Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Germany is an old country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your German language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. It’s helpful to know how to get around in Germany if you’re ever planning on visiting because public transportation, while efficient, can be challenging to figure out at first.
Germany has thousands of taxis and using them is much the same as in most other places around the world. Available taxis usually have an illuminated yellow and black “Taxi” sign on their roofs. The taxis can be found at a taxi stand, called over the phone from their headquarters, or hailed in the street the old-fashioned way. One thing about German taxis is that most fleets are comprised of sleek and luxurious Audi and Mercedes Benz vehicles. For larger groups or payloads, you can get equally comfortable station wagons and minivans.
As it is with most facets of German life, the taxi industry is greatly regulated, so you do not have to worry about being taken advantage of as a foreigner. Fares are displayed on a meter, and the drivers do not always expect to receive tips though costs may be rounded up a little just like in any other business. However, there might be a small extra cost for dogs and luggage.
Most taxi stands are located along major activity centers like airports, train stations, big hotels, and shopping centers among others. Prices usually range between one to three euros per kilometer with the rate reducing slightly over longer distances. There are also additional costs for waiting especially in traffic.
Germany has an extensive railway system, which is identified as the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail), with hourly express trains connecting the major cities. Some of these trains focus on business transport, offering only first-class seats. The tickets are checked on the train, but you need to re-validate your ticket before getting on through a punch machine on the platform. Travel details, such as time and destinations, are posted on the platform.
For long journeys, it is highly recommended that you reserve your seat in advance by calling a travel agent. The attendants are usually conversant in English. Avoid sitting on reserved seats unless you are sure you are going to gone before the owner boards.
It is possible to purchase a ticket on the train from the conductor, but it happens at an extra cost. If you are a frequent traveler, it is recommended that you buy a Bahnkarte 25 or 50, which offers a discount on train tickets and can easily pay for itself within a short time. There are other options to the Bahnkarte, such as the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, which translates to “happy weekend ticket” in English. This option comes with an unlimited travel offer on local lines. The Guten-Abend-Ticket, “good evening ticket,” used to be also available and offered off-peak reductions.