On Tuesday, I finally made it to Jerusalem. As always I stopped in at the Tourism Office to see what new brochures etc. were available. I also had my new i-pad so I wanted to check out the guided walks I had heard about.
Going in a gentleman helped me to download the app. (note, it is an iphone app, not an ipad app, yet it works on the ipad! ) While I was waiting for it to download I commented that I may just have to move in –heat and free wifi what more can I want. He laughingly told me, I could only stay until they “threw me out” I came back with—you can’t do that, I’ll write about you on Trip Advisor. (He had NO idea who I was or the fact that I was a TA regular)
He then said, if I write on TA then I should warn people about the commercial tourist office next door to the official Ministry of Tourism office. From some of the horror stories we heard, and from my own visit I agree.
So…..when you enter the Jaffa Gate the first office you come to is commercial. They will SELL you maps and sell you tours. They will also rent audio guides. They will provide a hard sell to get you to spend money( I went next door and received it too) They will NOT tell you about the availability of any free tours. There is also a question about the commission charged by their ATM machine. It seems to be very very expensive and out of line.
The Official Israel Ministry of Tourism office does NOT charge. The apps are free, the maps are free, the advice is free and they are very knowledgeable –about the whole country, not just Jerusalem. While waiting for my walking tours to download, I can hear them responding to questions ranging from free tours to how to get to the airport to how to travel up North.
IN summation, use the REAL Tourism office. It has a sign hat says Ministry of Tourism, it has a free wifi sign, it has the Menorah that is the Israeli symbol and it has the Ministry of Tourism symbol (two people carrying grapes) It is # 3 and best of all, it has people who want to help you find what is best for you, not which item carries the most commission.