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Old 10-04-2012, 06:44 PM
pawarrant pawarrant is offline
SECDEF
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 174
Mein Auto: 2009 328xi Montego Blue
Friday September 21

We woke up and drove to the Agip Station near the MUC airport. We washed the car in the wash bay. We then drove to Log In Out next to our hotel where we returned the car for its long trip to the States. We ate breakfast at the hotel, and walked to the airport. We turned in our duty free receipts and changed our euros back to USD.





Depart MUC 1125 Lufthansa 428 (Airbus A340-600)
Arrive CLT 1515

Depart CLT 1640 USAir 1190 (Boeing 737-4004)
Arrive PIT 1805





So after 13 days, 2263 kilometers (1406 miles), and 6 countries, here are some interesting observations from our first trip to Europe:

Except for Italy, the roads were incredible. The roads are in excellent shape compared to the roads in the US. There are very few if any stop signs in most places. Traffic is designed to flow. They use traffic circles and yield signs rather than stop signs and red lights. We never saw any police on the highways in any country. It seems speed is controlled by cameras rather than traffic cops. There are speed cameras every few miles on the highways. The speeds are generally posted higher than we are used to driving in the US. 130 KPH (80 MPH) Germany (where it is limited), Austria, Italy, and Czech Republic. They do have frequent speed reduction zones for tunnels and urban interchange areas. The speed limit sign is only posted once, so you have to pay attention because there are usually speed cameras after the change in speed is posted. In Italy, the roads are not in as good of shape and are very narrow.

The hotels are generally smaller than what we are used to in the states. If you reserve a room with one Queen or King bed, you will get 2 double mattresses pushed together in a frame with two sets of double sheets and comforters. The bathrooms everywhere we stayed besides Germany had bidets in them, which I've never seen before. All the bathrooms had heated towel racks, which was interesting. None of the hotels we stayed in had ice machines or vending machines of any kind. We brought the standard 110v-220v European electrical converters that we bought in the states. They worked, but we found the European plugs are recessed in a hole, so it was hard for the converters to plug in. If you bumped them, they fell out, as there was nothing holding them into the outlet. Their outlets only accommodate 1 plug, so bringing an outlet strip to plug into the converter is a good idea. Also, their plugs and the converters we bought do not have a third prong, so you may want to bring a three prong to one prong adaptor to pug in your outlet strip to the converter. This doesn't affect anything, but we also found it interesting that all of the light switches in Europe are large toggle buttons, not anything we have here. We also found it odd that most of their doors are hinged on the outsides of the door frames not inside the frame like our doors. Also, in the small hotels the elevators are super small. A couple of the hotels had one man elevators and we could barely fit our suitcases in with us going one at a time up the elevator.

All of the food we ate was really good. We found it interesting that their breakfast foods are lunchmeats and cheeses. They do not have traditional breakfast foods like cooked eggs and waffles unless you are in an Americanized hotel. Also, most of their drinks are carbonated. The water and most of the drinks in gas stations coolers are carbonated. You must ask for "still" water if you want regular water like we drink here in the US.

Everywhere we went with the exception of the Czech Republic is very English speaking friendly. Pretty much every younger German or Austrian speaks excellent English, as they start learning it at the same time as their native language in school. Outside of the tourist areas in the Czech republic, we could not find anyone that spoke English. Even in the touristy spots it was hard finding anyone that spoke English on the street.

As far as spending money, Europe was more expensive than the states with the exception of restaurants. We were surprised that the meals at good restaurants were reasonably priced compared to the same types of places in the states. The Czech Republic was generally less expensive than Austria and Germany it seemed. I would advise you to ask for a duty free tax receipt when making purchases at shops in Europe. If you spend over a certain amount (Germany 25 euro, Austria 75 euro, Czech Republic 2001 czk, Italy 155 euro), you can get a percentage back from the VAT tax when you leave Europe. We just took our duty free receipts we got to the German customs office at Munich Airport who stamped them (they may inspect the goods you purchased but they didn't for us). They have a Tax refund office in the airport, which took our stamped receipts and gave us cash back. We got about 7% back in cash from our receipts, which was a nice surprise when leaving.

All of the places we visited were amazing and I would go back to see them again. I like Munich the best as a place I could live. It was so friendly and clean and a perfect balance of modern high tech western culture mixed with old European history. Prague was the most beautiful city we visited. The mountains in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland were just breathtaking. There was so much history to take in throughout this trip. It was truly an amazing must do experience. I am so glad I lease my car, because that gives me an opportunity to do this every three years, which I am certain I will!
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Last edited by pawarrant; 10-04-2012 at 07:00 PM.
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