Bringing Israel + Istanbul to Los Angeles

Every time I travel anywhere from home for a New England weekend or a month in Spain (which I don’t get to do either often), I like to bring back some aspect of that lifestyle. This can be a smell, a plant, type of food, or activity. Like after a visit to Cape Cod I’ll buy hydrangeas, cook more seafood, and take time to go to the beach. After spending two weeks in Israel and Istanbul, I’m noticing a lot has come back with me.

Dream1

1: Dreams- I can tell every night since I’ve been home, I’ve been dreaming that I’m still abroad. In my dreams people have heavy accents, and I wake up feeling like I spent all night visiting religious sites and walking the narrow cobble stone streets. Every morning I’ve woken up to the thought “where am I?” It’s disorienting, but a relief that in my brain I’m still on an adventure exploring the other side of the world.

Dream2

2: Walking- I always love walking, but when I walk it’s often to do a loop for exercise (or secret stairs) and not about walking due to necessity. In Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Istanbul, walking is an essential part of every day. In Jerusalem, it’s nearly impossible to drive in the Old City so you see people (usually women) with their rolling carts for groceries they’re buying from the stalls. Lettuce from one vendor, meat from another, dessert from another. Tel Aviv and Istanbul both have similar markets (the Grand Bazar) where people buy their goods. Today was a rare drizzly LA morning and it was a delight to walk from my home to complete all my errands and shop local at the farmers market. It reminded me that I may be in a very modern city, but by walking it made me feel very connected to the past.

80016dbe584c11e39bef0e0423ac1ff3_7 (Photo courtesy of @asherworldturns) I’m the bottom left.

3: The Spa Lifestyle- I have to thank Brian for this phrase. While in Istanbul we all were brainstorming about hospitality needs and Brain said he’s decided to live the “spa lifestyle” and the phrase has stuck with me. I also equate this phrase with Israel because of the Dead Sea. I brought back some Dead Sea salt (Ahava) and just took a soaking bath. Amazing. There’s something really special about that salt. I also brought back some dried olive oil based soap (a Turkish specialty) which made the bath extra fun. The Middle East knows how to do baths right. It’s made me think about redecorating my long neglected bathroom, as baths are calming and stress releasing which is key to happiness. It’s time I also embraced the spa lifestyle.

fa0c855059a311e39bd40e7965e0908e_7
(Photo courtesy of @asherworldturns) This (minus the chicken) was amazing. Hummus!

4: Food- Where to start with this one… I love hummus which was so readily available in Israel. It is common to order hummus as a meal. Just a plate of hummus with some pita. It’s all anyone needs in life. And mezze’s are what all meals should be: many tiny plates of food. In Israel it’s common to eat mezze’s before you even order any food, although by the time you eat the mezze’s you’re often too full for the dish you ordered. An example of mezze’s would be many small plates filled with mashed eggplant, hummus, olives, diced cucumber, plates of cheeses, guacamole (their equivalent), felafel, and so many more that are continuously refilled. Did I mention Israel makes great wine?

I think all travel is invaluable and you can’t put a price on these life experiences that end up changing parts of your everyday routine. It’s fun to travel and to see what everyday life is like for people in other places and absorb some of their ways. This trip has made me see how small this world is which puts things in perspective.

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