were presented with a framed copy of the photo together with a drink of our choice from the Coke family of beverages.
All in all a fun few hours for children over 8. To book a visit, call (03) 671-2226
Trying to explain to your children how electricity works (if you even know yourself) is never easy, so why not visit one of the electricity plants and learn some intriguing facts about the force that enables us to get so much at the flick of a switch.
At Orot Rabin, the Hadera electricity plant, we started our visit by watching a film in which a little girl (a female Harry Potter look-alike) took us on a virtual tour of the plant in order to discover how her night-light works. We learned why this plant, the largest of five in Israel, uses coal (unlike three of the others which use gas).
We then drove along the two-kilometer pier to see how 200,000 tons of coal were unloaded from the 300-meter-long ships and transported back to the plant via conveyor belt. These ships, so heavy when they arrive, are unstable when empty, so they spend several weeks at sea taking in vast quantities of water until they're heavy and stable enough for the trip home.
The environmentally concerned were pleased to hear that the chimneys removing the smoke are the highest in the Middle East and take the pollution far away. Also, that residue ash remaining after the coal is burnt is filtered and given away free to builders to make building blocks (instead of sand whose stocks are fast depleting).
To book a tour at any one of the electric plants call the national center at (03) 567-7777.
Behind the rather boring title of the IDF Museum (previously known as Beit Ha'osef shel Tzahal) is a fun place that your children, and you, will thoroughly enjoy. Laid out among 16 warehouses is the story of the state, with props in the form of the vehicles, property and apparatus of the army.
The kids will love seeing the cars used by defense ministers from David Ben Gurion to Ehud Barak, as well as real examples of underground weapon caches from the days of the Mandate. You can also learn about how the Jewish fighters moved the supplies from one location to another under the noses of the British (hint: oil tanks and "rumble seats" of old Ford cars).
You'll see the half-track that Mordechai Gur drove when he entered Jerusalem's Old City during the Six Day War, the buses that made the treacherous journey to Mount Scopus every two weeks when it was an enclave surrounded by Jordanians. You'll also hear about an unfortunate gift from the Americans - army caps that arrived with the mistaken logo "Tzava Haganavim Leyisrael" (Israel's Army of Thieves).
The museum is situated near Jaffa on the Tel Aviv beachfront, on the corner on the corner of Rehov Hamered and Rehov Yehezkel Kaufmann.
Call (03) 516-1346 to arrange a guided tour.
Young children will love a visit to Shvil Hatapuzim (The Orange Trail), situated inside an orange grove near Kibbutz Gan Shmuel outside Hadera. Once a "real" orange orchard, the area has been turned into a totally child-friendly miniature amusement park still surrounded by orange trees. There are wading pools, water chutes, a miniature golf course and kiddie go-karts running along a narrow path. There is even a small boating river where you can safely let your children paddle the boat because you can almost reach out your hand from the water's edge and touch them.
You can easily spend a full day here with the myriad activities and there's plenty of room to run around and have a picnic.