If you have booked yourself on a trip to the Holy Land, for instance through the Journey Through the Holy Land – Faith-Based Travel with Globus Tours, then it is important that you know how to get the most out of your journey. This means understanding a bit more about the local customs of where you will be going, and what you can expect. Hopefully, the following information will be of assistance to you. On any journey through the Holy Land, you will have an opportunity to be in five different countries, being Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Each of these countries has a number of particularities.
· In Israel, opening hours will be dictated by the faith of the shop owner. Jewish stores will be closed for the Sabbath, Muslim stores close on Friday, Christian stores close on Sunday.
· In Egypt, some shops will be closed on Saturday and Sunday, whereas others close on Thursday and Friday.
· In Jordan, most businesses are closed on Friday and Saturday.
· In Syria, the majority of businesses close on Friday. Banks close on both Friday and Saturday. Christian stores are usually closed on Saturday and Sunday.
In most countries that make up the Holy Land, mobile communication is very good and you should be able to use your cell phone. It is unlikely that you will be able to travel to Syria under the current conditions, and Palestine might be more difficult to reach as well. In both areas, mobile telephone networks are much weaker than elsewhere.
Because many of the countries in the Holy Land continue to be at war or under significant political tension, a lot of documentation is generally required to travel through them. You must make sure, therefore, that you have a passport that will not run out within the next six months. You will usually not require a visa to go to Israel, but if you receive a stamp from Israel, it is unlikely that you will be granted access to the West Bank. For Egypt, you can purchase a visa on arrival, which is also the case in Jordan. Your tour operator may be able to arrange this for you. At present, it is virtually impossible to obtain a visa for Syria.
A number of important traditions and cultural beliefs must be upheld when traveling the Holy Land. These include:
· Never accept any type of gift, food or drink with your left hand. This is simply not done and Muslims in particular consider the left hand as unclean, as it is used for bodily hygiene.
· Do not have any public displays of affection with someone of the opposite sex, even if you are married.
· Never show the sole of your foot and make sure that your shoes do not touch things. You are likely to have to take your shoe off in many locations as well.
· You should never decline any offer of hospitality. It is classed as incredibly rude to do so.
· Do not express an opinion on the political tensions.
· Do not eat or drink anything in Muslim hours during the hours of sunrise and sunset when it is Ramadan.