There and Back Again – Part 1 – “LA/Amsterdam/Israel”

Groggy.

That’s how I feel at the moment.  I’ve just returned to LA, having slept for a solid 13 hours (following two days without slumber).  I also feel completely relaxed, that delicious lingering feeling of having been on holiday.  I shall now attempt to recount the past 3 weeks for you.

I left LA following a massively busy week (finished my quarter, shooting a new film, etc) and settled in to my KLM flight to Amsterdam with relish.  Amazingly, I also slept for about 5-6 hours, meaning I could enjoy my afternoon in Amsterdam without feeling too tired.  As is, I had a 9 hour layover before my connecting flight to Tel Aviv, giving me ample time to revisit a city I haven’t been to in 14 years.  My last visit there is a story unto itself, which I’m happy to share if you ask, but not today.

Having such limited time in a place is like being given a small but incredibly delicious piece of chocolate.  You know it’s not going to last, and as such savor every tiny morsel.  I wandered the streets of Amsterdam, feeling very keenly how brief my visit was.  I stopped in at the Rijksmuseum, being a huge admirer of the Dutch Masters.  The museum is being renovated, and I’m pretty sure I only got to see a portion of what is normally on display.  However, it was well worth the visit, if only for one tiny self-portrait that Rembrandt did when he was in his early 20s.  Virtually lost amongst better know and much flashier works, this simple rendering was everything you would want in a work of art.  In it, Rembrandt’s face is steeped in shadow, the light shining surprisingly on the back of his neck.  Wisps of light catch the curls in his hair, and the rest is left mysteriously dark.  Sublime, cinematic, and simply perfect.

I don’t smoke, but I did stop in a coffeeshop from my past, planning to have a beer and reminisce.  However I forgot that they don’t actually serve alcohol in coffeeshops.  Surprising but true.  Instead, I had a few Heinekens (Amsterdam’s native beer) in a local pub before heading back to the airport for the continuation of my trip home.

I arrived in Israel in the middle of the night, my parents were happily there to pick me up.  Arriving home I tucked in to my favorite food of all, a little humous, pita and a Goldstar beer (and there are none better).  It felt good to be home.

The following days flowed by all too quickly.  I can’t say I did too much.  Mainly I just hung out at my parents house, did a little gardening, and saw some friends.  One of the highlights of these few days included a trip to the vet with my sister to have her dog’s balls snipped.  Just what you want to do on holiday, carry a lame dog out of the vet, sympathizing with the poor mutt’s condition.

Originally, I had wanted to go to Istanbul during my trip home, akin to my trip to Budapest last year.  After talking to my parents well before I departed LA, I decided against traveling to Turkey, and decided to spend the entire 3 weeks in Israel.  However, someone forgot to tell the travel agent and two days before I was to go to Istanbul, I found out that I would have to go or lose the money for the whole trip (which included flight, hotel, and transportation to and from the airport).  Rather than let the money go to waste, I chose to go to Istanbul.  After all, why the hell not?

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