Important Facts Tips

Read these 50 Important Facts Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about German tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How can I find a person with a common German name?

Finding a person with a common name in Germany

It is tricky, but you CAN find a person with a common German name. Here's how:

1) Search the German online phone directory:

http://www.telefonbuch.de/

Search is in either English, German or French. You can locate private phone numbers, addresses and businesses. You can search just with a name, but it helps if you know a town or a street address for the person. The server will give you a list of hits, which you can print. This is your best bet.

2) A similar page is:

http://www.teleinfo.de/

(you can also search in English, but the page is more complicated)

3) Alternatively, try a general server for Germany, such as Lycos:

www.lycos.de

You can do a general search there (only recommended if you can speak some German), but they also search for e-mail addresses.

   
What is the FDP?

The Free Democrats (FDP)

The Free Democratic Party (FDP), liberals, have lost a lot of influence during recent years. Will they be part of the new Berlin "Senat"? Go here to get information on their party program:

http://www.fdp.de/portal/

All information is in German.

   
Where can I find information about the German government?

German Government Webpages

Check out the website of the German government for free infos, newsletters, downloads, brochures, links, political news, science news, a citizen service and much, MUCH more. They also let you order up to 5 free publications, including their CD-Roms. They ship them to anywhere in the world. Go to:

http://www.bundesregierung.de/

   
What is the Reichstag?

The Reichstag

The German Bundestag (parliament) is situated in the "Reichstag" in Berlin. On the 9th of June 1884, Emperor William I laid the foundation stone for the Reichstag building. With its creation, the German Reichstag - which previously had convened in temporary premises - was finally to have its own parliament building. After the collapse of the German Empire, Philipp Scheidemann, chairman of the Social Democratic parliamentary party proclaimed the German Republic from a balcony at the Reichstag on the 9th of November, 1918. On January 30th, 1933, Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor. The Reichstag fire on the night of February 27th, 1933, signalled the end of parliamentary democracy. The Enabling Act cleared the
way for one-party rule. The National Socialist Regime drove Germany and Europe into World War II. In 1945, the raising of the Soviet flag over the Reichstag building ended the battle of Berlin and set the seal on the defeat of the German Reich. The Reichstag did not function as a parliamentary building until 1990. On the 4th of October, 1990, one day after unification, the first sitting of the all-German Bundestag took place at the Reichstag. In April 1999, a fully converted Reichstag building was formally presented to the German Bundestag. The new glass cupola, the most prominent feature of the building, is also open to the public.

   
What is the good of the new European currency, the EURO?

The aims of a commom monetary policy

With the upcoming launch of EURO banknotes and coins, anyone who lives, travels, or does business in any of the 12 participating European countries will benefit from dealing in just one currency. The new banknotes feature bridges, signifying co-operation between the nations of Europe and the rest of the world. The new coins, which feature a national and a common side, can also be used in all 12 participating countries. Ideally, this means less hassle for travelers, and a simplification in the exchange of goods and services within Europe.

   
Where do I go first if I feel unwell?

Free services at pharmacies

Feeling unwell, but not enough to see a doctor? Many German pharmacies offer a range of free services, such as taking your blood pressure, checking your temperature & weight, providing you with a diabetes strip ... - Most provide advice. Some even provide product samples and free drinks. Look out for an "Apotheke" sign and get your free stuff.

   
What is Baden-Wuerttemberg like?

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Baden-Wuerttemberg is the most south-western county in Germany. It is very popular among tourists due to its picturesque scenery, such as the woods of the Black Forest, the charm of its old towns such as Freiburg and Tuebingen, the Bodensee area, and its fine wines and food. Baden-Wuerttemberg borders on France and Switzerland, and has integrated parts of their language and customs. People on the border are often bilingual.

   
What is the PDS?

The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS)

The "Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus" (PDS) is somewhat controversial, as it has ties to the former GDR-party SED. However, they have gained influennce among the younger German generation. Why? Go to:

http://www.pds-online.de/politik/aktuell/index.htm

and find out. In German.

   
What effects will the euro have on travelers?

Effects of the euro on travelers

For travelers visiting the euro area, things will become much easier from 1 January 2002 onwards. The euro banknotes and coins will be valid in all 12 countries. You will be able to exchange your currency into euro at any bank or bureau. This exchange works in the same way as you have converted it so far into the 12 national currencies of the euro area.

   
What is the CDU?

The Christian Democrats (CDU)

The Christian Democrats provide their party program in both German and English. Find information on such topics as:
- The "we-society"- the need for a New Social Market Economy
- Reflections on European Policy II
- The Future Course of European Integration -
Successful Policies for over 50 Years
- Our National Aspiration
- Leadership for the 21st century
- Our Future: Germany as part of a unified Europe
- European Agenda
- Principles and Programme
of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany

http://www.cdu.de/

   
What are the site changes in May 2001?

Site Changes May 2001

German-tips is changing to make the site more compact. You will now find books, dictionaries and music under 'mass media'. 'Berlin' will have two new subcategories, 'nightlife', and 'sightseeing'. Food contains 'German food in the US', and 'shopping' has a subcategory about 'souvenirs'. It is all still there. If you have questions, write to German Guru@Lifetips.com

   
What is "Buendnis 90"?

Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen

More than 50.000 Germans are members of BUENDNIS 90/DIE GRUENEN. There is an obligatory minimum quota of 50% for women in all bodies and on the lists for parliamentary elections. At the national and the federal levels there also exist a lot of working groups on a wide range of political issues. More than 5.000 young people between 14 and 28 years of age are organised in the Green Youth. Their national office is in Berlin.
Check out the party program here:

http://www2.gruene.de/

(in German and English)

   
Need international phone number, no phone book

International Operator

Are you in Germany without your address book? Do you need an international phone number? Why not call the International Operator at + (49) 11834. May cost small fee.

   
How long are the old currencies valid?

How long are the old currencies valid?

Any euro area national currencies you may have can be used in their countries of origin during the dual circulation period. Afterwards, it will be possible to exchange these at the counters of national central banks in the euro area for an indefinite or a very long period of time. Go to:
http://www.euro.ecb.int/en/section1/travelling.html
for more details.

   
What do I do if my luggage gets stolen?

Your luggage gets stolen

In case your luggage gets stolen, inform the airport and/or the police immediately. Cancel your (lost)credit cards. Go to your embassy if you need financial assistance. Note: do not carry expensive cameras and/or other gadgets around your neck. This is an open invitation for theft. Do not put your wallet into your jeans backpocket. Do not flash large amounts of cash. Do not dress in a fashion that attracts attention to the fact that you are a tourist. Do not go into a red light district on your own.

   
Where can I find information about German post offices?

Post Office Page

This page provides information about the German post office:

http://www.321website.com/members/home/data/nuessi/post.htm

   
Who is Klaus Wowereit?

Klaus Wowereit

Another gay mayor for Europe. Berlin, just like Paris, France, now has an openly gay Social Democrat mayor. Wowereit peempted the German tabloids by outing himself a couple of months ago, when he was appointed acting mayor. His sexual orientation was not an issue in the campaign. Wowereit is suspected to be willing to go for a coalition with the former communists "PDS", who are the grandsons and -daughters of the GDR-party SED.

   
What kind of services does the US Consulate in Frankfurt offer?

The US Consulate General

Lost birth certificate? Passport renewal coming up? General questions about living in Germany? These problems are a case for the US consulate in Frankfurt, Germany. They have various special services for American citizens. The mail address of the consulate is as follows:

US Consulate General
Siesmayerstrasse 21
D - 60323 Frankfurt am Main
Germany

The US consulate has a website:

http://www.usembassy.de/consular/index.htm

There are phone numbers and e-mail links to contact individual officers.

Here is a copy from the website about American citizen services in Frankfurt:

Frankfurt's consular section is open to the public for American citizen services Monday through Friday, except German and American holidays. Hours for the various units are as follows:

Passports
For U.S. passport applications, the Consular section is open from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM. Call (069) 7535-2280 for general information (tape) or (069) 7535-2100. For up-to-date information, Department of Defense ID card holders should call (069) 7535-2483 or 7535-2485. Fax: (069) 7535-2304

Reports of American Citizen Births Abroad
Applications for reports of American citizens born abroad are accepted by appointment only. Call (069) 7535-2481/2482/2487/2490 or 2491 after 2:00 PM for information.

Special Consular Services
Special Consular Services include: protection and welfare, child custody issues, deaths and estates, services to imprisoned U.S. citizens, repatriations, notarial services, lists of local English-speaking doctors, dentists and attorneys, U.S. tax forms, voter information and registration, and other general information. The public window is open 8:00 am to 12:00 noon. Telephone: (069) 7535-2514/15/17/18/19. Fax: (069) 7535-2252.
For emergency services outside normal business hours, call the main consulate general switchboard: (069) 7535-0.

Federal Benefits
The Federal Benefits Section is responsible for assisting persons residing in Germany with all Social Security, Veterans, Railroad and Black Lung benefits, pensions and some civil service matters. In addition, the FBU handles all OPM post-entitlement matters, such as death notices, change of address and non-receipt of payment. The FBU is open to the public from 9:00 to 12:00 PM. Telephone: (069) 7535-2440/1. Fax: (069) 7535-2370 or 749-352.
For emergency services: (069) 7535-2453.

   
What time is it?

Time by phone

Do you need the local time for but have no watch? Call 01191 (while already in Germany, of course).

   
Where can I get free travel information?

Getting free travel information

Do a websearch for "Germany" or "Deutschland" to find tourist information centers for the town or region you plan to visit. Some have toll-free numbers or an online-ordering facility. Most of the material is free. You may need to contact some by snailmail, though. This is also a good idea if you want to get free maps. A good place to start an online search is www.Lycos.de.

   
What kind of travel guide should I get?

Get a good travel guide before you go

Travel guides come in all sorts and price ranges. Unfortunately, some are not worth the paper they're printed on. Among the best are the ones published by "Baedeker". They're available in English, and you can order them online. Look into my book tip section on travel guides for more information on guides.

   
Who can wake me if I don´t have an alarm clock?

Telephone wake up call

If you need to catch a train or have to be ready for any kind of early date, yet do not have access to an alarm clock (or a human alarm), call 01141 (in Germany) and arrange your wake up call. Small fee.

   
Why should I rent a cell phone prior to my trip to Germany?

Rent a Cell Phone

If you plan to phone home frequently from overseas, you can save a lot of money by renting a cell phone which is valid in Germany prior to your trip. Of course, this phone can also be used for calls made within Germany. You will save time and avoid the hassle of finding a phone booth, or buying German phone cards. Log on to www.planetphone.com for more
details. Should you plan to stay in one or more German hotels, you can save by bringing along an adaptor and a small electric immersion coil, which will enable you to heat up hot drinks and quick meals directly in
your hotel room. In general, you will not find a coffee maker in your room, although there may be a hairdryer.

   
Where can I find info on US embassies in Germany?

US embassies in Germany

Locate US embassies in Germany at:

www.travel.state.gov

   
What is the "Muetterzentrum"?

Muetterzentrum Bundesverband e. V.

The Muetterzentrum is a network for mothers. There are 300 offices all over Germany. They specialize in information, help and tips for mothers and families. For more information call + (49) (0) 40 401 706 06.

   
What are the current postage rates?

Postage rates

Current rates: a standard airmail letter (2 sheets of paper, envelope) to the US costs DM 3. An airmail postcard costs DM 2. In order to send packages, you need to go to a post office. Several rates (according to size and weight) and restrictions apply. No joke. Some years ago, the German post office even introduced their own rulers to measure the letters and packages. As a rule, airmail packages are quite expensive. Some articles can be sent bookrate or surface mail. Always inquire beforehand, or you can get an unpleasant surprise.

   
What is the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft?

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft e.V. (DFG) is an excellent address for foreign scientists who intend to visit Germany.
address: DFG, Kennedyallee 40, D - 53175 Bonn, Germany
phone: + (49) (0) 228-885-1
Fax: + (49) (0) 228-885-2227
e-mail: postmaster@dfg.d400.de

   
How can I avoid being overcharged exchanging money?

Exchanging foreign currency

It is not advisable to walk into the first post office or bank without checking the individual rates & percentages for the exchange. You'll be surprised at the differences, and you may safe quite a bit of money.

   
How can I save money on breakfast in a hotel?

Cheap Breakfast on the Go

Packets of instant oatmeal and other hot cereals can be an inexpensive lifesaver if your hotel does not offer complimentary breakfast. Bring a small supply in your suitcase and replenish your supplies in any German
grocery store. Quick meals in a disposable plastic cup (made by German companies such as "Maggi" and "Knorr") are cheap and widely available. When eating at a restaurant inquire if the same food costs more to "eat
in" than to "take away." Save several dollars per meal by ordering food to go. Sit outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of the foreign culture you have come to visit. It is also a good idea to go to a farmers` market, where a variety of typical German food will be sold at little cost.

   
What do I need to know about the euro?

The Euro Quiz

How much do you know about the euro? Why not take a quiz and find out. Before you do, check the euro-tips and the euro-newsletter at www.german-tips.com. Then go to
http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa010924a.htm
and take the quiz. Enjoy!

   
Need German phone number, no phone book

German Operator

If you are looking for a particular German number and do not have access to a phone book, call the Inland Operator: + (49) 11833. You need a name and a street.

   
What is the Photokina?

Photokina

Photokina is an annual fair in Cologne (Koeln). You will find information on all things concerning photographs and equipment at:

www.photokina.de

   
What are the differences between north and south?

North and South

There are many differences between Germans from the north and Germans from the south. It is not only the variety of different dialogues spoken, there are true differences in mentality. This is due to the variety of highly individual Germanic tribes, which settled in different areas during the Voelkerwanderung. Over the centuries, they developed different customs, habits, ways of life, and, last but not least, their own sociolects. Some typical cliches: Northern Germans are said to be taciturn, dry and restrained towards ‘strangers'. Southern Germans are believed to be hospitable, merry and laid back. Northern Germans often view Southerners as being overly concerned with traditions. Southern Germans in turn sometimes regard Northerners as being aloof, detached or simply unapproachable. As usual with these categorizations, there are many exceptions to the rule.

   
How can I save money making phone calls?

Making phone calls

Do not make phone calls from your hotel, it is too expensive. Go to a post office instead, or use the public phone booths in the street. Most booths run with phone cards, which you can buy at the post office beforehand. If you want to make a long distance call, you can ask the post office clerk to place it for you. The booths at the post office are enclosed and offer you more privacy.

   
What are the differences between north and south?

Ossis and Wessis

When Germany was reunited in 1989, two different ‘tribes' had to get used to getting along with each other. West-Germans (Wessis) often view East-Germans (Ossis) as naïve, too nostalgic about their past and not used to the pace of a capitalist economy. East-Germans often regard West-Germans as arrogant, scheming and manipulating. A lot of tension is added by the still high unemployment rates, the vast difference in economic development between the ‘old' and ‘new' counties (Bundeslaender), and a lack of facilities for young people, especially in the former GDR. This rift in German society is a challenge which will take some more years to mend.

   
Where can I get free postcards?

Free stuff from the post office

Visit any German post office and check out if you can pick up a couple of free postcards. Sometimes they also hand out pens, notebooks for kids, calendars, or stationary. The most common freebies are postcards. They're usually quite nice, too.

   
Where can I see photos from the former GDR?

The GDR Photo album

A virtual tour through the former German Democratic Republic. Very interesting.

http://www.berlinonline.de/wissen/fotoalbum_ddr/

   
Which papers need I take to Germany?

Passport

When traveling to Germany from abroad, you need to take a valid passport with you. An ID or driver's license is not sufficient. Inquire at the German embassy of your country for details. In some cases, you might need an extra visa. Americans do not need a visa, nor do people from the European community.

   
Who shares the EURO?

Countries sharing the EURO

The 12 countries sharing the EURO are Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

   
Where can I buy crime books in English?

Buying English books in Germany

Generally speaking, books are more expensive in Germany than the US. This goes particularly for books in a foreign language. Most of the city center bookstores carry assorted English paperbacks for tourists. However, expect to pay between DM 15 - 20 for each. You will also find a wide selection of English & US literature at university bookstores, but not necessarily cheaper.

   
What is the euro?

What is the euro?

The euro is the single currency of the European Monetary Union, which was adopted by 11 Member States from 1 January 1999. The 11 Member States are Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland. Greece became the 12th Member State to adopt the Euro on 1 January 2001. The name "euro" was chosen by the European Heads of State or Government at the European Council meeting in Madrid in December 1995.

   
Which papers need I take to Germany?

Making copies of passports, IDs etc.

Before you travel to Germany, make copies of your passport, ID, driver's license and other travel documents. In case your papers get lost or stolen, you will be able to establish your identity with the photocopies.

   
What kind of extra services can I expect at a gas station?

Extra services at gas stations

German gas stations do not only sell gas. A lot of them have mini-stores attached, where you can get similar goods to those you would expect to find at a US-convenience store. A big draw of German gas stations is the fact that they are usually open till late at night. They are also open on Sundays, when most other stores are closed. They are even slightly cheaper than after-hours-shopping stores.

   
Whom do I call in an emergency?

Emergencies

In case of emergencies, call these numbers:

Police: 110
Fire brigade: 112

   
What is the SPD?

The Social Democrats (SPD)

The Social Democrats are one of the four political parties, which might have a chance to become part of the Berlin government ("Senat") in the upcoming elections on October 21, 2001. You can obtain information about their party program on the following website:

http://www.spd.de/

All information is in German.

   
Where can I find German zip codes?

Forgotten German zip codes

Do you have friends in Germany, but forget their zip code? Get it here for free:

http://www.postleitzahl.de

   
Who is the editor of german-tips.com?

About the editor of german-tips.com

Doro Packlick. Birthday: 11. August 1963, Berlin, Germany. BA (German MA) in English Literature & Linguistics, Economics & Journalism. 1979-1992: German, French & English coach for pupils aged 6 - 18. 1980-1995: freelance work, translations of English-German texts (e.g. movie scripts, contracts, literature, book reviews) & work for German TV with the Berliner Spiele Filmproduktion. 1987-1993: English & German teacher for independent educational institute (Berliner Nachhilfezirkel E. V.), 1994-1998 Assistant of the Vice President of the Max-Planck-Society, Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin. Moved to the US in 1998, currently not employed (thank God!). Interests: Literature, computers, music, internet, traveling, cats. Willing to do translations for a fee. Contact: germanguru@lifetips.com

   
What do I do when all shops are closed?

Buying postage stamps

Post offices tend to be crowded. Once you have an idea as to how many stamps you need, buy your stamps from a vending machine. You find these in front of the post office. They accept the following coins: 10 Pfg., 50 Pfg., 1 DM, 2 DM, 5 DM. This is also a good way to rid yourself of small change.

   
What time is it in Germany?

What time is it?

Find out what time it is in Germany by going to:

www.timeanddate.com

   
What is a Euro?

Euro vs. DM

A Euro is approximately twice as much as a DM. So, a Euro would be approximately the same as a $ (one American Dollar, though it does not have the same buying power). Most Germans - as of October 2003 - are still thinking of the Euro as "twice a DM". Why is that? Because they are getting 1/2 the same amout of Euros for twice the same amout of DM's for their labor. What is boils down to is that Germany is getting totally expensive.

   
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