First: Some Questions
Off the top of my head,
Do you want all the conveniences of home?
Do you expect that everyone speaks your language?
Is it important that your meals and beverages and comfort zone be
like at home?
Not to be a smart-aleck, but if your answers are YES, I would suggest you save your money and spare yourself the long flight. Explore the beauty of YOUR country.
Things are different here. People are different here. Not everyone speaks English. It is a different culture here in Bavaria. What can be confusing for many Yanks, Brits, Irish, Australians, Kiwi's etc is that generally Germans look pretty much like them. But they do not THINK the same.
Plus, Bavaria is a distinct section of Germany with it'd own language and traditions. Oktoberfest has NOTHING to do with Germany. It is all about Bavaria.
TIP...You will gain so much respect and get so much more help if you phrase a question this way..."May I speak in English?" instead of just assuming that someone understands English..
So get ready for no AC, no ice in your drinks, somewhat indifferent customer service, paying for a toilette and having a big lady attendant step in next to you and start cleaning while you are doing your business. No mayonaise, no free coffee refills. It's different.
The Best Preparation
Do you want to get ready for your trip of a lifetime? Many guests will do some language study. Some will brush up on history. The best advice I can give you about preparation is this: StairMaster!
The amount of walking required of a traveler here can really be hard if you haven't done it in awhile. When was the last time you walked a mile or a kilometer? You will do it everyday here.
As of January 1st, 2008, smoking is no longer allowed in restaurants in Germany. Germany was the last bastion of nicotine and it has crumbled. You can smoke outside. Beergartens allow smoking as do all outdoor seating. Oktoberfest will not allow smoking in the tents. This will be an interesting dilemma. Letting people OUT to smoke without letting the hoards waiting outside IN will be an organizational nightmare.
Warning -- Delayed luggage
Make sure that you carry on medicines, that you must take daily. Because of security, it is a regular occurance that bags are delayed 24 hours.
The airlines in Munich are very good at tracking and delivering your bags to your door the next day. Keep your barcoded baggage stubs that are usually stapled to your ticket envelope!!!
Don't Rent a Car
Don't waste your money on a car rental when you visit. Public transportation is safe and easy. Parking is a nightmare. Forget the car. Take the subway or a bus or a train. Munich is a great walking and bike town. Remember the streets are safe here day and night.
Driving in Austria
Often travelers will rent a car in Munich and then take a trip to Austria. But no one tells you that at the border you have to buy a Vignette to drive in Austria. They also don't tell you that in Austria you must drive with your headlights on at all times. Heavy fines for infractions.
Please check with the staff at the hotel on the weather forecast before heading out for the entire day on a tour. EVERYONE who lives hear is keenly aware of the forecast for the next ten days. The Alps weather can be very changeable.
This important historic WWll destination is a must-see. However, remember it is NEVER open before May 15 and usually closes by October 15th. Plan accordingly.
Remember when Levi's were a black market item? Aspirin is almost like that here. It has to be purchased at a pharmacy here. If you need to bring a gift to friends or family here, include a Costco sized bottle of aspirin in your suitcase.
Also remember that if you mail a gift to someone here, it has to wait in customs and a fairly high tax must be paid to retrieve it. I could tell you about the time a couple sent fresh Alaska salmon on ice to some people here and it waited in customs for six weeks and the people had to pay 35€ to pick it up. Yuck!
They are so OUT. That was last century. They are a pain in the neck.
Bring your bank ATM card for cash. BUT, make sure you check with your bank on the daily limit that they have esablished for your account. Bump it up to $500 a day allowable. Often a bank's default is only $100 a day. So make sure you check with your bank.
You will need cash here. Plastic is not as accepted as it might be back home. Things like tour or museum entrance fees and beergarden food and drink are always cash. The best deal for converting to Euros is thru the ATM.
Buy your memory card at home. They are expensive here. One tip is to purchase an extra and bring it in its original packaging. That way if you don't use it on your vacation, you can return it when you get home.
Sundays & Holidays
Remember that all retail stores are closed here on Sundays and holidays. Restaurants are open and most gas stations are as well. Stores close at 8pm Mo-Sa.
19 % !!! In a store, the price on the product includes the tax. It is charged at restaurants as well. It is not an included gratuity.
The underground is the fastest and easiest way to get around Munich. There are some great fares for tourists including 1 day pass, 3 day pass and group pass.
On the ticket vending machine is a flag symbol. Press it for instructions in multible languages.
The subway is NOT free. Most people have a monthly pass so you don't see them punching their ticket. 40€ is the fine for getting caught without a pass.
A somewhat unusual thing in Bavaria is that you may not gamble at a casino that is within 50 kilometers of your residence. They check your passport at the door. This is to discourage addictive gambling by making it a hardship to get to a casino. There is also a dress code.
I just picked up MOLVANIA (Jetlag Travel Guide). It is hilarious!
This letter is not a B. ß indicates "ss". So the word street, (Strasse), can also be spelled, Straße.
Someday I will go into Ä Ö Ü
Assume products in Munich are more expensive than they are at home. Some exceptions: Birkenstocks, Dr Hauschka cosmetics and Gummi Bears. I'll add to the list when I think of more. The E.U. requires a three year warranty on most purchased items. That 90 day "Parts and Labor" thing does not exist here.
Munich is a very safe city. Children at a very young age take the subway, bus and walk to school. The "Don't Walk" sign is observed at street crossings here. It is all part of that orderly culture thing.
The WORST thing a visitor can do is to walk at the "Don't Walk" when a parent with children is waiting. This is bad manners! The parent will give you an earful.
What's the hurry anyway? You're on vacation !
The Big 3
When you share an adult beverage with others it is critical to,:
1. Clink glasses and say "Prost",
2. Make eye contact with every person upon clinking
3. Do not drink your beverage until you have done this.
Of course at anytime someone can lift his/her glass and say "Prost" and then you get to do it all over again.
You can always spot a new person here by the way they ride an escalator. The locals leave the left side open as an aisle for people who want to hurry up the escalator. Newbies block all traffic. If you are a couple, stand behind your partner, not next to.
Bikes have the right of way over foot traffic. Be careful walking. There is a walkway and a bikeway. If you hear the little bell on the bikers handlebars behind you, move out of the way fast!
Great Munich info in English can be had at www.toytowngermany.com/munich. The site is a good way to prepare for a visit here and/or a nice way to keep in touch after your visit.
Cell Phone Double Dip
A cell phone is called a Handy here. In Bavaria and most of Europe, you do not spend cell minutes if you receive a call. Only the caller pays.
Someone can call you and talk for 12 hours continuous but only the caller pays.
I know that in the States, both parties pay. What a concept - the Double Dip.
Bring your own bag and also no one bags it for you. You load each item as it is scanned. This makes it hard to audit the checker.
If you use a cart, you put in a euro in the slot on the cart. When you return the cart the euro is released. You don't find carts strewn all over and the store doesn't have the expense of hiring someone to gather the carts.
BMW World will have its grand opening this summer. It will be a world class museum and destination. Also the museum is just newly re-opened.
If you need BMW Factory tour information check out:
Food in Munich
I'll be brief. Thumbs up for Bavarian, Italian, Thai, Indian and Spanish cuisines.
I have been disappointed with American, Mexican and Chinese cuisines.
I miss quick and inexpensive Teryaki. In Munich they have Döner Kebab. It is shaved rotisserie turkey in pita bread with lettuce, onions and yogurt sauce. Quick, inexpensive and good.
Cool Airline Website
I just came across www.seatguru.com. It shows the interior configuration of each airline's aircraft. It is great for picking a seat upon reservation. They show poor seats, exits, good seats etc. Really cool!
Numbers & Dates
They use a comma here instead of a decimal point. For example - € 9,99
They list the date by day/month/year. The 9/11 tragedy would be written, 11/9. Next Christmas is 25/12/08.
Hofbräuhaus and Biergartens
Hofbräuhaus is cool. It is a "must see" in Munich. But don't confuse it with the Biergartens where you see mostly locals enjoying the outdoors, sipping and talking. Only in Munich can you have thousands of people gathered together drinking without fights or police. Biergartens are a true Bavarian tradition.
A "F*nny Pack" is that thing that Americans wear around their middle like a belt to keep stuff in.
In the UK, Ireland and Australia the word "f *nny" is a nasty word for a female body part.
"Bum Bag" is preferred.
Church and Hat
It is proper to remove your hat and to talk on your cell phone when entering a church! Hello! You knew that, right? Hands in the pockets are also frowned on. However picture taking is usually allowed
You will be fined 1,000 Euros if you give the middle finger sign to someone who has a witness. Same thing if you call someone an "Arschloch."
Many travelers use Munich as a jumping off point for Eastern Europe.
In Prague, assume someone is watching you at the ATM. Be very careful of pickpockets. Don't make your first stop in Prague a cash machine or bank!
The ground floor of a building in Bavaria is called the 1st floor.
When counting on your fingers, begin with the thumb. So if you hold up your index finger for one beer, for instance, it may be understood that you are ordering two. (Not the worst mistake you could make)
World Citizens Guide
This is a guide for americans traveling abroad.
Here's the best site I have found for brewery tour info in and around Munich
There is some confusion. The English Garden is a huge city park. It is not a garden.
It is over 1,000 acres or 417 hectares making it one of the world's biggest city center parks. It is a great place for strolling, biking, sunbathing, walking the dog and people watching. There are numerous beergardens and restaurants scattered about.
There are no gardens or greenhouses. It is a park and you have to be careful not to get lost.
You will see many sculpted lions displayed around Munich. They are in honor of Duke Henry the Lion who put Munich on the Salt route 850 years ago. He established Munich as an important commerce center.
Football means Soccer. Not only here but around the world as well.
Check back for more advice or drop me an email and I promise to reply. Email
Thanks - Clark