The Pfand or deposit system for glass and plastic bottles is widely popular throughout whole Germany, not so much for cans though. Consequently, prices for deposit bottles are higher than for throw-away ones.
Check the icons on the bottles to see if there is a deposit or not. My photo is of the logo which is being used for one-way-deposit bottles. The respective deposit machines (in this case, one at an Aldi Store) often don’t have this logo printed on them but clearly say “Leergut Rücknahme”, which means returning empties.
An important note for those who travel by train or car and want to stock up with water and soda: don’t do this in markets at train stations or gas/petrol stations! I have observed that these shops often sell bottles in unusual sizes with the consequence that you can’t bring them back in any store to collect your deposit. My experience was with Volvic water bottles of 0,75 litres and with Bionade plastic bottles of 0,5 litres size. I could bring them back and get my deposit at the same shop I bought it – the market at Darmstadt train station (Volvic) resp. a Shell gas station (Bionade). And how many travellers come back to the same train stations or gas/petrol stations?
How to avoid this::
Either look for throw-away icons on a bottle or buy bottles of size 1 litre (water), 0,5, 1 or 1,5 litres (soda drinks) or just buy cans.
I am not a fan of our throw-away society and try to buy recyclable stuff, but I am used to our somewhat complicated deposit system, so I know where to bring back what kind of packaging. But for foreigners it is often very difficult to understand. And – you should enjoy the country and look after your money and not waste your time understanding our sometimes overly bureaucratic recycling rules.
© Ingrid D., April 2013 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)
Recently, I spoke with Christine about our weird ticket machines and that it is often not easy even for us Germans to operate them. It is all in the fine print and Germans tend to make it as complicated as possible (haha, sorry, but that’s true). Christine mentioned that she helped a poor foreigner to understand which numbers he had to press at the machine to get to his desired destination. Then it turned out that the machine didn’t accept a 50 Euro bill for short trips (i.e. prices less than 10 Euro). She also said that there was a sentence ? (verdict?) recently, when a German (note – a German and not a foreigner) went to court after he has refused to pay a fine for not having been able to understand the complicated system and thus didn’t have a ticket. The German won – and the machine operator was told, if they are not able to make it understandable…. Bad luck. Hahaha, I laughed much about this and felt malicious joy that some of these companies really get the bill for their illogical descriptions.
So, when you are “caught” by someone who tries to tell you that you did this and that wrong, or when you can’t figure out how much to pay at these whatever kind of machines – smile and play the innocent foreigner and simply tell that you did not understand what you had to do to make it right. Most of the time, you will get away with what you did “wrong”, as at least, a lot of Germans travel too, and will have had similar problems in foreign countries too. If you still have to deal with a very stubborn, very much nutpicking, very much untravelled official – tell him you will inform your lawyer (= Anwalt in German) and that you will go to court (Gericht in German), and leave the scene. Our courts need to have more cases like that – to be aware how illogical a lot of things do work here and what to do to make life easier for travellers and … Germans as well.
Unique Suggestions: Another object where you might easily feel to be trapped is our lovely “Schilderwald” on the roads. Schilderwald, translated 1:1 means something like signpost forest. It stands for the ability of the German traffic officials to make everything as complicated as possible. Often you will have more than 10 different signs which tell you what to do or where to go – and believe me, it even gets very much confusing for us Germans too! The worst is (and believe me, this happens often) if the signs are contradicting!
If you come across that illogical act – I can only advise you to use your common sense (something that we Germans tend to loose, or our officials want us to loose it by placing too many signs and rules), and if you are on a road, driving, just drive slow and watch what the others do.
If you get “caught” by some officials – the same as above applies: play the innocent foreigner and involve the official in a discussion about the logic of whatever you might have done wrong.
It's worth mentioning that the "Autobahn", the country's motorways shown green on the road atlases, can really take up too much of your time if you choose to travel by car from one place to another.
Please follow the regular reports over the radio or on TV warning you about the possible and existing traffic jams.
Once traveling by bus we decided not to take the Autobahn, but to travel by the federal road (marked red in atlases) instead and I think we were right.
On the picture you can see me standing in the middle of the motorway during a traffic jam, which would normally be unthinkable to stand there.
Unique Suggestions: study the road atlas carefully and listen to radio/TV reports on the state of roads
Fun Alternatives: travel by the federal road (marked red in atlases)
Big beer garden, you think you are in heaven and the beer is free.....with pretzels to boot...sing songs eat drink and be merry.....until they give you the bill....totally drunk, butt wasted, you pay the bill, don't know what it cost and you don't care...you thought...but you for get...then they tell you came in with a friend and he's wasted.
Unique Suggestions: Bring your friend along to make sure you make it home after all night drinking, do not forget your friend if they had too much and direct them home zag, zig, zig zag home...Beers are stronger in germany and it is easy to over indulge.
Fun Alternatives: Just go to the hot dog stand in Frankfurt. Eat, drink and be merry there....bring your own and still, you are drunk anyway
Jena is a student city with a friendly athmosphere, with a beautiful location within the Ilm-Saale valley, and also home to the famous Zeiss Optical Industries. I imagine it must be an wonderful place to live or study, but it is not exactly the place to go sightseeing.
There is ...
- the St. Michaels church with the grave plate of Martin Luther (though not the grave itself)
- the historic market square
- the ancient Johannis-Friedhof cemetery (with the grave of optician-entrepreneur Carl Zeiss)
- the medieval power-tower (Pulverturm)
- the modern JenTower (with excellent viewing platform)
- many friendly restaurants and cafe`s, especially near the Pulverturm
So while I would not regard Jena as a complete waste of time (and to call it a tourist trap would be a bit harsh), a half-day-trip would be enough to get a good impression of the city.
A tourist trap? In a way, as it is tourists who may have problems, but it's not a real danger, so this tip is not in the warning or danger section.
When you come to Germany from the USA, don't bring $100 notes to be exchanged.
Most banks don't accept any large notes, $50 notes are okay, but not the $100 ones. To get a decent exchange rate tourists would have to open an account, put the money in, wait for two weeks to have the notes inspected and only then get the amount in Euro.
Not a possibility for a tourist, of course.
The only bank which accepts the $100 notes is the Reisebank - travel bank. Their rates, however, are worse than the other banks'.
The reason is that most bank don't have the equipment to check if the $100 note is real money or counterfeit, so they rather not accept it.The Reisebank is willing to take the risk, but you pay for it by getting a worse rate.
It's much easier to only bring US notes of up to $50.
If you want to get to know the real German culture and life do not just plan to see the South in Bavaria. Lots of tourists just have a look at the most tourist places like Rothenburg, Heidelberg, Neuschwanstein, etc. and might think that they know Germany at it's best... Hmm, I just know Rothenburg of the mentioned above. It's a cute little medival town overcrowded with tourists, shopping x-mas-tree stuff in summertime - if you ask me that's not German at all;-)
If you want to see these places as historic sites that's fine but also plan some of the big cultural cities with many other (historically) worthful attractions (Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dresden, Leipzig, etc.) and Germany has many nice landcapes besides Black Forest and co;-)
The Karl Marx Haus was the last of the attractions that I visited during my walk through Trier. This is possibly because I approached it more as a curiosity than a must see. I visited it because I thought there might be some insight into the man who's theories would be so influential throughout the last two centuries. Instead I was treated to a rather drab display of historical writings ALL IN GERMAN. Not speaking any, I found this rather annoying. There is little on Karl Marx's childhood or family life of interest here except a few photographs. I found all of this rather boring.
Karl Marx lived in this house from 1818 to 1835 with his parents. The home dates from the 18th century and is actually rather nice. To visit you must pay 2 Euros. The house is open from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
Karl Marx Haus is located at Burkenstrasse 10.
Unique Suggestions: I did notice a group of young Chinese men being entralled by the exhibits here. I suspected that they were communists hence more dedicated followers. If you are a fellow traveller of Marx then you too may be thrilled by the Karl Marx Haus.
(back in Toronto, a friend of mine who lived through the worst of China's Cultural Revolution said I should have burned the place down. For many the hatred of Marxism runs deep).
Joachimstaler Str. 4, 10623 Berlin - Charlottenburg
ok maybe i was expecting something else
but i thought it would be fun going in here
its located near the Zoologischer Garten station/
there are a number of floors, on it when u go in here , u take the lift up from the sex shop up to the 3rd floor and then work your way down
there is alot of areas to this den, ie cabins etc for watching the select videos etc
The exhibits them selves seemed to be all figurines of diff people in different poses and chinese and japanese portraits depicting diff sexual scenes
it was i think €7 euros each not worth
Unique Suggestions: On the Plus side , as this is on one corner of a block of shops there is a mini shopping center where people sell little berlin gifts etc
There is also a cheap asian food place and small vendors on the street, theres a lovely stall with chinese takeaway food
as u walk along the Strip and the food is cheap and smells and tastes yumm!
Fun Alternatives: is there one ?
The Rheinsteig is a popular hiking path along the Rhine marked by a blue-white icon. There are very beautiful stretches, but we did a part of the Rheinsteig between Lahnstein and Braubach, and it was the dullest I ever did. Only the beginning (along Lahn and Rhein) and the very ending (with a nice view on the Marksburg in Braubach) are worthwhile. In between, we wondered whoever layed out the route, which led to not-so-pretty villages, along parking lots, ugly hotels and was without the open views the Rheinsteig is so famous for.
Unique Suggestions: Drive directly to Braubach, visit the impressive Marksburg. As to Braubach: Get in, get out, and nobody gets hurt. Quite a dodgy village in my opinion.
The Hofbrauhaus in Munich.Have one beer here,listen to the great band, but then go to a beer hall that the locals go to. You won't find many Bavarian folk in here.
Unique Suggestions: Arrive during 'Starkbierzeit' strong beer time.It's for Lent and it speaks for itself
Basically you go in bus to Dachau with a toursit guide, availablein english, but don't do this is a waste of 24 euro or some cause the guide give nice explanation about the site but she's so much on a hurray is just like.... you can't took picture when she explain and when she's done is just go go go to the next place. is the one offered at the tourist office in Munich.
Fun Alternatives: I said the best would be to go by yourself and just explore at your own without having a yoo short delay. You can reach the site by train/bus/car and if at the worst case you want to have some explanation just go near a guide and listen.
You have to be conscious that in Germany, on most types of beverage cans and bottles, you have to pay an additional amount which is given back to you returning it. Refund is possible in nearly any shop which sells that beverages, specially supermarkets.
The most common sign now is a grey triangle placed directly above the barcode, but you can also see a circled P or the word "Mehrweg" on the label of a plastic bottle. Beer bottles of glass are worth 8 cent for returning, "Mehrweg" 15 cent.
You may lose up to a quarter Euro if you throw the bottle away. There is a new kind of sports here in Germany, which is picking up cans and bottles. Danish orientalists may find the word afFANTi for them. So you may even be one of them or give just back the cans you have emptied (and payed refundable 25 cent in advance for!).
Fun Alternatives: "Kein (ohne) Pfand", the circled arrow.
Prices where it is not to be read "+ __ Euro Pfand"
Although Wurzburg has many worthwhile attractions, the Dom is not one of them. The Dom was originally consecrated to St Kilian and had been one of the largest Romanesque churches in Germany. Unfortunately is was severely damaged by Allied aerial bombing towards the end of World War Two. All but the superstructure of the church was destroyed. The attempt to restore the Dom seems incomplete as most of the interior is whitewashed. This makes the church is not very atmospheric.
Unique Suggestions: The crypt does contain a museum of religious artefacts and there are many tombstones dedicated to various canons and prince-bishops. The Schönbornkapelle holding the remains of four bishops from the House of Schönborn and designed by Balthasar Neumann survived the war and is the Dom's main attraction.
I didn't specifically go on holiday here - just chose to meet a friend here for a day whilst in Bavaria, as I was curious to see what all the fuss was about here on VT. No Germans I know ever talk about the place themselves and now I know why - it is one of the most un-German towns I have ever visited and I have seen a few. Don't get me wrong, you will get all the half timbered houses and prettyness you've come for, but nowhere do service staff speak German, only English or even Japanese. Moreover, the place is overrun with coaches and the shops sell nothing but Christmas things and teddy bears...
Unique Suggestions: Admire the gorgeous houses (see my Rothenburg page) which really are gorgeous. Visit a couple of the good museums such as the Medieval crime museum, walk the city walls and if you have an extra day, walk or bike through the pretty Tauber Valley below the town.
Fun Alternatives: I believe a trip to one of the other Romantic Road towns such as Nördlingen where I have not yet been, would be a more relaxed, although still touristy, alternative.
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