1. About money:
The currency is EURO / €. Credit cards are accpeted in most shops and restaurants and all petrol stations. Acceptance of Diners Club and AMEXCO cards is not common in Germany. Major cards are VISA and MasterCard. Cash dispensers are available everywhere
Unlike boutiques and shops, only few grocery stores and supermarkets accept credit cards. Be sure to carry some cash with you to prevent precarious situations.
Change money at banks, post offices, airport or train stations. Travellers cheques are hardly accepted
Most banks are affiliated with several international ATM networks (Cirrus, Plus, Star, Maestro)
2. Electricity and phones:
The voltage is 240V AC / 50 Hz. Make sure, that your appliances are suitable for this voltage
Most public pay phones no longer accept coins but only Deutsche Telecom phonecards, which are available in denominations of € 5, € 10, and € 15 from post offices, newsagents, some tourist offices and public transport offices. You can also buy prepaid cards from other providers which can save money and are used by dialing a PIN. Credit cards can only be used from a small number of public phones.
Germany operates on a GSM network, which is compatible with the rest of Europe and Australia, but not with the North American or the totally different system in Japan. T-Mobile, Cingular and some other U.S. wireless firms do use GSM, but on different frequency bands.
A multi-band cell phone allows you to use the same phone in the USA and Europe. However, there are several alternatives, including buying or renting an unlocked GSM wireless phone just for use in Europe and other GSM areas of the world (about 190 countries).
The coverage is good in Germany, and there's a funny thing you should know: When Germans talk about their cell phones, they use an english word for it you may not understand: They call it "Handy".
3. Local time:
Germany operates on Central European time (CET), which means that the country is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the United States and 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Summer daylight saving time comes into effect on the last Sunday in March at 2am, when clocks are put forward one hour and ends on the last Sunday in October. Official times (eg shop hours, train schedules) are usually indicated by the 24-hour clock, eg 7.30pm is 19.30
4. Driving in Germany:
The German road network is unique in the world - it covers about 230.000 km, there is no toll to pay for driving the motorway (Autobahn). Speed limit is 30 km/h on urban roads, 50 km/h on city roads and 100 km/h on two laned highways. Partly, on the motorways, you may drive as fast as you want to. Bear in mind, that there is a general recommendation not to drive any faster than 130 km/h on motorways, even if there is no speed limit indicated. To hire rental cars in Germany you need to be at least 21 years old and additionally, car rentals in Germany want see a valid driver’s licence and a major credit card when picking up the rental car. More than 98% of the German rental cars are manuals - be sure to ask for an automatic if you require one.
Seat belts front and rear are obligatory at any time. No hand held mobile devices are allowed when driving.
The drink-drive limit is 0,3 per mill. German beer is way stronger than the beer in the US! Keep this in mind and respect the drink-drive limit at any time to prevent big problems with the police.
5. Residing in private villas:
White goods and household appliances are not as large as in the US. If required, the owners will gladly instruct you how to use them.
Double beds are not always KingSize. Usually double beds are 1,4m to 2m (4.6 to 6.5 ft) wide
AirCondition: it is not common to have air condition in German houses - it is rarely found. If avaialable, normally the consumption of electricity is measured and charged extra.
Do not expect towels and sheets to be changed every day. In our vacation homes, towels are usually changed mid weeks and linen is changed every week. If you require such to be changed more often, please inform us or the owner/custodian and it will be arranged accordingly.
You will discover the modern German cuisine which is influenced by the light Mediterranean way of cooking as well as traditional regional specialties, which are delicious and distinctive.
Guests are free to choose their table without being seated by the waiter, unless a reservation has been made.
Paying the bill: unlike in the US, there is no cashier in restaurants. Ask the waiter for the bill - he will bring it to you and payment (incl. of tipping) is made directly to the waiter at the table.
Tipping: usually a tip of 5 - 10 % of the amount due is given
7. Shoping groceries, food and beverages in Germany:
You will find a vast choice of grocery stores and supermarkets. Opening hours are usually from 08:00 until 20:00 hrs from Monday to Saturday, subject to regional exclusions. On Sundays, shops are closed. Except bakeries, which sell fresh bread and bread rolls in the mornings. Low budget brands grocoery stores are ALDI and LIDL, which you will find it almost every town. Medium brands are TENGELMANN and KAISERS, which are also spread all over the country. Ask your landlord or custodian/handyman, if you wish to find other shops - they will gladly assist you.
Beside the traditional way of cooking, which is mostly very substantial, healthy and balanced diet is capturing German kitchens. From the Northern Coastline to the Alps one will find more than 300 kinds of bread, a wide assortment of specialty cheeses and other dairy products. Besides the grocery stores, weekly and local markets offer fresh meat and fish, fruit and vetgetables. We highly recommend and encourage you to visit this markets - they reflect life and local tradition.
Potable water: it is harmless to drink water from the tab throughout the country
What would Germany be without beer? It is the king of drinks and is brewed in about 1500 breweries. Beer is not just something to drink in Germany, it is a part of culture. Being number one of German beergardens it has worldwide a great reputation regarding quality and taste.
Wine making is an old tradition in Germany. There are thirteen wine regions. Wine is gaining more and more popularity not only in Germany, but especially abroad. Did you know, that the Riesling grape is in such a great demand that it has become number one of German wine exports to the US and to Japan?
8. Individual/local information:
In each of our vacation homes, you will find a "house book" with comprehensive information.
Need more information?
Feel free to forward your questions to us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will gladly answer, so that your vacation in Germany will not start with unpleasant surprises.