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The photo.net guide to Israel

by Philip Greenspun, 2000


Camels

Jerusalem If you have only a week or two to travel, Israel is one of the world's most interesting destinations. The country contains an overlapping mix of Western and Arab cultures, of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions, of modern and ancient historical sites, all crammed into an area the size of New Jersey.


General Tips

Temple Mount. Jerusalem. The best months to visit Israel are April, May, and October. It can be rainy and gray from mid-November through March. The summer is too hot for enjoyable mid-day tourism and also the light will tend to be rather too flat for interesting photography.

Most of the year, Israel is sunny and the light is harsh. The best general-purpose film might be a low-contrast ISO 400 color negative film intended for weddings (as of November 2000 the leaders in this area are Fuji NPH and Kodak Portra 400; check the photo.net film page for the latest recommendations).

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Israel and therefore the population is accustomed to camera-happy tourists. As in most street photography situations, a smile goes a long way toward making your subjects feel comfortable. Observant Jews will not appreciate being photographed on Shabbat (sundown Friday through sundown Saturday), when they themselves would be unwilling to operate a camera. The security forces at the Western Wall will actually prevent you from taking pictures there on Shabbat.

Professional cameras and film are reasonably easy to buy in Tel Aviv but high taxes and limited competition mean that you're much better off bringing everything in from home. When flying to Israel, keep your camera equipment in carry-on luggage if possible. My checked-through bag was held at Frankfurt Airport by German security for two days. Upon X-raying the bag, which had cleared Boston's Logan Airport security without troubles, they saw a Canon EOS body and 3 lenses. The Germans kept the suitcase for 48 hours, presumably to see if it would explode. Not only was I unable to take pictures but I had to buy all new clothing at the local market in Tel Aviv (genuine Ralph Lauren polo shirts for $3 each).

If possible, avoid having film developed in Israel. It is a small country. It is a poor country. They have more to worry about than a speck of dust on your film, a slight color cast, or 1/3-stop overdevelopment.

Survival

Backpacker hotel. Jerusalem You need a passport valid for at least six months to get into Israel. If you're from North America, Europe, Australia, or New Zealand, you don't need a visa.

You will most likely be flying into Ben Gurion Airport. From here it is 14 miles to Tel Aviv and 28 miles to Jerusalem. The only other airport in Israel worth thinking about is Eilat--remember that Israel is only about the size of New Jersey. If the Red Sea is your destination, flying directly to Eilat will save you at least a four-hour drive through the Negev Desert. The big decision in flying to Israel is whether or not to fly El Al, the national carrier ( www.elal.com). El Al has very good food and service, at least in business class, and very new, all-Boeing, planes. However, security is tighter on El Al than other airlines. You'll have to show up a bit earlier at the airport and endure a 20-minute questioning.

Basic English is spoken by just about anyone touching the tourist trade. You might not be able to discuss the latest article from New Yorker magazine but you'll be able to rent a car, rent a mobile phone, buy a theater ticket (movies are presented in the original language with Hebrew subtitles), buy aspirin, ask directions, etc. Virtually every street sign is printed in both Hebrew and transliterated in roman characters. Road signs are in Hebrew and translated into English.

Food and tap water throughout Israel are safe for Western stomachs.

Electric power is 220V and plugs have three round pins. Better hotels have adapters to loan that will let you use a voltage-agile laptop or digital camera power supply.

The time in Israel is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (London), which makes it seven hours ahead of New York and one hour ahead of Paris. Thus if it is 9:00 am in New York, it is already 4:00 pm in Israel.

The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). You get about four of these to the dollar (check Yahoo! Finance for the latest rates). At least if you fly El Al, you have the opportunity to change money right on the plane. ATMs throughout Israel will dispense NIS from a Cirrus or Plus bank card as well as from credit cards. For hotels and such, you can often simply pay in US dollars.

For a country that has been in a state of official war with at least one neighbor for more than 50 years, Israel is remarkably safe. You will see soldiers in the streets carrying automatic rifles but 99% of the time they are just 18-year-olds on their way home for the weekend to sleep in their childhood room and eat Mom's cooking. Street crime is less common than in the US.

The most dangerous thing that you can do in Israel is to drive or ride in a car. The accident rate per passenger-mile is one of the highest in the world. Gold and Platinum Visa and Mastercard will cover your rental car collision insurance... except in Israel, Ireland, or Jamaica. Drivers are aggressive, roads are old, twisty, ill-designed, and overcrowded.

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Readers' Comments


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David Merfeld , November 06, 2000; 05:37 P.M.

Philip has summarized travel to Israel well. A few suggestions I would like to make may help people:

- Travel in the Spring and October is often fine, but gentiles should keep in mind that these times will often conflict with the Jewish holiday cycles. If that happens, hotel rates jump, and the scarcity of available rooms is matched by the number of sites with restricted hours.

- Summer in Jerusalem is very different from Summer in the Plain of Sharon (Tel Aviv and Haifa). Because Jerusalem is close to 3,000' higher than Tel Aviv, it is much cooler. Combine this with bone-dry air, and even July and August can be very pleasant, with the temperature in the 70s and 80s.

- Avoid Elait at all costs, unless you wish to travel 7 time zones to see what you could see in Daytona Beach or Atlantic City. Elait is a fine jumping-off point for Petra and the Sinai, but the city itself is garish and modern.

- If at all possible, the more physically active traveller should consider adding the Sinai to his/her itinerary. Very fine tours are available from several operators; I spent a week hiking the high peaks with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (the Israeli equivalent of the Sierra Club).

- Isreal WAS poor, but is now very affluent. While I cannot speak about the quality of its photo labs, we should keep in mind that one would have to travel West to Italy or East to Japan (forget North or South) to find a country with a comparable standard of living (countries floating on oil excepted).

Moti Meiri , November 11, 2000; 12:36 P.M.

"If possible, avoid having film developed in Israel. It is a small country. It is a poor country. They have more to worry about than a speck of dust on your film, a slight color cast, or 1/3-stop overdevelopment."

Well, I agree that most 1 hour photolabs in Israel are suck, as well as Orient Color (The largest lab is Israel). However, you can find some fine labs in Israel, such as Panorama (Located in Jerusalem, has a brunch in Tel aviv). The prices will be higher than in the US, but the quality will be Ok.

Matthew Pulzer , November 11, 2000; 04:45 P.M.

Poor? With a GDP per capita roughly halfway between Spain and Sweden you/they need a better excuse for poor lab quality. Let's face it, you can probably get bad results from the majority of labs anywhere, irrespective of wealth. One in ten questions on photo.net seem to relate to how to find decent processing, even in 'rich' countries. There must be some good labs in the larger cities of what is now a technologically advanced country.

Cheers

Matt

anat elbaz , November 30, 2000; 07:39 A.M.

"Basic English is spoken by just anyone touching the tourist trade. You might not be able to discuss tha latest article from the New Yorker..."

-Most Israelis speak great English. In fact, it is Hebrew that has turned out to be our HSL - Hebrew as a second language. English is taught in schools beg. 5 th grade. Try travelling to other European countries and you will realize what is BASIC English spoken by the country's population. Have you ever been to France? Is is such a romantic language that you would forgive the French for NOT speaking English or, being not able to discuss the latest issue of the New Yorker?

Guy Tal , December 01, 2000; 08:07 A.M.

While this article sums up what most tourists expect to find in Israel, it fails to mention most photo ops and unique areas. It sounds too much like a canned guided tour that tries to touch on the most common denominators for folks who want to get a small taste of it but not leave the tour bus for too long or have to pack a meal. Nature photographers will find an abundance of subjects - from the amazing craters and desert vistas of the Negev desert, fantastic scenery of the Golan - complete with tall waterfalls, deep gorges and colorful bloom in the spring. A unique stalactite cave (rated one of the most beautiful in the world) can be found near Jerusalem. The dead sea and its surrounding oasis (e.g. Ein Gedi) are also not to be missed. In the very north, Mt. Hermon and the surrounding (Nimrod Castle etc.) offer incredible views of the upped Galilee. etc. Those seeking to experience Israel's cultural mix can definitely get a taste for it in Jerusalem, albeit in a very touristy fashion - lots of merchants peddling the same "crafts" all over the place. If you want a more authentic environment, try the arab neighborhoods in Haifa, the Druz villages on the Carmel, and the arab villages in the Galilee (all probably much safer than Jerusalem as well), visit Nazareth, and have a stiff coffee with the hospitable Beduins in the Negev. If you do go to Jerusalem, make a point to secure a place in the Tunnels of the Western Wall tour - a unique trail that runs underground through centuries of amazing histories, visit the quarters of some of the less-vocal religions (Armenian, Greek Orthodox etc.) for interesting places most tourists never get to see. Yes, Tel Aviv is a bustling metropolitan but if you're looking for a beautiful mediterranean city with a diverse culture - Haifa should be on your route as well. Perched on the Carmel mountains and surrounded by pine forests, it is home to both Jews and Arabs living in peace for decades. You may also want to arrange a visit to a Kibbutz for a truelly unique Israeli experience. You can even volunteer to help pick apples (for example) for a day or two and experience life there. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will give you the generic "been there" experience. But if you really want the unique "done that" stories to tell the folks at home, along with photos of Israel they never saw on CNN and never imagined existed, I would suggest staying off the beaten path, putting on some good walking shoes and exploring.

-G

Alex Zabrovsky , December 13, 2000; 08:56 A.M.

I would like to contribute in regard of photo processing labs issue picked by article's autor: Actually, quality printing is very common problem regardless of country. This is indeed one of the most discussable issue on the net, and most of 1-hour processing labs (Kodak Express like and others) will screw up your work being in US, Europe, Japan or Israel. But always there are better labs to develop which might be more expensive though (since probably pro service oriented), and you may find some of them in almost every city in Israel, just do your homework before traveling to try to get in contact with locals (via email or net) and inquire this issue. Again, this is applicable for any country we're going to visit. Just for example, visiting Ireland about two yeas ago, I got similar impression from labs quality there developing a few films in two different labs in Dublin and being scrwed up in both. But again, I admit I didn't inquired for better places over there before (and I'm sure there are better labs in this beautiful city) so have no rights for global critisizm in this regards.

Sigalit Giga Perkol , April 20, 2002; 11:51 A.M.

As a born and raised Israeli, I know much nicer photos could represent my country! Israel is really unique and has a lot of beautiful places and mixed, interesting people and ways of life. The photos in this representation are very ordinary, even dull. I would expect much more from Mr.Greenspun and the editors. BTW, I personally insist on having my photos developed in Isreal, although I travel a lot. I don't agree with the comments about bad quality of Israeli labs. not all are good but a lot are.

Irek Trzcinski , June 07, 2002; 05:34 A.M.

Israel is as much in Europe as Switzerland borders on Poland. You may need a visa to Israel even when you come from Europe. It just depends on the country you come from. Europe has the size of Canada but there are more than 40 countries in the Old Continent.

Cnaan Liphshiz , December 03, 2002; 07:40 A.M.

Regardless of patriotism, or Naders manipulative reading list, here is a list of proffesional photo labs in Israel: (** - excellent * - very good)

Haifa - Photo Hadar, Herzl St.** /// Tel Aviv - Fotogen, Allenby St.** Photofilm, allenby St.** Hama'abada, Dizengoff St.* Photo Baum, Allenby and King George * - film ** - digital /// Herzliya - Tmunati, Sokolov St.* ///

Places to AVOID - all Tzamtzam labs

Cnaan Liphshiz , December 03, 2002; 10:08 A.M.

Oh, and also, if your'e in a tight spot or pressed in time and want to get an exact adress of these places of busines, all you have to do is dial 144 from any Israeli pay phone. The information tellars are fluent in English, and will get you the number and adress in seconds. Or, you could give my wife and me a call, 054-821470. Wer'e real nice people (although, truth be reminded, I have yet to meet a self acclaimed jerk).

RJ _ , February 06, 2003; 10:59 A.M.

I was in Israel, Jordan and Egypt for three weeks in December/January and thought I'd offer some comments.

Tourism in Israel and Jordan is almost completely dead and apparently has been for quite some time. While the reasons for this are very unfortunate, the upsides are that hotels are cheap and there are very few people at major geographic and archeological sites such as Caesarea Maritima, Beit Shean,Jerash, Petra and Wadi Rum.

There are a couple of caveats to the foregoing. In Tel Aviv, major hotels quoted rates equal to those in London and New York. I was told that they are giving corporations major deals to fill up rooms, but are maintaining a "front" with the public. We stayed at the small Hotel Maxim, which is simple but clean and run by a very interesting woman whose family found it necessary to leave Egypt under Nasser. As for Egypt, I can comment only on the Sinai Peninsula between Elat/Taba and Sharm el Sheikh. The towns and hotels between Taba and Sharm were pretty much devoid of tourists. There are many, many hotels on which construction appears to have been halted. However, Sharm el Sheikh itself was fairly busy. Perhaps it was because Sharm has an international airport and is a major scuba diving centre and family tourist area. Nevertheless, high end hotels were offering special rates in what is supposed to be their high season. For what it is worth, I would not return to Sharm el Sheikh, which mostly consists of a very long strip of hotels. It reminded me of Florida at its worst. We went there to go diving, but all in all diving in the Caribbean struck us as a much better way to spend time.

We decided to travel in all three countries by car. I would not do it any other way. Rental vehicles cannot be driven across borders, so it is necessary to rent a car in each country. In Israel, we used Eldan, which is apparently the largest car rental agency in the country. In Jordan, we rented from Hertz at the Hyatt in Amman. In Egypt, we rented from Maxx in the town of Taba.

Eldan and Hertz were excellent. Our car from Maxx was a 1999 model with 240,000 kilometers on it. It turned out to be in questionable mechanical condition and the price was ultimately adjusted. The condition was explained on the basis that there have been so few tourists in the Sinai in the last few years that car rental companies cannot afford to purchase new vehicles or properly maintain older ones. I have no doubt that this was true, and I was impressed that the offer of a price reduction was made quickly and without fuss. Eldan and Hertz, but not Maxx, will allow one to drop off a vehicle in another city without a surcharge. Gas was expensive both in Israel and Jordan, but cheap in Egypt.

Driving was an experience. Israelis drive aggressively and consistently above the speed limit. In Amman, people drive without any regard whatever to the fact that there are lanes. Also, they frequently turn on their lights well after dusk, and sometimes not at all. In rural Jordan, drivers seemed to largely obey traffic rules, but too often cars operate with only one headlight or none. In all three countries, roads were fine but not great. In mountainous areas, some of the roads are very similar to what one finds in New Zealand, which is to say that caution is required.

There is no denying that Israel is a little tense. That said, I would not hesitate for a second to return. Jordan is very relaxed. In all three countries, the military have security check points on certain highways. At checkpoints, we were invariably treated with courtesy. If you want to go to particularly tense areas, such as Bethlehem, you will need lots of time and patience. In Bethlehem, military and UN vehicles take priority, which can result in a very long wait unless you want to park and go into Bethlehem on foot. Very few Israelis will drive in the West Bank at this point, but we did so without incident and I would do so again depending on conditions. In Israel, photography at border crossings and at checkpoints is forbidden.

I can't say enough good things about the people that we met in all three countries. I also strongly advise hiring a guide at major sites such as Jerash, Petra and Wadi Rum. The guides are certified and highly knowledgeable. There is no doubt that they added greatly to our appreciation of what we were seeing. At Caesarea Maritima, there is a fellow at the adjoining kibbutz who is very knowledgeable and who runs a small but impressive museum. We did not hire a guide in Old Jerusalem, but in retrospect we should have.

If you go to Petra, recognise that it is huge. We spent a day there, walking about 20 kilometers from the rock entrance up to the Monastery and the view overlooking the Rift Valley. It would have taken another three days to see the rest of the site, and apparently some areas are best accessed by donkey.

I'd like to make a specific comment about the Bedouin. Many people have the idea that they are a quaint people living in another century. Ain't so. They have gone through dramatic social change. At this point, most of them live in ordinary housing like the rest of us. The Bedouin camps at Wadi Rum and many other places are in fact tourist operations, and most of the camels that you will see earn their living by giving tourists rides. When people actually want to get around in the desert, they use jeeps. At Wadi Rum, in particular, I suggest renting one of the 50 well-maintained jeeps that the King of Spain gave to the local population as a gift and from which they are earning some much-needed income.

We were told that weather would be grey, wet and cold. In fact, the weather was glorious throughout. People in Tel Aviv were swimming at the beach. We encountered only one significant rainstorm, in the town of Acco. In Jerusalem, it tended to be a bit cold for an hour or so in the early morning due to the altitude, but the temperature warmed up quickly. The weather was absolutely perfect for areas such as Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Elat and Sharm el Sheikh, which I have no doubt are insufferably hot in the summer.

I would suggest buying all the film you need in advance. You can easily get film in all three countries, especially Kodak, but ordinary stores carry a limited range and there are better ways to spend time than trying to find a dedicated camera store. Also, film is much cheaper in North America. I should add that the film that we purchased while travelling, even in a small town in Jordan, developed just fine.

For those who want to travel both to Israel and parts of the Middle East other than Jordan and Egypt, it is important to ask the Israelis to refrain from stamping your passport. There is a special restriction if you want to enter Jordan at the Allenby Bridge on the West Bank; namely, you must have a Jordanian visa in your passport before showing up at the Israeli side of the border. If you don't, the Israelis will turn you back. Because we knew that we wanted to cross at Allenby, we got visas to Jordan before leaving North America. Also, if you have asked the Israelis to refrain from stamping your passport, do the same in Jordan and Egypt if you travel to those countries by land. A Jordanian stamp at, say, Allenby, or an Egyptian stamp at Taba, will be regarded in other Middle East countries as evidence that you have been in Israel.

Finally, I'd like to recommend a book for those whose reason for going is, in part, to understand what is happening in the region. Tom Segev's "One Palestine, Complete", is an excellent and even-handed history of the British mandate period. It turned out to be excellent background reading for the many discussions that we were able to have in the region with muslims, christians and jews about their views and hopes.

Michael DiMarzio , June 25, 2003; 12:39 P.M.

There are some excellent places to have film processed in Tel Aviv. Jugerns on Ben Yehuda is geared towards pros and you can get an excellent selection of roll and some sheet film. They have equipment there also. I had some TMX100 processed by hand at a place called The Lab and the results were excellent. From Tel Aviv I drove 3 hours to Bar'am near the Kinneret to get a shot of the ancient synagoge there with Mt. Hermon covered in snow in the background. The shutter spead dial on my M645Pro went BOING, I found all of the pieces and had it repaired in TA for about 15 bucks (taking all of 10 minutes)(I got the shot, I was lucky!).

Also, Jurgens will recommend labs that do quality work as they will also process chromes.

I spent 10 months in Israel working (returning march 03)and spent all weekends shooting landscapes. NOW is definitly the time to go, there are no tourists and it is safer then Brasil. If I can make a few recommendations-

Drive to the backside of Masada through Arad (about 13 miles of a very windy road). At the gate veer of to the right and you'll be about a 3/4 of a mile from Masada and 50 meters above. You will get scenics that are in no guide books (sorry for the cig butts...but I picked up the wine bottles...)

Drive down to Shivta in the Negev, 3 or 4 times. Try at night also during a full moon. Nitsana is close by there and also worthwhile, especially at night-PURE MAGIC!

Take sturdy shoes and go hiking-some of the Wadis are incredible. One by the Dead Sea...

Take a quick spin to Cyprus while your there, Paphos is pretty neat.

Buy a "unlimited" pass to the Parks, you'll save money. Israel is such a varied place, from stone age culture to blown up tanks in the Great Sandy, from roasting heat in Eilat to cool evenings in hot mineral water baths in the north. This country is not like it's portrayed on CNN, ancient Eygptian copper mines, Byzantine churches, awesome people, excellent wine and food, plan on 30 days.

If anyone has any questions, please send a mail!

md

Image Attachment: shivta.jpg

Lorelle VanFossen , December 06, 2003; 06:43 A.M.

Coming to Israel on what was supposed to be a six month job, it has turned into over four years, and that has led us to put our serious nature and travel photography expertise to some interesting tests. I have to admit I was dismayed by the narrow and thin article by Mr. Greenspun about his photographic experiences. Never before have I been in such a small country with such diversity, photographically and culturally. As for the political outrages and commentaries I find within the responses, I believe that other than security warnings about safety, the photographic opportunities found in Israel can be commented on without politics. It is not always the politics of a location that dictate the beauty of a location.

As others have said, the northern areas around Tiberias and the Golan Heights is lovely most of the year, with fantastic wildflowers in the fall as well as the spring. A few drops of rain brings out crocus, lilies, and great pinks, reds, yellows, and purples among the new green growth. Contrastingly, in the south, the deserts of the Arava near the Dead Sea and Eilat are glorious in their monochromatic pastels, textures and patterns. The Mahktesh Ha-Gadole and Mahktesh Ha-Ramon craters in the south feature fascinating red, purple, black and yellow patterns in their various soil compositions, and dramatic rock formations where the land shifts and wind and water have reformed the land.

The caves in Israel are fascinating and diverse, from the small but spectacular Soreq Caves that resemble a mini-visit to the Carlsbad Caverns in the US, to the manmade Luzit and Beit Guvrin caves used as homes, olive oil storage, and hiding places. One of my favorites is the Carmel Caves south of Haifa, an archeological excavation led by women decades ago that revealed over 200,000 years of continuous human occupation!!! Talk about your politics! It was also here that one of the most famous anthropological finds was made, neighboring skeletal remains that "proved" neandrathals co-existed with our more human ancestors. What amazing diversity!!

For the travel photographer with a wide interest in various historical and cultural subjects, Israel is incredible. From some of the oldest towns in the world (Jaffa, Jerusalem, Beersheva, Hebron) to one of the newest (Tel Aviv), Israel has a lot to offer. Archeologically, the ruins of Meggido, Beit Shean, and Casaeria, among others, give us a taste of a time when people were serious about their building constructions. Akko is a still thriving Crusader walled city, though the modern city has expanded beyond the walls. Just wander the ancient city and tour the newly opened archeological digs under the city, and step back in time and history.

Israel's Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (www.spni.org.il) and other nature societies have done much to protect and restore the nature areas of the country long devastated by centuries of war (don't forget - the current Palesinian Conflict is only one of thousands of ongoing wars over this speck on the planet). The completely restored Hulah Valley, part of the water table for the Jordan River, is an amazing story and a wonderful area to explore. While tourism is fairly dead in Israel, internally, seniors and local groups are out almost daily exploring the nature areas, hiking, camping, and seeing all there is to see in this amazing place.

If you are into birds, which my husband is (Bird Bonkers!), Israel is mecca. More than 800 bird species pause along their migration route in Israel. The Hulah Valley and the Negev and Arava Valleys feature many international bird banding sites and great opportunities for bird photographers. While the general tourist might not be coming to Israel as much as usual, birders from Germany, Finland, Holland, and all over Europe are coming in droves for the birds. It is common to hear Finnish being spoken in Eilat...a language I've rarely heard in my travels around the world.

As for tourism, I've learned a few things from tour guides and my time being here. RIGHT NOW is the best time to come. Truly experienced travelers will tell you that any time the media says it's a bad time to visit - go, and right now is the best time to come to Israel. First of all, there are no crowds! Don't forget, terrorists aim for crowds because they want to be on the front page of the media. So a tourist alone or in a very small group is ignored, no matter where they come from. Hotels, tourist sites, restaurants, they are all open and waiting for ANYONE. And they are offering really good prices because of it. As one tour guide so wonderfully put it, "They will roll out the red carpet for you!"

Second, tour guides are desperate for business, so you will get the most personal service of your life if you decide to go with a guide. And the shop owners are desperate for business, so you can get the best buys of all things touristy and souvenier.

Third, without the crowds, and without the pressure of time created by the crowds, you can actually spend more time exploring than ever before. We've found many shop owners even more friendly and willing to allow us to photograph their wares and themselves (with many invitations to visit their homes and tips on better photo ops) just so we will give them something to do when the wait between customers is long. The willingness to face a camera is even more open than ever before.

While Israel is small, I really recommend a minimum of two weeks stay, though three is perfect, to get a real feel for the place. Well, enough of my babble about this interesting place. I have more information on my web site, but I have to admit that I never expected to be spending so much time here. I've met some of the most wonderful friends - true friends - I've ever met anywhere. There is a saying here that once you have an Israeli friend, you have a friend for life. It is so true. While they are as loud, obnoxious, and arrogant as the stereotype portrays them, they are also the most social, helpful, and determined folks I've ever met.

Honestly, now is the time to visit Israel and explore's its diversity.

Gejza Cepela , January 24, 2004; 11:02 P.M.

Nice pics.I just wonder when Israel became part of Europe?Did I miss my geography class? Regards, GC

Vitaly Vigasin , February 14, 2005; 04:01 P.M.

Reader, do not believe a single word about Israeli roads. Comparing to what I am now experiencing in Toronto, Canada, they are excellent! The roads in Israel are well-maintained, the signs are usually in place, easy to follow, visible and almost always duplicated in English ( though be prepared to inconsistent spelling). And, at least around major cities, they are extremely brightly ulluminated - as well as the country itself - which makes them even easier to drive at night.

The only truth is about agressive driving. Staying in Israel, do not expect too much courtesy, either on the road or on feet - but it's not as bad as you might think.

Leo Gottfried , October 14, 2005; 01:27 P.M.

Although I find Greenspun's article educating and correct I must disagree about having your photos developed when back home for lack of good ones in Israel.

I can recommend "HAMAABADA LTD." Dizengoff 98 Tel Aviv - Tel. 972-3-5248345 (I am not associated in any form to this business - just like their work and services).

This is a professional lab with all the services you may need and decent prices. Far far better than drugstores and such US labs mostly run by minimum wage ignorant operators and irresponsible store managers.

Two years ago a pop and mom ?specialized? photo finishing business in Lafayette, California ruined by under developing, 5 films with the most beautiful photos I shoot in a trip throughout the US Pacific northwest.

Tommy Huynh , May 11, 2009; 10:48 A.M.

Nader, this is a travel article. The photos are meant to show what a tourist might see if they visited. Not to paint propaganda from either side. My photos from Israel, sorry if it offends you too:

Photos of Israel


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