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A compendium of useful bits and pieces that don't deserve a separate category but are very practical nonetheless.
Bedding: Often "Doppelbett (Double bed)" means what most American people may know as two singles or twins, pushed together. Meanwhile some chain hotels are changing to queen beds. A double bed as customary in the U.S. is called a "Französisches Bett" (French bed) in Germany. Most hotels in southern Germany will provide down-filled pillows. Only the largest (and most expensive) hotels and chains will also offer non-allergenic pillows.
Hotels: Most hotels in Germany do not have air conditioning or climate control and therefore may represent a major issue for travelers suffering from allergies or other respiratory aliments. Please be advised that during the summer months, most notably August, the temperatures can rise well above 35 degree celsius (95 degrees fahrenheit) and may linger for weeks making your stay in German hotels less than comfortable.
Buying bottled drinks: The listed price for nearly all bottled drinks, often does not include the "Pfand" price, or the price you receive when returning the bottle for recycling. This cost is often added to the price at checkout and normally averages 25 Euro cents. Do not be surprised to see a higher price than listed.
Gas pump sticker shock: Gas prices in Germany and all of the EU are astronomical compared to many parts of the world, especailly North America (unless your place of origin is the U.K. where it could actually represent a bargin). The current average price of gasoline in Germany is $7.92 USD per gallon. Therefore, a 20 Euro note ($30 USD) will not even fill a normal sized tank 1/4 of the way. A small economy car (think Mazda 3) will run you $150 to fill up. A larger, more comfortable mid sized car (think VW Passat, Audi A6) will run you $170 or more. Be prepared to budget a minimum 25% for gas expenses. Also, be sure to check if the car you rented is a diesel. In this case, which is quite often, do not confuse diesel pumps with normal gas (benzin). It will cause severe internal damage and you will be held accountable for the repairs.
When shopping in German (and most European) supermarkets, you bag your own groceries. As the merchandise is scanned, you stand at the far end and bag it, so as to not delay those waiting behind you. There are no baggers. In most stores, you must purchase the bags, too. Some stores sell printed cloth bags - hard wearing and a novel souvenir! There is also no assistance provided for carrying items out to the car, and home delivery of groceries is an unknown concept. Most German supermarkets do not accept standard credit cards! Check before you buy!
The SAE system of measurements is unknown. Germany is, as is all of Europe, linked to the metric system.
Electrical power is 230 volts, or 380 volts in commercial applications. Some U.S. appliances will work but you must ensure they are dual voltage see http://www.thegermantruth.com/Dangers... for more on this. Stereos and radios not made in Europe also will not work as the bands (FM, AM, etc.) are divided differently than they are in the U.S. and elsewhere. Old televisions will not receive colour broadcasts in Germany if they were not made for the German market, as the country uses the PAL colour system. Some U.S. mobile phones may not work in Germany, either, if they are not tri-band capable or enabled.
DVDs purchased in the United States, Asia or Africa will not play on a German DVD player unless it is equipped for those zones (the reverse holds true as well). Exception: Multizonal DVD players and those usually found in laptop computers.
Anything purchased in Germany is protected by a right of return policy for 14 days from date of purchase. After that period, you must contact the manufacturer or warranting entity for service.
Driving through towns and cities: be extra cautious for pedestrians walking directly into crosswalks without pausing; and bikes and vespas passing on your right. At T-intersections, the car on the right generally has the right of way. No right turn on red in Germany.
On the Autobahn: While in many areas there is still no speed limit (despite vigorous government debate on the topic, July 2007), several caveats exist:
Don't assume there is no speed limit. Check for signs as speeding can be very expensive and also incurs license points
Don't hog the left lane; this is punishable by huge fines in Germany
Do not tailgate, even if someone tailgates you
Conventional hand-held radar guns are unknown; instead, Germany relies on a very efficient (albeit sneaky) system of radar traps which take your car's picture (showing you, the driver clearly) from the front and then mail it to you along with a payment notice
If a bigger, faster car looms large from behind and flashes his lights, complete your passing operations as quickly as possible and get out of the way
Don't run out of gas. You will be helped and then fined by the police as running out of gas means you did not prepare adequately for your Autobahn drive!
Don't use your mobile phone at all while driving! Doing so will incur a 60 Euro fine plus license points. Repeat offenses incur more draconian punishments.
Rest stops on the Autobahn: Overall quality of rest stops along the Autobahns is generally much better than in the United States. One such chain of rest stops is Serways which offers cafeteria style, high quality food. Also note that restrooms generally cost 0.70 euro to use.