Herzliya, a modern city located directly on the Mediterranean coast and named after the Zionist Theodor Herzl, is a beautiful part of Israel that is just a short 15 minute drive north of Tel Aviv, making it an easy vacation destination for locals. And being the locals that we are, this is exactly where we ventured this past weekend. I had always heard wonderful things about the city of Herzliya since it is known for being upscale and modern, as well as prized for its white sand beaches and plethora of fine dining and shopping options. I was curious to see this area for myself. I am a little biased, especially having grown up in southern California; however, I must say we were pleasantly surprised with what we found. Please let me introduce you to Herzliya, the city of choice for Israeli's elite, including a plethora of high tech companies, international conventions and embassies:
At first glance, there is a lot here that reminds me of San Diego, which is why I love it so much. Great hiking, beautiful beaches, a grand marina, towering cliffs, stellar weather and top-notch shopping and dining. We headed to the common gathering spot which is at the Herzliya Marina (pictured above) where you can find Israeli's fanciest indoor shopping mall. The architectural plan of the outside plazas is inspired from and based on qualities found in the streets and squares of many Italian Mediterranean cities, giving it a very European and lively feel to it (which most of you know is my very favorite thing in the world). First, here are a few images from the indoor shopping mall at Herzliya:
The mall (above) is built with glass walls and windows in order for shoppers to be able to enjoy the beautiful soothing views of the surrounding marina. Thus, even on a breezier day, you can shop or eat from indoors as you peer out into the beautiful surroundings. On one side of the mall you have the marina, and on the other side of the mall, you have the very beginning of 4 miles of beautiful stretches of Herzliya beaches. After doing some window shopping we peeked outside on the marina side of the mall to catch this view:
After taking in the beautiful views, there are dozens of delicious restaurants to choose from, many of which are pricey, but all of them compete voraciously for your wallet and for your pallet as you pass by and take in the enticing scents that make your mouth water. Herzliya, after all, has been known to attract some of the best chefs in the country and in the Middle East in general. Our meal at Lucca's Restaurant did not disappoint. We chose what we thought was a basic Italian restaurant, but my oh my, was it delicious! It is not easy for me to add a new gnocchi favorite to my list (my favorite food), but this mouth-watering home-made gnocchi topped with a Gorgonzola and blue cheese sauce not only prompted drawn-out "mmm's" from Rafi and I, but also, it easily topped my previously existing list on my very first bite (for those who are curious, my other two favorite gnocchi dishes are at San Diego's Arrivederci Ristorante - due to the melt in your mouth factor - and Encinitas's and/or Carlsbad's Vigilucci Ristorante - due to the scrumptious truffle oil sauce). As usual, Rafi opted for a pizza. Boring if you ask me, but to each his own!
After a filling meal, perhaps take a time out on one of the many swings lining the marina boardwalk. It may not have been the nicest of days when we visited, but just imagine the sky painted blue mid-summer with an ice cream cone in hand as you snuggle up with your special someone:
Finally, we made our way to the beginning of the 4-mile stretch of white-sand beaches which are coveted throughout Israel. Again, though it was not the most sunny of days, you still get the idea. I cannot wait to come back here when sunshine is in full swing! Growing up in San Diego has made me really dependent on sunshine. Picture now crowded beaches, warm sand, cool ocean breezes, sailboats gliding through the water, boardwalk runners and rollerbladers whirring past, and of course, a few rounds of paddle ball going on here and there (typical Israeli beach game).
I would be very content to move to the Herzliya area if we end up staying in Israel longer than expected. Jerusalem has been great so far and and is ideal for a year or two, but for the long term, I think I am more of a Herzliya kind of girl. A great location and a great jumping off point for other fun areas in Israel. Be sure to visit the area if you're in town long enough!