Traveling in Bible lands

I've found a good book for people who like to read travelogues. In the Steps of St. Paul by H.V. Morton is a gem. Not only is it a good introduction to the travels of St. Paul, but also a modern (1936) travel journey complete with humor and wonderful scenes of interaction between the author and the people that he meets.

The author is visiting the Turkish city of Konya and has found a modest-looking hotel owned by Russians:

At dinner that night a smiling, collarless waiter placed before me a roughly-hewn scrap of meat and potatoes which had been painfully cut into thin slices and then subjected, before a slight heating, to a bath in one of the more revolting oils. From the expression of eager expectancy on the faces of waiter, proprietor and proprietor's wife, I gathered that this was either a speciality or a death verdict. Sawing off a portion, I took an apprehensive mouthful, whereupon the waiter bowed, grinning all over his face, and the proprietor came forward and, also bowing, pointed to my plate, and said with some difficulty:


Then I realized that in this far-off place the pathetic sweetness of the human heart, that transcends all barriers of race, had devised a little compliment to England. I rose and told them in sign language that the meat was superb. They laughed and bowed with delight. And when the room was empty for a moment, a little hungry dog that had slipped beneath the table was a friend in need and -- indeed!

And who can resist wanting to travel to the islands of the Aegean Sea after reading a description like this?

I have seen the islands of the Aegean dried up like last year's walnuts, seamed and wrinkled by the heat of the sun, their moisture sucked up and hidden in the fruit of the fig-tree, the melon, and the pomegranate. But in the spring these islands sing to the sound of torrents falling through pinewoods to the sea. They shine like emeralds, green with growing corn, with fig-leaves like green fingers held to the sun, with vine-leaves running over the ground like small green fires of the earth.

Reading the introduction to In the Steps of St Paul by Bruce Feiler, I was reminded that he has written his own book of travels in Bible lands called Walking the Bible. It will be interesting to compare his viewpoint to the very British attitudes of H. V. Morton.