'There Are Worse Places for Cyclists Than Tel Aviv. Shanghai, for Example.'

A Hungarian fashion designer travels to Israel to attend her very first wedding; this Dutch judge broke his arm smashing some guy's head during a soccer game

Reka Harsfalvi.
Tomer Appelbaum

Reka Harsfalvi, 25, from Budapest, arriving from there

Hello, can I ask what you’ll be doing in Israel?

Two friends of mine are getting married, and I’ve come for the wedding. It’ll be great. I’ve never been to a wedding in my life – and yes, I know that’s weird.

Who are the friends?

He’s French, she’s Israeli – I was in school with her for one semester in Paris.

Studying what?

Fashion design. I’m a fashion designer and also a costume and set designer for movies. I have a brand called November. We do mostly men’s fashions in quite a minimalist style. At the moment we’re selling in Budapest and also via wednesdaystore.com.

Why men’s attire?

I feel that almost everything has been done in women’s fashion, and in any case I’m more interested in taking the unisex direction. My latest collection is suitable for both men and women. The clothes are mostly black and white. The thing with clothes is that it’s sometimes very difficult to describe in words what they look like. It’s easier to show them.

How’s the shopping in Budapest? The rumors are that it’s terrific.

I love Budapest, but when it comes to shopping, I’d rather be in Berlin, even though we’re approaching them. We have many young designers and shops of the big European names. The Budapest man will generally wear gym shoes, jeans and a T-shirt, which can sometimes be of very high quality. But I think that everything they wear looks East European, stuck in the socialist period. It’s much more a matter of comfort than fashion. It’s problematic to design fashion in Budapest – it’s easier to gain access to you, but hard to make a living.

A familiar problem. So how does a young designer survive?

There’s a big movie industry in Budapest. People come to us from all over, because we have good locations, everything is really cheap and people work hard and know what they’re doing. I’m now working on a big movie. I just finished an Indian movie that has Parisian scenes that were shot in Budapest. It was easy for me, because I was in charge of the Europeans’ costumes.

How did you get into fashion?

I started to take an interest in fashion in my senior year in high school; before that I’d thought of becoming a painter. I think that in some of the clothes I do you can see my past in painting. For example, I did a collection that was inspired by the Velvet Revolution in Prague, and we did color prints on all the fabrics that look a little like sprays of paint. Look.

Looks something like Jackson Pollock. And do you usually dress like this?

I have an obsession for things that are considered ugly and not trendy, like sweatpants or really crude shoes.

I remember those shoes.

We called them Buffalos, because of the brand. I buy “ugly” things and then I redesign them a little and wear them in my style – let’s say, sweatpants together with heels. I dress for myself, so the clothes express what I feel. If I want to be in a good mood, I will wear something colorful. If I wear a white T-shirt and sweatpants, it’s either because I didn’t have time in the morning and grabbed whatever came first in the closet, or because I’m in a bad mood.

When you’re in a good mood, do you also design colorfully?

I love colorful clothes, too, but when I design something colorful and look at it for a long time, it disturbs me. Black and white have the greatest contrast and are more pleasing to the eye. 

What will you wear to the wedding?

That’s a bit of a bummer. I wanted to design a dress for myself and put it together especially for the wedding, but the movies I was working on were stressful for me, so in the end I ordered something on the internet. A dress that looks like a kimono in mint green. The kimono is a strong trend now. You tie it around you; with it I will wear sandals with black strips that have black fur on the bottom. I don’t have a bag; I’ll carry my phone and cigarettes. 

What attire do you recommend for brides and grooms?

I like brides to wear something a bit transparent – it’s more interesting to look at – and I would like to see grooms wearing patterns, prints, in the jacket lining. I especially like it when women wear wild pants to weddings, but everything was too long for me. Next time I’ll wear pants, for sure.

Thomas and Jost Hassling.
Tomer Appelbaum

Thomas Hassling, 26, and Jost Hassling, 59, from Holland; flying to Amsterdam

Hello, can I ask what happened to your arm?

Jost: I broke my arm two weeks ago playing soccer during the last game of the season. I jumped and smashed some guy in the head.

How did he react?

He was a bit upset, but I told him it was really painful for me, and I went to the hospital.

Where do you play?

In an amateur league in eastern Holland. The youngest player is 20; I’m the oldest, and still going strong. And if you mean what position, I’m defense. I’ve been playing for more than 50 years and it’s still fun.

Were you ever a professional?

No.

What do you get paid for?

I’m a district judge in eastern Holland. I am on the bench in criminal trials and also an administrative judge, which means that I approve construction projects and issue permits for foreigners. We are closer to the French system than to the English one, so sometimes I also interrogate the witnesses. Tomorrow, for example, I have a hearing, and I have to study the material and prepare.

Why did you come to Israel?

Thomas: We’re here for a father-and-son tourist jaunt. Every two years we travel somewhere together. We’ve been to Iceland, Lapland, Portugal and Berlin; we did a bike trip from Holland to Venice. So why not Israel? It’s an interesting country.

You could say that. Where did you go?

Thomas: We started in Tel Aviv, and because we’re Dutch, we used the “green” bikes. It wasn’t a perfect ride, but that’s how we like to see a city.

Jost: I rode with one hand.

Thomas: We’re from Holland, so we can ride on everything, in any situation, and whatever city we come to, we always try to do a tour on bikes.

I hate riding a bike here.

Jost: We’ve been in worse places for riding than Tel Aviv. In Shanghai, for example, where Thomas lived for a time.

What did you do in Shanghai?

Thomas: I’m an industrial design engineer, and I worked there for a small Western company. It was interesting to see how fast the production rate is there – in Western companies it takes a lot longer before you see a finished product. The Asian market has millions of people, and someone will always buy what you make, your product will always have a market, even if it’s not amazing. But awareness of quality isn’t so high there.

What about awareness of bicyclists?

Thomas: It’s very challenging there. There are a lot more cars and plenty of honking. Here in Israel, there’s a lot of honking compared to Holland, but compared to Shanghai it’s nothing. It’s all relative.

Did you stay with the bikes here?

Jost: After Tel Aviv we rented a car and spent a day in Jerusalem, then went on to Arad. Usually I like to visit a court in a new country – it’s always exciting – but there was no time.

Why Arad?

Jost: We prefer to feel the country, not just the touristy places, even though we were also at Masada and the Dead Sea.

Thomas: At the Dead Sea, he put his arm in plastic wrap.

Jost: The arm floated. This was a relatively expensive trip. Usually our trips are very simple – a backpack and a tent, and generally just the two of us.

Thomas: When I look through the photo albums, I see that I was always taken on trips, since I was very young. I think that today it’s part of my character.

How do you get along?

Thomas: We try to stay busy. If there are a lot of days when we stay in the hotel and don’t do anything, we start to argue. But because we always have plans, which we talk about beforehand, we don’t get stuck. We usually talk a lot about what will happen, and decide together.

Jost: I think that we pretty much want the same thing, only we have to make precise decisions – this place or that place – and refer to Google and TripAdvisor. We’re used to these trips and we know what suits us.

What suits you?

Getting to know the country – a few museums and history.

Jost: We do a lot, but in the end we make sure not to forget that it’s a vacation, and we take it easy.

Thomas: My sister and mother don’t like trips like this so much; they would rather spend a fun day at a spa.