Jerusalem vs Tel Aviv

A few months ago I visited Israel and Palestine. I travelled with a group as a part of a journalistic course on a Danish school. We talked to a lot of interesting people and even though we were only there for one week, it felt like an eternity because we experience so many thought provoking and amazing things!

One of the things that really hit me when we were down there was the contrast between the religions, the people, the cities, the.. I could write forever about all the different contrasts. But I’ve chosen to tell you about two cities that shows a lot of the different contrasts – Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Before we left Denmark we were told that Jerusalem was a city characterized by the heavy, religious history that is connected to the city. Tel Aviv on the other hand was told to be “like any European capital. Imagine Barcelona but in the Middle East”. On one hand it was true, but on the other hand both cities had so much more to offer, than at least what I expected.

Food

In Jerusalem we spent a lot of time in the Arabian parts. Even though there were Jewish settlements in some parts we felt like being in the middle of – oh well – the Middle East. Around every corner there was another shop selling fallaffels, shish kebab and delicious sweets. A smell of harsh tobacco drifted through the air as we walked the streets. And I promise – the food was so delicious. The falafel were so fluffy and full of taste, and the kebabs were filled with all kinds of good stuff. Cabbage, herbs and all kinds of delicious sauces. As a lover of everything spicy and hot, I fell head over heels in love with the food in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem also has some Jewish quarters and Israelian quarters. They also have some great restaurants, but they are more european. Except for the Jewish Orthodox areas. Here, everything is of course kosher.

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The most amazing falaffel in Jerusalem

In Tel Aviv it’s a bit different. It’s much more like being in a European capital. The restaurants and the prices at the restaurants are like any Northern part of Europe. Still, the food was really good, but just a bit boring. Some might find the a okay, but when I travel I would like to ‘taste’ in which part of the world I am because I think that food is such a big part of a country’s culture. But all of this does not do anything about the fact, that we had some pretty decent food in Tel Aviv.

Religion

In Jerusalem we saw the Western Wall. We heard the stories about the Western Wall. It was amazing but also very thought-provoking. After walking around in the Arabic parts of the city for a whole day, we saw the Jews in their characteristic dressing. They walking towards the wall from all over town. It was mesmerizing to watch. The following day we went to a part of Jerusalem, where only Orthodox Jews normally are. People told their children to close their eyes when passing us, and a lot even walked to the other side of the road – just to avoid walking past us. It was so weird to witness after being in the Arabic parts where everybody welcomed us no matter where we went. No matter where we went in Jerusalem we were reminded about religion in some way. Even in the Arabic parts were the Via Dolorosa cuts through.

In Tel Aviv it is the contrary. When you walk the streets you barely remember that you’re less than 100 kilometers away from one of the biggest religious conflicts in modern day history, if you ask me. It is like being in Barcelona. The streets, the shops, the restaurants, the nightclubs. You wouldn’t think this was a country given to a religious group. Because in Tel Aviv you have to look very deep to find religion. Of course there are still synagogs around the city, but nothing that you really notice.

Sexuality

Jerusalem is a religious city from the bone. The conflict in the city is partly because of religion. The people in the city has a very strong opinion about religion. Religion permeates everything and everybody. So your sexuality is not something you talk about or show. If you’re not straight, you most likely will not be living in Jerusalem out of fear. Even though Jerusalem has had its own Pride every year since 2002, an accident in 2005 scared a lot of LGBT people. An ultra Orthodox Jew stabbed multiple persons in the pride with a knife, and after 10 years in prison, he went to the Pride in Jerusalem again, and stabbed more people. Even though he has a life sentence know, the LGBT people in Jerusalem are very aware of the strong religious beliefs in the city.

In Tel Aviv it is the contrary. They have the biggest pride in the Middle East and Asia. And the city and city council is fully supporting it. It is a celebration all over town, and a lot of LGBT people from all over Israel is living in Tel Aviv because of the open mindset against LGBT people. It is something Tel Aviv is very proud of, and as an example of how the city shows it, they painted some of the streets and pathways the colors of the rainbow flag in the days before the pride.

Even though the two cities are so different, I really enjoyed being in both and one thing is sure: I’m going back to visit both in the future!

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A short guide to Bali, Indonesia

I went there for two months last summer, and it was the best of times. First of all – I worked as a volunteer English teacher, and it was amazing, but also very hard. But it helped me gain some understanding of the people on Bali and the culture.

Me enjoying a fresh coconut in Penestanan

No matter where you go on Bali the people are so nice and warm. Of course there will always be exceptions, but most of them are so sweet and helpful. I lived in a small village close to the bigger city Ubud in the middle of Bali. It’s a perfect area to stay in. First of all you are in the middle of everything, and you can drive almost everywhere on a scooter (if you dare!) or with a local driver (remember to settle a price before deciding which driver to use).  Second, the area is not as filled with tourists and tourist traps as the southern parts of the island. Finally, it’s a very beautiful area and they have a lot of yoga retreats and one-day-yoga places if you’re up for some zen (don’t go to the famous Yoga barn – unless you want to use too much money on something you can get much cheaper only a kilometer from there at Intuitive Flow).


Two great things to do: coffee tasting and cooking class

Bali is filled with beautiful nature, and even though many people tend not to visit the northern parts of the island, this is a big mistake! The nature is a bit different, not filled with tourists all over and very extraordinary. And if you like diving, you can dive with dolphins in the North!


Rice fields a short drive from Ubud

I would recommend you to go there for a minimum of two weeks. I stayed for two months, but also worked a lot, so if you’re only there for holiday, two weeks would do (but you’d wish you stayed longer, when you leave 😉 ). Maybe stay in 2-4 different places on the island, or set for one base and then take some weekend- and day trips from there. It’s very cheap to use drivers and the scooters are cheap to rent. But be careful! On the bigger roads and bigger cities, the police only target tourists and give them looots and lots of fines! And you can do nothing about it, except for trying to talk your way out of it.

I finished of my trip with a hike on the island Lombok, and I am so grateful for that! It was one of the most amazing but also toughest hikes of my life! You can read more about it in my post here 🙂


The nightly food market

Furthermore I went to Gili Trawangan for a week. There are three Gili islands and Gili T is the party island. It was nice, but I was sick some of the days, so I couldn’t really enjoy it. But I still met some awesome people from all around the world, went diving and enjoyed the beach. But beware, Gili T is much more expensive than Bali. So if you’re on a budget, you need to by some food and snacks on the mainland before heading there – and the you need to visit the nightly foodmarket! It’s cheap and the food there is unbelievably good – and then you can get almost everything!

I hope this is helpful, and you’re always welcome to ask me about anything 🙂

Fiji adventure

Last spring I took off on a trip around the world. One of the many stops was Fiji. But Fiji is just not one stop. There are more than 300 islands of different sizes! My friend and I went on a islands hopping trip and stayed on 6 different islands throughout the 14 days we were there – but we could have spent forever exploring the many islands! When sailing around you feel like there is no end to the amount of islands emerging in the horizont. Some small, some big. Some vulcanic, some beachy, some full of forests and small cottages.

Wherever you go on Fiji you are met by the following four things:

  1. So. Much. Happiness
    It seems as if everybody on Fiji is just happy all the time. No matter where you are you will be met by a smiling face or somebody wanting to help you. It is so wonderful and you can’t help but feel welcome at the Fiji islands!
  2. Sun all the time (almost)
    It is often too hot (for me) to stay in the sun mid day, but then you can just enjoy the ocean or some of the hammocks that are place on a lot of the islands. Or you can enjoy some of the many activities offered on the different islands. When I was there I went diving 10 times, but if you dont have a diver’s certificate you can just snorkel and still see a lot of magnificent things. I would very muc recommend you to visit one of the islands where you can see stingrays! It is so amazing to snorkel above the huge, mesmerizing animals.
  3. Traditions and lovely food
    Together with the lovely people comes a lot of really delicious dishes! You must try them all! The Fijians can really cook some damn good food. Furthermore there are a lot of tradition which they’ll gladly tell you more about. You also must try kava if you go to Fiji. But let me warn you: it tastes exactly the way it looks.
  4. Cheap drinks
    A lot of the islands have some very cheap prices when it comes to alcohol, so before you go to Fiji, make up your mind: are you going there to party or to relax or a third thing? When you’ve decided upon it ask about the different islands you plan on visiting at the bureau you are planning through or at the tourist information when you get there. It’s a nasty surprise to get to a party island if you just want to relax and watch the beautiful sunrises.

But I can’t describe how wonderfull Fiji is actually. So I guess you have to go there!