Israel Series No.3: “Are You on a Holiday?”

The Block - THE club!Markets of Jerusalem, buses in Haifa, streets of Tel Aviv: it wasn’t constant, but that one question I did hear multiple times.

“Are you on a holiday?”

A preceding remark would be, “I see you’re a tourist”.

What frustration would these simple sentences ignite in me, if only you knew!

West BankHoliday! Holiday? How dare you… What is this bourgeois question? Do I look like a rich Westerner to you? How…how dare you.

I wouldn’t say that, of course. That would be an incredibly egocentric attack on all those lovely people who decided to ask this question out of their innocent interests, having no idea about the storm of emotions such sentences have the power to trigger. An inner switch that one-one would like to turn on.

“Naaaah, I’m travelling around. Just doing some backpacking”, I would respond both politely and with dignity. Backpacker’s dignity. “On a holiday…. Pleaaaaaase, how old do they think I am?” I would complain in my head like someone of a way older age.

 

Hanukkah dinner

But then, I had my moment of truth. One of the greater realisations of the year, if you will. Hmmmm, I thought, my  “I’m slowly coming back home” travels make less and less sense. Some years ago, I went from Spain to Lithuania through Bulgaria and Turkey. Going to India on my way home from Thailand was in fact OK. But going to Israel from Hungary on the way to Lithuania (and it wasn’t even on the way, I came back to Budapest first), I have to admit, even for me makes little sense. I mean, it does make sense, but not a geographic one.

Hmmmm, I continued my train of thought. Also, I am having a good time after (almost, that important almost!) having finished my semester. No, I’m not having a good time, I’m having an awesome time here!

Biker's arroganceSome biking, clubbing, and spending time on the beach in Tel Aviv (not to mention a sweet sweet Hanukkah dinner!), seeing the Old Jerusalem, looking for that damn beach in Haifa, even having some tea on a hill in the West Bank: everything was so refreshing, so nice and interesting, why not to call it a holiday? Almost every trip is, when I think about it, even though I don’t like to call it this way.

Since that moment of truth, when someone asked me if I was on a holiday, I replied in the same way:

“You know what? I am!”

PS. And still, being called a tourist sounds like such a disgraceful insult for a backpacker, right?!

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