Antwerp · Food · Restaurants · Travel guide

Josephine’s Treasure Map to Antwerp (2)

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” It was Luciano Pavarotti who once said these words, and he is a wise man. For most of you it might not come as a big surprise, but I love food. I love it so much, I’ve dedicated more than one blog post to it. That’s why the second part of my Antwerp Treasure map is all about: food.

FROM BRUNCH TO DINNER AND BACK AGAIN – Lately I enjoy waking up early on a Saturday morning (i still have to get used to saying that, as my former hobby was sleeping in) and assembling friends and family to go for breakfast in one of the many coffee bars Antwerp has to offer. I remember when I moved to Antwerp about 10 years ago, there weren’t many nice and cosy (and free WiFi-ed) coffee bars as there are now. Or maybe I didn’t know they existed, since I was mostly busy with my other hobby back then (sleeping in, followed by my anti-hobby: running to class). Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but it seems to me that going for breakfast (or brunch) is becoming a bigger thing than going out all night.

On a Saturday morning it’s always nice to visit the open air market. Since shopping for food on an empty stomach might hurt your wallet (as my mom says), get some breakfast first at Perruche (1). This small restaurant offers a very good breakfast and an even better service. Sweet Laura, that girl knows the drill of running a place! Adding up to the feeling of being at home: her mom occasionally pops in (actually she popped in once and never left) to provide happy customers with toast, special sandwiches, provincial spreads, spaghetti, soup and cake. Fun fact: Perruche, which is the French word for parakeet, used to be a small store which sold – you guessed it – parakeets (and other tiny, noisy birds). If you are a bagel lover I recommend Barnini (2),which is also in the same area (maybe you can try both, who cares about the market, right?!). No parakeets here, only owls. By the way, they have great coffee (in every size and color, with m&m’s on top or a good splash of chocolate sauce). I know because owner Annick used to train me in how to make the perfect coffee.

(c) Sien Josephine(1) Perruche – Oude Vaartplaats 60 – 2000 Antwerp (pope-approved)(c) Sien Josephine(2) Barnini – Oude Vaartplaats 10 – 2000 Antwerp

Time for lunch! Probably the most well-known place in Antwerp to go for lunch is Lombardia (3). Everybody knows this place, including Sting, Moby and Steve-O! Yes, big artists have fallen in love with Alain Indria’s gluten-free veggie health food love-temple. The interior looks like a huge container filled with pictures, colors, a giant golden bull, more color, graffiti and plants. You always feel sunny California in here and you would almost expect some half naked surfer dude walking in, straight from the beach, board still under his arm (if he ever does, ladies: I saw him first!). I love this place. Alain’s mom, Odette, opened Lombardia in 1972. Back then it was only a health-food shop. The most famous product Alain is serving is without doubt the Ginger Love tea (supposedly Alain came up with Ginger Love at table nr 18 in the back – so for any creative inspiration i suggest you take your lunch at table 18). It’s so good even Starbucks wanted to buy the recipe and the Wall Street Journal tipped Alain’s Ginger Love tea as a must when visiting Antwerp. Other good stuff I think you should try: Beasty Boy sandwich, Hot Mexican Tuna, the Magic Mushroom and Moby’s own Moby Juice.

Lombardia

(3) Lombardia – Lombardenvest 78 – 2000 Antwerp

Check out what Sting has to say about Lombardia:

For the real treasure hunters there is RA Kitchen (4). Located right in between antique shops, you will find this very cool restaurant (which in fact is part of a whole concept fashion store). The dining area alone is worth a visit: a mix between vintage tables, an informal living room lounge area, a mezzanine daybed and (on sunny days) a summer terrace. Ra Kitchen is all about fresh ingredients, a seasonal and eclectic menu, traditional flavours, unconventional methods and a touch of the past. As the Word magazine describes it, it’s a “quiet culinary universe of coolness”. Fun fact: every month, Ra Kitchen invites a special friend or talented individual for an event open to all! Take a look at their Facebook page to stay updated on upcoming events.

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(4) RA Kitchen – Kloosterstraat 13 – 2000 Antwerp

Other great places to get your food-groove on:

  • ULTIMATUM, Grote Markt 8: food, drinks and an occasional GREAT party
  • CHEZ FRED, Kloosterstraat 83: the best “stoofvlees met frietjes” in town
  • POTTEKIJKER, Kaasrui 5: for the romantic and nostalgic hearted people
  • FISKEBAR, Marnixplaats 12: it’s all Fish and all Scandinavian

Special thanks to

Alain Indria (just for being you), Steven Neuman (for countless breakfasts), Romain Brau (for inspiration) and Laura (for two eggs instead of one).

Next episode:

Dance the night away in Antwerp’s nightlife + SPECIAL SURPRISE FOR OUR READERS!

All pictures are under copyright protection

(c) Sien Josephine 2013

Architecture · History · Lifestyle · Photography · Restaurants · Tel Aviv

Tel-a-visitor

Sometimes I want to write about Tel Aviv. Sometimes I just want to show it to you. Christina Marien is a big fan of Tel Aviv , a loyal visitor, a returning customer. Luckily she always has her camera with her. Proud to introduce her as our guest photographer for this post. Here are some random TLV pictures. Thanks Christina.

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Lilienblum Street

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Brasserie  Top class French food open 24/7 –  Ibn Gvirol Street

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Coffee & Snacks on Rothschild corner Maze

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Coffee & Snacks on Rothschild corner Herzl (oldest kiosk)

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A common sight, wedding photos on Rothschild Boulevard

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Delicatessen Yehuda Halevy Street 79/81

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Sunset happens everyday

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Another common sight in Tel Aviv: hot guys

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Fresh fruit juice on Shenkin Street

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Israel has the best watermelons in the world

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Habima Theater

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Joselito

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Famous Dizengoff Square Fountain by Yaakov Agam

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Tel-O-Fun

Antwerp · Travel guide

Josephine’s Treasure Map to Antwerp (1)

When you travel and you don’t really have a clue what to expect or where to go (or you only have a copy of just another typical travel guide), you can easily get stuck in tourist traps and mainstream shops. But all we really want is to get to know and experience a city like a local. That’s why i thought it was a good idea to share my Treasure Map: some of the shops and bars/restaurants in Antwerp i like to spend time at. Since there are a lot of these places and so little space to write about them in one article, I’ve decided to go all Peter Jackson on my script and turn it into a Travel Trilogy. This is the first part.

A SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN ANTWERPNo one ever started a successful treasure hunt on an empty stomach!” (I’m pretty sure some pirate somewhere must have said this a long time ago), so let’s start with brunch. I must admit I like to eat a lot of junk and take-away, but my Saturday/Sunday-brunch has to be healthy. That’s why I prefer going to De Biologisch-Dynamische Bakkerij (1). The menu offers organic and vegetarian (sorry meat-freaks) salads, burgers, granola, walnut cake, speculoos, homemade lasagna and everyday another fresh homemade soup. These are but a few things the Biologische Bakkerij has to offer. Want more? Take home one the many sorts of bread (made of sunflower seeds, Tibetan barley, whole-wheat bread, …) or one of the many varieties of artisan cakes.

(c) Sien Josephine(1) De Biologisch Dynamische Bakkerij – Volkstraat 17 – 2000 Antwerp

Onward to the shopping streets, even though winter sales are still on display. When I was in University i used to work in a store for years; I must have created an aversion for anything that has to do with the word “Sale”. Still, there are some boutiques in Antwerp that don’t attract sales-crazy people and in which I can look around and try on things without putting my life in danger. At Fresh15 (2) for example, you can find the beautiful brands of Sessun, IRO, Humanoid and on some Saturdays you can also find the beautiful Merrymaker Ruth van Soom in this store. (By the way Fresh15 has another store Fresh34 which you can find across the street from De Biologisch Dynamische Bakkerij.) Another store I like a lot is Step by Step (3). The window filled with barbie-dolls is a real attention grabber, even more so is the range of brands they sell here: Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, Band of Outsiders, Current Eliott, Joseph and (yes thank you Lord) my personal favorite: GGDB sneakers (Golden Goose Deluxe Brand). If you’re looking for something more different, exclusive and most of all graphic, you really should consider visiting concept store The Public Image (4 & 5). Get Glam Rock and Roll on a Skateboard (I can’t find a better way to describe the collection): Your Eyes Lie, Kid Vanilla, MinkPink, Staff By Maff, Actual Pain, Andrea Crews, Pantheone, Blood is the New Black, Jeffrey Campbell shoes and jewelry by Melody Ehsani (to name a few), TPI introduces brands as if it was presenting breakfast. Yes, TPI owner Nele Moens is on a (rock ‘n) roll (or as they say in Antwerp: ‘goe bezig’).

Fresh15

(2) Fresh15 – Lombardenvest 15 – 2000 Antwerp

StepbyStep(3) Step by Step – Lombardenvest 18 – 2000 Antwerp

TPI2(4 & 5) The Public Image – Wijngaardstraat 16 – 2000 Antwerp

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Legs all tired from shopping? Need some caffeine? Wanna listen to some records while enjoying your coffee? Go to Coffee & Vinyl (6). What’s in a name? Owner Lars Cosemans, never shy for a joke, moved his old record-store (called Vinyl) and added a little coffee bar, so people could sit down, relax and listen to their favorite records. It doesn’t stop there though: the bar is also a gallery. Now on display is art by Frederik Schnieders. Free WiFi, great coffee, cool art and good music. What else?

(c) Sien Josephine(6) Coffee & Vinyl – Volkstraat 45 – 2000 Antwerp

For something decorative or something to read i recommend two places! (Studio) Helder (7) offers the most original and practical design. The shop oozes creativity. That’s probably because the team behind this store (an accessories designer and an interior architect who both worked with renowned fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester) use their talent as a platform for presenting their own creations. You can buy a Crying Candle here, which cries tears as the wax burns, or Y-shaped tabletops as a multi-employable base for a coffee table, cabinet legs or even a book shelf. There’s so much to explore in this shop, it’s like a little adventure. If you want to feed your intellectuality some more go to ‘t Stad Leest (8). It’s a huge bookstore which offers you a look inside the favorite books from the owners themselves! Nice personal touch. And open on a Sunday.

helder(7) Studio Helder – Vrijdagmarkt 13 – 2000 Antwerptstad leest(8) t Stad Leest – Steenhouwersvest 16 – 2000 Antwerp

Upcoming things to do in Antwerp:

  • January 22nd – January 27th: FOMU BOOKSALE – the Antwerp Museum of Photography is selling it’s stock for ridiculous prices (Waalsekaai 47 – 2000 Antwerp).
  • January 24th: N8N PRESENTS THE RUS NERWICH QUARTET at (the bar/restaurant with the most beautiful name) Josephine’s – this is one live show you don’t want to miss. They’ll bring their new live show ‘The Wondering Who’, followed with an aftershow DJ set by N8N remixed. Reserve your tables now or just join in for good music and drinks (Gentplaats 1 – 2000 Antwerp).
  • January 26th: DOUBLE TROUBLE X GUS & SENSE X MAGIC at Magic Club – dance the night away on the best dance-classics, brought to you by Gus & Sense (Desguinlei 94 – 2018 Antwerp).

Special thanks to

Ruth Van Soom (just for being you), Brecht Baert (for coffee in golden cups), Nele Moens (also for coffee but most of all for being an inspiration), Lars Cosemans (great apple-pie) and Bart Deweer (for holding his pose while choking on a cookie).

Next episode:

about Food & Drinks. A BYOB-free invitation to Antwerp’s bars and restaurants.

All pictures are under copyright protection

(c) Sien Josephine 2013

Crafting · DIY · Knitting · Lifestyle · Tutorial

Winters are more fun with Life on Mars

photoHave you ever given up something or someone and replaced it by something much better? You’re talking about your last boyfriend? I’m talking about trading cigarettes for knitting needles. One of my best decisions ever. I quit smoking  in October 2010 while on tour with Leonard Cohen in Poland and taught myself how to knit. Being a Gemini, I may be an autodidact but patience is not my strongest asset. I spent hours pausing and playing YouTube tutorials and after a few disastrous pieces of holed rags I made my first scarf.

And then, slowly but surely I started learning more about the wonderful world of knitting. There’s so much to discover about yarn, fibers, needles, techniques, stores etc. Then came the “Life on Mars” labels. Mars is my nickname since childhood, didn’t choose it, never really liked it but as it’s here to stay, why not use it well, right? I mostly knit scarves but I also love to adventure myself in new projects: socks, cowls, dolls, pillows and lately sweaters. My favorite yarn is Worsted Cotton by Blue Sky Alpacas and my favorite stitch is the brioche stitch (tutorial on Newstitchaday)

Knitting is much more than just a craft. A creative process in which every step can be delightful: from thinking and cooking the idea in your head, to finding the right yarn, feeling the fibers, imagining the colors, the actual knitting and until the final result. There’s great satisfaction when you wear your handmade creation or see someone else with it.  Is there any sexier gift for your man than a handmade scarf around his neck? Lately, and when my real-job-working-schedule allows it,  “Life on Mars” has been expanding to sewing creations like pouches and other accessories. Those items and some of the scarves below are still for sale, contact me for purchase inquiries (or for knitting advice).

I believe there’s also a deeper lever and power to knitting; call it therapy, meditation, whatever. Waiting becomes a different experience, meaning less stress and more zen. While others get nervous standing in lines, you go like “Yesh, I have that much time to do that many lines and finish this or that project”. The repetitive movements and the sound of those bamboo needles rock me into the utmost comfortable well-being.

Shalom… or to my Flemish readers (doe je) Sjaalom…

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History · Israel · Tel Aviv

Jaffa, the port(al) to history.

Ever enjoyed a Jaffa orange? Its excellent and sweet taste is known throughout the world. However, not a lot of people know that the oranges are exported from a city with a richer history than the content of Madonna’s bank account. Even fewer people know that partnerships in growing and exporting these oranges are an example of Arab-Jewish cooperation despite the political tensions. All politics aside, Jaffa’s history left me feeling like i just came out of an unknown bed in which i had a great time: confused and excited.

Jaffa - view from north

According to legend, Japhet (the son of Noah – the patriarch who saves himself, his family and all the world’s animals when God decides to destroy the world because of mankind’s evil deeds), founded Jaffa (Yafo in Hebrew). Jaffa has seen rulers from all corners of the world. From archeological discoveries and ancient documents, historians learned that Jaffa existed as a port city some 4.000 years ago. During that time it provided Egyptian and Phoenician sailors. From biblical accounts that mention the trade of cedars from Lebanon for construction of King Solomon’s Temple, to the story of Jonah and the whale, over Greek legends of the beautiful Andromeda and Perseus and the Biblical visions of Apostle Peter, the history of Jaffa seems like a never-ending story. Alexander the Great, Roman legions, Richard the Lion Heart, Muslim sultan Saladin, Napoleon and General Allenby all conquered the city. The port of Jaffa played a huge role in medieval pilgrimage to Jerusalem and in the increased Jewish immigration in the 19th and 20th century. In short: throughout time, people were very attracted to this economic, religious and vibrant place.

By the beginning of the 20th century the population in Jaffa had grown considerably. A group of Jews left Jaffa for the sand dunes to the north and started a settlement outside the congested city. This settlement, known first as Ahuzat Bayit (lit. “Homestead”), grew to be the city of Tel Aviv. The increased immigration also led to tensions between the Ottoman empire and the new arriving population. In the midst of the First World War, believing their military security to be at risk, the Ottoman authorities deported the entire civilian population from Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The Jews were to be resettled in Egypt, Jerusalem and cities in central and north Palestine. They were not allowed to return until after the British conquest of Palestine.

After the British took control of the area, tensions between the Jewish and Arab populations of the city start to become more frequent. This led to a wave of attacks: the Jaffa riots in 1921 (leaving many Jewish residents to flee and resettle in Tel Aviv), the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine (inflicting great economic and infrastructural damage on Jaffa) and the 1947-1948 attacks (following the 1947 UN Partition Plan). Because of these attacks, thousands of people fled from Jaffa, leaving nothing behind but cats and dogs. Poverty threatened the continuation of Jaffa as a thriving city. In 1968, the Government of Israel and the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality decided to establish a corporation for the Development of Old Jaffa. It’s primary task was to avert the total destruction of Old Jaffa’s glorious past.

(c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine

(c) Sien Josephine

Old Jaffa has since become one of Israel’s biggest tourist attractions. The city now consists of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Its narrow alleys are lined with artists’ quarters, art galleries and shops filled with jewelry, archeology (whether real or false is to be contested) and of course, oranges. The sight of the ancient port and the rocks, set against the back drop of the modern city of Tel Aviv, the romantic paths and gardens in Old Jaffa and blue Mediterranean waves nearby, excite all senses. Today the city of Jaffa is more vibrant and cultural than ever, with terms like avant-garde and bohemian chic written all over its streets. It is a home to contemporary theater and art, tons of restaurants, antique stores, souvenir shops and of course the famous flea market. All this resting on Jaffa’s historical heritage which will never disappear.

(c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine

UP: All things for the home at One Bedroom יהודה מרגוזה ,12,68136 Tel Aviv-Yafo.(c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine

Food · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Ottolenghi – food for thought

In Flemish they say ‘Liefde gaat door de maag’ – literally translated  ‘Love goes through the stomach’ – and yes you can cook your way into capturing love. Wintertime is cocooning time and that means time for new culinary challenges. As Israel’s population consists of 76% Jewish people, Christmas is not as widely celebrated as in the rest of the world. While recently traveling to New York and London, I kept seeing that same cookbook in shops and homes called Jerusalem, without giving it too much attention; until I got my own copy as a Christmas gift.

Yotam Ottolenghi is a culinary star in London, overseeing four restaurants, writing vegetarian columns for The Guardian and a familiar face on BBC tv. Born in Israel not long after the 1967 war, Ottolenghi grew up in Jewish West Jerusalem. After some time in Tel Aviv, he moved to London, took a cooking course at Le Cordon Bleu without any intention for professional cooking; and there he met his later-to-be business partner and co-chef Sami Tamimi. Tamimi grew up in the Muslim neighborhoods of East Jerusalem around the same time. What are the odds: a Jewish Israeli from West Jerusalem, an Israeli Arab from East Jerusalem, meeting in the UK, sharing a passion for the same food despite cultural dissimilarities and together manage to successfully create their own brand of Meditteranean based cuisine. Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s story is inspiring; a sign of hope and a symbol for peace.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook is their third book and was already a bestseller before it even came out. I wanted to prepare diner with a few typical Middle Eastern for my Belgian guests. So we started the preparations: it can begin with sewing your own apron first (yes maybe I’ll post a tutorial for it one day) but let’s stick to shopping for this one. We went out to the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, where they have the best fruit & vegetables at the best prices. We also got some spices, tea and herbs like Za’atar (Hyssup), Cinnamon, Cumin and Curcuma (Turmeric). In the little streets of the Shuk (market in Hebrew) one can find great food spots for authentic Hummus, Tehina & Shakshuka like at Shlomo & Doron, to cement the stomach. And then it was time to cook; out of 120 recipes in the book I picked a few: I made roasted cauliflower & hazelnut salad (replacing some of the ingredients to my own taste). Then we had stuffed aubergines with lamb & pine nuts (I used minced beef meat instead) with Mejadra (ancient dish with rice, lentils and fried onion). I also added a plain sweet potato puree and some avocado salad. And some fruit for dessert.  בתאבון – شهية طيبة

Maybe one day, peace in the world will come through the stomach too…

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History · Israel · Judaism

Jerusalem of Gold

The Italians say: “Vedi Napoli e (poi) muore” or:  when you’ve seen the magnificence of Naples you’ve seen everything, and it’s safe to die. Italians obviously have never been to the Old City of Jerusalem. Being one of the oldest cities of the world, Jerusalem is marked by religion and conflict. During its long history, it has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Jerusalem is also a holy city to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The spiritual power of this city is omnipresent. It’s hard not to feel even the littlest emotion stir inside you when you touch the stones of the Western Wall, when you enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or when you see the sun touching the golden Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem has been on my “things i absolutely want to see in my life”-list ever since i was a kid. We entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate (inaugurated in 1538!). This gate is named after the port of Jaffa, from which the Prophet Jonah (the guy who got swallowed by a whale) embarked on his sea journey and pilgrims debarked on their trip to the Holy City. For us it was simply because Highway 1, the connection between Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Jerusalem, leads to this entrance. Our “pilgrimage by car” took about an hour an ended in a modern garage. I am very thankful to live in the 21st century and not having to do the whole Jaffa-Jerusalem road by foot, cause when you enter the Old City it’s all little cobbled roads and rocky steps. Not to forget about all the people crawling like little ants in between hundreds of food stands and small souvenir shops selling crosses, menorahs and djellabas. Obviously business is not divided by religion here. If you visit Jerusalem be sure to wear comfortable shoes and be well-rested, for it is a workout if i have ever seen one.

Jaffa_Gate_and_Tower_of_David

(c) sien josephine

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(c) sien josephine DSC_3687 (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephineThe Old city is divided into 4 quarters: the Muslim, the Christian, the Armenian and the Jewish quarter. Because there is a lot to see in the Old city of Jerusalem and we only had a few hours before the start of Shabbat we concentrated on two places of visit. The Christian quarter contains the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (or the Church of the Resurrection). It is said that on this place Jesus was crucified (Golgotha), buried (the Sepulcher) and even resurrected. The Sepulcher can be reached through countless other little churches, all connected to one another by narrow hallways. Without our Israeli friends guiding us through the city we probably would still wander around in this maze of holy stones, scented by heavy incense.

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(c) sien josephineUp: the Stone of Anointing, which tradition claims to be the spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea.DSC_3675 (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephine

In the Jewish quarter lies the Western Wall or Kotel.  The wall is a remnant of the ancient Temple wall. The Jewish quarter has had a rich history, with a nearly continual Jewish presence since the eighth century BC. The Wall has been subject of many conflicts. According to the legend anyone who prays in the Temple in Jerusalem, “it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer”. A lot of people come to the Western Wall to pray and wail (therefore the wall is also known by its other name: the Wailing Wall). There is also a practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers to God into the cracks of the Wall. Fun fact: the Rabbi of the Western Wall receives hundreds of letters every year addressed to “God, Jerusalem“. He folds these letters and places them in the Wall. Twice a year the Rabbi collects the notes left in the Wall and buries them in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

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There’s a famous Jewish song called “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of gold”). The song was written by Naomi Shemer in 1967 and originally described the Jewish people’s 2000-year longing to return to Jerusalem. A final verse was added after the Six-Day War to celebrate Jerusalem’s re-unification, after 19 years of Jordanian occupation. I believe the saying “Jerusalem of Gold” has a wider meaning, that expands to all religions and nationalities who are touched by the presence of this historical and holy place. It’s a place of emotional, monetary and religious richness. Of gold in every meaning of the word. It’s what people have fought over for thousands of years and are still fighting for. This is a place that has conquered my heart and i hope to return to its splendor and greatness lots of times.

General · Tel Aviv

When Antwerp meets Tel Aviv…

… it’s love at first sight. I arrived in Tel Aviv late last Sunday night. After waiting for an hour at the passport control area, I finally taxied my way to Rothschild Blvd, home of Marilyn. Our other friend Marie France arrived earlier that day from Brussels. I walked in, heavily packed (apparently very light for Marilyn’s standards).  Although you would think that with 3 girls and only 2 bathrooms it would take us ages to get ready, we’re actually doing quite a good job. We have breakfast every morning at Delicatessen (you can read all about Delicatessen in Marilyn’s blog post here). After breakfast we visit all the places this city has to offer us: Yaffo, the beach, the neighborhoods, … It’s refreshing how friendly people are over here! Maybe it has something to do with the sunlight, or maybe it’s just a cultural thing. Whatever it is, it’s a nice break from greyish gloomy wintery Belgium. After one day I already feel like I want to stay here forever. It’s difficult to explain the effect this city has on me. It’s historical and modern at the same time, you can really feel the international vibe but the atmosphere is not stressful or fast paced. I feel free and safe here. You see Israeli Arabs living in the same neighborhood as Israeli Jews, having their morning coffee together. Israeli people are nothing like the world describes them to be. Most of all they give me a warm feeling and every morning I go outside with a smile on my face, meeting new people whom I’m sure I will carry in my heart for a very long time.

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