It’s about home

During my days in Tel Aviv I was thinking about what to see or explore next. I found myself somewhat worn out, sometimes overwhelmed by impressions without having given them a place in my system. My backpack was open, but I didn’t unpack for weeks. I organised a little, did some handwash, but was also restless. After sightseeiing the last days I find myself tired, but couldn’t find a real peace of mind.


The room in Abraham hostel was quiet, that was really nice (almost a very grumpy older lady from New York was disturbing that, making a big scene in the room because she didn’t want to sleep on the top bed- if we were willing to give up our bed? No, her attitude was so bad and manipulating that I refused. She went to the reception to make an even bigger scene and she left, thank God. And there was a girl who decided to dry her hair with a hairblower in the middle of the night (I’m not lying!) and other funny times, but still, I slept rather well).
However, the thought came up to go home. Why not?

My new boyfriend and me were phoning on a regular basis and I knew we were going to have a good reunion. So I looked for flights and decided to leave. Home!  We had a relaxed last afternoon on the roofterrace in the sun with a book (finally I felt some calmness) and an great evening in Tel Aviv, having a final huge falafel and some Israëli beers, meeting a girl from Switzerland (originally from Kosovo and just arrived) with a lot of energy and stories (she was even playing in a real life soap). Purim (a Jewish holiday similar to Carnival) was coming, so a lot of people were dressing up and were ready to party.
The day I left I had to be in the airport 3 hours in advance. Well, in Israel you need these 3 hours! There are more security checkpoints and my handluggage was totally scanned and examinated one by one item and before check in I got many questions about my stay and about my visit to Egypt (that was a Nile cruise in 2015). Also a scan of your face will be made to get an exit visa. In total, be prepared to wait long.

My boyfriend picked me up at the airport with flowers (sweet!) and it was so cold in Holland (-9/-10) but it was ok, I could handle it. It’s about being in my own bed, (with the window open), my kitchen, shower, no backpack, my cat is back home; it’s so fine. But a new journey has already started: the one of having a relationship… Very new for me, it was quite a long time ago spending so much time with someone.  Besides that, I am still landing, after visiting three continents in about 2 months. Ibn Battuta, a real traveler and explorer from the 14th century has a nice quote:

travel speechless
So more about my traveling will follow, when the landing is finally done and I have ‘processed’ my insights or made new plans. It has been a great experience, totally different than I would expect and full of extremes and contrasts.
Hope to meet you again soon!


More Tel Aviv


art museum ta

After my desert adventure I went back to Tel Aviv. With Maren, my travel mate, I took a bus just after shabbat, that’s when the sun goes down on saturday evening.
Shabbat makes life quite unhandy in Israel. Especially for the travelers like us. There is no public transport from Friday 17.00 until Saturday 17.00. That means planning, or being stuck somewhere. Not a big punisment most of the time, but it can be tricky when you forget about it. So I did some gocery shopping on Friday, just in case there is no restaurant open. In Mitzpe Ramon there were some options to eat I found out later, but anyway, I bought some stuff. The supermarkets are crowded on Friday, looks like everyone is preparing for shabbat. (looks almost like the supermarket rush in here, before Christmas or Easter).
Maren had a flight back home on a Saturday and there seemed to be no buses or trains going to the airport. Not one. That’s amazing. The air transport is going on 24/7, but there’s no way you can come there, so she would be convicted to an expensive taxi.

In Tel Aviv we stayed again in the Abraham hostel. A fine, huge! place, good facilities and a nice breakfast. On the roofterrace we could enjoyed the sun some times and at night it was cold but we could sit there, have a chat and a beer. We met a nice Swiss girl (originally from Kosovo) who had just arrived, but we skipped all the pub crawls. Too tired. Later that week there was Purim coming up, a holiday that is similar to Carnival. People were already all dressed up and they party. Where else to party than in Tel Aviv?

We visited the Bauhaus neighbourhood, the gallery and we walked to the Art Museum.
Also walking around at the Carmel market, spice shops and other small shops. We bumped into a graffiti area and we saw a lot of skyscrapers and work in progress. Tel Aviv is vibrant, modern. Eating (Mexican) taco’s at ‘la Taqueria’ is a must and it’s someting else than falafel, shawarma and humous.

I tried to make up my mind; what would I like to do next?

Mitzpe Ramon, Negev desert

From the 22nd til 24th of february I was in the desert. I went by bus to Mitzpe Ramon from Jerusalem. It’s a 3 hour (and a little something) drive and you change in Be’er Sheva, a rather big town in the desert. On our way many soldiers were getting off and on the bus; there were many military bases.

I stayed in Me’ever, a creatieve place with a hostel. On this site were small galeries and shops and restaurants situated, it was an community out of the town. Hippie minded people. I was thinking of volunteering at Me’ever and I applied before I came, since there were also workshops, but the place was not so vibrant (yet). No workshops, dance. The volunteers were very young, hippie- minded, the people in this ‘village’ were friendly but also distant or on their own. I decided not to work there. img_1565

I liked the Berch bar, nice art and good music. Also the jazz pub is cool, they have good jam sessions there. Everything was in Hebrew and a menu list had to be translated or was rarely there. I met a nice lady from Switzerland and she was going to some camps in the desert. Maren was coming later and we did a great trekking in the crater.

sunset, Mitzpe Ramon
Cafe/ bar ‘Berch’ with art in Mitzpe Ramon

Negev Desert

Don’t expect too much of the town Mitzpe Ramon. It’s a typical Jewish settlement with a strong sense of community. And no historical sites to see. I once ended up in a party in the street, where people were dancing and singing songs following a car, like a parade. img_1555-1

Don’t go to Mitzpe for it’s history, but do go here for the nature, the views and the crater! Hundreds of kilometres… There are several tracks where you can hike or walk. If you have a car you can even stay in the crater, in a camp. Or walk a part of the national track. The views and silence, the endless colors of sand and stone, it’s amazing. I walked about 10-12 km there, it’s well marked, quite a steep climb but I loved it. It can get hot in there, so bring water, food, and sunscreen. Make sure you also see the sunset!

img_1565Walk in the crater, Mitzpe Ramon, img_1589Negev desert
Bocks, Mitze Ramon


Jerusalem: Yad Vashem and Yehuda market

From Palestine soil we went back to Jerusalem, stayed the night in The Stay Inn, a nice hostel in the Jaffa area. The hostels are quite expensive, the life too. 28-30 euro for a bed in a dorm is normal and imagine this is the low season.. The food and drinks are highly priced, compared to those in Western Europe.

Leaving Bethlehem was easy, there is a straight bus going to Jerusalem, avoiding questioning at checkpoint 330. The checkpoint at the border by bus was easy for us, for we only had to show our passports. For the Palestinians it was something else. They all went out of the bus out of a sudden and were queing up. They looked like beaten dogs. After the bus was checked, a 17/18 year old soldier (female) checked their Id (calling them one by one to come forward) and decided If they were allowed to get back in the bus by a knod, a friendly or nasty one. It was one of the most humiliating things I experienced. I had to cry some minutes in silence. There are those moments when you are happy to carry your sunglases. This was one of them..

Yad Vashem

In Jerusalem we went to see the yad vashem, the holocaust museum/ centre. It’s a big complex, very sober from the outside but with a great view, and full with films and photos, attributes concerning the history of the Jews through the centuries and from the second world war until now. Admission is free. Some parts of the building were sponsord by US (Jewish) families, there were signs everywhere. It was very crowded with groups and youngsters/ classes. This center touches me also. So much suffering. The concentration camp clothing, used, it was heartbreaking. I also saw the ghettos during WWII and they reminded me somehow of the Palestine area. Why do the same to another people what was done to you throughout all history? That’s a big questionmark.. Not many people seem moved, maybe they grief in silence.

After this we went by tram back to the center and walked in the Jehuda Market, with lots of local products, shops with food, small restaurants. A lively street/neighbourhood.









Anyway, it was a day filled with contrasts. Up to the desert!


With a local from Bethlehem Maren and I visited Hebron. The old city is on the list of World Heritage. Very beautiful, but needs to be restored too, and there was work in progress going on. The streets were being repaired. I think it’s done with international money, because the Arabs who live there/ the arab authorities probably have other things on their minds.


Part of the old city is taken by a hand full Israeli who live there as settelers since a few years. Fences around the houses and a watchtower and permanent soldiers control the street. One street is totally blocked for Palestinians, there is made a checkpoint. An Arab family is living near this controlled settlement, will not leave, but is having a really hard time. We were able to enter his house and see the fences of the settlers.

Parts of the streets in the old city and souk are totally covered with fences, because the settelers seem to throw their rubbish and stones in the street and on the people as to be seen on the photo above.



To enter the Abraham mosque and (Sarah) tomb (the Israeli claimed 70% of the building, so it’s used by muslims and jewish people now) we had to pass a checkpoint. Our pasports were checked and the Arabs were questioned and checked on their id. Strange to see a building divided, it was an old mosque and the tomb of Sarah was the end of the moslim part. You could hear a jewish lecture going on (in english) on the other side.


New settlements?

Outside the mosque is an area which the Israeli have occupied not that long ago. It looks like a ghost town, with only soldiers and a handful settlers, who are also carrying weapons. This occupation is against every international agreement. The Mameluk style houses seem to fall apart soon and there were Jewish people/ tourists (Europeanen, US) walking there, with a Jewish organisation, a tourguide and they were shown the part of this new holy land, maybe being persued to buy or claim a house there.. There was a sign that the Jewish claimed their land back after it was stolen from the Arabs in 1929. To live in this area might be even subsidised by the state, who knows? And the mamluk/Ottoman architecture may disappear, if they plan new buildings. It felt shameful and it was unreal to walk there. Very tensed. I got emotional/ could hardly breathe and wanted to leave the area. Whoever is right here, it didn’t feel good. There were observers (neutral people) in this borderarea as well. It’s not clear what their role is, they make reports of the situation. This is against all international agreements and convention, but nothing happens!

Jews were not allowed in the Arab part (nice market and this old historical town) and the Arabs have left and can’t go to this occupied part anymore.

Hebron is tensed for a long time and it’s where the heart of the conflict is. (Next to Gaza). The weekly protests are more severe in this town, according to our guide. The status of the town is also different/ special, it’s B 1 area. (not A, B or C*). The people are very conservative, every woman is veiled. The guide told us that the woman of Hebron are known to be the most beautiful of all the palestinians.The people are not bitter, but also not happy, especially at the checkpoints. They are welcoming, greeting us and business men as they are, trying to get us into their shops.

After this somewhat heavily loaded visit we went back to Bethlehem by bus to relax and unwind.

*The Palestine area (west bank and Gaza) is divided bij 3 sections: A, B or C since the Oslo convention of 1993. A- under Palestine authority, B- partly Palestine authority but Israeli military control and C- under control of Israeli government. Purpose was to withdraw Israeli control and get this area under Palestinian authority in 5 years and have peace.


At the moment I’m staying in Bethlehem, Yes, the place Jesus was supposed to be born.. Today it’s a city under Palestine authority, area A (Oslo convention, there are A,B,C areas on the westbank). Let’s share my last adventures of the last days..

The last day in Jerusalem was very cold, windy (stormy) and rainy. My wish was to visit the Temple mountain and the Dome of the Rock. Opening hours there are tight, (rules of Jordan and Palestine authoroties) but I managed to get there (after queing long). The site struck and moven me deeply; I cried because of the beauty and the fact I was there. If there is a holy land in Jerusalem, that was the part where I could feel it a bit. But that all is based on my own feelings, and I can be mistaken. It can also be that the rest of the city was too crowded, filled with groups (and it’s not even high season) so I kind of missed the point.


We (Maren and me) went to checkpoint 300 by bus, that’s really easy. The bus stops at a 10 m high concrete wall. After that we could pass the border without any check or questions. The way back will probably take long(er). Maren booked a dorm in the fancy Walled off hotel (with art gallery and little museum), initiated by the artist Banksy. I found a place in hotel Assaraya on the opposite side. The wall on the Palestine site is full with streetart and graffiti. Amazing.. It is like one big act of protest and request for peace.

Old town

After a long stroll (we took the wrong way) we found the old city of Bethlehem. We visited the nativity church of Jesus (partly under construction) and saw a mosque and the syrian catholic church, the franciscan church and pilgrim house. There were a lot of day tourists, with tourist buses. ‘Genesis tours’ 😉 and other religious buses were all well represented.

We went for diner with an American guy in the museum of Bethlehem, a Nice and cosy place. Afterwards we got a free tour in the museum! So Nice. The people are very friendly and welcoming. The Palestinian history is filling our heads and it’s a lot, all these impressions. The situation, to feel and see with your own eyes is hardly to put down in words. It goes beyond our common sense. Mixed and sadening. We live in a crazy world. Unbelieveable what we humans do to eachother. In Bethlehem there are living 55% christian orientated people and 45% Palestinian Arabs. They all (muslim and christians) need to go through checkpoint 300 or another one if they work in Jerusalem. That means going there at 4.00 in the morning, to que. Hours of waiting every day and they have a work permit. There are watch towers all along the wall with camera’s and soldiers, weapons like tear gass and granates. Gives you the shiverings. They are watching you, us.


After seeing the street art we went to a refugee camp. It’s founded by the UN, still supported by it (but because of the current US policy this support is uncertain) and is now more like a permanent settlement in the town. In the 40s of the last century (during the war of 1948) a lot of Palestinian villages were under treat of Israeli forces occupying the area.. Some villages were attacked, and that’s why many people left their homes. There are Palestinian refugee Camps in 4 countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Irak or Syria. This camp was build as a temporary shelter first, the key above the entrance is a symbol of returning one day soon, the people all kept their keys of their houses. Today the camp is still under attack, you see bullet holes everywhere and remainings of granates, tear gass weapons. The school has no windows; in the past children have been killed in the classroom. It looks peaceful, this sort of village, but always looking at a wall with watchtowers all over is no fun and feels like a prison. One of the towers is black, is being put on fire once in a while to ‘smoke’ the soldiers out. And every friday there is a demonstration near one of the towers. It’s peaceful, but not totally non-violent. Gass will be sprayed, sound bombs and Stones will be thrown, but the people will not give up protesting.

One of the guys we met is a tourguide and grew up in this camp. He is taking us to Hebron, I will write about that later. I have been emotional about this situation at some moments. I hope humanity one day can truely understand that Selam means the same as Shalom and then act upon that. I must admit I have a hard feeling in this…

Israel: Tel Aviv/Jaffa + Jerusalem

I’m traveling faster than I write at the moment, so it’s time to keep you updated..

I went to Israel on the 14th of February, it was a long day for a flight of 2 hours only. My flight was delayed and it took me some time to get to the AirPort in Istanbul. (Tram, boat and bus). At the AirPort/ boarding my handluggage was thoroughly checked, had to unpack. They say it was special security for going to the holy land. Had already 3 security checks on the AirPort..

Tel Aviv

But there it was, Tel Aviv! It was already getting dark when I arrived in the Abraham Hostel (18.30). A clean and huge place with a Nice bar and rooftop. I met Marin at the bar, a solotraveler too, from Germany. Nice. After some sleep and a good Israeli breakfast (with salads, tahini, eggs and great jam) I went with Marin to old Jaffa, for a free walking tour. (you give the guide a tip of course) It’s a great way to explore this old town full with stories and Ottoman remainings. Also Greek, Egyptian history and even Napoleon was there.. All yellow Stones and well maintained. Jaffa is also famous for it’s oranges and art galeries..

After the tour we walked a long the harbour and shore of the ocean and had a break with coffee and stuffed wineleaves in a Greek place. All kinds of cultures to be found here, jewish, arabs, Greek, Armenian, Russians, and some tourists of course. A lot of jewish classes were out on excursion also. And they are loud! People here ride on small electronic bikes, a bit strange because the city is quite flat. It’s probably very trendy now. It’s a quite young and modern city.

In the evening my Israeli friend Roy came over to see me. That was very special. We hadn’t seen eachother for more than 12 years. So Nice! We had a huge falafel and talked until it was time for bed.


The next day, Friday, we took a bus to Jerusalem. After one hour we were there and immediately you see the orthodox Jews. They are not seen or living in Tel Aviv. We took a tram to our hostel and we had to ask which one, because it was mostly written in Hebrew or Arabic. I asked an orthodox young guy, but he said ‘no no’, as If he was not allowed to speak with a foreigner or not-jew. Strange and it came to me as quite harsh. Anyway, we made it to our destinations, for me that is Jaffa, the Post hostel. Marin stays in the old town, the austrian monastary/ hostel, an amazing place! On the famous Via Dolorosa, where Jesus started his way to be crucified.

We did a lot of sightseeing, seeing the old town. The tempelmountain is closed, it’s sjabbat. But we saw the views- the Dome of the Rock pointing out. We found ourselves suddenly in the middle of a franciscan procession. We went to the wall of complaints, where the jewish people complain and write notes to leave behind for God. Woman were crying and men were reciting/ singing. On every corner you find a piece of history, a religious building, legend, exavacations, it’s in every step you take. Also you find camera’s everywhere and military checkpoints. Big machine guns carried by young army men and woman. What to say? It seems on some points a bit humiliating, sometimes maybe neccesary, I don’t know.

I can hardly believe I’m here. It’s like a religious jungle! Today I walked up to the olive mountain, saw the huge jewish cemetry and the russian orthodox church, dedicated to Mary. More Gates of the old town, the Armenian quarter. Because it’s shabbat, all jewish live is still, even the trams don’t ride. The weather was not so good, but we were lucky it was dry after 10.00. There’s a mean, strong wind and when the sun is there it’s quite warm and sweaty after walking and climbing. Will have to let all these impressions sink and think of what to explore the next coming days.. Want to visit the mosque the dome of the rock at the temple mountain, hopefully opening again tomorrow morning..






Later more! Shalom, Salam to you all..