There is something about an escalating mood of optimism that makes me feel little more than naive. Like a child to whom everything is new and exciting. Throughout my trip I’ve noticed that nearly each place I travel I like a bit more than the last. And I wonder if that is a product of chance with my itinerary, a constantly increasing sense of comfort with the road, or simply that I have been more sheltered than previously imagined. Regardless, I think I look foolish when there are multiple posts published within a short period of time that explain how this place is the best – like Homer Simpson as a food critic. Never do I try to embellish my destinations any more than they deserve, but instead focus mostly on the good, and report honestly as I move along.
My last day in Israel was yesterday. And, having a night time flight, I still had an itinerary for the day. I was up again at the crack of dawn to walk to HaCarmel street, one of Tel Aviv’s most popular foods and goods markets. The place opens at 9:00am, but I wanted to get there early. I wanted to see the people setting up shop, with hopes that they would be too distracted with preparing their business for the day to notice me and my camera. So, at 7:45am I was walking out the door of my hostel.
It was a 15-minute walk. Just a short ways down the beach and inland. My plan to capture the market before it could capture me though proved to provide little more than a tamed version of what the experience could have been. Completely had I forgotten that the magic of markets come from the hustle and flow of crowds. The screams of salesmen greeting passerby’s in as many languages as they know – hoping that a “hello”, “shalom”, “nihow”, or “privet” will hook into a customers ear and pull him towards familiarity.
It was still fun. Being the first person to walk down the streets as tens of thousands of pounds of fruits, vegetables, meats, and herbs were being unloaded into their daily positions. Burlap sacks bursting with colorful spices. Fresh cheeses and meats giving the streets a sweet but stinky odor. Both eight and eighty year old’s soon began flooding into the market for their daily shopping. Though after an hour or so of pacing the streets myself – during which I enjoyed a baklava pastry and some over priced strawberries – I was off to my next stop.
Catching a ride straight from HaCarmel to the central bus station, I was once again in a sheruit to Jerusalem. This was now going to be my third time in Jerusalem – but it was for only one purpose, to visit the Yad Veshem; the Holocaust Museum.
There were no pictures allowed in the museum, and my writing is in no way refined enough to evoke the emotions which Yad Vashem does. Thus I’m not going to write much about the experience. It is something that I would strongly urge someone to visit if given the opportunity. From the design of the museum to the content it holds, the experience portrays both beauty and horror in a way I hadn’t experienced before. And no history book I’ve read, story I’ve been told, or movie I’ve seen concerning the holocaust has ever left as heavy an impression on me as the hour I spent touring Yad Vashem.
The rest of that day was lived in the markets of Jerusalem and beaches of Tel Aviv with friends. After which I was soon headed to Ben Gurion airport in rush hour traffic to catch my 8:50pm flight. Landing me a bit after midnight in Budapest, Hungary.
I hadn’t prepared any accommodations in Budapest. In fact, I was planning on heading to the train station upon landing to find a ride to the Croatian coast. The reason being that I have a dear friend here in Budapest, but she was not going to be in town until the 13th. And because of it I thought that I’d pop into a different country for a few days and come back to Budapest to stay with her once she returned.
On the bus from the airport to the train station though I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the window. The dimly lit streets lamps struck shadows on the Gothic buildings in an enchanting way, and just before arriving at the station I decided that my time in Budapest was going to be extended. So I grabbed my bags, shouted at the driver to stop, and jumped off the bus.
There are many 24-hour hostels in these cities. And after aimlessly walking the streets for a half hour or so I had found one. A hostel named GoodMo, where for 17 Euro a night I’d be given a bed with 9 other roommates, clean sheets, Wifi, and a lounge area. Honestly, the place is charming. And for the price I feel as though my money is going quite far.
I woke up early again. This time without a plan – just a camera. And as I always do, I began walking. From my hostel to the market, from there up the river, and back into the heart of the city. Zig-zagging up and down every side street.
Pictures say a thousand words, and this post is already getting a bit long, so hopefully the pictures will detail the rest of the experience. However, some quick points that I will get back to tomorrow are: 1) Budapest is the cleanest city I’ve traveled to yet, 2) It is the most affordable city, and 3) I find it to be the most livable.