Practical Information for Before and During your Vacation in Bavaria
♥ ♥ Make sure that your passport is NOT set to expire within 6 months of your travel. German authorities are very strict on this issue. It will likely interfere with you being able to enter Germany or even board the plane to Europe. Please make sure that your passport expiration date is more than 6 months past your RETURN date to be safe.
♥ ♥ Bring outlet adapters for your critical devices and appliances. Germany and Austria use the same plugs, which have two-round pins. Italy and some other countries use different plugs and outlets, so please check on all the countries you will be visiting. You can find a country-by-country list with pictures here. Adapters are easily available online or at hardware and electronics stores. Of course you can readily find them at similar stores and airports in Europe.
♥ ♥ Double check your devices that they are built-in dual voltage (110-220). Most modern devices are, but there are the odd exceptions, such as curling irons.
♥ ♥ Check the weather reports often in the days leading up to your trip, so you know which clothes to bring. Layering is always a recommended option.
♥ ♥ Check with your cell phone provider to see if they offer international calling packages (see below).
About the Weather
♥ ♥ The weather can be unpredictable in alpine regions. Please always pack in the onion (layered) look , include at least one pair of your most comfy walking shoes and it may be useful to have one pair of nice shoes also.
♥ ♥ There is a weather phenomenon we call ‘Föhn’, kind of like an inversion, when warm dry wind from Italy makes it over the Alps and clears the air, allowing one to see seemingly forever. However, it also sometimes can cause headaches and even short tempers in sensitive people.
♥ ♥ Easy way to convert the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit: double the Celsius and add 30. Conversely, to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius, first subtract 30 the divide by half. These methods are not exact, but close enough.
In Germany and Austria
♥ ♥ Always have a bit of cash with you. Many restaurants and small businesses don’t take credit cards.
♥ ♥ Keep to the right on the escalator – and on the Autobahn. The left side/lane is for people who want to pass.
♥ ♥ Be aware of the bicycle lanes! They share the sidewalk in the cities and cyclists move fast.
♥ ♥ Stores are closed on Sundays and holidays. Restaurants, some bakeries and gas stations are open, as well as – luckily! – tourist shops in many locations.
♥ ♥ If you shop, keep your receipts – the 19% Value Added Tax can be refunded to you at the airport.
♥ ♥ If you make large purchases, many shops will ship straight to your home and will not charge the 19% VAT.
♥ ♥ There is often a charge to use the restrooms, generally 30 to 50 cents.
Using the Telephone
♥ ♥ The country code in Germany is 0049, in Austria 0043 for calling from outside each country. If you store international numbers in your cell phone, use the ‘+’ sign instead of the ’00’, and numbers will also work from within the country.
♥ ♥ Many US providers and those from other countries as well have recently begun offering reasonably priced calling plans for European travel. Please check with your provider!
♥ ♥ Prepaid phones with a local number are inexpensive and easy to procure way to stay connected while in Europe. Here is a link to more information on this (and a whole lot more).
In Restaurants and Beer Gardens
♥ ♥ You do not have to wait to be seated in most German restaurants and it is perfectly normal to share tables with strangers.
♥ ♥ It is customary to leave no more than a 5 to 10 % tip, as service (and 19% VAT) is already included in the bill.
♥ ♥ Service personnel notoriously take forever to bring the bill, so ask for the check when they come to clear the dishes unless you plan on staying for more drinks. There is generally no urgent need on the restaurant’s part to move you out the door, as most are not under pressure to turn tables over multiple times a night.
♥ ♥ You can bring your own food to the self-service area in authentic Bavarian beer gardens, but drinks must be purchased there.
Food and Drink
♥ ♥ Wiener Schnitzel – #1 most popular dish in Germany and Austria and a great go-to meal for kids
♥ ♥ Schweinebraten – Pork Roast, most popular dish in Bavaria
♥ ♥ Haxe / Schweinehaxen – pork knuckle, on the bone and rotisserie grilled
♥ ♥ Sauerbraten – marinated beef, very popular in Munich
♥ ♥ Knödel – dumpling, either bread (Semmelknödel) or potato (Kartoffelknödel) or one of many local variations
♥ ♥ Weisswurst – a Bavarian tradition, boiled white veal sausage, traditional with sweet mustard. Peel before eating!
♥ ♥ Brez’n / Breze – pretzel, generally salted and in different sizes from normal to huge.
♥ ♥ Obatzda – a beer garden favorite , must try!!! Camembert with spices – yummy with your Brezn
♥ ♥ Ein Bier, bitte – one beer, please! (to order correctly)
♥ ♥ Eine Mass! – one liter of beer, typical in beer gardens and at the Oktoberfest (to order correctly)
♥ ♥ Radler – is a mixture of beer and Lemonade (Ladies like it!)
♥ ♥ Apfelschorle – mixture of apple juice and mineral water