World ? Europe ? Germany ? Munich

Munich: Fast Facts

Business Hours -- Most banks are open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 1pm and 2:30 to 4pm (many stay open to 5:30pm on Thurs). Most businesses and stores are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (many stay open to 8 or 9pm on Thurs) and Saturday 9am to 2pm. On langer Samstag (the first Sat of the month) stores remain open until 6pm. Some (very few, actually) stores in Munich observe a late closing on Thursday, usually 8 or 9pm.

Currency Exchange -- You can almost always get a better rate at a bank than at your hotel. American Express traveler's checks are best cashed at the local American Express office . On Saturday and Sunday, or at night, you can exchange money at the Hauptbahnhof exchange, Bahnhofplatz, which is open daily from 6am to 11:30pm.

Dentists -- For an English-speaking dentist, go to Klinik und Poliklinik fɒr Kieferchirurgie der UniversitȨt Mɒnchen, Lindwurmstrasse 2A (tel. 089/51-60-29-11), the dental clinic for the university. It's always open for emergencies; for less urgent cases the doctors are available daily from 8am to noon and from 12:30 to 3pm.

Doctors -- The American, British, and Canadian consulates, as well as most hotels, keep a list of recommended English-speaking physicians.

Drug Laws -- Penalties for illegal drug possession in Germany are severe. You could go to jail or be deported immediately. Warning: Drug pushers often turn in their customers to the police.

Drugstores -- For an international drugstore where English is spoken, go to Bahnhof Apotheke, Bahnhofplatz 2 (tel. 089/59-41-19; U-Bahn/S-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof), open Monday to Friday 8am to 6:30pm and Saturday 8am to 2pm. If you need a prescription filled during off-hours, call tel. 089/55-76-61 for open locations. The information is recorded and in German only, so you may need to get someone from your hotel staff to assist you.

Electricity -- In most places, the electricity is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles. Therefore, a transformer will be needed for U.S. appliances. Many leading hotels will supply one when asked. Otherwise, bring your own.

Embassies & Consulates -- Offices representing various foreign governments are located in Munich. A United States Consulate is at KɆnigstrasse 5, D-80539 Mɒnchen (tel. 089/2-88-80). A Consulate General Office for the United Kingdom is located at Bɒrkleinstrasse 10, D-80538 (tel. 089/21-10-90). Canada maintains a consulate at Tal 29, D-80331 (tel. 089/2-19-95-70). The Australian government does not maintain an office in Munich, but if you should need assistance, contact their consulate in Berlin at Wallstrasse 76-79 D-10179 (tel. 030/8-80-08-80). New Zealand's embassy is also in Berlin, Friedrichstrasse 60 (tel. 030/20-62-10).

Emergencies -- For emergency medical aid, phone tel. 112. Call the police at tel. 110, or the fire department at tel. 112. These are free calls.

Hospitals -- Munich has many hospitals. Americans, British, and Canadians can contact their consulates for a recommendation of a particular hospital. For emergency medical service, call tel. 112; for private medical service at your domicile, call 01805-191212.

Internet Access -- Head for the Nymphenburger Strasse 14 S (tel. 089/129-1120). They have 60 computer workstations, a bistro, and a bar, and are open daily 24 hours.

Language -- Many Germans speak English, and English is usually spoken at major hotels and restaurants as well as in principal tourist areas. Nevertheless, a good phrase book to carry with you is Berlitz German for Travellers, available in most big bookstores in the United States.

Laundry & Dry Cleaning -- A good dry-cleaning establishment is SB Wasch Center, Lindworm 124 (tel. 089/76-75-86-21). Look in the Yellow Pages under either Wascherei or Waschsalon for a coin-operated laundromat near your hotel.

Legal Aid -- Legal aid in Germany is administered by the LȨnder, a government agency. By federal law, anyone lawfully present in Germany can ask for legal aid. Forms to apply for legal advice and aid are available from any local courthouse or from a local lawyer. A national should also consult his or her local consulate.

Liquor Laws -- As in many European countries, the application of drinking laws is flexible. Laws are enforced only if a problem develops or if decorum is broken. Officially, someone must be 18 to consume any kind of alcoholic beverage in Germany, although at family gatherings, wine or schnapps might be offered to underage imbibers. For a bar or cafe to request proof of age of a prospective client is very rare. Drinking and driving, however, is treated as a very serious offense. Beer, wine, and liquor are sold at most local supermarkets, many in Munich remaining open until 10pm. Munich doesn't have restrictive closing times for bars, many of which stay open until dawn, depending on the individual owners.

Lost & Found -- Be sure to tell all of your credit card companies the minute you discover your wallet has been lost or stolen, and file a report at the nearest police precinct. Your credit card company or insurer may require a police report number or record of the loss. Most credit card companies have an emergency toll-free number to call if your card is lost or stolen; they may be able to wire you a cash advance immediately or deliver an emergency credit card in a day or two. Visa's emergency number outside the U.S. is tel. 410/581-3836 or in Germany 0800-811-8440; call collect. American Express cardholders should call collect tel. 336/393-1111. MasterCard holders should call collect tel. 314/542-7111. If you need emergency cash over the weekend when all banks and American Express offices are closed, you can have money wired to you via Western Union (tel. 800/325-6000; www.westernunion.com).

Mail -- To mail a letter on the street, look for a yellow mailbox. The cost to send an airmail letter to the United States or Canada is 1.50€ ($1.80) for the first 5 grams and 1€ ($1.20) for postcards. All letters to the United Kingdom cost .55€ (65Ţ). To mail a package, go to one of the larger post offices in Munich The Postamt Mɒnchen (main post office) is across from the Hauptbahnhof, at Bahnhofplatz 1 (tel. 089/599-0870). If you want to have your mail sent to you, have it addressed Poste Restante, Postamt Mɒnchen, Bahnhofplatz 1, 80074 Mɒnchen, for general delivery. Take along your passport to reclaim any mail. The office is open Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm, and Sunday 9am to 3pm. There are no longer fax, phone, or telex facilities available in the post office.

Measurements -- The metric system of measurement is used in Germany, with nonmetric equivalents as follows. Temperature: 32ŶF = 0ŶC. Liquid volume: 1 liter = .26 U.S. gallon; 1 U.S. gallon = 3.8 liters. Distance: 1 ft. = .3m; 1m = 3.3 ft.; 1 mile = 1.6km; 1km = .62 mile. Weight: 1 ounce = 28 grams; 1 pound = .45 kilogram; 1 gram = .04 ounce; 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds.

Newspapers & Magazines -- The International Herald Tribune is the most widely distributed English-language newspaper in the city. You can also find copies of USA Today and the European editions of Time and Newsweek.

Passports -- Allow plenty of time before your trip to apply for a passport; processing normally takes 3 weeks but can take longer during busy periods (especially spring). Keep in mind that if you need a passport in a hurry, you'll pay a higher processing fee.

For Residents of Australia: You can pick up an application from your local post office or any branch of Passports Australia, but you must schedule an interview at the passport office to present your application materials. Call the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232, or visit the government website at www.passports.gov.au.

For Residents of Canada: Passport applications are available at travel agencies throughout Canada or from the central Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca).

For Residents of Ireland: You can apply for a 10-year passport at the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.irlgov.ie/iveagh). Those under age 18 and over 65 must apply for a €12 3-year passport. You can also apply at 1A South Mall, Cork (tel. 021/272-525), or at most main post offices.

For Residents of New Zealand: You can pick up a passport application at any New Zealand Passports Office or download it from their website. Contact the Passports Office at tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100, or log on to www.passports.govt.nz.

For Residents of the United Kingdom: To pick up an application for a standard 10-year passport (5-year passport for children under 16), visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency or contact the United Kingdom Passport Service at tel. 0870/521-0410 or search its website at www.ukpa.gov.uk.

For Residents of the United States: Whether you're applying in person or by mail, you can download passport applications from the U.S. State Department website at http://travel.state.gov. To find your regional passport office, either check the U.S. State Department website or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free number (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.

Police -- Throughout the country, dial tel. 110 for emergencies. The call is free.

Restrooms -- Use the word Toilette (pronounced Twa-leht-tah). Restrooms may be labeled WC or H (for Herren, men) and F (for Frauen, women). The center of Munich has several clean, safe, and well-kept public facilities. You can also patronize the facilities at terminals, restaurants, bars, cafes, department stores, hotels, and pubs.

Taxes -- As a member of the European Union, Germany imposes a tax on most goods and services known as a value-added tax (VAT), or in German, Mehrwertsteuer. Nearly everything is taxed at 16%, including vital necessities such as gas and luxury items such as jewelry. VAT is included in the prices of restaurants and hotels. Note that goods for sale, such as cameras, also have the 16% tax already factored into the price; but the listed prices of services, such as getting a mechanic to fix your car, don't include VAT, so an extra 16% will be tacked on to the bill. Stores that display a TAX FREE sticker will issue you a Tax-Free Shopping Check at the time of purchase. When leaving the country, have your check stamped by the German Customs Service as your proof of legal export. You can then get a cash refund at one of the Tax-Free Shopping Service offices in the major airports and many train stations, even at some of the bigger ferry terminals. Otherwise, you must send the checks to Tax-Free Shopping Service, Mengstrasse 19, 23552 Lɒbeck, Germany. If you want the payment to be credited to your bank card or your bank account, mention this. There is no airport departure tax in Germany.

Telephones -- The phone numbers listed are to be used within Germany; when calling from abroad, omit the initial 0 in the city code.

If you're within Germany but not in Munich, use 089. If you're calling within Munich, simply leave off the code and dial only the regular phone number. Local and long-distance calls may be placed from coin-operated public telephone booths. More than half the phones in Germany require an advance-payment telephone card from Telekom, the German telephone company. Phone cards are sold at post offices and newsstands, costing 6€ ($7.20) and 25€ ($30). Rates are measured in units rather than minutes. The farther the distance, the more units are consumed. For example, a 4-minute call to the United States costs 41 units. All towns and cities in Germany may be dialed directly by using the prefix listed in the telephone directory above each local heading. Telephone calls made through hotel switchboards can double, triple, or even quadruple the charge; so try to make your calls outside your hotel.

German phone numbers are not standard and come in various formats. In some places, numbers have as few as three digits. In cities, one building's number may have five digits whereas the phone next door might have nine digits. Germans also often hyphenate their numbers differently. But since all the area codes are the same, these various configurations should have little effect on your phone usage once you get used to the fact that numbers are inconsistent and vary from place to place.

Alternatively, you can dial the various telecommunication companies in the States for cheaper rates. From Germany, the access for AT&T is tel. 0800-888-00-10. USA Direct can be used with all telephone cards and for collect calls. The number from Germany is tel. 01-30-00-10. Canada Direct can be used with Bell Telephone Cards and for collect calls. This number from Germany is tel. 01-30-00-14.

To call Germany:

1. Dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia.

2. Dial the country code: 49.

3. Dial the city code (Munich's is 89) and then the number.

To make international calls: To make international calls from Germany, first dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next you dial the area code and number. For example, if you wanted to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial 00-1-202-588-7800.

For directory assistance: Dial 00101 if you're looking for numbers inside Germany and all other countries.

For operator assistance: If you need operator assistance in making a call, dial 11834 if you're trying to make an international call and 11833 if you want to call a number in Germany.

Toll-free numbers: Numbers beginning with 0800 or 00800 within Germany are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the States from Germany is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.

Time Zone -- Germany operates on Central European Time (CET), which means that the country is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the United States and 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Summer daylight saving time begins in Germany in April and ends in September -- there's a slight difference in the dates from year to year -- so there may be a period in early spring and in the fall when there's a 7-hour difference between EST and CET. Always check if you're traveling during these periods -- especially if you need to catch a plane.

Tipping -- If a restaurant bill says Bedienung, that means a service charge has already been added, so just round up to the nearest euro. If not, add 10% to 15%. Round up to the nearest euro for taxis. Bellhops get 1€ ($1.20) per bag, as does the doorman at your hotel, restaurant, or nightclub. Room-cleaning staffs get small tips in Germany, but you should tip concierges well who perform some special favor such as obtaining hard-to-get theater or opera tickets. Tip hairdressers or barbers 5% to 10%.

Useful Phone Numbers -- U.S. Dept. of State Travel Advisory (tel. 202/647-5225, manned 24 hr.); U.S. Passport Agency (tel. 202/647-0518); U.S. Centers for Disease Control International Traveler's Hot Line (tel. 404/332-4559).

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