help for the uninitiated!

Old Nov 1st, 2001, 03:15 PM
  #1  
karen
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help for the uninitiated!

Hi! My husband and I are going to Germany next week. I have never been, but as the trip organizer its up to me to take care of logistics.
My question is, when we get there is there help for someone who doesn't speak German (except for fumbling through a phrase-book)in handling such things as making hotel reservations, renting cars, or buying train tickets? I'd hate to end up some evening without a place to stay because I can't figure out where/how much a hotel is.
I don't want to be the annoying, clueless tourist, but I think I'm gonna be anyway.
Advice, please?
Thanks!
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 03:29 PM
  #2  
Chris
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Learn how to say (in German) 'do you speak English, please?'. Practice it over and over ... and then you will find that everyone there speaks great English and you won't have a problem.

Don't hesitate to pick up a phone now and call some hotels and try to make a reservation - doing it on the phone will give you an easy intro before doing it face to face. It's surprizingly cheap to call. Just open with the phrase above.

I always feel apprehensive before the first call; after a couple, I'm on a roll. There's an 8 or 9 hour difference in time between U.S. and Germany. Call at 10 or 11pm and you should be fine; or early in the morning.

Also - you can buy train tickets here, on the web, (www.raileurope.com) and rent a car (www.autoeurope.com). It's cheaper in general (they want to offer discounts to tourists, and rip off local business travellers - easy way to do that is offer the discounts out of country). Get a few things 'in hand' before you go - car rental, few hotel reservations, maybe a rail pass - then you'll have a few days to get comfortable before you are pressured to really make any contacts.

The Germans speak amazing English, and they don't mind using it.
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 03:29 PM
  #3  
Rhonda
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Karen, don't worry. All germans know a little english, it's taught at school. If one person can't understand you the next one will be able to. They also like to practise their english. So long as you make an attempt with please, "Bitte" and thankyou, "Danke" or "Danke schon" you'll be fine.
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 04:23 PM
  #4  
wes fowler
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Karen,
Go to www.oanda.com, scroll down the left hand frame to "Cheat Sheet" and click on it. You can get a sheet that converts your currency to German marks and vice versa at the current rate of exchange. Should help you figuring costs. Arrange for car rental before you leave for Germany. Check the websites for Kemwel and AutoEurope where you should get the most favorable rates. If you have difficulty finding accommodations in your travels, head for the nearest tourist information office. They're usually near train stations or the center of town. Signs showing the letter "i" on a blue background will get you there. In most instances you'll find someone there who speaks English well and can direct you to accommodations.
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 05:06 PM
  #5  
ellen
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People in the service industry all speak serviceable English. You should have no trouble at rail stations, hotels or car rental agencies. You might think of reserving your hotel before your leave. I reserved seven different hotels for a trip to Germany and Austria in May, all over the Internet at their websites.
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 05:44 PM
  #6  
Bob C
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We went to Germany and only knew about 10 words. Check your phrase book for the following: one double room with bath. If a small hotel or inn the desk clerk will say yes (in German) then write the price on paper and show you. If the price is right and you say yes he will point up. that means do you want to see the room you say yes. they will show you the room and you say yes and you have a room.
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 05:53 PM
  #7  
Karen
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Karen: You won't have any trouble being understood. I found almost everyone understood and spoke some english. Even if they didn't they do make an effort to help. I was amazed at how helpful people were, just stopping them on the street to inquire about a bus etc.they would do whatever they could to direct you. Learn a few important things like hello, thank you, train station.
Nancy
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 06:30 PM
  #8  
bettyk
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Karen, using the Internet is a wonderful way to find hotels, rent cars, etc. There are so many great websites. I love www.johnnyjet.com because it has a million different links to websites for every possible travel need. Even if you just make some of your arrangements ahead of time, then you won't be so worried about having a roof over your head. Also, you can go to the local Tourist Office in the city where you want to stay and most certainly someone there will speak English. They will help you with hotels, maps, etc.
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 06:52 PM
  #9  
Greg
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Karen,

Your going next week? For how long? These are Retorical questions, of course. Most people speak and understand good english in Germany. They are very helpful at train station, tourist offices, which are usually in or near train station, hotels, and shops. If you are going to be staying in some larger cities try to book hotels before you go so you can be near the center of the city. Check out "www.visiteurope.com". Click on Germany and there's lots of good info there. Put together a rough plan and be flexible. You have the most fun that way. Enjoy your trip.

Greg
 
Old Nov 1st, 2001, 07:47 PM
  #10  
K
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I love Germany, speak no German, and have never had a problem except once when lost, I ended up in a small out of the way place. We spoke English, they spoke only German, but we still managed to get a room, dinner and breakfast, and when we prepared to leave, the owner of the inn motioned for us to follow and he got in his car and led us to the main roadway!
 
Old Nov 2nd, 2001, 01:21 PM
  #11  
xxx
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Am I the only one who thinks it's a bit strange that this woman is leaving next week and it seems she doesn't have a reservation, how to speak minimal german and so forth? It sounds like a fly by the seat of the pants trip. I for one would have done some major planning before such a trip? No offense, but good luck to ya, gal.
 

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