Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv

 

Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv pin

About an hour’s drive away from the ancient capital city Jerusalem is Tel Aviv, the second most populated town in Israel. Situated on the Mediterranean coast, tourists come for the white, sandy beaches and surfing. However, there is far more to this fast-paced city than meets the eye. Here is our list of fifteen must do things for kids in Tel Aviv.

Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv sky

Zapari in Ganei Yehoshua

In the heart of Tel Aviv is Ganei Yehoshua. It is basically to Tel Aviv what Central Park is to New York, but on a much smaller scale. A peaceful oasis of grass and trees, children’s playgrounds, picnic spots, paddle-boat hire, climbing walls and much more, it is a fantastic place to take the kids.

Fifteen Must Do Things with Kids in Tel Aviv bird

There is also the Zapari, the biggest bird park in the Middle East. This park features an interactive parrot show and avian nursery where they teach visitors how to look after and hatch eggs. Also, they have a petting zoo, animal feedings, reptiles, and other small animals.
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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should allow a few hours to enjoy this location thoroughly.Packing sunscreen , insect repellent and hand wipes is a good idea.
  • This place is the perfect location for antsy and active kids to get out some energy.
    Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv beach

 

Tel Aviv Old Port

Built between 1936 and 1938, the old port of Tel Aviv is now far more famous for its restaurants, pier, and water sports among other things. The Yarkon River estuary empties into the Mediterranean here and offers spectacular scenery making it a popular place for walking. Travelers will see joggers passing by at all hours of the day from sunrise to midnight.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bring the kids here for some delicious ice cream or gelato while you watch a magnificent sunset over the sea.
  • There are bikers and skaters everywhere so parents should be attentive.Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv red

Carmel market

For those wanting to give their children a real cultural experience, the Carmel Market is the place to go.
It is the largest open-air market in Tel Aviv and the sights, smells and sounds should not be missed! What both tourists and locals alike enjoy most about the “Shuk HaCarmel” is that everything is fresh.

Travelers can walk through the alleyways seeing the spices, dried fruit, and yellow and white cheeses. They have other ready-to-eat meals with Druze, Yemenite, Iraqi and Eastern European influences, as well as traditional Middle Eastern street food.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Don’t miss out on the freshly squeezed and pressed fruit and vegetable juices.
  • Parents with kids with smell sensitivities might want to avoid the smelly alleyways where fresh fish, meat, and chicken is prepared and sold.
  • Like most markets, this one can be noisy which may be challenging for noise sensitive kids.
  • The market tends to be crowded on Fridays.
  • Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv dress

Nachlat Binyamin

Keeping with the open-air theme, another great place to take children is the Nahlat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall. During the week, it is a favorite place to buy fabrics and art materials. However, twice a week, there is the Arts and Crafts Fair where local artists sell their extremely well made and unique wares. Street performers wow the crowds and there are all sorts of delicious foods to purchase to satisfy all palates.

 

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • This area is a great place to introduce kids with autism to street performances.Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv car

Neve Tzedek

This neighborhood, dated back to the 1880’s, started out as a prosperous little suburb of Tel Aviv where artisans lived. One hundred years later, it had become a neglected slum full of ruins and a bad reputation. If some of the houses had not been on the preservation list, the whole area would have been demolished. Plans were made instead to renovate and beautify Neve Tzedek with an attempt to restore it to its former glory.Nowadays, Neve Tzedek is also known for its winding alleyways, charming restaurants, and beautiful architecture.
Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv rug

One of the places to take your child to see is the Nahum Gutman Museum of Art which is named for a very well-known Israeli author, painter, sculptor, illustrator and all-round artist who was born just before the turn of the 20th century and spent a good portion of his early childhood in Neve Tzedek. The museum exhibits much of the late Nahum Gutman’s work in all sorts of mediums.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This area is the perfect location to take art and history buffs.
  • The sidewalks aren’t well kept so close toe shoes are advised.Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv pond

Sarona

Sarona is a newly renovated neighborhood in Tel Aviv. Children might like to see houses that were moved whole from one place to another in the preservation project. Virtually each house in the neighborhood serves as a museum with a story to tell.

Sarona was originally a German colony established in the 1870’s, and as the residents got older and moved away, the population dwindled. Now, visitors will find a  bustling market, a vast grassy area with the best outdoor gym and a popular place for community events and performances.

Fifteen Must Do Activities with Kids in Tel Aviv play

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location is a great place to relax outside between events.
  • The indoor market can be noisy at rush hour.17104889215_89ea63552e_k

Beit Hatfutsot

No matter how old they are, something every child would enjoy is Beit Hatfutsot. Located at the Tel Aviv University, this is the Museum of the Jewish People and their culture. Many displays and exhibits depict over four millennia of Jewish history in permanent displays. There are also temporary exhibitions during the summer or other times of the year. Children and adults alike enjoy seeing the incredibly colorful dioramas and other audio-visual displays. It is an excellent introduction to Jewish history and life both local and international.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Best time to visit is in the early afternoon after the school groups leave.

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Azrieli Mall and mini theme park

The Azrieli Mall is the place to go for a unique theme park experience. Made up of three geometrically shaped buildings, the Azrieli Towers are a landmark in central Tel Aviv and currently include the largest shopping center in this city.
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On the third floor, there is a roof section with a mini theme park called The Island. It is a water-based park and has a pirate ship with slides. There is even a little train ride around the ‘island.’Throughout the area, there are trampolines, climbing walls and rope sky-walks all with supervised lifeguards.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Budget a few hours at this place and have lunch in one of the restaurants in the Mall’s food halls.

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Old Jaffa

The most southern and coastal part of the Tel Aviv municipality is Jaffa. With its ancient port and its ancient winding alleyways and arched walkways, it is quite an adventure to explore. There are little museums and even the remains of a second-century house.In the newer section of Jaffa, there is a flea market as well as lovely little cafes and restaurants with excellent menus.

Old Jaffa is an artist colony with amazing galleries and workshops, and the weekly craft market should not be missed. One can visit St Peter’s, a centuries-old church, an old lighthouse, and a wishing bridge with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should be aware the Old Jaffa area ground is uneven, and there are steps to navigate.

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White City Tour

A little-known fact about Tel Aviv is that this city was a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. This is because of a unique architectural style of residences, the largest collection in the world, called Bauhaus. It became very popular from the late 1920’s and into the 1930’s because it combined practicality, design functionality and the ability to use less expensive building materials; perfect for that time in Tel Aviv’s history.The city’s municipality offers Bauhaus tours and even free guided tours for visitors.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should try the free tours since they can leave at any time.

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Gordon Pool

This Olympic sized pool was first built in 1954 and has undergone much reconstruction. There is an entrance fee, but it in worth it to be able to experience the refreshingly cold water in the summer and also make use of the heated indoor pool in winter.

 

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • For kids who are afraid of swimming in the sea, this is an excellent introduction to swimming in salt water.

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Tel Aviv Marina

With beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea and the piers, the stretch of white beaches, and a variety of hotels and restaurants, the Tel Aviv Marina should not be missed. The area is well known for its surfing, sailing and canoeing activities and other outdoor sports.A popular past-time among locals in this area is a bat and ball game that has the locals call Matkot. The trick is to break the record and not lose the rhythm by dropping the ball.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • There are a lot of great physical activities here for energetic children with autism.16484685583_9d97695246_k

Buffet Israeli breakfast

There is no shortage of good places to partake of this delightful culinary experience. Children would enjoy having an Israeli breakfast buffet style.

Each establishment has their atmosphere, style and signature dishes. Start off with a selection liquid refreshments both hot and cold. Move on to cereals, porridges, yogurts, eggs: boiled, fried, scrambled or prepared by the chef in a design-your-own-omelet variety.
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There is also Shakshuka, an egg poached in a spicy tomato based sauce or the creamed spinach white version. One can try savory and sweet pastries,  freshly prepared local or international salads and the option to build your own with seeds, dried fruit, and dressings.

There are cheeses, both yellow and white that come with added olives or garlic and herbs. Also, there are different fish options like smoked salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Continue with the Israeli version of pies called bourekas and end the meal with fresh fruit, either whole or in a fruit salad There is no way to leave a Tel Aviv breakfast buffet hungry!

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents of children with food sensitivities should always ask servers if they are unsure about what ingredients make up a dish.
  • These breakfasts are an excellent way to introduce kids with autism to new tastes and textures.

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Hotel Sabbath Dinner

Many hotels offer this experience, like the Hilton Tel Aviv for example. This activity is a cultural experience that requires much preparation in advance on the part of the staff to get everything served before the sun sets on a Friday night, so as to comply with the kosher laws of Judaism. The dinner is a wonderful way to start the Shabbat, the holy and commanded day of rest.

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There are hot and cold dishes including various meats and poultry, vegetables, side dishes, and pastries. The desserts catch the eye of those who have a sweet tooth. Some hotels have an allocated room for a synagogue especially for conducting religious services. It is very special even to be on the outside hearing prayers and singing.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should make sure their children are respectful of the customs they witness.8573265967_5b2f113c48_k

Holon Comics Museum

To the South East of Tel Aviv and under a different municipality is the Holon Comics Museum. It is a unique institution in Israel and specializes in cartoons and caricatures, humorous and artistic in nature. They have exhibits and displays as well as workshops for children and adults of all ages. There are life-sized cartoon cutouts dotted about the museum grounds and massive sculptures based on pictures that are interactive and children can climb on them. It is an excellent experience and a great way to introduce children to this form of art.
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Autism Travel Tips:

  • This area is the perfect location for any comic collector. Parents should be advised most signage is in Hebrew.
  • Children interested in art may be interested in the workshops offered at this site.

 

 

 

 

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families

 

 

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families pin

When traveling to a new country, there is so much to see and take in, not to mention taste!
Israel with its different cuisines and cultures is a Hodge podge of sensory culinary experiences waiting to be discovered. However, families who aren’t planning a visit in the near future to the Middle East can still enjoy some of the iconic snacks by exploring their local Israeli markets and try out some of the following snacks.

Chocolate Halva

Made with sesame seeds and ground into a paste, traditional halva adds sugar, honey, or a combination of both to make a sweet, nutty treat. Add chocolate for a delicious snack full of flavor and the mix becomes irresistible. It comes packaged in bars, fingers or snack-sized blocks but samplers can even have wedges cut off a wheel.

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families halva

White Cheeses

Once tagged as the Land of Milk and Honey, it is no surprise that Israel has a large variety of dairy products from goats, sheep, and cows. Not to be confused with the Philadelphia-like cheeses boasting 28% fat or higher, the Isreali kinds are spreadable white cheeses that come in 3%, 5%, and  9% making much healthier The cheeses feature flavors like olive, garlic, dill, and onion. A kids’ favorite is the smooth cottage cheese that can be eaten directly from the little tubs with a spoon.

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Vanilla Like Yogurt

Cold Chocolate

Colloquially known as “Choco,” from the Hebrew word for chocolate, this liquid goodness is a cup measurement of chocolate milk in a sealed plastic bag or bottle that is comfortable to hold. After shopping with children in the neighborhood market, it is customary to buy them a Choco. Traditionally kids used to bite through the corner of the plastic bag and drink in the flavor that is just the right sweetness. But nowadays they can sip it with a straw from the bottle.

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families drinks

Bissli

Back in the day, the first Bissli looked like deep-fried pasta corkscrews.
However, this wheat-based snack now comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors from square-shaped pizza to onion hoops and BBQ tubes. There are even falafel, taco, and hamburger flavors! Bissli gets its name from a Yiddish word meaning “bite” and a Hebrew word meaning “for me.” It has been on the Israeli market since 1970 and is the 2nd most popular junk-food snack.

 

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Bissli

Bamba

Like Bissli, Bamba is unique to Israel and makes up a quarter of the Israeli snack food market.
Maize-based, it is almost like the American equivalent of Cheez Doodles, but peanut flavored. It is the most popular meal served at children’s parties, taken on road trips and picnics! Since the first Bamba was made in the early 1960’s, a few other flavors and shapes have been added – like halva filled or strawberry coated. It is said that peanut allergies in Israel are far less common because of the early exposure to peanuts in the form of the Bamba snack.

 

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Bamba Peanut Snack

Cocoa Spread

Since the early 1950’s this has been a customary snack for child and adults alike.
Served spread on bread, inside pita pockets, on crackers and matzo, it fills the gap when someone wants a pseudo-chocolate, sweet treat or a filling for a layer cake. The dark chocolate spread was convenient to travel with, did not need refrigeration, and was dairy-free and therefore suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It soon became part of modern Israel’s history. Today it has nostalgic value with older generation Israelis who remember having it for breakfast or dessert. The ingredients are kept secret. However, the original company HaShachar Ha’ole – translated Rising Dawn – maintain that even the newer white chocolate spread and milk chocolate spreads are nuts and trans-fat free.

 

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Cocoa Spread

Milki

One of our favorites and a popular dessert-snack in Israel since 1980 is this dairy pudding topped with a gelatin-based whipped cream. The original is a decadent the chocolate one, but there are now other flavors like vanilla, banana and even one with sprinkles.

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Chocolate Dessert milki

Dried Fruit

With perfect weather conditions almost all year round, it is no surprise that the dried fruit selection in this desert Mediterranean country is varied and of high quality. Once a year at the Tu b’Shevat celebration in February, it is traditional to eat, cook, and gift dried fruits. During the rest of the year, whether it is dates, apricots, figs, or the more exotic papaya, these easily portable treats make a great healthy snack.

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Light and Dried fruit

Green Olives

From far back in history, there is evidence that olives have played a vital role in the lives of the locals.
Dotted all over the Israeli landscape are groves of olive trees. There is even a mountain in Jerusalem named for them. The most common cultivar of this little green fruit is the Manzanillo, introduced to Israel in 1930 from the United States.

One cannot eat olives directly from the tree. Therefore, after harvesting, they are preserved in many ways before they are fit for consumption. Served alongside pickles, one can buy green olives from vats in open-air markets. One can also purchase olives in cans from almost any and every grocery store and vendor. They come in different brines and an assortment of pickling herbs and spices. They often accompany cucumbers and white cheeses in a lunch box or to a picnic.

 

 

 

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families olives

Krembo

Translated as ‘Cream inside, this snack treat created back in the early 1800s is loved by the locals The confectionery traditionally found in the stores during the late fall and winter months consists of a biscuit base topped with marshmallow-like foam coated in dark chocolate. The most popular flavors are vanilla and mocha.How to eat is has been quite the debate though most eat the top first a few prefer to start with the biscuit.

 

 

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Israeli krembo

Have you tried any Isreali snacks? Which one is your favorite?

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids

 

 

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids pin
Jerusalem
, Israel, is a Middle Eastern city holy to three religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A unique city filled with diverse neighborhoods and ethnicities, it has been the subject of political disputes and wars throughout the centuries. A fascinating destination to explore, the city offers exciting educational and fun opportunities for families to discover. For families wishing to introduce their kids to a city rich in history, culture, and art here are our top five places to visit.

 

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids pin wall

The Western Wall

Known as the Kotel and situated in the Old City of Jerusalem, this is the holiest site in Judaism. It is also the most popular tourist attraction in Israel with over a million visitors yearly of all religions and cultures. Jewish pilgrims have come here since the fourth century to pray and place handwritten prayers into cracks between stones. These pilgrims weep because of the destruction of the Temple – giving it the other name of the Wailing Wall.

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids pillar

 

This wall is all that is left of a building erected by King Herod 37 years before the Common Era. It is a popular place for boys to have their Bar Mitzva – Judaism’s coming-of-age ceremony. In more recent years girls have their Bat Mitzva celebrations there too. Furthermore, it has become customary for soldiers who are in the Israeli armed forces to have their swearing-in ceremonies there too.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location can get crowded. Parents should keep this in mind for children who might have a problem with groups.
  • The Kotel is a religious location. Parents need to teach their child to be respectful of those on pilgrimage here.
  • Exploring Jerusalem with Kids rocks

Yad Vashem

Situated on the Mt Herzl, this is the second most visited tourist attraction in Israel. Nine underground galleries display photos, artifacts, and testimonies as well as show videos relating to the Holocaust. Visitors walk through the galleries depicting life before this dark period of history, during the atrocity, and stories of survival.

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids garden

At the Children’s Memorial, one can hear the names of about 1.5 million children read out in the background, so their existence is never forgotten. The memorial candles flicker and give the impression of a million stars in the darkness providing a somber and moving experience.

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, Yad Vashem is not open to children ten and younger.
  • It is also not recommended for children under thirteen. Parents should use discretion to make sure their child can handle the mature content of this national memorial.
  • It is advisable to give children an overview of what to expect because of how graphic the material is at this location.
  • Parents should make sure their children are respectful as they move through the exhibits.

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City of David

Likely the oldest section of ancient Jerusalem, the City of David is where travelers can take their children to see history come alive. It is now an archaeological site that relays the story of battles and victories, revealing how people lived thousands of years ago. Travelers can walk the Shiloh tunnel, carved from each end through almost 583 yards of solid rock – an incredible scientific feat, especially for that period.

Exploring Jerusalem with Kids tunnel

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Kids interested in history will enjoy exploring this location.
  • The Shiloh tunnel is dark and incredibly small in some places. Children who have problems with tight spaces or darkness might not want to walk through this tunnel.
    Exploring Jerusalem with Kids greek church

Israel Museum

Travelers who want to see everything that the country’s national museum has to offer should budget at least one full day for this unusual and fascinating place. Covering a distance of 31 square miles, it houses various collections, displays, and findings.

There is the archaeology wing arranged in a chronological journey with pottery, glass, jewelry, and ancient writings. Visitors can see a scale model of the city of Jerusalem from before the year 66 in the Common Era. This model gives visitors a good idea of what Jerusalem looked like before its destruction by the Romans.
Exploring Jerusalem with Kids views

The museum has a whole building called the Shrine of the Book dedicated to housing and preserving the oldest Biblical manuscripts ever found, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is another wing for Fine Art and an Art Garden. The museum features a Youth Wing dedicated to promoting education and coexistence between Arab and Jewish children and they offer workshops throughout the year which attract locals and tourists alike.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This place is a mostly non-interactive museum. Parents should make sure kids know what they can and can’t touch.

The Shuk

The Machane Yehuda market is an old and famous landmark dating back to the Ottoman Empire. It used to be exclusively open-air but after undergoing renovations and upgrading over the past few decades, it now also has covered stalls and restaurants.

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Apart from all the vendors selling their fresh produce, amazing fruit and vegetables with all colors and fragrances, there are also ready-to-eat pastries, shawarma, falafel and other street food stalls. One can even buy freshly barbecued meats served with salads and pita bread with hummus and tahini to take home.
Exploring Jerusalem with Kids yard

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location is a great place for children with autism to practice haggling.
  • The market is usually crowded. The crowds can overwhelm kids with noise sensitivities or those who are claustrophobic.
  • The Shuk offers self-guided tours, including the option of a tasting tour.

 

2theloo Helps Families with Autism

2theloo Helps Families with Autism pin

Contrary to popular belief, sometimes, one can reinvent the wheel. In this case, we are talking about a trending alternative in public lavatories!

When out and about, especially when traveling, parents often worry about dirty facilities or begging stores to use their restrooms. Introducing 2theloo, a relatively new concept birthed in the Netherlands in 2011 by Eric Treurniet and his friend Almar Holtz. Their goal: to provide a clean place to go in even the busiest of places.

2theloo Helps Families with Autism when Nature Calls toilet

What’s 2theloo?

2theloo is a regular store where customers, for a nominal fee, can purchase the use of a clean toilet. Travelers can find these facilities in high traffic areas like shopping malls, train and gas stations, and pedestrian street malls. Each location sells toiletry-related products, gifts, and gadgets in a store setting. Some even have a coffee corner in the front of their store like the one we went to in Tel Aviv.

2theloo Helps Families with Autism when Nature Calls screen

There are several 2theloo shops in Israel. The one that we saw, which used to be located on King George Street, is now just around the corner on Dizengoff Street, diagonally opposite the Embassy of Cyprus. It is a modernized, clean, and safe environment for families and individuals to enjoy when nature calls.

The Experience

There are over 200 2theloo ‘stores’ around the world. Each store has its unique décor, some humorous, others blending in with the surroundings. Some offer the use of the restroom with the purchase of coffee. Many have music and lights, and one can totally forget that this is a public lavatory facility. The location we visited featured seven stalls and two urinals and offered toiletries, wipes, diapers, hand soaps, toys lotions and even sodas for sale.

2theloo Helps Families with Autism when Nature Calls toilet

When we visited, the adult booths featured large poster murals on each wall that provided for an enjoyable ambiance.

The first stall, which we nicknamed the ‘national geographic’  stall, had a wrap-around photo of a polar bear swimming in clear blue waters. The second, boasting a hip city vibe, depicted a blown-up nighttime photo of the Azrieli towers. Meanwhile, the third stall, covered with a giant picture of the Tel Aviv beachfront, catered to sea lovers.

2theloo Helps Families with Autism when Nature Calls red

But it was 2theloo’s kids’ facilities that interested our kids. As we entered, we saw the first room on the left was dedicated to children. The room featured two spotless commodes, cleanliness that any family can appreciate. The first thing we noticed was that everything, from the toilets to the sinks, was lower than average. These lowered facilities made for a fun and accessible experience for our kids. On the other side of the room, we found a giraffe motif baby changing table with two stuffed animals for parents or caretakers to use while changing their infant’s diapers. A spinning disco mirrored ball and colored lights completed the room’s entertaining look.

2theloo Helps Families with Autism when Nature Calls giraffe

Since it is a store and not a regular public toilet facility, there are hours of operation. Except for Fridays, when the store is open from 8 am to 5 pm, patrons can go and use the facilities any day between 10 am and 10 pm.

Autism Travel Tips

  • 2theloo is a great option for parents of children with autism, particularly if their kids are not potty trained.
  • Unlike public facilities that separate the different sexes, here, parent’s can accompany kids at any age should they require help.
  • Parents should bookmark the company’s web page. This way, they will be able to find the nearest facility when they need it.
  • The decor of the various rooms can fascinate kids, and they might wish to see the others. Therefore, it is pertinent for parents to explain to them ahead of time that exploring other stalls may not be a possibility when the rooms are occupied.
  • The lower to the ground facilities in the children’s stalls might upset some kids.

 

Exploring Tel Aviv’s New Sarona Market with Family

 

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Sarona Market with Family pin

Centrally located on the north-south axis in Tel Aviv is the neighborhood of Sarona. German Lutherans under the Ottoman Empire first established Sarona 140 years ago. The settlement declined over time, and the buildings were all but in ruins. Then, in the mid-2000’s, a project began to restore the old suburb entirely. Today, Sarona is a thriving and highly sought after piece of real-estate with many great activities for families.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family meat

The Shopping Area

Not more than ten minutes by car from the beach and Azrieli Mall, this shopping venue was an excellent place to spend the afternoon. Surrounded by restored buildings of yesteryear, we saw plenty of family-friendly eateries, clothing, and toy stores.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family play

In front of the entrance to the luxurious food market, there was a shaded playground with equipment geared for all ages and abilities. The area featured climbing walls, gyroscopes, twirling roundabouts, and other accessories that are perfect for children, especially those with sensory issues. Also, the whole playground was constructed on rubberized soft-play flooring under shading. While children played with little supervision needed, adults could keep an eye on them while resting.

The Food Market

The Sarona Market, which opened in August 2015, is the largest indoor food market in Israel. It is open every day of the week including the Sabbath which adds to its uniqueness.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family cheese

There were almost 100 different stalls and stores in the vast space, a feast for eyes and taste buds! Visitors could enjoy purchases on the premises, buy food to take home or eat at a picnic spot nearby. The market covered an area of nearly 30,000 square feet and was a sea of colors, fragrances, and aromas.

Meats, Pastas, and Lunch Items

We toured the market on a Friday afternoon soon after it opened. We saw many new vendors and excited crowds enjoying the culinary delights offered. Many vendors, like the popular falafel stall staff, handed out free samples.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family rainbow

As we walked around, we saw specialty artisan pasta, pastries, jams, spreads, and sauces. We counted at least two delis where visitors could build their own sandwiches while enjoying freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. We even tried a tarragon soda!

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family buy

There were long lunchtime lines with shoppers, some with their dogs on leashes, ordering sandwiches and other delicious treats. We noted Tapas, German sausages and pretzels, and a station for Druze cuisine from which to choose.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family gelato

Next, we stopped to gawk at the fish and seafood bar. We also saw the kosher butchery, which displayed beautifully presented meat, and the shop selling family recipe stuffed vegetables.

For Coffee lovers seeking libations, there were plenty of options offering specialty cappuccinos and lattes.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family bread

Wine, Cheeses, and Sweets

We enjoyed the wine shop with a unique tasting room which worked on a swipe-card method. The venue featured soft cups that looked like glass but were made out of plastic so they couldn’t break.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family color

The sight of many colored olives in different marinades and cheeses such as white, yellow, soft, hard, smelly, imported and local grabbed our attention while we passed by the store. Nearby we noticed a stall selling kitchen supplies, olive oils, and whiskeys where buyers could even mix their own liqueurs.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family white

The massive selection of pick and mix sweets, candies, chocolates, and dried fruit available in the market could cause patrons to mull over options for hours. The market offered a fantastic selection of desserts from which to choose. These included natural fruit sorbets, ice-creams, a fill-your-bucket with cookies option and our son’s personal favorite – the crêperie offering several fillings for crêpes.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family wine

Noteworthy was the Halva Kingdom, featuring an incredible variety of the sesame treat in custom flavors like banana, cashew, pecan, and dates produced right on the premises. The store offered unlimited tastings of the treats that had our son with autism wishing he could move in and live there.

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family gear

Overall we found the market complex was a fantastic ending to our brief Tel Aviv visit and we highly recommend it for families. With something for everyone’s taste and palate, what’s not to love?

Exploring Tel Aviv's New Food Market Sarona with Family fish

Autism Travel Tips:

  • For children who are noise-sensitive, this needs to be a significant consideration. There is no time in the market when it is less noisy or less crowded so parents should make sure they have secured a quiet retreat to allow their child to decompress if necessary.
  • With the crowds, it can be difficult to move freely, and if there are long lines, patience will be required. Parents should prepare their child in advance.
  • The market is well ventilated and temperature controlled. However, parents wishing to visit in the hotter months should bring a handheld fan if their child is temperature-sensitive.
  • Security guards patrol the market, and one can feel safe and secure while shopping.
  • The market as well as the neighborhood caters to wheelchairs and strollers.
  • Public toilets are provided and well serviced.
  • The market is very visual and interactive and a beautiful place to explore. Anyone could spend as little or as short a time as they would like. Parents should take care to monitor how their child is enjoying it or if it is overwhelming.
  • Parents should prepare their child by planning in advance what everyone would like to see, taste and experience. There is a list on the Market’s website.

 

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids pin

At a timeworn crossroads where trade routes merge, travelers will come across one of the oldest, still-functioning port cities of the world. Strategically situated at the junction of continents and water, there is varied history in the arches, alleyways, and cobblestone. Now an artist colony filled with galleries and restaurants boasting exquisite sunset views over the Mediterranean, it is easy to forget that Jaffa has endured many conquests through the ages, including Egyptian, Crusader, Mameluke, and Ottoman. Some of Napoleon’s weaponry and insignia are still on display in various locations in the Old City. Nowadays,Jaffa is a thriving, vibrant part of  Tel Aviv-the city that never sleeps. For families planning to visit Jaffa-here are our favorite spots to explore!

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids gun

Clock Tower

At the northern entrance to the city, on the main road called Yeffet, visitors will find an 114-year-old iconic, narrow, triple-story sandstone tower. The Clock Tower features clocks and beautifully stained glass windows. Originally given as a gift to the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II,it is a landmark for locals and a popular starting point for tours of the Old City.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids sky

Abulafia Bakery

Heading south, on the corner diagonally opposite the Clock Tower, is a renowned family-run local bakery. Since 1879, their wood fires have produced delicious delicacies for thousands of people. Whether one wants a heavenly almond chocolate croissant, ring donut, apple turnover or a good sambuska ( a pizza type bread pocket stuffed with a filling of your choice) the options are endless.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids old

 

Abouelafia is conveniently open 24 hours a day and guests can eat their order within minutes of watching the bakers take it out of the clay ovens. Also, Abouelafia also has their Sandwich Bar on one side of the bakery and a newly opened Baklava coffee shop on the other. Opposite, with a fantastic view of the Mediterranean, one can find their fully fledged restaurant serving excellent Middle Eastern cuisine.

 

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids school

Tabeetha School

Up the hill from the Clock Tower, travelers will come across a white-walled, blue-gated property. This location houses the oldest educational institution in Israel. Established in 1863, Tabeetha School was born out of necessity. Under the Ottoman rule, the conditions were harsh, especially for women. Fourteen Christian, Jewish and Muslim girls received teachings in basic life skills and the number of students grew.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids street

One of the first buildings constructed outside of the Old City walls, this property with its marble pillars, Turkish arches, and high ceilings has seen thousands of students from all over the world. 151 years later, it still serves the local community, offering high-quality education to boys and girls of all ethnicities, nationalities, and faiths.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids flea mart

Flea Market

Locally known in Hebrew as the Shuk HaPishpeshim which translates to “Bed Bug market,” the Jaffa Flea Market is a combination of traditional bazaars, antique stores, and public garage sale. The market covers a few small street blocks outside of the Old City between the Clock Tower and Tabeetha School. This location is a great place to pick up some bargains in jewelry, touristy t-shirts, and cultural knick knacks.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids food

Simon the Tanner’s House

In the lower part of the Old City sits an unassuming but important place for many Christians. The New Testament features a story of Peter, a Jewish disciple of Jesus. In the story, Peter had a vision on the roof of Simon the Tanner’s house. God told him that the Messiah was not only for Jews but also for the other nations.
Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids mosque

 

An Armenian family owned this property for many generations. The Israeli Department of Archaeology and Antiquities authenticated the location as the ‘original’ house. Inside is a still-functioning well dated back to over 3000 years!
Close to the sea, under a now defunct lighthouse, one can imagine a tanner up on the flat roof using the briny sea air to tan leather while watching port traffic.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids statue

St. Peter’s Church

The foundations of the Franciscan Catholic church are on Crusader fort ruins that in turn are on top of what remains of a Byzantine church. Under this stood a massive Roman fortification and proof that this has been an important spot for Christians for thousands of years. Because of the French connection, rumor has it that even Napoleon spent a night in one of the rooms.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids bridge
Nowadays, one can attend services in the church. Visitors can also see the Baroque architecture with high ceilings and oil paintings depicting religious scenes. Legend states that the final resting place of Tabitha, the woman that St. Peter was said to have risen from the dead, is the crypt found in the foundations of the church.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids outside

Jaffa Museum of Antiquities

In 1960, an archaeologist involved in much excavation work in the area established this unique Jaffa Museum. The location chosen for the venue encompasses so many layers of civilizations, which one can see in its architecture and displays. From the mosaic floors to arched ceilings, to the exhibitions of tools, ornaments, cooking vessels, weapons and collections of discoveries from thousands of years ago, it is a beautiful place to explore this region through the ages.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids water

This museum formerly housed Turkish government offices was in its past a soap factory, a Crusader fortress, and a Byzantine dwelling. Displaying both the old and new in the form of contemporary art exhibitions, this is a place not to miss.

Horoscope Decor

Visible on the walls of the cobblestone alleys and paved walkways in Old Jaffa are little colored ceramic tiles. Those with some knowledge of astrology will find the symbols familiar.

One can see a bridge with twelve sculpted bronze plaques. Legend states that if one holds ‘their’ sign and makes a wish while looking at the Mediterranean, it will be granted. There is a large stone mosaic of the zodiac on the southern side of the bridge.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids wall

In the lower part of the Old City, in the central square, one can now see the Zodiac Fountain with sculpted chalkstone figurines. Tourists and locals use the opportunity to toss coins into the fountain and make a wish.

Nalaga’at with Kapish and Blackout Restaurants

Keeping with the interactive, sensory and hands-on theme, it would behoove visitors to visit this one-of-a-kind place in a warehouse in the Jaffa Port. It is important to see not only the work with the deaf and blind but also the promotion of interaction with the community as a whole.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids sea

Nalaga’at is a Hebrew expression meaning “do touch, ” and the goal of this non-profit organization is to change the way people think and feel. These venues emphasize the importance of the ability of every individual to contribute to the world. The center boasts a Theater employing deaf-blind actors, the Kapish Café with deaf waiters, and the renowned BlackOut restaurant with blind waiters and where diners eat in complete darkness, relying entirely on the serving staff.

Andromeda’s Rock

From the multi-story buildings, one can see a rocky reef along the Mediterranean coast. One of these outcrops has a mythological claim to fame. It is thought to be the place where Andromeda was chained to await her demise. According to ancient Greek legend, her mother, Cassiopeia, bragged about Andromeda’s beauty. Poseidon, enraged by this shameless pride, chose “death by sea serpent” as punishment. Perseus flew over on Pegasus and slew the monster to rescue Andromeda. A flag flies on this rock begging for the telling of this story.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids pots

Dr. Shakshuka

To end a long day, families should check out this excellent restaurant. Dr. Shakshuka serves various Mediterranean/Israeli foods. This menu includes Shakshuka, eggs poached in tomato sauce with chili peppers, onions, and spices. At this restaurant, the dishes are plentiful and delicious, and the cost is reasonable. This restaurant is a great place to introduce children to traditional, local foods and new flavors.

Exploring Jaffa Israel with Kids tree

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should make sure their children are respectful in the religious areas such as St. Peter’s Church.
  • The Kapish and Blackout restaurants are an excellent way to introduce kids to the challenges faced by those who are deaf and blind.
  • The flea market is a great location for kids with autism to practice haggling.
  • The Jaffa Museum has limited interactivity. Parents should make sure kids know what they can and can’t touch.

Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca

Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca pinMany people associate Casablanca, Morocco with the 1942 Academy Award winning romantic drama movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. In the film, the city is the World War II meeting place for spies and traitors where one must choose between love and patriotism. But, in this day and age, Casablanca is quite different. It is Morocco’s largest city and has a long and varied history with various conquests and occupying powers through the generations. One of the tourist attractions we went to explore was the Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Morocco and third largest in the world.

Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca ceiling

Location and History

This breathtaking UNESCO architectural creation faces the Atlantic Ocean on Boulevard Mohamed Abdallah and covers over 22 acres between the harbor and the lighthouse. It is one of only two mosques in the country open to non-Muslims for sightseeing. The mosque was commissioned in 1980 to commemorate King Mohammed V who passed away in 1961. Completed by 1993, the Mosque had a formal inauguration at the cost of over €550 million.Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca building

Description

Constructed out of granite, plaster, marble and wood it has beautiful mosaics as well as painted ceilings with a strong Moorish influence. The mosque blends the modern with the vintage and displays ancient art techniques as well as newer, contemporary touches. The prayer hall on the ground floor has incredible underwater views of the ocean with ornate decorations and woodcarvings. It features a succession of domes with glass chandeliers from Murano, Italy as well as polychromatic Zellige mosaic tilework in the plaster. The roof is retractable which allows worshipers to pray under the stars on a clear night and special occasions when it is opened.

Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca above

Unique Factors

The mosque’s minaret is the highest in the world with a beacon on top pointing to Mecca. The façade is carved in different materials and gives the building a subdued yet classic elegance.

Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca arch

Tours

The only way for non-Muslim visitors to access the mosque is via a tour. Travelers should research when they want to visit, as the mosque is not open during religious holidays. Tours run from September to June from Saturday to Thursday.

The tours of the mosque are given in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic. Most English speakers will be better off with an English-speaking guide who can explain the stories and details about the mosque. The tours last about 30 minutes, and guests can buy their tickets on the spot.Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca white

How to Get There

The mosque is a roughly thirty-minute walk from the Casa Port train station. Travelers can also take a taxi to the mosque. The nearest airport is the Anfa Airport, which is a half hour drive through several roundabouts.

Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca outside

In Conclusion

The mosque is a must-see for anyone visiting Casablanca and is an excellent place to educate children of all religions on other beliefs and faiths. Very few mosques are open to those who are not Muslim, so the Hassan II mosque is a unique and fantastic opportunity for any traveling family to both teach and learn respect for others.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Staff will give your family a plastic bag to put your shoes in, so make sure you wear socks since the floor is cold and you will have to remove your shoes in some locations. You should also, before visiting, explain to your children that it is customary to take off one’s shoes here.
  • Parents should know that to visit the mosque guests need to make reservations ahead of time.
  • To enter the mosque, everyone must be dressed appropriately. Men and boys need to wear full-length pants and shirts. Women and girls also need to wear full-length clothes and cover their heads.
  • Guests are allowed to take pictures as they traverse the mosque.
  • The walkway along the shoreline is unpaved, so it can get slippery or have little rocks that may bother children with special needs.
  • The inside of the mosque is surprisingly cool, perfect for the hot summer months of Casablanca.
  • The toilets are not free. Guests need to carry small change in order to use the bathroom.
  • No accessibility for wheelchairs is provided.
  • The tour is about half an hour in length, and there is no real place to sit and rest.
  • One of the most important things that you need to explain to your children is that this is a place of worship. Inform them that they need to be quiet and respectful when walking around the premises.
  • Explain the five daily calls to prayer to your child before visiting. Loudspeakers are used for the calls, and it can take five to ten minutes for the prayers to finish. These sounds can be overwhelming if your child is unprepared. If necessary, take along noise-cancelling headphones to block out the sound.
  • End the day in Casablanca with a visit to the Ancienne (old) or Nouvelle (new) Medinas to shop for handmade carvings and souvenirs created by local artisans.

Family Trip to Hassan II Mosque Casablanca street

 

 

 

 

Taking your Kids with Autism to Jordan

 

 

 

ELEVATE

Travelers looking for a unique travel destination should put the country of Jordan on their bucket list.
Despite the unrest, its northern neighbor is experiencing and the resulting influx of refugees, Jordan is a thriving tourist destination. A relatively small country, its rich history and a plethora of family-friendly sites make it the ideal destination for all ages to enjoy. For families traveling with autism here are our recommendations of autism-friendly lodging, foods and spots to visit.

 

Not to be Missed Outdoor Experiences

Petra

Petra, a UNESCO world heritage site, famous for its enormous monumental tombs and archeological exhibits, gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like 2,000 years ago. The top-notch tourist attraction is situated deep within the southern deserts of Jordan. The majestic city intricately built into the rocks was a crossroads for merchant caravans passing through the area.

Under Nabataean traders, it was a flourishing business hub for spices, textiles, and incense brought in by caravans along the spice and trade routes. Within the city, the famous monastery is a must-see! It is 850 steps up in the cliffs carved into the red sandstone, and there are two options for reaching the summit – by foot or by donkey. Though the Bedouin donkey-handlers accompany tourists, parents should be aware that this multi-sensory experience might not be suitable for everyone.  Climbing takes longer but may feel safer than riding donkeys to some. Moreover, visitors can rest and take a break in the shade.

 

stones

Photo Credit Wojtek Ogrodowczyk ( Flickr)

  • Autism Travel Tips: Comfy walking shoes are a must as is sunscreen and drinking water.
  • Make sure to freeze the water before the start of your journey as it is hot even in winter and hot drinking water is not pleasant.
  • Decide beforehand if you will travel by donkey or go by foot as there is no negotiating with the donkey handlers once you have started on the journey.
  • Be advised that traveling by donkey is hot, smelly and uncomfortable, so this may not be the ideal way to ascend the cliffs.
  • If you choose to climb by foot; plan extra time for resting along the way.

Jerash

Jerash is known as being the Rome away from Rome. For many centuries this gem lay hidden under sand which preserved it making it one of the best Roman provincial towns in the world. Discovered in 1806 by a German explorer, it was excavated and has been restored to its former glory.

Tourists can marvel at the renovated Hippodrome that can seat over four hundred spectators and enjoy a recreated Roman army and chariot experience which is the one of its kind in the world.

Just like in the movie Ben-Hur, viewers to the narrated show, given twice a day witness a live show with a seven-lap race complete with horse-drawn chariots, fully armed legionnaires and gladiators fighting for their trophies.

 

 SUNRISE Taking your Kids with Autism to Jordan

Photo credit:Merlijn Hoek (Flickr)

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • To walk around the city and explore the ruins, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes, plenty of drinks and sunscreen.
  • If you are going to see the show – book the 11 am performance and ask to sit in the very back so you can use some shade like an umbrella without obscuring the view for other tourists. Bring water, sunscreen, and a blanket or pillows to sit on as the paving stones can be uncomfortable.

Wadi Rum

Those craving an authentic scouting overnight adventure  can get it at the Wadi Rum Bedouin Guides Camp. The experience, started by a Wadi Rum native includes camel tours, jeep tours, hiking, and sleeping under the starry expanse of sky in the desert. Wadi Rum is part of the territory belonging to the Zalabea Bedouin tribe, and its members are famous for their sense of humor, camel husbandry skills, traditional medicine and unparalleled hospitality.

 

tent Taking your Kids with Autism to Jordan                                                                                        Photo credit: Ted Swedenburg (Flickr)

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This adventure is NOT for everyone!
  • Parents need to prepare your kid to ‘rough it’ and explain that anyone eating and sleeping outdoors is constantly at the mercy of the elements. So, it can be incredibly hot or rain on you. In other words, accommodations from Mother Nature are not easy to come by.
  • You can bring your own pillows, blankets, and a flashlight to help but if your child isn’t an outdoors type of person, and if they have particular dietary requirements, this is an outing to skip.

 

The Dead Sea

By far the most famous and popular of the four outdoor activities is the Dead Sea experience. Not only is it unique and highly sensory but  one that can accommodate multigenerational travel families.
The outing is free, and all you have to do is lay back and relax. The extremely high salt content of the water does the work for you. As soon as you enter the water, you become so buoyant, and your body immediately feels lighter.

This experience is a great stress reliever and will allow your body to rejuvenate as you peacefully relax. For many children on the spectrum, they find the sensation unique.

water Taking your Kids with Autism to Jordan
Autism Travel Tips:

  • Packing Sunscreen and water for this venue goes without saying.
  • Travelers should leave flip flops on the beach and bring goggles to protect the eyes. Salt water is tough on anyone, let alone for kids on the spectrum.

Must Try Jordanian Dishes

An integral part of visiting Jordan is sampling the local food. Similar to other Middle Eastern dishes, Jordanian cuisine utilizes  ingredients like olive oil, garlic, and lemon, which make the food relatively light and healthy.
Two dishes worth trying are Fatet Djaj and Mansaf, which is also known as the national dish of Jordan.

Fatet Djaj is a chicken casserole comprised of chicken, rice, and fried bread topped with yogurt and toasted almonds.
Mansaf is a platter of tender lamb cooked with yellow rice and Marcona almonds and then topped off with a hot yogurt sauce.
The entree will appeal to kids as it is a sensory experience customarily eaten with hands and no dining utensils.

Manaf Taking your Kids with Autism to Jordan

Photo Credit: Mario Ray Borg (Flickr)

Where to Stay

If you’re in search of lodging during your stay in the Jordanian capital, look no further than Amman Four Seasons Hotel.The five-star property is located in the prestigious Al Sweifiyah residential area close to the Baraka Mall as well as city landmarks. The upscale property offers free afternoon tea, valet service, and even photography tours.

When visiting the Dead Sea area, Hotel Kempinski Ishtar is another upscale lodging property to consider. Located on the shores of the hypersaline sea, the hotel is a convenient haven for guests seeking privacy and comfort. With its nine outdoor lagoons and pools, 100,000 square foot spa and balconies overlooking the Dead Sea, the hotel  does a great job in accommodating families.

 

aerial shot Taking your Kids with Autism to Jordan

Photo Credit      Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (Flickr)

 

What to bring home

Local artisan jewelry and hand painted pottery pieces make good souvenir choices. Other items to look for are Dead Sea beauty products (especially mud masks), Bedouin textiles and spices.

 

Have you visited Jordan with family- what are your tips? 

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with Kids

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with Kids arrival

Named after Israel’s first Prime Minister, Ben Gurion is the largest airport in Israel. It is an international airport and has provided services to over 15 million passengers in the last year. It has been in existence since 1936 with many upgrades and improvements since; the most recent one being in 2004 when terminal three officially opened.
Past accolades for the facility include being ranked first out of 40 European airports and 8th out of 77 world airports in customer service as well as holding the title of best Middle Eastern airport for two years in a row.
Some of its unique features are the central hall with its signature “rainfall fountain” as its center and its large Synagogue.

Distance from major cities

Israel’s Ben Gurion airport is located less than 12 miles away from Tel Aviv and about 31.5 from Jerusalem, which can translate into a 30-60  car ride if you don’t encounter rush hour traffic.
Passengers can also get to and from the airport by bus service (Egged connector line to the Tel Aviv’s  El Al terminal or privately owned Kavim and Metropoline services that connect passengers to Modi’in and Beersheva), by train and via cabs.
Because of its relatively small size (430,00 sq. ft.), and inter-terminal shuttles it is a convenient stop for travelers particularly after having experienced long-haul flights.

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with Kids hall

Arrivals

Ben Gurion airport is comprised of Terminal Three, its central hub, from which most flights depart and arrive,  and Terminal One that is currently used by a  few budget airlines.
Passengers arriving at Terminal One should be aware they may need to board a bus from the airplane to the terminal because those airlines usually save on the expense of the jetbridges.
The modern international Terminal  Three is well marked and designed for easy navigation, so passengers will discover that they won’t get lost on the way to immigration and the retrieval of their luggage.As in most countries, there are separate lines for the locals  (Israeli passport holders) and foreigners, so passengers should pay attention to the signs.

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with Kids fountain

Departures

Passengers need to note that since the airport policy dictates that luggage cannot be checked in earlier than 3 hours before any scheduled departure, it doesn’t help to arrive at the airport earlier than usual.

All departing travelers need to go through a relatively lengthy security process before reaching the check-in counter which can make traveling with kids, particularly special needs a bit difficult. My best advice for parents is to bring some form of entertainment for the kids while they wait and make sure to pack your humor.

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with Kids decor

After passing the Israeli equivalent of the TSA and the passport control travelers are free to explore the airport. The airport features multiple stores that sell a plethora of duty-free toys, cosmetics, clothing, watches and electronics all arranged in a circular fashion around the fountain in the Rotunda, positioned on the way to the different gates.

Furthermore; there are several food venues where you can grab a coffee or a sandwich for a quick meal while enjoying the airport’s free wi-fi.Our personal favorite place is Shipudei Hatiqva where you can have your last authentic falafel and hummus before leaving the Holy Land.

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with Kids play area

The airport does not currently offer any outdoor areas, but it does provide plenty of air conditioned indoor seating which is a relief in the scorching and humid summer months.For antsy kids, there are two areas of fun that to play in, under adult supervision, of course, located at the very far end of two separate gates.

Lounges

There are currently three working lounges in the airport; two lounges run by the Dan Hotel chain and one by El Al  (solely for their clients) that service all airline passengers that qualify by either ticket class or a paid upgrade.
The Dan lounges: Arbel and Massada, named after famous mountains in Israel are relatively modest in size and centrally located in terminal three.The Dan lounges are designed to host 320 people at any given time, so they do get crowded rather quickly at various periods of the day, making it not only noisy but challenging to find seating.

The food selections offered are usually several salads and dips along with cut up vegetables, different cheeses, and cookies. The complimentary drink options are sodas, juices, coffees, wines, and beers.Apart from their helpful staff, the lounges have separate bathrooms which are clean; along with a place to freshen up and for you to plug in your electronics.
With that said, they are not geared for families or children who want to run around or families who are traveling with autism who are looking for a quiet area to calm down or regroup.

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with Kids

Autism Travel Tips

  • Those unable to walk far may be glad to find that there are companies that can transport passengers from the aircraft to Passport Control via motor cart, providing the airline is contacted ahead of time and asked for the service. The service is recommended for families traveling with autism, especially after long haul flights–just ask for the airline’s wheelchair assistance service.
  • Families who are traveling with special -needs members, should know that there is a special queue designated for them, so they don’t have to wait in the long lines that sometimes occur; especially in the summertime and Jewish Holidays.
  • Pack electronic devices to entertain kids while waiting in the security lines as well as at the airline boarding gate in case of some unplanned delay.Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with Kids seats

 

 

 

5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids

        Guest post by Darya Short

 

Its strategic location on the Bay of Aqaba has since ancient times afforded the Israeli city of Eilat, the capacity to serve as a port to the likes of King Solomon, the trading Nabateans, the Romans and even the Crusaders.
Now, with picturesque scenery of the Red Sea shore, the Jordanian mountains overlooking Aqaba in the East and Egypt’s Sinai in the west; the city is a world-famous, sought-after travel destination.

It has an international airport and is famous for being a holiday resort for locals and foreigners alike with the bonus of being a Goods and Services tax-free city.
There are the regular ‘touristy’ things to do like lying on the beach, visiting the malls with cheaper shopping, exploring natural sites like the reef or the Timna mines or mingle with the locals along the boardwalk with its flea market. atmosphere .

Since there are so many experiences to choose from for special needs and autism families; parents should make sure they bookmark these outstanding attractions to try during their family visit.

 

5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids water collage

Photo credit D Short

Glass-Bottomed Boat

The concept of a boat with a glass underside works well in Eilat because of the treasure trove that the Red Sea offers, under the rippling aquamarine waters which is the renowned coral reef, of course!
The Coral stretches for just over a mile and is one of the most northern reefs in the world. It is teeming with life and from the boat one gets the best view of the scenery above the water level and the fantasy world below.

There are quite a few companies who offer the glass-bottomed boat service so whether you choose Israel Yam, Jules Verne, Galaxy or one of the others, your child will have guaranteed a memorable experience.

The boat leaves the marina and heads south following the northern section of the coral reef. The Jordanian border is to the left, and the Egyptian border lies to the south. The captain steers the ship parallel to the coast for close on an hour before turning the vessel around for the return journey.
The boat ride is a very relaxing; taking about 2 hours in total while the captain of the ship explains the views both above and below the water line.

Autism Travel Tips

  • It is important to call to make a reservation for the boat of choice in advance. You can also go to make a booking at the Marina.
  • Some of the lines offer light refreshments; all of them provide water.
  • There are snacks and drinks available to purchase, but it is advisable to take your own if you have a tight budget or on a particular diet like GFCF.
  • Even when it is sweltering on land, there is nearly always a cool breeze on the water, so take something to cover your shoulders if you are sensitive to the changes in temperature.
  • Make sure to follow the captain’s safety instructions for seating and when to go down to the glass bottom of the boat for viewing.
5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids glass bottom

Photo credit D Short

Snorkeling the Coral Reef

After the boat ride, for those who want to get a closer look at the corals without committing to a full scuba dive, there is the option of snorkeling.
At the Coral Beach National Park, visitors can rent snorkeling equipment or bring their own. Strong swimmers can go snorkeling off the pier and float along with the current while taking in the amazing sights.
For younger swimmers, there are shallow pools for paddling and snorkeling too.

Autism Travel Tips

  • This location is one of the National Parks of Israel and has a gift shop where one can buy snacks, drinks and ice creams.
  • If one is planning on spending the day there, it is advisable to take your picnic lunch.
  • There are shaded areas, but it is still necessary to protect your child from the sun.
  • It is noteworthy to mention the public showers and toilets get cleaned daily.
  • It is critical to adhere to the instructions of the lifeguard as well as the rules of the Park as the coral reef is a protected Nature Reservation.
  • Parents need to prepare the kids and explain that the coral can’t be touched or removed from the beach.
5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids fish

Photo credit D Short

Botanical Gardens

Close to the northern entrance of Eilat, travelers will find the Botanical Gardens that have become more well-known and popular in recent years offering an alternative to those vacationers who want a break from the beach scene and shopping.
It is quite a surprise to find such a large variety of plants that are not indigenous to the desert growing so well in that region.
The Gardens are set up almost like an adventure trail, so visitors can follow a path that winds up, down and around through various created sections of foliage and vegetation representing different climates of the earth.
It is well set out, educational and interactive.
There is even a rainforest section that provides cooling mist on the hot days and a little pond and waterfall. There are monkey bars and slides that children can climb on and into, and it can be like an adventure through the various regions of the world.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Plan to spend about 2 hours at the Gardens.
  • There are a lot of shadings but do make sure you have protection from the sun.
  • Visitors are not allowed to bring food into the Gardens, but there is a tea-room that sells simple refreshments.

 

 

5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids gardens

Photo credit D Short

Fireball

Eilat is a vibrant city that caters to holidaymakers from all over the world.There are activities night and day, and it is impossible to be bored. At night, the atmosphere is enhanced with the addition of bright, iridescent lights and one feature with the backdrop of the Bay stands out.
It is the Fireball – a bungee-based ride that shoots people into the air while being strapped to a seat in a safety cage.
The operator buckles the rider in and activates a tension mechanism that stretches the bungee cords. When the tension trigger is released, the pen goes hurtling up at a tremendous speed, attached to the cables. After being catapulted almost vertically, the cage bounces and flips a few times before it returns gently back to earth, all accompanied by special effects.

Autism Travel Tips

  • This ride appeals to those who love an adrenaline rush.
  • It is not for anyone who is easily frightened or has heart complaints.
  • The ride is open day and night.
  • If you see it open and operating, you can go and wait in line. There is no need to reserve a place.
  • The cage has two seats so one can share the ride with a friend or family member you can scream and have fun together.
5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids fireball

Photo credit D Short

 

Day Trip to Timna

For an entirely different experience, visitors should try the Timna Park.
Located about 20 minutes’ to the north of Eilat by car into the desert,  it is quite a fascinating place. The color of the sand and mountains as well as the uniquely bizarre land formations give it an other-worldly feel adding to the rich history.
Timna features the world’s first copper mines, and the Park authority does an excellent job for both children and adults bringing the past to life through a  multimedia presentation that explains the history of the copper industry in the region.
Visitors can opt to take an in-depth explanation and a walk-in tour of a scale model of the ancient Tabernacle that the Israelites carried around in the wilderness.Other visiting options include driving around the park and stopping at the various attractions, climbing or hiking on well-marked trails. Timna is also a favorite place to go camping, offering night tours that are good to take advantage of especially when it is scorching hot during the months of July to September.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Even though the Park is in the desert, there is a restaurant on the property as well as clean toilet facilities and a gift store that sells out of the ordinary mementos and souvenirs.
  • Even though paths are well marked for safety, climbing is done at your risk.
  • All the archaeological and geological attractions are interactive, and one of the favorite activities is to fill little bottles with colored mineral sands to take home as a souvenir.
  • The multi-media presentation is at very specific times, as are the other activities so make sure that you schedule your visit accordingly.
  • The Park office opens at 8 am and closes at 4 pm  Sunday through Thursday and between 8 am and 3 pm on a Friday and in the hot summer months.
  • Once visitors to the Park are in the gates, they can leave when they choose.
5 Eilat Spots to Explore with Kids timna

Photo credit D Short

Darya  Short lives in Israel, with her husband and their two teenage children, one of whom has Sensory Integration challenges.As a family, they try to see as much of the Israeli countryside as possible, visiting National Parks, museums and other historical and archeological sites.

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