The country of Germany in Europe has quite a significant history. With several controveries that have enveloped the country over the years from the concept of Nazism to construction and demolition of the Berlin Wall and the Holy Roman Empire; Germany has slowly and steadily emerged from the past to become a colorful and vibrant tourist destination today.
Welcoming tourists throughout the year, Germany may seem like your standard European country. However, the country has guidelines which visitors are expected to follow and if you are visiting Germany for the first time, here are a few good pointers on the place and its people.
The country for the most part is lively throughout the year and German is the official language even though English follows close behind as an alternative in common tourist destinations around the country.
Germany has a changing climatic pattern with the possibility of sudden thunder showers at all times of the year. The best times to visit the country would be between the months of May to September when the summer season sets in. Those who have a penchant for sports like swimming, cycling and hiking or just plain site seeing will find it apt to visit the country during these months.
The winter sets in by late November and the days in winter are very short with temperatures dropping to below freezing conditions. There are plenty of winter resorts scattered throughout the country that offer visitors a myraid of winter activities to take part in.
Traveling in and aroung Germany is not an issue if you know the routes well. Accordingly, the country is well serviced by an excellent bus system and visitors can find traveling in buses fun and cost efficient.
There are numerous outlets in several cities in the country that sell welcome cards or city passes to tourists. These so called welcome cards and city passes enable tourists to get good discounts on buses in various cities in addition to offering concessions for certain tourist attractions.
If you opt to explore the country at your own leisurely pace, you can choose between self driven car rentals and chauffer driven cars. If you choose to drive on your own, you need to have car insurance.
Now that you know some really useful points about the country, let’s have a look at the basic mannerisms followed by its people. This helps you avoid getting tangled in squirmish situations on your visit.
Shaking hands is customary in Germany and is a necessary action if you are meeting a German for the first time and everytime afterwards. At local gatherings, it is considered necessary to shake hands with everybody in the group upon arrival and prior to departure.
More sociable locals and friends sometimes exchange light kisses on the cheeks and if you find someone offering their cheek instead of their hand, go ahead and give a small peck. If not the cheek, kiss atleast the air next to their cheeks lest you want to offend them.
German greetings are always accompanied by the word Guten Tag and it is customary to say Auf Wiedersehen when leaving. In addition to this, there are several titles you may want to make note of before addressing someone in a crowd or gathering.
Accordingly, the word Sie is used in conjunction with the last name when addressing senior citizens, strangers and business acquaintances. It is better to give your first and last names when introducing yourself instead of just your first name.
The word Du is used with the first name and is more popularly used among the younger crowd, children or at informal gatherings. Wait for a person to start using Du with your first name before you do so.
The title Herr (Mr.) is given to men and needs to be used before their names, for example, Herr Keller. Ladies need to be addressed with the word Frau (Mrs) in front of their names. Fraulein is an old fashioned way of saying Frau and you may most likely offend a lady if you address her with this title.
Academic titles are also considered important when addressing a person and if you know the academic title of te person you are speaking with, add it to his/her name.
Germans are sticklers for punctuality and expect the same from their guests as well. It is considered wise to arrive a few minutes in advance to ease settling down for a business meeting or any kind of social gathering. You really don’t want to be late for an important gathering and make a bad impression by rushing everything up at the last minute.
Family visits in Germany require gifts and you can opt to buy flowers, wine or candies for your hosts. Make it a point to select an odd number of flowers as Germans believe that even numbers bring bad luck.
Before starting a meal, if your host says Guten Appetit, you can follow it up with the word Ebenfalls. Casual dresses are ok at homes and informal gatherings but it is considered wise to carry along a set of formal dresses in case the occasion demands it like, for example, an opera or a social function.
Germans follow the basic rules of recycling pretty well and separate their trash to facilitate the same. At homes, you are most likely to find separate garbage disposal units for glass, organic wastes, paper and packages. If you show any hints of ignorance or indifference to the practise, you would definitely be looked down upon by your hosts.