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The History-Loving, Bike-Riding Retirees


Get some exercise in Tel Aviv.  

Sanna Feirstein, 67, and Michael Feirstein, 70

Budget: Splurge

Duration: 2 Weeks

“I really like staying in places where you feel what it must’ve been like to live there at a certain time in history. Michael is the more adventurous traveler, and lately he’s very interested in biking.”

Go here: Israel

Why now: The phrase “What’s old is new” has rarely been more apt. The Holy Land’s historic cities have made urban renewal their mission as of late, renovating ancient ports like Jaffa, rebuilding storied areas like Tel Aviv’s Sheinkin Street, adding bike paths, and welcoming a wave of new restaurants, hotels, and museums.

What to do: Pick up a bike from a Tel-O-Fun kiosk (from $3.63 for 30 minutes; various locations; tel-o-fun.co.il) and take advantage of Tel Aviv’s ubiquitous paths by pedaling from the Beit Ha’ir, an exhibition center housed in the city’s former Town Hall, to the Jaffa Port. There you can continue down the beach promenade or gallery-hop along the adjacent cobblestone streets. Don’t miss the Container (Warehouse 2, Jaffa Port; container.org.il), a new hybrid gallery, concert venue, and restaurant. In Jerusalem, the collection of nearly 500,000 objects at the Israel Museum ($13; Ruppin Blvd. nr. the Knesset; 972-2-670-8811) spans the country’s history: See the Dead Sea Scrolls alongside contemporary Israeli sculptures. Plan your Jerusalem stop around November 15 and you can watch hundreds of bikers compete in the final leg of a five-day Alyn ride (alynride.org) originating in the desert city of Arad.

Where to stay: The HooHa Cylcists’ House (from $105; hooha.co.il), 90 minutes north of Tel Aviv, was founded by bikers, for bikers; half-day rentals start at $18.50. In Tel Aviv proper, sleep in the months-old bed-and-breakfast the Rothschild (from $200; the-rothschild.com), a renovated International-style home named for the historic tree-lined boulevard that select balconies overlook. While in Jerusalem, book a room at the Alegra (from $357; hotelalegra.co.il): In 2011, the owners transformed this thirties home into a boutique hotel with seven suites, all outfitted with Jerusalem stone walls. Many rooms also come with a view of the Ein Kerem, an ancient village said to be the birthplace of John the Baptist.

What to eat: If you can get a table, dine at Jerusalem’s Machneyuda Restaurant (Beit Yaakov 10 St.; 972-2-533-3442), where chefs re-spin Israeli classics using market ingredients. In Tel Aviv, the Mediterranean menu at celebrity chef Haim Cohen’s year-old Yafo-Tel Aviv (98 Yigal Alon St.; 972-3-624-9249) changes daily; a three-course meal with wine tops out at about $65.

Buy this: A miniature cypress pinecone necklace, dipped in 24-karat gold, by Israeli designer Gur Kimel. It’s $137 at Tel Aviv’s Design Museum Holon gift shop (Pinhas Eilon St. 8; 972-7-3215-1515).

Also consider: Heading to Seville, Spain, to take in the recently revamped La Plaza de la Encarnación and surrounding Soho Benita neighborhood. The 2,200-year-old city, surprisingly jammed with new boutiques and shops, is also ideal for bikers, thanks to more than 80 miles of winding bike paths.


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