Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Israel part 1: Jerusalem


After a 10 and a half hour plane ride and an intriguing but ultimately unrecommendable   proposition by one of the air crew, I arrived at Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv.
I was waived through customs, at my great surprise since I had a Lebanese stamp in my passport and no concrete travel plans.
Step 2: shuttle bus to Jerusalem. “where in Jerusalem?” the driver asked me . “where should I go?” I answered. He gave me the half puzzled, half uninterested and blazéed look that I would become accustomed to in the next 2 weeks and mumbled “jaffa gate” under his breath as he closed the door and started the engine.
The shuttle was filled with  Montrealers, I felt like I was in Outremont.
An old ultra orthodox who wouldn’t shut up and for some reason had set his conversation sights on me; a diamond dealer in town for an important conference; a young Jew who was coming to Israel to complete his Aliyah(or ascent*)The owner of a bagel shop and a tour guide who, when she found out I was coming to Israel for the first time insisted on going to work and telling me everything she possibly could about Jerusalem in such a short trip.
 Heeding to her recommendation, I set out to find “the best hostel in Israel”. 30 mins of walking around Jerusalem’s new city later… I remembered that I had not slept in over 30 hours and was decidedly “tired of this shit”.
I walked into the old city, where hostels abound, and stopped at the first one I could find. The Petra Hostel. This place had all the charm of a funeral home, without any of the “joie de vivre”.
The only other person in my dorm room was a very socially inept man in his early 50’s, from the United states who had grown up with his missionary parents in Peru. His dad had died when he was 17, which lead him to quit school and take a job waiting tables in order to support his family (which he continued to do for the next 20 years). He explained that he had been living in the hostel for the last 2 years, doing laundry and cleaning in exchange for room and board. When I asked him how long he thought he would stay in Jerusalem, he replied quite nonchalantly “until I die”. 

I mention this man and his story because he is a great example of these individuals that make you feel uneasy but engender a creeping feeling that you must talk with them, follow them a little down their road and explore their world. I have met quite a few of these people in my life and it has not gotten any easier to interact with them. However, retrospectively he was probably the most interesting part of Jerusalem for me.

I spent the better part of my time in Jerusalem wandering around the old city from sunrise til about 11 am then back to the hostel, sleeping til 3 or 4 pm then going out into the new city for supper and drinks into the night(which made me realize something I think few ppl realize; the old city is exponentially better to visit at night. No little trinkets for sale, unfettered access to a bounty of nooks and cranny’s, IDF soldiers creeping around every second corner that are strangely reminiscent of their Roman counterparts..).
 It took me a almost a week to regulate my sleeping pattern so I could sleep more than 3 hours at a time and as far as I can remember it is only the second time I have ever experienced jetlag.

Word to the wise, if you are an atheist 1 or 2 days in Jerusalem is enough. The crowds during the day in the old city are unbearable and the atmosphere is quite tense. My personal favorite Jerusalem site though is the western wall. The energy is amazing. If you want to feel absolutely out of place and unwelcome this is as good as it gets. In the 20 minutes I spent at the wall the following things happened; A old man spit on me(though I couldn’t make out if it was intentional or not), A young orthodox maybe 2 or 3 years my cadet started chanting AT me and followed me around for the better part of 5 minutes, a middle aged man, seeing that I was wearing the little visitors kippa, asked me with a half frown “r yu jewysh”, as I was resting my head and hands on the wall with my eyes closed old men wearing Tallis (the religious scarf for men) came to pray next to me, so close that I could smell their breathe, even though half the wall was free. There is much more to be said about this holy of holy sites but I believe you get the point.
On my last night in Jerusalem, the old city hostel atmosphere became unbearable and I packed up appendage and dragged my carcass to the new city where I found a more suitable hostel for a good nights sleep.

 In a nutshell: Jerusalem is a city primordially defined by its conflictual nature. Jerusalem  without some sort of conflict would lose its essence and feel. In a strange twist of fate: it is the very tensions that threaten to rip Jerusalem apart that keep it together…

Thoughts from the Road:
   an example of Israeli sarcasm and blasé attitude: -This is the Uganda right?(to bartender at a bar that was hard to find and had no sign out front)

            bartender nods
           "why is it that I asked the bouncer at the bar next door and he didn’t know where Uganda was?"
      because he is stupid…(he does not know said bouncer personally)

-       he who owns Jerusalem must play the roman. As the roman soldier patrolled the streets as Jesus ascended the via dolorosa, the IDF soldier patrols as the Palestinian drinks tea while trying to sell crap to tourists


Monday, November 22, 2010

the travelers century club

I came across this website, thought some of you may find it interesting

Membership in the Travelers' Century Club (TCC) is limited to those travelers who have visited one hundred or more countries of the world. It was first organized in Los Angeles in 1954 by a group of the world's most widely traveled people. The idea has attracted the interest of the world travelers everywhere and we now have members throughout the world, as well as the United States.
The youngest member of the club is Lani Shea, whose parents, Jeff and Novita, from Novato, CA, report that she reached her 100th country at two years, eight months. She has set a new Guinness World Record under the category of “Youngest person to travel to all seven continents.” This was accomplished in December, 2003, when she was two years, 307 days.

It made me count the number of countries I have been to: 22, a small achievement in comparison but a valiant and ongoing effort nonetheless

Sunday, November 21, 2010

green guns

travelling by bus in israel; 2 things are sure, you will see alot of olive green uniform and you will have many guns pointed at you

on tourist traps...

conclusion: multimedia shows for tourists are lame everywhere, even in a cave dug under the mediteranean at the border between israel and lebanon...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The catch 22 of travel

" then came july 15, a wonderful sunny day, and my sextant sights revealed we had passed the halfway mark(37W)
That evening I celebrated...but there was a tingle of sadness in this fact too, I didn't think I'd want it to go on forever, yet whether i did or not, it's end, no matter how happy or how longed for, would be accompanied by sharp twinges of pain, an undercurrent of profound regret. For then the voyage and all it meant to me in happiness would have moved from anticipation through realization into the past, where events, once lodged, existed only in the limbo of memory and could not (no matter how hard we tried) be relived."

-Robert Manry (June 2, 1918 – February 21, 1971) was a copy editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer who in 1965 sailed from Falmouth, Massachusetts to Falmouth, Cornwall, England in a tiny 13.5 foot (4 m) sailboat  named Tinkerbelle. Beginning on June 1, 1965 and ending on August 17, the voyage lasted 78 days.
At the time, the Tinkerbelle was the smallest boat to make a non-stop trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Manry later wrote about the voyage and its preparation in his book Tinkerbelle.( I highly recommend that you read it)
To know more about Robert and Tinkerbell:

 I discovered Robert's story when I chanced upon Tinkerbell at the western reserve museum in Cleveland last year.
4 metres may sound like alot of room but when you take into account all the modifications he made to the boat for it to float steadfastly and all the supplies he had to take with him for 78 days on the north atlantic by himself, that left him enough space to crawl into a ball.
He fell out of the boat on several occasions and if I am not mistaken there were 6 days of the trip that he spent hallucinating and later had no recollection of.
Tinkerbell's virgin voyage on "open waters" was actually here in Canada as Robert sailed her up to Thunder bay from lake Eerie in the summer of 1964 with his son, 200 miles(321km) in one week.
I will be studying Robert's logbook more closely to discover what really motivated this amazing man to undertake such a daring endeavor with what appears to be such a frolicsome(laidback) mindset?

I will be writing about other amazing ppl and their travelling feats, feel free to make suggestions as to whom

post one hop two

as the title of this blog explains, I will be posting pictures of my foot in different places around the world that I will travel to.
today's picture is from the port in Akko, Israel.

Acre (Hebrew: עַכּוֹ‎, Akko; Arabic: عكّا‎, ʻAkkā), is a city in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel and is situated on a low promontory at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay.
Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the country and historically, was regarded as a strategic coastal link to the Levant. Acre is the holiest city of the Bahá'í Faith. As of 2007, the city had a predominantly Jewish population of 46,000.
-Notable inhabitants?  Jazzar Pasha; who earned the nickname "the Butcher" for his cruelty and extortion of his subjects. He is best known for defending Acre against Napoleon Bonaparte during the siege of Acre in 1799

-Twin city?
    Deerfield beach USA, oh yes

The same day I visited Akko I went up north to a little village on the lebanesse border called Rosh Hanikra, I then found out that this was were Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) grew up...,_Israel

why do we travel?

Have you ever felt that there was a lack of purpose in your life, that try as you might to find that one true passion it evades you.
Have you travelled in order to get away from the monotony of life, growing up, becoming part of society and all the rest?
Did you not feel as fulfilled by some of these trips as you thought you would be?
That is why I will not only be posting travel stories and pictures but also quotes on travel from different sources and misc reflections I encounter here and there to the end of finding out why we travel and how we can travel better.
so basically this blog is about the connection between travel, life and footwear.