Safety Tips in Berlin

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  • JourneyOf1's Profile Photo

    For Global Refund Cheques

    by JourneyOf1 Written Jul 29, 2004

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    For tourists and visitors, if you have purchased items and the store provides these, see the attendant at the "tax-free" office or ask a sales associate for a tax refund cheque . If you have your passport or a picture ID like a driver's license they will print out and sign a Global Refund Cheque for to refund the tax on your purchases. No cash refunds in the store but you must have your cheque stamped before you check your baggage at the airport.

    From the brochure they give you: "On leaving the EU show your purchases to Customs officials and have your Global refund cheque stamped within 3 months of purchase. By air, before baggage check-in, by rail ask for information about stamp formailities."

    You have to have the customs stamp to get a refund. You can also mail your stamped cheque to Global Refund and get a bank draft sent to you or direct deposit to your card or bank account.

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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Avoid snail mail

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 23, 2004

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    When I asked for postage stamps for postcards I was going to send at the post office they added me air mail labels for postcards sent over-seas although I didn't ask about them.
    Avoid snail sea mail. Whenever you send postcards/letters at least outside Europe ask for Luftpost (Par Avion, Prioritaire) labels and appropriate (more expensive) postage stamps.


    From my friend Ingo (german_eagle) from Dresden, Germany:
    Stamps for airmail are not more expensive than sea mail. Few people know that, but I asked at the post office when I sent some snail mail to the US recently.

    AIR  MAIL  LABELS
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Take more time

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 19, 2004

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    I was only two full days in Berlin, so most of my time I had to run like a sheep and despite it I skipped a lot of interesting tourist attractions. That's why I am going to come back to Berlin soon (when it gets warmer).

    If it's possible do NOT follow me. I think that for a very fast and full of energy visitor 3 full days is an absolute minimum. For someone (like me) interested in history, architecture, art, the Berlin wall, cultural events, meeting people and VT-ers + visiting surroundings (Potsdam) hmm... a week maybe not enough.

    Don't you have so much time? No worries, thanks to very efficient public transportation you can visit a few top attractions during a few hours. Or go and... come back again :-) Enjoy!

    TOWER  CLOCK  OF  ST.  MATHEW  CHURCH
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Loong line to famous exposition(s)

    by matcrazy1 Written Apr 2, 2004

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    Although I didn't have much time in Berlin I had to stay in a looong line to get inside the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) where there was exposition of over 200 masterpieces from Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

    Finally we waited approx. 50 min. on Sunday midday but it was NOT tourist trap for me - simply the exposition was worth of even more waiting time! And while Urszula was waiting in the line I was walking around, watching people, taking pictures, tasting Berlin's snacks etc.

    If you have no time and more €€€€ to spend (27 instead of 10 or 12) buy VIP ticket in advance (not available at place). Follow the link below for more info, please.

    IN  A  LINE  TO  NEUE  NATIONALGALERIE
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Taking pictures at bad light

    by matcrazy1 Updated Mar 17, 2004

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    I was in Berlin in February in partly sunny, partly dark, cloudy weather. Taking pictures outdoors was not so simple esp. in darker light.
    Just a few advices:
    1. if possible choose appropriate film DIN/ASA (400 for dark light, 100 for light, sunny weather). It's simple in most digi cameras when you can change it at any time,
    2. at bad light avoid taking pictures of two distant planes (close main motive and far background) - the background may not be seen and/or sharp,
    3. hold a camera perfectly still esp. at bad light which demands longer time of exposition; it goes easier with larger cameras.
    4. Enjoy :-)

    SMILE,  PLEASE!
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Do not over-pay

    by matcrazy1 Updated Mar 17, 2004

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    Usually in all touristy places I visited prices for stuff which visitors used to buy (postacards, souvenirs, meals in touristy restaurants) where higher especially on main, busy streets.
    It worked the same way in Berlin. More: exactly the same postcards on main, representative shopping street Kurfürstendamm were sold both at 0.40 € and at... 1.00 € - almost at one place. Hmm... whatch for prices not to over-pay like silly me. You would feel a little less comfortable (= like silly me haha) buying the more expensive ones a few meters away from over twice cheaper. Just around the corner they costed even less: 0.30 €.

    POSTCARDS  FOR  0.30 ���  EACH
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Postage stamps

    by matcrazy1 Updated Mar 15, 2004

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    It's not nice to promise family and/or friends to send postcards from Berlin and not to do that. It may happen when you forget their addresses or you don't buy postcards or postage stamps. The last one maybe not so simple in Berlin. Why?

    1. I used to buy postage stamps together with postcards, at one place (usually a newsstand) in Poland. But in most countries I visited including Germany and Berlin the stamps were available exclusively at post office (Postämt). I was told that there were some automats selling them located by post boxes in Berlin but I didn't find any.

    2. Each post office in Berlin had limited operating time. Most post offices were open:
    Mon - Fri: 8.00 am - 6.00 pm
    Sat: 8.00 - 12.00 am or 1.00 pm (!)
    Sunday: closed!

    There is! Post office open till midnight!
    The post office I was lucky to find in the heart of Berlin (at Joachimstaller Straße, 100 m north of Ku-dam on the left) was open:
    Mon - Sat: 8.00 am - midnight,
    Sun: 10 am - midnight.
    I was told that it was the longest operated post office in Berlin. Really? Hmm... there is one 24/24 post office even in my definetely not touristy and... 30 times smaller than Berlin hometown in Poland.

    LONG  OPERATING  POST  OFFICE  AT  JOACHIMSTALLER
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Expensive parking garages

    by matcrazy1 Updated Mar 13, 2004

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    There was a parking lot by my Holiday Inn Garden Court Kurfuerstendamm hotel at Bleibtreustrasse 25 in Charlottenburg district. I had covered place for my car which costed me 10 € per 24 hours.
    For other costumers prices were higher and on uncovered parking lot. I saw quite many cars parked there at night although it costed 15 € for each day (over 8 hours). Look at the price list on my picture. Notice that the parking was closed from midnight to 6.00 am (not for hotel guests though). Get the ticket from the automat when you get in the garage, show the ticket and pay at the hotel reception just before leaving.

    There were quite many other parking garages (but... not enough) throughot Berlin at the same or similar prices.

    MY  PARKING  PRICE  LIST
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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Smoking policy

    by matcrazy1 Updated Mar 10, 2004

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    Warning for non-smoking:
    I found Berlin not as strict about smoking as say California in the USA. In inexpensive restaurants/bars there were tables for non-smoking but not separated from those for smoking. In more expensive (medium and upclass) restaurants surely there were separated rooms or floors smoke free.
    In Yorckschlosschen Club and Bar and inside one more cafe in artistic district of Kreuzberg the interior was full of cigarette smoke.

    Warning for smoking:
    Except fast food restaurants and the restaurant in my hotel I saw one restaurant smoke free, are there more? At least smoking was allowed there on the tables outside, I am sure (although not in February).
    There were only two double rooms for smoking guests vacant in my hotel when I got there. So, it's possible not to find any room for smoking, in summer season esp., I suppose. Lucky me :-). Hmm... I still smoke :-( .
    Inside metro/city train stations (U-bahn and S-bahn) smoking was fobidden except in designated places - like in located outdoor U-bahn stops (at least I saw locals smoking there)

    SMOKING  NOT  ALLOWED  (AT  MY HOTEL  RESTAURANT)
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  • grishaV1's Profile Photo

    Be Careful to Watch Traffic and Signals

    by grishaV1 Written May 25, 2003

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    In cities like Berlin there are much more pedestrians than in American cities I feel. Many walkers and those who use only public transportation and don't have their own vehicles. Some good tips when walking here is to watch the traffic signals of the cars also, check it just in case to make sure its matching the pedestrian signals.

    Drivers seem to me to go really faster in the more narrow streets here but they do obey the traffic laws. If they are turning right they are require to yield to walkers, but still its best to not go slow but go across as quickly as you can.

    When you are crossing a street with the island in the middle, sometimes the signal on the very far side is green while the one on the island is still red (the one closest to the walkers). Make sure you watch the one closest to you, and not the far one! If you are running late to cross the signals make sure you go fast, because the cars start off quickly and dont wait for you. Also they don't seem to slow down very much if you cross illegally. If you cross illegally and get caught by the police they can give you a citation right there for you to pay. Don't jay walk!

    a park area between two busy streets

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