After 2,000 years, all the towns and villages are very much developed. Construction continues healthily as we spied several cranes. Most structures in the Holy Land are either two or three stories high, exception being governmental or military related complexes.
There’s a uniform sandstone coloration as they use local stones and rocks that do NOT need to be painted. The weather is such that it doesn’t seem to cause any discoloration. Very green, and not a market for the paint companies.
Traffic flows as there seems to be a tacit understanding when to give way. While there’s a bit of vehicle horning taking place, it’s the ‘polite’ horning that can be easily differentiated from the ‘angry’ variety.
The food being served in the hotel buffets abound with vegetarian options, prepared Mediterranean style. We had indulged too much in the desserts, leading to a waist stress. It was an easy decision for me to forgo future desserts. I had read somewhere that for some situations, it’s easier to totally abstain than attempting to moderate step by step. I get to also exercise self discipline.
Our guide had been encouraging us to defer any purchases until Bethlehem. He claimed that most of the handicraft in other towns and villages are made in China. In addition, he was bringing us to a shop run as a cooperative where 64 Christian families are handcrafting their works. The olive wood art pieces are truly beautiful. We made some purchases.
Prices in the majority of shops and cafes in touristic locations in the Holy Land are in USD. One time, I over paid in New Israeli Shekels (NIS) for a simple vegetarian falafel. The change was in USD dollars.
Pricing is about and sometimes above USA levels. Perhaps one of the reasons is the appreciation of the NIS. I did wander into two local grocery stores in Bethlehem as latter’s hotel was more centrally located. Things were priced in NIS and much more reasonable.
The number of large tour groups is very high. It seems we are in the peak season in March, as it’s cooler than summer. One option is participating in a small tour group of 6 or less. This allows said smaller group to skip the long lines at the Church of the Nativity (it took us 3 hours from start to end!).