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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