The time has come to say good bye. I'm writing this post from the airport in Tel Aviv where I accidentally showed up three hours early because I had become so used to following the plan the IYHA made for me that I didn't even question it or check for myself when it said on my schedule that my flight was leaving at 11:00. It's actually leaving at 14:00. Oh well, you live your learn.
Yesterday I was lazy and didn't leave the hostel until noon. I didn't have anything planned but decided to take advantage of the location of the Yitzhak Rabin hostel in Jerusalem and visit the Israel museum which is literally just next door. I thought it would be a quick 2 hour visit but in the end I spent the whole afternoon there, which wasn't enough time to see everything, and I would have stayed longer if it hadn't closed at 5. The Israel museum is unique in a way that it's a history museum, art museum and some sort of folk museum all in one. It gives you a good introduction to the country and houses everything from Israeli contemporary art, works by amazing artists like Picasso, prehistoric human remains and a comprehensive exhibition about the Jewish religion and everyday Jewish life around the world. I recommend that you visit the museum at the beginning of your trip to have a better understanding of the history in Israel.
At the moment they have an exhibition about Herod the Great who built the fortress of Masada that I visited a couple of days ago. It was amazing, after having visited the ruins, to learn about him and everything he left behind. At the siege of Masada, which was after Herod's time, around 1000 Jewish rebels committed suicide faced with becoming Roman slaves as they rather wanted to die free than live as slaves. Masada is an amazing place and I'm so glad I got to see it.
As I made my way into the museum the first art piece I saw was accredited to a name very familiar to me: Ólafur Elíasson. Although Ólafur is raised in Denmark he is Danish-Icelandic (his name certainly is Icelandic) and he's the one responsible for the amazing glass facade in the newly built Harpa Music Hall in Reykjavík. It was like being greeted by a little piece of home. It's totally irrelevant whether or not he feels Icelandic because to us he is.
After the museum I made my way to the the Mahane Yehuda Market where discount hour had already started due to the late hours and everyone was trying to get rid of their products. It was an interesting place and trying to find it took me through some "real" narrow Jerusalem streets. I had something to eat and tried some local microbrewery wheat bear and then headed back to the hostel. Despite my best efforts to figure out how to take the bus back (I took the bus to the city center so you would think I should have known my way) I couldn't work it out and hopped into a taxi where the driver told me he lived on Iceland street in Jerusalem for 20 years before recently moving. I'm pretty sure he was confusing Iceland with some other country because I somehow doubt they have Iceland street in Jerusalem but if I'm wrong - please correct me.
Thus ended my last day in Jerusalem, and de facto my last day in Israel since I'm only hanging out at the airport today (for 6 HOURS!). This trip has been amazing, weird, wonderful and everything in between and I've enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you Big Blog Exchange, IYHA, Uri, Anat, Ofer, Kayed (sorry for misspelling your name before), Mahady, Miki, Moshe, Esti, Hava and everyone else who made this possible. I will never forget it!