This travel guide was prepared by: Helmut Ebert, international trading company
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Welcome to Germany
Map of Germany:
This map gives you only an overview
The German States:
The population of Germany is over 82 million.
The land area is 356 970 km²
Driving in Germany:
You certainly have heard about the "Autobahn" where is no speed limit - at least on many parts.
Please understand that you need good driver's education and experience to drive so fast. Many cars go up to 250 km/hour - that is 156 miles/hour and people are driving so fast.
To get a driver's license as a German citizen is very expensive and a driving school is mandatory. You must demonstrate that you know how to handle a vehicle under any condition and in situations.
You must also drive in such a manner that you can avoid an accident under all foreseeable conditions. It is almost as bad as the product liability claims in the States.
Please contact your automobile club to familiarize yourself with the specific German and European regulations.
The following are only a few examples:
no right turns at a red traffic light, except you see a green arrow pointing to the right
•if you approach an intersection and you do not see any traffic signs the
car coming from the right side has the right of way
•turn off your engine when you are waiting for somebody. Also avoid extensive
warm up runs. (to avoid pollution)
• always check you mirror before you change lanes. This is important for
survival when you drive on the Autobahn. Some cars approach at a very high
Most cars have a manual gear shift. People not only prefer it because of the slightly lower fuel consumption, they also feel safer with it. Please ask in advance for an automatic when renting a car if you are not used to manual gear shifting.
You must have a valid drivers license of your country to drive temporarily in Germany.
Ask your car rental company what you should do in case of an accident. Normally police is not called if nobody is injured.
If you are on the Autobahn and your car stalls, please move it immediately to the right shoulder. In Germany each car must be equipped with a portable warning sign, a flashing warning light and a first aid kit.
You must use the warning devices not only on the Autobahn. Walk a fair distance back and put it down. Don't forget it after the situation has cleared.
On the Autobahn you will find emergency phones which you can use to call for help. The German automobile clubs also provide an emergency service on the Autobahn. They stop voluntarily
to get you back on the road.
Germany has also a well established emergency rescue system using helicopters. Every location can be reached within minutes by a helicopter. The philosophy is to stabilize a critical injured person and to bring it as fast as possible to the next suitable hospital.
The DM (Deutsche Mark) is gone. It has been replaced by the Euro. (
€) Compare the exchange rates and fees before you buy currency. In airports you may not always
get the best deal. Don't try to pay with your own currency and be aware
that still not all places will accept credit cards.
There are many different kinds of accommodations available in Germany. You normally pay per person. You can choose from "Zimmer frei" (room vacancy), youth hostel to the most high class hotels.
However, we don't expect many smoke free places.
Breakfast is normally included in the price. You will be surprised when you experience a real continental breakfast which consists of: boiled eggs, fruits, cold cuts, cheese, al kind of bread, sweet butter, jam, coffee or tee, fruit juice, müsli, cereal, yoghurt etc. It is normally buffet style. My wife, Elizabeth, learned the hard way that bottomless cups of coffee don't exist when she enjoyed 5 cups of delicious, strong coffee.
Wining and Dining:
Germany has very strict food laws. It is against the law to use growth hormones for cattle. Veggies and fruits are not exposed to radiation to preserve them forever and menus must show the chemicals that have been used.
German restaurants offers a great variety of different dishes. Each region had its own specialities. You also will find many ethnic restaurants, where you can enjoy fine food from around the world.
Be aware that beer is very often cheaper than pop. Beer is more or less offered everywhere, even at McDonald.
Try to accept the dishes as they come, don't order a roasted duck with ketchup. Don't ask for a breaded Schnitzel with "Spätzle" or dumplings, even when you know this from at home. The local people will turn green only by hearing about such a combination or
they think you must be from another planet.
The prices on the menu includes not only all applicable taxes, they also include the tip. Of course the waiter or the waitress will never turn down anything extra.
If you find bread, rolls or pretzel on your table or you order them, you will be charged for every piece that you consume.
In almost all restaurants you choose without assistance the table where you want to sit. You must not wait in an empty place for five minutes that somebody to guides you to the lousiest table. (my own personal experience in Canada) It is also common to share a table with other guests. We have met the nicest people from all over the world during lunch or dinner.
Annoying is that smoking is still permitted almost everywhere.
All prices that you see include taxes. Please consider this when you compare German prices with those you pay at home.
Do your shopping during the day time because stores close normally early on most of them are not open on Sundays or holidays.
In Germany, we do not have as many shopping malls that can be compared with those of North America. Downtown is still the preferable shopping place for many people.
Normally parts of the downtown area are just for pedestrians and you will find a variety of individual stores.
German people do not only look for the best price, they are also concerned with the quality.
The States of Germany:
The Federal Republic of Germany is formed by 16 states. (see above map). The rate for the value added tax is the same in all of them. People in poorer parts of the country must not pay higher taxes as in Canada.
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