Philosophy, Travel

The Path Less Traveled

I’d like to believe that travel makes me a better man. It opens me up to new ideas, new cultures, new foods. It doesn’t judge me, yet, I may at times judge it. I may get exhausted or livid while traveling. At the end of the day, travel is still here for me. 

For better or worse.

Often I consider myself to be very articulate but recently I have not wanted to write. I felt out of place writing about things that I see, a fraud if you will. Somewhere in Spain I started to feel myself again. Not what society, friends, or even family perceived me as. I am still learning, growing, and at times, failing. But as long as you fail forward life will be ok.

So fail, fail forward. Fail a lot. Learn what makes and breaks you as a person. Learn what you love and what scares you. And face it all down each day.

As for me? 

Maybe I’ll find a nice Spanish woman, settle down, have a few hell raisers. Develop a healthy addiction for cured ham, cheeses, and alcohol. And die young.

That it, that’s how I want to go. 

While under the influence of jamón and sangrias. 

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Philosophy, Travel

Short and Sweet 

Old punk rock fills my ears as I sit at a wooden counter top that has obviously seen better days. And did I mention there is an endless supply of draft beer and accompanying booze meant for human consumption?

No, this isn’t heaven but it’s pretty close. 

No matter where I find myself in the world I always seek out grungy dive bars. Because, well, I just feel at home. These are my people! Wait, why is that old guy passed out on the bar? It’s only noon!

You may ask yourself, where is The Beard this time? Where is he face deep in some sudsy goodness? Could it be Ireland, London, NYC, Miami? Could it be some crazy little Midwest town in the states where he is surrounded by truckers, bikers, and ladies who dance provocatively for a living?

Not even close. Where I am is far from those places. One might even say it’s the holy land… Of course I am speaking of Jerusalem.

The second you step foot on the slick stone walkways of the old city you feel it. You sense an energy gripping you that this place is archaic. Not old like your grandfather; I am talking drastically ancient.

This is the setting for that one book that you probably should be reading–yes you, heathen. 

The old city of Jerusalem is like if a central Asian market had a baby with a small city. It is lined with merchants and food stalls, often times, trying to get your business. Separated in three quarters (Jewish, Muslim, Christian) a person can find any food or item that they desire. The vast possibilities of culinary treats include: Shawarma, hummus, falafel, and pretty much any other levanent or Middle Eastern dish you can fathom.

Here is a place you can buy stuff for friends and family, exchange money, see every tourist in the world…

With all that being said, let’s raise our glasses to dive bars. Let’s raise a glass to merchants and the aroma protruding from food stalls. These things are a slowly bringing the world together.

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Philosophy, Travel

Tel Aviv, Israel.

Israel. 

A hotbed for controversial subject matter. From political and economical, all the way down to religion. In regards to the part known as Tel Aviv, well, you might just forget these issues for just a moment because Tel Aviv is a bubble…

Are those people with tattoos? Wearing shorts and quirky shirts? Beards and round glasses? Are those… Are those hipsters? 

If you take a quick deliriously delightful walk, mainly caused by jet lag, around this city not far from the beach. You will in fact find yourself surrounded by gentrification. 

At first I thought it was just the jet lag setting in but there are hipsters everywhere.

Strategically placed in between the spice and retail shops some of the sights may scare those who have seen what these pseudo fashionistas and latte sippers do to older parts of cites. The nice man selling spices now has to share space abreast from coffee shops, slick restaurants, and other trendy endeavors. 

But is gentrification a bad thing? The old has to — at some point in time — innovate, adapt, or die. 

Is culture destroyed? Do we lose some sort of history and authenticity when things are gentrified? Socrates would probably ponder the same questions if he lived in these times. Hell, he might have been a hipster himself.

Gentrification, a lot like tourism, can take something that brings us satisfaction and glee and just smash it all to pieces like a fully built lego set that your older brother crushes. 

When mankind tends to love or enjoy something then we often smother it — spend every second basking in the way it makes us feel. We want to travel to experience culture, enlightenment, and cuisine; but sadly with this we also leave behind our impact on the places we encounter as travelers. 

We essentially destroy a part of what we had lusted for. 

The same principals apply for gentrification. 

I will be the first one to say that it’s not all doom and gloom. 
No! In fact look at hipster style food trends for example; I will be the first in line for that crazy new spin on pork belly or to sit in awe over the chef spooning a heap of smoked bacon foam over my otherwise plain and ordinarily boring BLT sandwich. 

I get it, it’s innovative, it’s trending, sometimes it’s even, god I’ll say it… It’s even more delicious than before!

But aside from these incoherent ramblings about the future, there is still an Israel. There is still, specifically, a Tel Aviv. 

From the markets that boast fresh produce all the way down to seafood caught daily in the Mediterranean. The honking of taxis and buses; families walking around Rothschild street’s scenic stretch. The town is getting a mixture of different cultures but there is one common theme for the most part — coexistence. 

At least for now the workers will work, the chefs will cook, families will live, and life will go on. At least for now while standing at a busy street corner or a market — pumping like a fully functioning aortic valve — you see it. 

Like I said before, Tel Aviv is a bubble. A bubble that exists, what seems like, far beyond the affairs that trouble other parts of Israel. It is more progressive, more open-minded. And whatever the future may hold for this city on the Mediterranean coast, hopefully it will remain a beautifully diverse bubble. 

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Philosophy, Travel

Let’s Wait and See

This time I am far, far gone — way out. Busses, taxis, and shuttles could barely reach me to snatch me back from the void, if just to turn around and thrust me back into reality. 

Past the mountains, through windy highways; just me and the coastline to my left, desert to my right. 

Final destination? 

Kum Kum: a secluded beach bungalow on the Red Sea’s shoreline. The places along the water are usually run by Bedouins, a nomadic people of the Middle Eastern deserts. These are people who thrive on providing hospitality to any visitor that may come their way.

The Egyptian flags swaying with every passing gust, an occasional clunking of gears being shifted on a commercial truck, Saudi Arabia slowly moving into focus across the waterway.

Peace and serenity. 

Those awakened ideals can be found here; right here, in the middle of the world. 

Right where it all began.

All is not well in this part of the world, and nor has it ever been. There are still many issues troubling northern African countries and their surrounding neighbors: war, famine, poverty, disease, Sally Struthers. 

This is still — technically speaking — the Middle East.

But for that brief moment in time, as I looked out at the Red Sea with a cool Arab breeze sweeping through my scruffy blonde hair, the world felt alright. A place that I had never dreamt of until now had opened a spot for me. And come what may, I was in the continent of Africa; sitting on a beach located in the southern Sinai Peninsula; in Egypt.

And can I just say that the days seem long but all so much more vibrant with life. 

Time just moves on a much slower liner scale here. Everything, for that matter, moves a little more slowly. 

Once you get by the basic shock of being in physical and emotional paradise. Well, you start to see the world as a different place. 

I would not advise to visit this land if you are the more naive and ignorant westerner: There is Arabic spoken, the people here do adhere to Muslim standards, and there will be those crazy, yet enchanting, songs on the loud speaker.

My rambling seems to have went on a little longer than usual… What’s in this tea? That couldn’t have been tobacco in that paper I inhaled. And, shit! Why is the rum gone? 

It’s all ok, Logan. Just look at the stars. Look at all of them. 

And, boy. I have never seen a more eloquently beautiful sight. It is like I could pick a twinkling star from the sky like a tomato, fresh off the vine.

This is the Middle East and it’s not. it’s a lusciously seductive taste of culture that will, for the most part, Leave you blissfully blown away. 

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The above was written days before I would learn of the horrid attack on a bus of Egyptian Coptic Christians in the city of Cairo. 

The above was selfishly written far from the evil that the world seems to have to endure almost daily.

Egypt, and specially, the people on the Sinai Peninsula, welcomed me into their homeland with open arms. 

The driver that had taken me to my little seaside getaway waited for me at the border when I was leaving (he was late so his brother picked me up). He waited for me and my travel partner to bid us farewell. 

This was about an hour before I would first hear of the tragedy that had fallen on Egypt. The last words this man told me as I stepped across the border were, “this is your home now”. 

A piece of my heart will always reside in Egypt, and for now, the rest of my heart is with them as well. 

Maybe not all is good in the world. 

Bad things happen to good people daily. 

What is the right mindset to have? Do we respond to violence and pure evil with compassion and peace or more violence and anger?

I really don’t know anymore; but I hope for the sake of the world that we figure out the answer soon.

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Travel

Shawarma, 

you might know the name. You may have even eaten one or two in the states during a bout in a big city such as New York. But I’ll tell you, you have not lived until you have wrapped your lips around one of these puppies in Israel. 

It could possibly be, hands down, one of the best meals of my life. 

Anyone selling things under the same name in the states should be taken behind the shed and physically assaulted for hours. 

While exploring the port city of Jaffa, Israel, I had the opportunity, no! I had the privilege of chowing down on this delectable gift from the culinary gods. 

For those savages that are so out of the loop and don’t know what a shawarma consists of. Well, I should make you google it; but I assume I will be generous enough to explain the inner workings of these incredible works of gastronomic art.

First a meat, whether it be chicken, lamb, turkey, veal… You get the point. 

The meats are roasted on a spit for as long as a day. 

Then, some heavenly man that has just ascended from the sky, he shaves that roasted goodness right off. 

The one meat, or mixture is shoved into a pita, but first come the fixings. 

Now this is where things may tend to change depending on where you get your shawarma from. The essentials usually consist of toum (a middle eastern garlic sauce), tahini (basically sesame seed butter), hummus, pickled turnips, and amba (a pickled mango sauce). Throw in some chopped vegetables and there you have it. 

Shit, this isn’t a cooking show. So I’m not giving you any recipes or techniques but the meat is marinated, the vegetables are chopped or pickled, and if you don’t know what hummus is I think you should stop reading here and go cry in a corner. Why am I so aggressively describing this extremely delicious dish? 

Because, man. 

Just… Because.

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Travel

She’s Much Like the Sea

The moment I set my eyes upon her I knew it was true. 

Everything that I had ever heard was wrong. Within a split second I had fallen deeply in love. Her smell, her delicately crafted aesthetics, her absolutely entrancing personality. 

I’ve only seen the Mediterranean Sea twice thus far in my life. But hell, you know love at first sight; because, well, you just know. 

After a long walk through the empty streets of Tel Aviv to clear my head there she was just waiting for me to return. A lot has been on my mind as of late. A lot of things that don’t necessarily matter or are so insignificant, time shouldn’t be wasted on such frivolous thoughts. Yet there I was, a head full of shit, walking. Walking to try and get back to her. The water always calms me and I knew there was only one cure for my unfortunate blues. 

The sidewalks were unoccupied for most of the walk due to Shabbat. I was a man left to his own devices. A lone wolf.

We all set out on these voyages to get to where we think we will find pure joy or true success and I have to say that it is a blissful feeling. The feeling of having a dream in your head and then, before you know it, there it is. 

You might ask, “Logan, why are you being so philosophical about a walk to a beach”?

To that I say this, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking,” that is Nietzsche. The man knew his shit. And I too, now, know my shit. I know you can not replicate the moment the buildings clear, the sidewalk ends, and she is right there to greet you. Like an old lover who you once knew so closely. For now, I’ll take the sea. The tides are relatable these days — constantly in motion. The sea shares an unbreakable relationship with the moon as it waxes and wanes. They are both continuously in flux. 

Coming and going as they please.

So give me the sea because it is so much like me. 

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Philosophy, Travel

Fly Me to the Moon

If Tom Hanks would have been stuck in a Swedish airport in the movie “terminal” things might have been different for him. No crackers and ketchup for me. No authoritarian type security guards. More like salami sandwiches with Brie and pesto, Swedish beer, perhaps even a dirty glass full of Jamison to wash it all down.

After a split second observation I realized that there were no rooms in the airport hotels, surrounding hotels (for under 2000USD), or hostels. I guess some old screamo band named underoath was in town to play a show, who knew?

Needing to be up at 4am to catch a flight this could pose a dilema. I just throw caution to the wind at this point.

Quickly I find a magical establishment called Rest&Fly, yet, no beds for the night. I spend 60usd for a day bad at hour rates. It’s fast, easy, and cheap (please don’t take your mind there). Here is your money, give me my bedroom, and there better be a lady of the night that comes in my room for that price. Hell, I’ll settle for a pillow mint on my budget these days…. seems like my mind went there for you after all.

My life has become, by my own hands, a series of endless airports, makeshift sleeping quarters, and dark runways. 

These days I crave the madness that envelops me from this. It wraps me like a warm hug and I have gone utterly and hopelessly mad. Part Dr. Jekyll, part Mr. Hyde. I awoke a dormant beast years ago and that beast craves this lifestyle. Each trip I get further lost into that person; almost as if I don’t know who the old one was.

Nineteen hour layovers, sleeping on airport benches, while the world closes around you. It’s like you are living in an old west ghost town right before dusk. It is the old west, no rules. I can chug a beer and a Jamison, eat a little grub, then do whatever I want. This happened to be me finding a nice quiet corner to nest in.

The lifestyle is not for everyone. It is not all sunshine and rainbows. 

I’ll be sure to send some postcards from my next extended stay in a lonely airport.

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