About the country
The Federal republic of Germany is located in the very middle of Europe and the most influential country of Europe. During the ages, it has witnessed the most controversial facts of history like Nazi Germany, Holy Roman Empire and the building and demolition of the Berlin wall, which led to the reunited country you can travel today. With a lot of magnificent castles it has wealth of art and culture. German is the widely spoken language in German, but travelers can find many English speaking locals especially in the common tourist destinations.
Weather in Germany
The weather here is very unpredictable as there is a possibility of rain in almost all months, so carry clothes accordingly. April and May are the months of spring which brings in full bloom of fruits and flowers. Months from May to September have very fine weather with sunny skies. These months offers the best time for traveling and site-seeing. People who have a passion for sports like swimming, hiking, and cycling can have the best time here during these months. Winter sports can be enjoyed at the destinations in the Alps during the months from November to early March. The temperatures are below freezing, at least in the mountains.
Locals greet each other by handshaking and saying „Guten Tag“ or „Hallo“. To say goodbye, people use the words „Auf Wiedersehen“ or, more informal „Tschüss“. Guests are expected to bring uncovered and odd number of flowers, especially roses, when visiting someone’s home. The guests are welcomed with either food or refreshments. At the table, hosts say ‘Guten Appetit’ to which the guests should reply with ‘Ebenfalls’. Smoking is allowed in public areas, but forbidden by law in public buildings. In many states of Germany, smoking is generally prohibited uin Restaurants and even in Bars and Nightclubs. Locals dress informally but on certain occasions like the opera, theatre, certain restaurants and social meetings call for formal wear. This goes also for business activities.
Like in all countries of Central Europe the current is 220 V, 50 Hz.
Moving Around in Germany
The best way to get around is to buy the so called „Welcome Cards“ or the city passes which allow the customer to access unlimited bus rides in many cities of Germany. Such city passes also give special offers on certain tourist attractions. For flexibility one can rent a car or go for a taxi. Along with the rent, VAT of 19% is payable. Car insurance is mandatory in case of any accident. Every vehicle in Germany is insured, so there will be no financial hassle in case of an accident. The speed limit within the cities is mostly 50kph, but reduced speed areas with a speed limit of only 30kph are very common nowadays, so watch out. 130kph is the recommended speed on the highways, although still there is no speed limit which means on the german „Autobahn“ cars can travel as fast as the driver wants to.
The nine stars of Southwest Germany comprise of Baden-Baden, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Heilbronn, Mannheim, Pforzheim Stuttgart, and Ulm. They are considered to be some of the most beautiful cities of Europe. Each of the cities play a vital role in the culture of Germany. Baden-Baden has few of the finest resorts and also has Europe’s second largest opera and concert hall. Freiburg is known as the historic city center and is famous for cobblestone mosiacs, open streams and ancient alleys. Heidelberg has world famous castles and Germany’s oldest university. Karlsruhe has the famous museum Center for Art and Media. Look out for various amusements along the Nectar river of Heilbronn. Pforzheim is the capital for watches and jewelry. Stuttgart is famous for theatres and opera. Ulm is the birth place of Albert Einstein and is also house to the world’s tallest church spire.
Travel around Germany
The national airline that serves Germany is Lufthansa. Berlin-Tegel airport is situated at 8 km away from the city and it takes about 20 minutes to get there. The new-build Berlin airport is still not open due to never ending technical problems. There is a provision of duty free shops, banks, post office, eateries, conference hall, and car hire and tourism information for the passengers.
The most busy airport in Germany is the Frankfurt airport which is located at 13km away from the city. Buses and subway trains take about 20 minutes to get there. Taxis are available at any time. The Intercity railway network of the Deutsche Bahn at the airport also provides excellent train services to all parts of Germany, and also international services to Hungary, Switzerland, Austria and even France. Every two hours, express trains to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Brusseles in Belgium leave Frankfurt Airport. The facilities provided here are duty free shops, left luggage, restaurants, banks, conference halls, post office, car hire and tourism information. No departure tax is levied on the passengers.
Those wishing to travel by sea can take the ferry connections to Finland, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Latvia, and Norway. Hamburg and Stralsund have big ferry ports.
Besides the ICE trains of Deutsche Bahn, Eurostar provides railway service to and from Belgium, France and the UK. Booking can be made by telephone. Students should ask for Inter-Rail ticket, which offers unlimited second class train travel within 29 European countries. The Eurailpass offers unlimited first class train travel within 17 European countries.
EuroCity and InterCity trains have a restaurant on board, providing food and drinks. InterCity Express target the business class and provides services such as fully equipped office, conference compartments, etc. Tourist over 16 years of age can carry alcohol and tobacco with them, since smoking and drinking is allowed at this age. Beware of hard liqour, the legal age for this is 18 years.