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About Germany

         

Germany in general

Germany is democratic parliamentary federal democracy since 1949 and the federation is made up of 16 federal states. Germany is a member of the European Union and the United Nations.Flagge
The National Flag has three horizontal stripes in black, red, gold.
There are 82 million inhabitants, 3.4 million of them living in the capital city Berlin.

Accommodation
The cheapest way to stay in Germany is in a Youth Hostel (Jugendherberge). The prices are between 15 and 25 Euro including breakfast. Visit http://www.jugendherberge.de/en/ for more information.  Another useful site for longer stays is AirBnb: https://www.airbnb.com/

Airports
Germany has several international airports. The most important ones are:
Frankfurt am Main
Stuttgart
Nürnberg
München (Munich)
Berlin
Köln (Cologne) / Bonn

Hannover
Hamburg

Banks
Germany's currency is EURO (€). You can exchange money and traveller checks in many banks and exchange offices ("Wechselstube").

Communication
Many people in Germany speak at least basic English, especially young people. So it shouldn't be a big problem to communicate even if you don't speak German. Nevertheless, here are some useful phrases:

Good morning  Guten Morgen
Good afternoon
Guten Tag
Good evening
Guten Abend
Good night
Gute Nacht
Good bye
Auf Wiedersehen 
Thank you
Danke
You are welcome       Bitte
Excuse me
Entschuldigung
Yes
Ja
NoNein

Money
Since 2002, Germany has used the EURO (€). 1 € = 100 cents. You can change money or traveller's checks at all banks. In many cities, there are currency exchange outlets that offer the same service.  Typically, foreign bank accounts can be accessed at ATMs (Geldautomat) with a small service fee. 

Electronic Cash (EC): The "Eurocheque" card bearing the EC-/Maestro sign can be used for cashless shopping in many stores. You should find out beforehand, however, whether a specific store actually accepts this form of payment. Some stores require a minimum purchase of 10,00 € for accepting payment by EC card.

Credit Cards: Most shops accept the global credit card brands. Often, however, a minimum purchase of 10,00 € is required. Many banks offer their customers so-called "cash cards", which can be charged at special terminals and can be used as a form of cashless payment.

Emergency
In case you need a doctor / an ambulance you have to call the emergency number 112.
In case of fire you will reach the fire department also at 112.
In case you need the police you have to dial the number 110.
If you are an European Citizen please do not forget to bring your European Health Insurance Card (former E111).

Food
In Germany it is difficult to specify what kind of food is typical for Germany, as every part often has something different. In general, sausages are very popular and you can find plenty of different kinds everywhere. Moreover, Germans like different kinds of bread (white and dark), so a visit to a bakery could be nice experience. Last but not least, a visit to a typical German beergarden to enjoy German beer is a must for everyone.

Health
Normally, you don't need a special vaccination to visit Germany, although a vaccination against ticks and tetanus might be very useful. Moreover it can be an advantage if you take some medicine before travalling with you, like aspirin or other pain killer.  It is not guaranteed that a perscription can be filled in Germany as it would be in your home country, so it is advised to bring a full amount of any perscribed medicine with you.  Additionally, there are forms of international traveler's insurance available for trips of any length.


Internet
In every bigger city you can find public internet cafes. Unfortunately, the prices differ quite a lot. You can pay 1 Euro for 15 minutes but also for one hour, depending how lucky you are.

Phone calls
International phone dial code for Germany is 0049. There are public phones, some uses coins and some phone cards which can be bought at petrol stations, tabacconists or supermarkets.
In Germany mobile phones are very common and you will be able to use your own mobile phone when it operates on GSM 900/1800. However, this is a very expensive option.  One option is to purchase a prepaid SIM card for your current cell phone, which vary in calling/data capabilities.  They are typically rather inexpensive.

Post offices
Post offices are opened normally from Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., sometimes even to 8 p.m.; on Saturdays maybe a bit shorter, depending on whether you are in a big city or a smaller village. Sunday is an official non-working day, so everything is closed.
A stamp international costs 0.75 Euro.

Shopping
Supermarkets are normally opened from Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., in smaller cities they might close earlier. Other shops open at 10 a.m. but have the same opening hours. Sunday is a official not-working day so everything is closed (except of museums and some restaurants).  It is worth noting that prices in German supermarkets do not include sales tax as in some other countries, and most include bottle-return centers to receive bottle-deposits (Pfand) back.  

Tourist information
You can find tourist information centers in every city and bigger village, mostly just next to the train station or in the city center. These are mostly very good equipped with city maps, museum informations,...

Travelling
To travel within Germany the easiest but unfortunately most expensive way is by train (Deutsche Bahn = DB; offical website). Special offers for students doesn't exists, but there are some other opportunities to get special offers:
The "Schoenes-Wochenende-Ticket" (Weekend-Ticket) allows up to five people unlimited travelling together all around Germany on local trains (not IC, ICE) on Saturday or Sunday and costs 42 / 44 Euro, depending whether you buy it at the machine or the counter.

The "Laender-Tickets" are valid for one state of Germany (e.g. Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg,...) for one day between Monday and Friday (9 a.m. - 3 a.m. of the following day) up to five people for local trains. It costs between 20 and 30 Euro, depending on the amount of people.

Regional busses are also an option: a few good choices are MeinFernBus or BerlinLinienBus.   Tickets are typically cheaper than Deutsche Bahn, but connections and travel times may not be as plentiful.  One can find more bus lines / information with a simple Google search.

The last possibility is a kind of organised hitch-hiking agencies ("Mitfahrzentrale"). People travelling by car my offer a lift via internet. Find more information on the English version; offer / book a lift on the German website.

Most large cities in Germany have fairly reliable public transportation systems, typically made up of busses, trams (S-Bahn) and subways (U-Bahn).  Tickets for public transportation systems come in many forms, including single- and multiple-trip tickets, day tickets, week tickets and month tickets.  The tickets include all forms of public transportation, but often relate directly to different zones of the city, wherein more zones increase the costs.  There are information centers in main train stations and city centers where you can learn more about the specifics in each city.

Weather
The weather and climate in Germany changes extremly according to the region and the season. The winter might be cold and under 0 degrees but during the last years there was only little snow. In the last years summer was sometimes really hot and sometimes really cold and rainy, the temperature varies normally between 20-35 degrees.

What's else
In Germany, individuals have to prove their identity when requested by the police. This means, you should always have your ID with you.

You can find more information about Germany on www.tatsachen-ueber-deutschland.de or www.germany-info.org.

If you have any special request, please feel free to ask:

Phone: 0049 - 711 - 649 11 28       or        incoming@ibg-workcamps.org