With Germany being the 7th largest country in Europe and neighbour to 9 countries it holds a unique position in the European Market. Germany is one of the most desired countries to work in and has developed an incredible source of holiday destinations. It offers a vast variety of different types of holidays but also a sound business economy and infrastructure. Whether you are going to Germany on business or pleasure there are a couple of interesting insights to know about Germany.
Getting around in Germany
The German motorways are second to none and you would usually find not many speed restrictions and visiting in your car or hiring a car would be a fantastic option to experience Germany. A valid European driving license will allow you to travel around Germany at your own leisure.
Also, Germany has an amazing train network and personally I love the double decker trains which are so quiet and such a pleasure to travel in. The high-speed trains are very efficient but will cost you more and if you are on a budget you may find yourself better off with the normal intercity trains which are much more reasonable though also very comfortable.
Or, you may want to take the advantage of cycling around Germany which is a fantastic experience especially with the endless kilometres of cycle paths, beautiful countryside and drivers paying attention to cyclists. Though do remember that you will need a light at the front and back of your bike when in the dark and you would get fined if you are seen without or not sufficient lighting.
Remember to VALIDATE your train ticket
This is easily forgotten and you may think you bought your ticket and that’s enough but if you haven’t validated it (machines are everywhere in the terminals) it is just like not having a ticket at all. Normal tickets you buy are not dated hence they need to be validated. So, make sure you have validated your ticket before you get on the train. There are regular checks on the trains by officers in plain clothes, so don’t be fooled that there are no barriers to walk through.
Be on time
Germans love punctuality! This is the same whether you are attending a social function or if you are on a business trip. Punctuality is part of German etiquette which also means that trains and buses are usually on time as Germans do get rather impatient with lateness.
Shopping – on a Sunday and lunch time closure
The shopping cycle is much more relaxing in German and this is one thing which always catches me out. Many smaller shops and specialist stores close for lunch during the week – sometimes even for 2 hours – and will open a little longer in the evening. On a Saturday you can expect these shops to shut from perhaps 14.00 for the rest of the weekend as most shops are closed on a Sunday. Supermarkets and other larger shops usually open longer. So, make sure that you have everything you need for the weekend because even the petrol stations don’t really carry food.
But you will always find a bakery which opens early on a Sunday morning for the most beloved German bread, rolls and of course the cakes! You will never be without cake!
Recycling instead of littering
This is definitely one of Germany’s babies. Germany has an amazing recycling system and everywhere you will buy plastic or glass bottles which have a ‘Pfand’ added which is a surcharge that you get back at any bottle return bank in supermarkets or when buying another bottle. It is a truly great system which keeps streets clean. Littering is totally unacceptable, and the fines are high – this does make Germany look very clean and tidy.
If you are visiting and you are not recycling your bottles then place them next to the bin or on top and it will be collected in no-time at all as some people earn their pocket money like that.
Even in the airport people will happily take your redundant bottle as they can get a few Cent for it from the machine. It is about 25 Cent for a plastic bottle.
Have your cash ready
Germans are still extremely cash orientated meaning many shops, bars, restaurants and small boutiques etc either do simply not have a credit card machine or are very reluctant to take credit cards and will point you to the nearest cash machine. It is good to know the location of your nearest cash machine to avoid any disappointment. Germans don’t believe in paying interest to credit card companies and therefore encourage their customers to pay cash.
Speaking the language
Even though Germans speak usually English and many companies nowadays have English as their official meeting language you still find many towns especially the smaller ones where it comes in handy to be able to speak some German. Cities such as Berlin and Munich, Cologne and Düsseldorf are very cosmopolitan cities and you will find that in most shops or restaurants you are able to converse in English.
Visiting Germany is a great way of practicing your German and if you need any help with that please contact me. I am Claudia Dickson a native German speaker and have been teaching German now for the past 27 years. I love the language and the versatility of Germany. Even now there is always something new I learn in Germany and every trip has something exciting.
Let me show you how to speak German like a native.