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TOPIC: Who has been to Germany?

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February 2, 2014 6:05 AM
I'm going to Munich in 6 weeks for vacation and I'm super excited but also scared. I grew up so sheltered and my family rarely ventured out of Illinois. This is my first trip to Europe. I'm just wondering who else has been to Germany, how they liked it, any tips?

I'm 3/4 German and want to see my heritage. The area we're staying in is very touristy. We've planned three day excursions with English speaking tour guides (We're taking a train to Salzburg, taking a bus to some castles, and taking a train to Dachau).

Thanks!
  54987048
February 2, 2014 6:14 AM
I was born in Germany, lived there until I moved to the US 4 years ago. Nice place you are going to. Bavaria is my favorite part of Germany. Lots of good foods to, watch out laugh. I am originally from Stuttgart. Try to go back at least once a year to see my family. And Salzburg is just lovely. There are lots of things to do in Munich. Dachau would not be on my list, I guess. There are plenty of nice lakes around Munich and Garmisch Partenkirchen is a nice city to vist. Check out the KOENIGSEE. It is beautiful..... ups, I could go on and on and on. ..... getting a little homesick. Sorry. Anyhow, enjoy your trip.
  50265140
February 2, 2014 6:20 AM
QUOTE:

I was born in Germany, lived there until I moved to the US 4 years ago. Nice place you are going to. Bavaria is my favorite part of Germany. Lots of good foods to, watch out laugh. I am originally from Stuttgart. Try to go back at least once a year to see my family. And Salzburg is just lovely. There are lots of things to do in Munich. Dachau would not be on my list, I guess. There are plenty of nice lakes around Munich and Garmisch Partenkirchen is a nice city to vist. Check out the KOENIGSEE. It is beautiful..... ups, I could go on and on and on. ..... getting a little homesick. Sorry. Anyhow, enjoy your trip.


I realize Dachau might be a bit depressing, but I am fascinated by WWII and wanted to see it. What is Koenigsee? Also, is English prevalent in Germany? I don't speak an ounce of German and am afraid of getting around. I already know our hotel staff speak English (we called).
  54987048
February 2, 2014 6:26 AM
I've just returned after living near Munich (in Grafenwoehr) for almost four years. Germany is a great place to travel, in general, and we really enjoyed Munich, in particular. The Germans are a very polite, welcoming people, if not quite as outgoing as Americans, and as long as you are courteous (if you have an appointment, DON'T be late!), they'll be friendly, and you'll love your experience. IMHO, it is those tourists who pull the "ugly American" crap who have a terrible time in Germany.

Look for porcelain and/or crystal shops there for memorable souvenirs, and don't forget to pick up World Cup memorabilia (Bayern Munchen was in serious running last year to win it) too. German food is a lot like ours, it just has longer names (schnitzel is just a butterflied pork chop, usually fried). For German fast food, try a doner kebab. Though technically not German (it's Turkish), there are stands selling doners on every corner; they're a version of the Greek gyro, and they're delicious.

Be prepared to walk *A LOT*. Germans are a physically active people, so they tend to bike and walk more than we do, in general. They don't have the public smoking restrictions we've become accustomed to in the States, so heads up. There is also a fabulous public transportation system in Germany, so you should be able to find a bus and/or train to take you wherever you need to go. And German taxis tend to be Mercedes...and very clean :)

Feel free to add me, if you like, and just have a great time! Learn one or two phrases of German (at least enough to say, "I'm sorry, I don't speak German well.) and they'll be happy to help you along. Most Germans speak English, but they don't enjoy being imposed upon right off the bat to accommodate you (who can blame them?). You'll come home with unforgettable memories of Germany.

P.S. -- buy day passes for local transportation. It's cheaper and keeps your cash flow healthier. Be aware that plastic (debit or credit) isn't generally accepted in Europe (due to rampant identity theft), so keep Euro on hand.

P.S. again --- if you don't like liver, don't order anything with "leber" in the name.
February 2, 2014 6:34 AM
Most people do speak English there. They are required to learn it in school. So you might not have great conversations in English but most people have a good basic understanding. Koenigsee is a really nice lake surrounded by beautiful mountains. There are plenty of hiking trails where you can enjoy the great view. If you like outdoor activities, this is the right place for you. Instead of hanging out in shopping malls on Sunday, most germans go walking, hiking or biking. Also, all the shops are closed on Sundays. That's why you see so many people, especially when spring starts, outside on a Sunday. Germany has many bike trails. Hang out at a Biergarten (you can sit outside with hopefully nice weather and enjoy a Radler with Weisswurst (Specialty of Bavaria). When are you going?
  50265140
February 2, 2014 6:37 AM
We are a military family, and my son was based in Germany for a while. We visited and really enjoyed ourselves. The castle and cathedrals are amazing. Taking rails and buses are the way to tour. Having an English speaking tour guide will be a great benefit. Language can pose challenges. You will love it!
  363418
February 2, 2014 6:37 AM
I would suggest a tour of the salt mine.
February 2, 2014 6:39 AM
Oh we won't be rude American tourists. I promise that. I'm nice to a fault. We were planning to learn a few phrases and such before we left. Thanks for the heads up on the plastic. I'd planned to bring my debit card. Our hotel is right by the train station so we planned to use the train for transport. I also bought some good walking shoes (not tennis shoes). I've heard Europeans don't wear tennis shoes for daily wear, so I don't want to totally stick out as Ms. American tourist!

We're only there for a week, so I'm not sure how much we can squeeze in. I do want to find some cool souvenirs to buy for my mom, sister (and her hubby and babies), coworkers and pet sitters. We've already spent so much on this trip!

So if I do bring my debit card... I'll have it stored in my theft protected bag I'm carrying. I'm hoping I will be ok? Or should we stick to strictly carrying Euros?
  54987048
February 2, 2014 6:40 AM
Hello,

Been to Germany many times - first for work, and now I like to return for fun.

YES. Many Germans do speak English, especially in touristy areas and larger cities. imo, it's a polite, friendly country with delicious food. The Rhine River region is particularly lovely, with castles as frequent as US chain coffee shops ;-) Land use is fantastic, and you can walk just about anywhere.

Dachau was thought-provoking (for me). There were many visitors, and it was interesting to consider the history. I couldn't decide if I was offended by people having picnics/laughing, etc. or if it was a good reclaiming of the space for positive usage. Yet, there were also people being quiet and contemplative. I was definitely glad I went.

You'll have a wonderful time, particularly if you speak quietly and are polite. Also, German is EXTREMELY consistent (like Spanish) in pronunciation. And small words get smushed together to make big words. Very logical. So you really can pick up some super-basic phrases very easily.

Lastly, I found Germany to be one of the safest places I've traveled to. It's a great first out-of-US trip. Have a GREAT time, and feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
  29345559
February 2, 2014 6:42 AM
OMG, why'd you say "radler"? Now, I'm drooling! :) (I miss my Bavaria.)
February 2, 2014 6:43 AM
A few times.

"It's ok."

If you're staying in a touristy area you shouldn't have any problems.

Despite doing 5 years of German at School, I'm absolutely terrible at it (no way my 'C' GCSE was justified to my mind) and have got by with just pointing and such like.

If you haven't been abroad much it'll feel "different", but then the same could be said for moving around the US. US to Germany is still VERY similar compared to your typical African country and so on, however.
  27247880
February 2, 2014 6:46 AM
We were able to use our debit card on the military post, in order to get Euros, but when we travelled, I made sure to have enough Euros with me, rather than relying on my debit card. You will find ATMs, too, especially in tourist areas, so it won't be a big problem to find Euros. But as far as using it at the point of sale, like we do here in the States, that probably won't be an option, nine times out of ten. It caught me by surprise on my first trip to the Rhine region.

Speaking of the Rhine, you've *got* to have some German wine.
February 2, 2014 6:47 AM
I'm from Germany, albeit about as far away from the part you 're going to as one can get. Just giving you the heads up about using English; it's almost universally the first foreign language taught in schools and continental Europe take their languages far more seriously than any English-speaking country I've lived in. Bavaria has the best reputation when it comes to education. Most people, especially if under 40, will speak english to a degree that'll allow you to get your point across and hold a general conversation without much fuss (unless you have a strong accent). As you 're sticking to the touristy areas you'll be fine.

A word on the football souvenirs: Bayern munchen won the Champion's League last year, they don't play in the World Cup, which is a competition played by national teams. That's a bit like saying the Rangers will win the Winter Olympics.
  41174559
February 2, 2014 6:50 AM
My apologies for misunderstanding. I was excited for all the wrong reasons, it would appear :) There was a player from Weiden (just up the road from our post) playing that season, and I do remember all the parties, but apparently I completely missed the point. :) Oh, well.
February 2, 2014 6:51 AM
I have been to Germany many times for work, and have spent time in Dusseldorf, Essen, Munich and Stuttgart. It is a beautiful country. The people are friendly, the food is fantastic and the beer is great. You will have no problem getting around and english speakers are every where. Learn a few German phrases before you go. It will certainly be appreciated by your host country and will make people more inclined to help you out in english.
Have a great trip.
  2163241
February 2, 2014 6:52 AM
I'm from Frankfurt, Hessia. It's not too bad here, you'll enjoy it.
February 2, 2014 6:53 AM
I lived in Berlin for 4 yrs before the wall came down.... In the 80's! And all I can say it.... They are wonderful, warm hearted, welcoming people! If I had not moved to the US.... I would have stayed on in Germany! Great local transport, good food, people are helpful... Would be good to learn a few phrases. You will find all the amenities you do in the US. so don't fret. Just make sure you dress for the weather... Definitely cold this time of the year. Oh.... And plan to ENJOY:)
  4756820
February 2, 2014 6:53 AM
We will be there March 9th through March 15th. (Spring break time in my city)
  54987048
February 2, 2014 6:56 AM
this isn't exactly related to germany, but never leave your passport in a bag/car. mine got stolen when I was in italy, and they tried to deport me when I got back to the US. lol.
  1901220
February 2, 2014 6:57 AM
I've been to Munich, Dachau and Salzburg. Salzburg is so beautiful, I loved it there. In regards to Dachau, I am also fascinated with WWII and could not pass up visiting such an important part of history when I was so close to it. Very moving. I was with a friend who spoke German so I let him do all the talking for me. You will have a fabulous time, I'm sure. Oh, I went back in 2001 but I took my debit card and whatever city I was in I withdrew money there (went to Paris as well). I wore a money belt and kept all my important stuff in there.
February 2, 2014 7:05 AM
We lived there for 1 1/2 years and would go back in a heartbeat. It is extremely clean. There are walking/bike paths everywhere. Everything is closed on Sunday. Germans are extremely honest and friendly. We went to Nuremburg at Christmas and despite riding the subway for 8 different trips our ticket was never checked and there wasn't even anywhere to really punch it. It was very honor system. Don't try to cheat it though because not only is it just wrong but if they do check and you don't have a ticket the fine is very high. Their public transportation is exceptional and very punctual. If your bus says it will pick up at 4:02 and you arrive at 4:03 you may well have missed it. The food is amazing, fresh, and GMO free. You will taste the difference. Being in Europe for as little as a week makes me start to feel healthier than when I was in the states and I don't eat fast food anyhow.
February 2, 2014 7:06 AM
Germans think Americans are insincere with our constant smiles... don't let it stop you. Be friendly.

I felt safe traveling there - in general, forget the anti-theft purse and wear a money belt.

Most Germans speak some English. And they will apologize for their "bad English" even though you understand them perfectly; most Americans don't even attempt to learn their language. They pronounce "v" like a "w". So Vampire sounds like Wampire - try not to giggle.

Don't be surprised if you strike up a conversation with a German when they jump right into politics. They will express their opinion in no uncertain terms. I like the bluntness in their conversation. Make sure you brush up on news a little if you're not in the habit - nothing worse than an American who doesn't know who Merkel or Putin is, what's going on in the Ukraine or Thailand, and so on. Europeans in general are so much more informed than we are.

Keep a couple of Euros in your pocket. There are no free public restrooms. You pay the attendant one Euro - as a result you get really clean pubic restrooms. The stalls have no openings or gaps like American stalls - they are like little closets with a door that fully closes.

Try the bratwurst on the street and the doner already mentioned. Also try the currywurst fries - ketchup mixed with spicy curry. Yum!

I went to Buchenwald - you will need time to emotionally process the experience afterwards- talk with your family and just have some down time if needed.

Germany will make you slow down and relax - spending a few hours for dinner or hanging in a biergarten will be some of your best memories.

Enjoy!!!
  16464123
February 2, 2014 9:11 AM
I've been there many times. We were almost going again this year but are too broke.

Sidenote anyone who speaks Deutsch or loves Germany please friend me!

OP, you should learn some German - go to duolingo.com & learn some German right now for free.

Also, in spite of Germans learning English, I found a lot of Germans did not understand English, and I had to use my very limited German to find / get things. I'm still learning German, no longer through Rosetta Stone but on duolingo.com (and also learning other languages as well).

For instance, getting to the airport to leave I had to use German to ask people which stop. Going into the Apotheke to get something I needed to use German. Going to the mobile phone store I needed to use German (the guy was Turkish...& didn't speak English), going into a sandwich shop, the German lady didn't speak English, I had to use my limited German. OTOH, I felt that if I had stayed there a month that I would have picked up a lot of German.
  4168800
February 2, 2014 9:18 AM
Im German feel free to ask :)
February 2, 2014 9:22 AM
I lived in Luxembourg for two years (country right next door to Germany) and did all my big monthly shopping in Germany (just a 30 minute drive from Luxembourg City) I have spent time in Frankfurt, Berlin, and all around the Luxembourg/Germany border, as well as the Black Forest. Most of the folks in the smaller cities did not speak English. However, in the larger cities some did. I recommend having a small German/English phrase book to get around. I also used a German translator app on my phone. The country side is very green. The architecture is beautiful. The trains are very precise and efficient! Enjoy your travels!

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