If you are going to travel to Israel one book you may want to purchase is The Holy Land: The Indispensable Archaeological Guide for Travelers, by Jerome Murphy-O’Conner. As you are being transported by tour bus, read the article associated with your next destination.
Here are some suggestions for those planning a trip to the lands of the Bible:
1. Pictures get outdated quickly when people are in them. I still use photos from several trips years ago and they seem like they were just made; no people. To get the best scenes, either get off the bus first and make the pictures before the tourists get in the way, or wait until the bus is loading, then make the pictures. Try to make photos without people.
2. If you want photos with local color and people be prepared to distribute a little baksheesh ( A gratuity, tip, or bribe paid to expedite service) in the form of dollar bills. It opens doors and minds, and eliminates camera shyness.
3. Go where there are no tourists. Side streets offer unusual photo ops and opportunities.
4. On bazaar day, or free time periods, visit the local museums. The Palestine Museum (Rockefeller) in Jerusalem is filled with artifacts from Qumran, Megiddo, etc.. items you will not find elsewhere. Purchase (or rent-baksheesh) an English guide book which has descriptions of all items. Take photos of the ones most interesting. This will give you an advantage over others in that you will be seeing authentic things most tourists miss.
5. Purchase permission to walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel from the Gihon Springs to the Pool of Siloam. It is the real thing. For a little baksheesh, the iron gate will be opened. You need a flashlight, shoes that can get wet, and camera(s).
6. The Dome of the Rock (mistakenly called Mosque of Omar) has many rooms underneath. Baksheesh can provide a guide. Hint at the possibility, do not directly ask. Be prepared to walk without shoes.
7. Do not purchase ready made slides. The color fades and they are of poor quality. Digital is the only way to go.
8. If you want the best place to prepare for what to see, go to http://www.bibleplaces.com/. It is loaded with photos, information, and descriptions. It has a special section on Jerusalem, as well as most other places.
Ernest Clevenger, Granny White church, Nashville, Tennessee
Watch out for pickpockets! Invest in a good money belt and carry things like a camera around your neck, especially when you are in a crowd.