For your convenience, we gathered here the answers to questions we're asked - some more often than others. They are grouped into four sections: Private Tours, Booking, Payment, Technicalities and General Questions. By the way, this section is not meant for people coming on a cruise ship for a shore excursion.
► Can we join a tour that other people already booked with you?
We do tailor-made private tours, so we don’t bring strangers together, who quite often have different requirements, fields of interest, expectations, and physical abilities. Focusing on private tours is our quality control for your personal experience: We design and do the tour according to your pace and your interests, we deal with Berlin's history as wide and as deep as you want to, and we take a break whenever you need it.
► How many people can go on a tour?
Since we only do tailor-made private tours, this is really up to you. In most tours, it's just one couple, but if you’d like to bring another couple with you, your children, your friends etc. - it's all, of course, perfectly okay. Only you decide who shall join you on our tour.
► What is the price per person?
Since we only do private tours, our pricing is not dependent on the number of participants (usually 2-3, by the way), but on the length of the tour, our capacities and the season. This means that the price we'll offer you will stay the same even if you want to bring another couple to the tour. So if your friends decide to join you after you've already booked us for a certain price, the price will still be the same.
► Do you have fixed prices?
We adjust ourselves to you, not the other way around. Some people want short tours, others prefer full days, so a “one size fits all" won't be fair to everybody. Except for guiding, we both have other professional and academic duties that affect our availability and therefore our pricing. And finally, as always in tourism, it can also be affected by the season. Please contact us directly so we may give you a direct quote.
► Do you offer tours with a car?
Touring with a car is not a must and usually unnecessary, but definitely possible (about a third of our tours are done with a car). Please see the page about Berlin tours with a car.
► Who will be our guide?
Behind the Berlin Jewish Heritage Tours are just the two of us, Natalie and Yoav. We don't employ anybody else, so we can guarantee that when you book a tour with us, your guide will always be one of us.
► Are your tours suitable for young children?
On a private tour, we can adapt both our guiding style and the contents to the needs of young participants - making it more interactive and avoiding certain subjects if necessary. Yet there are still some things the parents should consider: Berlin is not Rome or Paris... It is characterized by rather “heavy" topics: The Nazi regime and the Holocaust on the one hand, and the Cold War with the division of the city on the other hand. As historians, we specialize on these topics, which might not be suitable for some children. However, every child has his or her own character! Children that are particularly interested in history will find many places in Berlin to arouse their curiosity. We've guided young children who were asking fantastic questions, just like adults - one of them was just 7 years old. So eventually, only you can tell how much your children are interested in history, and if the historical topics that characterize Berlin could be suitable for them.
► Can you keep a date open for us until we make a decision?
Keeping a date for you necessarily means turning down everybody else (otherwise, keeping the date for you wouldn't mean much). Therefore we only take such reservations when you'd like to make a booking. If you're uncertain, please take some time to consider your options. We'd be happy to reserve the required dates for you once you've made a decision (a.k.a. “the honor system").
► How do we know the date is reserved for us?
We will naturally send you a confirmation. When you give us the dates of your visit, we let you know which one of us is available. This means we're still available at that moment, but it doesn't mean that we now reserve the date. Sometimes different people ask about the same date more or less at the same time, so we might get booked for that date later on (after having replied to your initial inquiry but before receiving your booking request). That's why we will send you a confirmation after you'll let us know that you want to book the tour - when we confirm, the date is reserved for you.
► How do we make the actual booking?
We will ask you for some basic details such as your hotel, our meeting time, your mobile phone number etc. Then we will confirm your booking and reserve the day for you.
► Why are you asking for the name under which we're registered at our hotel?
Many hotels don't let the guides call the guests if the guide can't give the receptionist the exact full name (both the first and the last name should match the name in their computer). While most people book their hotel with their own name, there are exceptions: Some people have more than one last name; sometimes it's the spouse/partner who booked the hotel with his/her different last name; and when a family travels together, the adult children might book the guide while the parents book the hotel (or the other way around).
► Why are you asking for our mobile phone number?
In some rare situations - before, during or even after our tour - it's important that we'd be able to contact you even while you're not in your hotel room. We know these international phone calls are expensive (for both you and us), but sometimes it's unavoidable, and definitely better than not being able to reach you at all. This is particularly important if our meeting point is not at your hotel but somewhere in the city, e. g. at the exit of a museum.
► Do you accept credit cards?
Yes, we accept credit cards for online payments in advance (such as deposits). But you should know that many German businesses don't work with credit cards (here's an explanation about that).
► Do you require a deposit for reserving a date for us?
Yes, since we reserve the date(s) just for you, we necessarily make ourselves unavailable to everybody else. Hence the deposit, which can be paid with a credit card.
► Can we pay you with our credit card when we meet in Berlin?
At the moment, we can accept credit cards only for online payments in advance. We do not have the mobile equipment for credit cards (some devices are handy but unreliable, while others are reliable but not portable enough for city tours). On the day of the tour, the payment can only be done in cash (Euro).
► We don't want to deal with cash on our trip. Can we pay for the whole tour in advance?
Yes. This is not a requirement, just an option. If you'd rather avoid cash, it is possible to pay in advance with your credit card (instead of the deposit).
► How do you facilitate online payments?
We rely on an external invoicing service that is simple to use and complies with the highest security and encryption standards.
► Can we pay you in cash with our foreign currency (US / Australian $, British £, etc.)?
Like any other business in Germany, we only accept Euro. We cannot make deposits at our bank with foreign currencies.
► Are there any special conditions for travel agents?
Every month we get about two or three inquiries from travel agents asking for special discounts, yet we have no way of confirming who really is a travel agent and how active his/her agency is. Besides, about 80% of our guests get our contact details from their friends who've toured with us before, and the others reach us over the Internet, so we really don't know what impact travel agencies still have nowadays. For these reasons, we don't offer any special conditions for travel agents.
► Is there a Holocaust museum in Berlin?
Coming from other countries and having visited cities like Jerusalem, Paris, Washington etc. many people expect to find a Holocaust museum in Berlin. However, you won't be able to find such a thing. The official Holocaust memorial contains an underground “information center", which is actually very small in comparison to its equivalents in other countries and might be a bit disappointing if you expect Germany to match those museums. To lower your expectations, it's not called a museum but just an “information center". Other locations in the city, such as the Jewish Museum and the Topography of Terror, deal to a certain extent with the Holocaust, but are not dedicated solely to it.
► Are “Jewish sites" closed on Saturdays?
No, usually they are open. Most synagogues, for example, can only be visited during Shabbat services (you'll find more information here: Visiting synagogues in Berlin). The information center at the Holocaust memorial and the Jewish museum don't belong to the Jewish community - these are German institutions about Jews, so they aren't actually Jewish establishments. Therefore, both are open on Saturdays. Most of the other locations are monuments and artworks that cannot be “closed" anyway. However, the old Jewish cemetery is closed on Shabbat (starting Friday afternoon) and so is the exhibition inside the so-called “New Synagogue".
► Do we enter any buildings on your tours?
The ability to “enter a building" really depends on the specific site/location - the Old Synagogue, for example, is an open space nowadays. Most of the locations you'll want to see are actually outdoors, such as the Berlin Wall or the many important memorials. But depending on the specific tour and route, we could also go into some buildings, such as the National Memorial of Germany, Otto Weidt’s brushes and brooms workshop for the blind, the former Jewish school for girls or the “Room of Silence". We’d also be happy to guide you in the exhibition within the “New Synagogue” or inside the Jewish Museum. Yet most of the locations you'll be interested in as tourists are outdoors - locations that you can see and experience, but not “go into”.
► Do you plan a lunch or coffee break during your tours?
No two guests are the same, so it really depends on your needs and preferences. If you'd like to, we can of course grab a sandwich or sit for lunch - whatever suits you is fine with us. Such stops are very useful for general questions, in-depth discussions as well as for planning your following days in Berlin.
► Do you differentiate between “walking time" and “sitting time"?
Not really. What makes a tour into a meaningful experience isn't just the walking from one place to another, for which you don't necessarily need a guide; much more important are our discussions and conversations. We remain at your service during the whole tour, walking and sitting alike - always available to answer your questions and never “off duty".
► Is it true that tour guides prefer long tours?
Some people assume that guides are always interested - sort of “by definition" - in full-day 8-hour tours. To be honest, we like both short and long tours and most of all, we value the balance. Indeed, we're paid less for short tours - but long tours are also much more demanding, both mentally and physically, since the guide does most of the talking for many hours. So both options are really fine with us - and we want you to make the decision based solely on what's best for you.
► Can we book two different tours on the same day?
In order to make sure we don't exhaust ourselves, we don't do more than one tour per day.
► How many days do we need in Berlin?
This is hard to say because Berlin has so much to offer. Personally, we like to spend about a week in a specific city and really get to know it well. But naturally, many of you come from the US or Australia to visit several European cities on one trip, and can't spend so many days just in Berlin. We think that two days are the minimum (one for the general, i.e. German story of Berlin, and the other one focusing on Jewish Berlin in depth), although a one-day highlight tour is also possible, as in the case of shore excursions for cruise guests. Having three or four days in the city will make everything much more relaxed and grant you time for museums, markets etc.
► How many days would you recommend us to tour with you?
Usually people book us for one or two days. Three days is also an option, as there is indeed so much to deal with in Berlin, but we don't recommend spending more than three days with a guide (any guide). People often ask us if they can book us for four or even five days, but when we consider it from the travelers' perspective (naturally, we're travelers too every once in a while), we find it important to have enough time to experience the city on our own, and we can imagine that you'll appreciate your private, unguided discoveries just as much.
If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask us!