the beauty of being a stranger in a new place - Israel

I love the feeling of being a stranger in a new place.

It's exciting to truly be able to appreciate the complexity of a city or country without the inhibitions and preconceptions which living somewhere creates.

As much as I try to stay in love with the area where I live, it's easy to take it for granted. I find myself walking around on autopilot far too often. So it feels wonderful whenever I visit somewhere new and can actually notice what's around me. Every place has its own unique pulse. Each place can teach so much.

For the last three weeks, I have been staying in Tel Aviv and experiencing that sensation each day. There are glimpses of familiarity from my childhood that catch me by surprise. If you've ever returned to the place where you grew up then perhaps you know the feeling of inexplicably recognising pavement cracks, trees or tiny quirks in buildings. The names of streets and the exterior of old homes fade from memory, but the minuscule details linger.

Everything is unexpected here, even the parts I recognise. The places in which we grow up have a strange hold over us. We remember them in a different way to where we live as a teenager or adult. It's irrelevant if the memories are strong or weak, good or bad- I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't feel emotional upon returning to their childhood home.

Tel Aviv is unlike anywhere else. The streets hum with energy. Motorbikes zig zag across the pavements recklessly. Beautiful stray cats drape themselves across every surface. I have a group which I feed each day. They now recognise me and run up when I walk past.  Lizards sunbathe on walls as the sun sets. Green parrots fly through the sky in the afternoons. The work week begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday which is  disorientating. Time works in a different way. Days feel long and the sun barely sets.

Here are some snippets of my time here so far.

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Chapman flew over for a few days and it was amazing to travel around together.Chapman is the best travel partner imaginable and we will tour the world together, country by country.

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We did a lot in a short time, one of the perks of seeing a somewhere anew. It began at the beach for a morning, swimming in the sea, getting attacked by a shoal of tiny fish, eating lots of granola, and attempting to communicate with taxi drivers.

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One of the many stray cats we befriended (aided by some food.) If I wasn't starting university in a few weeks, I would have jumped through the necessary hoops to bring back one of them.

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Chapman attempting to photograph fast moving street cats.

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Overall I have been keeping everything very simple here- just one small bag of belongings , no TV, minimal internet and plenty of time spent walking, reading and writing. It feels good to relax and appreciate this country.

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We spent a day in Jerusalem (where I was born) during which we were accosted by countless street vendors, pushed Father John Misty lyrics into cracks in the Western Wall, ate bagels the length of my arm, saw a stunning photography exhibition and brought myriad spices. Whilst most of Israel is modern to the point of verging on sci-fi, Jerusalem is ancient and steeped in history.

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What are your experiences of being a stranger in a new place? Let me know in the comments as I would love to hear.

// Rosie

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