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Author Topic: Going to Europez  (Read 1473 times)
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SkyLander
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« on: October 08, 2007, 11:46:12 PM »

I'm heading to Germany at the end of December and into January. I've never done an out of country/overseas trip before and I have a couple questions.

In general what should I know that is useful? I plan to be in Germany for two weeks.
What are good companies for Travelers insurance? What kind of questions should I ask and what should I look out for?


Basically it at the moment. If anyone has any other tips that would be helpful.

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Doopri
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2007, 11:49:56 PM »

have fun and dont worry! smile  seriously itll be a blast
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IkeVandergraaf
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2007, 11:50:14 PM »

Don't mention the war.
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2007, 12:23:17 AM »

don't buy German Video games.  They censor almost everything.
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2007, 12:45:05 AM »

don't forget your passport and whatever you do don't misplace it while you are out of the county....

When I left the country I also didn't take much cash.  Call you Credit card company and bank and notify them that you will be in Germany/europe so charges/debits don't look like ID theft.  Also, they tend to offer the best conversion rates....
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SkyLander
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2007, 05:30:09 AM »

Well I have an American Express Blue card, so I was thinking of doing travelers insurance through AMEX connecting it all through that credit card basically.

Would a travelers check card be good to use through AMEX?
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gellar
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2007, 05:35:38 AM »

Just some quick hits before I go to bed, but we can chat about this in IRC later if j00 wants.

1) The advice of calling your CC companies is a good one.  Mine freaked out last time and called my house, thankfully teh woman is an authorized user of the card I happened to be using else it would have been frozen for fraud.  Just call them and let them know what's up.

2)  Traveler's checks are a ridiculously unnecessary thing of the past.  CCs ftw.

3)  Your health insurance should still cover you overseas.  Call them and find out and make sure you bring the necessary details.

4)  Know you are going to take it hard in a very uncomfortable place by the exchange rates.  The USD is so weak right now it's downright recockulous.  Expect to pay a 40% premium on anything, just due to the exchange rate.

5)  Europe (in general) hates Americans.  It's just the nature of the beast given our current political climate.  If you are trying to pick up chicks at a bar, either a) find other Americans or b) do your best to not seem like one.  Trust me.

6)  The best way to stand out as an OMG TOURIST is by wearing a) a baseball cap, and b) sneakers.  This is apparently the official outfit of America, per Europe.

gellar
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gellar
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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2007, 05:37:58 AM »

Oh last bit: Germany is a spectacular hub for European travel.  Spread out during your 2 weeks and see as much as you can.  Many cities/countries are easy daytrips, so do all you can while you are there.

gellar
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2007, 05:39:00 AM »

Quote from: gellar on October 09, 2007, 05:35:38 AM

5)  Europe (in general) hates Americans.  It's just the nature of the beast given our current political climate.  If you are trying to pick up chicks at a bar, either a) find other Americans or b) do your best to not seem like one.  Trust me.

pretend to be Canadian, eh?
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gellar
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2007, 05:39:20 AM »

Quote from: CeeKay on October 09, 2007, 05:39:00 AM

Quote from: gellar on October 09, 2007, 05:35:38 AM

5)  Europe (in general) hates Americans.  It's just the nature of the beast given our current political climate.  If you are trying to pick up chicks at a bar, either a) find other Americans or b) do your best to not seem like one.  Trust me.

pretend to be Canadian, eh?

You'd be surprised at how much better of a reaction you'd get...

gellar
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2007, 05:41:09 AM »

Oh one last bit.  Don't 'buy' currency.  Buy a wee bit at the airport, just enough to get you to where you want to go.  Your bank ATM fees are probably considerably better than the rate you will get at the airport exchange places.  In actuality, your best bet is to use your credit card as much as possible, as that should give you the closest 'real' exchange rate.

gellar
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CeeKay
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2007, 05:45:10 AM »

Quote from: gellar on October 09, 2007, 05:39:20 AM

Quote from: CeeKay on October 09, 2007, 05:39:00 AM

Quote from: gellar on October 09, 2007, 05:35:38 AM

5)  Europe (in general) hates Americans.  It's just the nature of the beast given our current political climate.  If you are trying to pick up chicks at a bar, either a) find other Americans or b) do your best to not seem like one.  Trust me.

pretend to be Canadian, eh?

You'd be surprised at how much better of a reaction you'd get...

gellar

I know.  I've actually had people ask me if I knew where to get Canadian flag patches for them to put on their stuff when they go over the pond.
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Graham
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« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2007, 04:30:50 AM »

I went to Germany for my honeymoon.  (We spent a few days in Amsterdam before going down the Rhine.)

Here are some things that I did learn:

David Hasslehoff isn't nearly as popular in Germany as you might think.
It's required by law that you hear at least one Phil Collins song during the day while going shopping or entering any other establishment playing music.
The women in the red light district aren't very attractive.
Don't fly U.S. Airways if you can avoid it at all.  They suck.

In all seriousness, find out what the exchange rate the bank/credit card companies charge.  Some charge as much as an additional 10% of the cost of the transaction.  Call them ahead of time too.

Be aware of the exchange rate.  Things don't look expensive, but that conversion really sucks.

Find out what the weather is like.  We had expected warm weather and found out that they had several cool days.

There is a Chocolate Museum and if you get the chance to go there, you'll taste some of the best chocolate you've had.  It's interesting to find out how different cocoa beans from different areas affect the taste of chocolate.

There are some cool cathedrals there with some really neat clocks.  Some are centuries old and would keep the time, phase of the moon, exact day, and other information. 

If you can, go to the Black Forest and buy a cuckoo clock.  It will be expensive, but they are well worth the money because of the craftsmanship.  We got one and we are simply amazed at how it is.

I think that we got our insurance from Traveller's Insurance.

Go to the bathroom when you can, as some places require you to pay ,50 Euro (50 Euro cents).  Either that or make sure you have enough change so that you can go when you need to go.

Most people do speak English and can communicate enough with them.

I really didn't see any animosity against Americans when I went there.  That was just me, and we didn't have a whole lot of interaction with Germans.

If you have some other specific questions, let me know and I'll try to answer.
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SkyLander
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« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2007, 05:11:04 PM »

Well I was going to do United since they seem to be the cheapest and do what gellar said and beg for an upgrade to business class at the gate. See if that works or not. I would shoot for Virgin but they don't fly directly where I am going. And I'd rather not overcomplicate things by trying to mix carriers/destination and times and all that. Anybody know about unrestricted tickets or where I could get ones that I could change maybe if something comes up and I need to change the dates of when I leave and come back?
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« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2007, 05:16:18 PM »

Unrestricted tickets cost 3-4x the cost of a restricted ticket.  Airlines bone you.

gellar
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SkyLander
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« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2007, 05:36:04 PM »

I guess just get the restricted then and just hope it works out.
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walTer
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« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2007, 05:36:21 PM »

Not ONE mention of BEER??????  tsk tsk.....

Enjoy the beer- every place you go, ask for a local brew (I did this all thru England) and (assuming you are a beer drinker to some extent) I dare say you will not be disppointed.

Oh and I second the no traveler's checks.  I ended up cashing all of mine  it at a bank for cash since I had so many problems using them.
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SkyLander
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2007, 02:31:43 AM »

Okay time to ressurect this beast again.

Tickets are bought, I leave in January.

I think I'm going to be on a 767-300intl. So basically what are my chances of getting an upgrade to business when I checkin for the flight? That and how much would I be expecting it to cost?

I called BOFA and basically if I take money out at any Duesche 24 then all it is is a direct conversion rate. So i was planning on having some Euro with me when I go and then just grabbing more when I need it. Everything else I'll use my AMEX/VISA and pay the 5% fee.
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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2007, 03:36:17 AM »

Quote from: gellar on October 09, 2007, 05:35:38 AM

6)  The best way to stand out as an OMG TOURIST is by wearing a) a baseball cap, and b) sneakers.  This is apparently the official outfit of America, per Europe.

gellar

You forgot shorts.  Anyone who wears shorts in Europe is pegged as a US tourist immediately.

Doesn't really apply to Sky, since he's going in January...
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« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2007, 04:00:44 AM »

If you eat at any American fast food places there you deserve to get punched in the crotch.  And not the fun kind you pay for in Amsterdam.
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SkyLander
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« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2007, 04:27:36 AM »

I was thinking of playing the Canada card.
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« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2007, 05:35:33 AM »

Quote from: SkyLander on December 05, 2007, 04:27:36 AM

I was thinking of playing the Canada card.

That's fine-just don't screw it up for the rest of us real Canucks!  Mind your manners and treat the ladies well.  Oh and brush up on your Toronto Maple Leaf history.  A true Canadian bleeds blue and white-don't let those hicks out West convince you any different. smile
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« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2007, 08:02:41 AM »

Quote from: Canuck on December 05, 2007, 05:35:33 AM

Quote from: SkyLander on December 05, 2007, 04:27:36 AM

I was thinking of playing the Canada card.

That's fine-just don't screw it up for the rest of us real Canucks!  Mind your manners and treat the ladies well.  Oh and brush up on your Toronto Maple Leaf history.  A true Canadian bleeds blue and white-don't let those hicks out West convince you any different. smile

Fortunately most Canadians don't subscribe to the idea that Canada = Toronto.

Go Canucks!
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« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2007, 03:26:55 PM »

Quote from: SkyLander on December 05, 2007, 04:27:36 AM

I was thinking of playing the Canada card.

just remember aboot, eh? and take off hoser are staples of the Canadian language  icon_wink
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« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2007, 04:10:52 PM »

Quote from: gellar on October 09, 2007, 05:35:38 AM

4)  Know you are going to take it hard in a very uncomfortable place by the exchange rates.  The USD is so weak right now it's downright recockulous.  Expect to pay a 40% premium on anything, just due to the exchange rate.

Shhhh.... don't talk about that.  People around here might get mad  paranoid
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« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2007, 03:13:25 AM »

Quote from: gellar on October 09, 2007, 05:35:38 AM

4)  Know you are going to take it hard in a very uncomfortable place by the exchange rates.  The USD is so weak right now it's downright recockulous.  Expect to pay a 40% premium on anything, just due to the exchange rate.

If you stop in Poland at all, that doesn't seem to be the case there because they haven't switched over to Euros yet.  I was there for two weeks in August, and one dollar was equivalent to 2.7 zlotys, their native currency.  Since most things cost about the same in zlotys as they would in dollars in the US (e.g., a restaurant meal that would've been $20 in the US was 20 zlotys in Poland), stuff was really cheap there.  The exchange rate is down to 2.4 zlotys per dollar now, but Poland still might be worth a look if you're ever in the eastern part of Germany.
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