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ENS 2010: Berlin, Germany · 19 – 23 June 2010

Useful Information about Berlin

City of Berlin

Berlin, the capital of Germany, is “always in the process of becoming” since the fall of the Wall in 1989. Few cities have been shaped to such an extent by history and undergone as much transformation as Berlin. Today the city is characterised by modernity and breathtaking architecture and is said to be one of Europe’s most exciting and colourful capitals. Its chief landmarks include the Brandenburg Gate, the TV tower on Alexanderplatz, the Memorial Church on Kurfürstendamm, the glass cupola of the German parliament building the “Reichstag”.

More than 170 museums in Berlin provide a rich cultural landscape, including the Pergamon Altar, the bust of Nefertiti and works by great masters past and present. Germany’s largest city is brimful of opportunities just waiting to be seized in all areas – entertainment, recreation, economy, science and academic life.

Climate

Berlin´s climate is typical of North-Eastern Europe. During the summer-months (June – August) daily temperatures reach 22 – 23°C (72°F), but there are also days with temperatures up to 30°C (86°F).

Currency

The Euro (€) is the official currency, divided into 100 cents. Credit cards are accepted in the bigger stores, in hotels and most restaurants as well as many taxis. Grocers, boutiques, public transport ticket machines and tourist attractions like museums etc. quite often are not equipped with a credit card reader. It is recommendable to have enough cash at hand in case there will be no acceptance. Traveller cheques are not a common mode of payment in Germany. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining Euros.

Eat and Drink

Germany is well known for good food and beer. In Berlin, a speciality is for example ‘Bulette’ (large meatball served with mustard or potatoes) or the ‘Berliner Currywurst’ (smoked sausage served with apples, onions and mashed potatoes).You will also find typical specialities such as knuckle of pork, smoked pork or ‘Sauerbraten’ served with sauerkraut or red cabbage, dumplings and gravy. Germans enjoy light cooking as well so you will find excellent vegetable, pasta or chicken dishes. The Mecklenburg region also has a tradition of fish cooking. Beer gardens invite to enjoy a glass of ‘Berliner Weisse’ (beer with juice).

Electricity

In Germany sockets operate with 230 V and comply with European standards. For appliances from outside Europe you should bring the necessary adapter with you.

Language

The official language is German. Some foreign languages, especially English, are widely spoken.

Shopping

Designer fashion and outstanding trends, department stores and small boutiques, international vibes and local designers, Berlin offers a great variety of shopping areas. The biggest department store of the European continent, the ‘KaDeWe’ is located at the famous shopping mile Kurfürstendamm. Walking from the Adenauerplatz, the boulevard is converting into a more tranquil zone, where many designer trademarks have their fashion stores. Further popular shopping areas are e.g. the Alexanderplatz, the Nikolaiviertel and Spandau. Popular souvenirs from Berlin are the Berlin Bears (the symbol of Berlin) which are available in all variations as well as typical German souvenirs, such as beer glasses, crafts from the mountain regions and chocolate. Most of the big stores are open 9.30 – 20.00 Mon – Fri and between 9.00 and 17.00 on Saturdays.

Tax/ Tipping

The prices include service and tax, but it is customary to round up the bill. A 10 per cent tip is usual. Tax is included in the price of all goods in Germany.

For items purchased over € 155.–, tourists from outside the EU can get the tax reimbursed. This can be done by filling in a form in the shop and then presenting it to the customs officials at major airports or border crossings.

Time

The time zone in Berlin is GMT + 1 hour.

Visa requirements

The Schengen visa is valid for the following 24 European countries: Austria, Belgium, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. A Schengen visa issued by an Embassy or Consulate of the above countries allows the holder to travel freely in all of these countries.

American Citizens do not need a visa when they travel to Germany for business or for personal travel. The stay in the Schengen area should not exceed 90 days in a 6-month period. Please note that the American visitor will need to present a valid American passport (valid three months beyond intended stay), proof of sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.