Germany is a clean, modern and safe country with a lot of things to see and do throughout the year. The possibility of a visit to any foreign country can be exciting, but Germany is a country that is surprisingly easy and comfortable to navigate. Here are some things to consider when planning your trip to Germany.
Language and Communication
While German is, of course, the national language of Germany, you will find that most Germans speak excellent English. Many Germans are bilingual or trilingual because the teaching of foreign languages in most schools is mandatory. This means that if you ever have a question or need help, you probably will not have a difficult time to make yourself understood. However, it never hurts to have a pocket dictionary, and if you make an effort to learn a bit of the language, you will undoubtedly impress the Germans you may know.
Germany has an excellent public transport network of trains, buses, trams and metros. If you are in the country for an extended period of time, you may consider buying or renting a car, but most travellers do not need a car during their visit to Germany. Parking (especially during the night) and gas are expensive. The best way to get from one city to another is to use the trains – if you arrive as a tourist and plan to make many trips, you must obtain your Euro rail pass (www.eurail.com). It is a discount pass that will give you several days of travel for the price of one or two train tickets.
The weather in Germany with the changes of the seasons and the climate, in general, is similar to that of the Midwest of the United States. Clean and with a strong contrast of sunny summers and cold grey winters. Depending on what time of year you travel, make sure you dress appropriately. In addition, most of the major festivals and popular events – such as the Oktoberfest – will take place in the summer or early fall. Keep this in mind when planning your trip.
As a nation of the European Union, Germany uses the euro as its currency. The euro is currently a currency stronger than the dollar, but apart from the exchange rate, prices are quite reasonable in most cities. Most major bank cards will work in German ATMs, and most credit cards are also accepted in German stores and restaurants. ATMs and credit cards usually use the best exchange rate of the day, for processing operations.
Tips for Culture
The Germans are sensitive to issues related to the Second World War, so it is best to avoid that issue when you meet people the first time. Germans are also intensely aware of the environment – a huge amount of their energy comes from green sources, and they are fans of recycling. Try to use the proper trash cans, often there will be separate places for plastics, trash and paper products.
Finally, the deposit in bars and restaurants is seen as a symbolic gesture and not as an obligation. Waiters and waitresses get more out of their money for the hourly pay. The rounding of the euro is usually acceptable when paying by check.