Questions/Suggestions about my upcoming trip to Germany!

So I’ve very excited, my step-dad, my mom, my grandmother (Oma) and I are all heading to Germany next month (July 13th-28th). My mother’s side of the family is German, they came over here when she was four, and they haven’t been back in like 30 years.

We’re working on planning exactly what we should do/go see, etc. We’re flying into Hamburg and then from there we are heading up north to Kosel (130 km north) to where our relatives are. We’re going to stay there for a few day and then my mom, step-dad and I are going to go sightseeing. My grandmom is gonna stay with the family.

We’re renting a car and my mom has bad arthritics so we can’t do too much walking. Although I haven’t decided yet but I might leave them and go off on my own durning the day sometimes. (We plan to rent local cell phones to keep in touch).

Anyway so I would like some suggestions for some must see things in Germany… we only have two weeks so we’re not going to go to any nearby countries.

Also I can’t even guess how much cash to bring… not counting gas or hotel, how much do you think we need per person per day? Will most places take credit cards? Do we have to pay high fees when we use our credit cards overseas?

As far as gas… what kind of mileage can we expect? (What’s the word for mileage if you talking about kilometers?) Does diesel make a big difference?

I’ll leave the German residents to answer the more interesting questions, but:

It depends, and yes. ViaMichelin’s route planner does a good job of estimating journey costs, in multiple currencies and based on local fuel prices.

(posted before finished)

…to get it fully accurate, use the options to choose the type of vehicle and the fuel cost to be used. A recent trip cost me £30 in fuel, and ViaMichelin says it should’ve been £27. Maybe I should stay away from the fast lane :wink:

Make sure you know the rules of the road for Germany; they take their driving very seriously. Most importantly, on the Autobahn, stay to the right unless you’re passing somebody.

Credit cards aren’t nearly as common there as here. At most restaurants, the server will come to your table, add up the bill, and make change on the spot. The tip is usually just to round up to the next Euro. Just use ATM’s. The same networks that are common here work there, too; and the exchange rate is reasonable. Know your PIN code by number; the ATM’s there don’t have letters.

Like Robot Arm said, use ATM’s for cash, you’ll get the best exchange rate that way. Get some cash at the airport when you get there, then replenish as you go. A lot of places take credit cards, but you should have some cash for the ones that don’t. And notify your credit card company that you will be traveling - if they see a lot of charges overseas, they may put a stop on your card.

…and never pass anybody on the right. Seriously, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The Autobahns are the safest roads in the country for a reason. It’s easier than driving on most other roads.

For small sums that’s ok but you shouldn’t tip less than about 10 percent.

Whatever you do, don’t try to visit too many cities. Too many people spend most of their time driving across the country.

Ditto on not relying on credit cards - they are not nearly as widely accepted as in the US (because the card’s charges eat the merchant’s margin for low-margin items like groceries merchants generally don’t like them - but a lot of gas stations, restaurants other than the cheapest ones and high-margin merchants like clothes shops accept credit cards, most frequently Mastercard, a bit less frequently Visa, a lot less often Amex). Consumers don’t mind using mostly cash (as we are aware credit card companies’ profits ultimately come out of our pocket) - I for one usually withdraw 500 EUR (circa 630 US$) every time I hit the ATM and use that to eat/shop until it’s time to fill up my wallet again, and that’s by no means unusual behaviour.

What type of destinations do you prefer - large cities, small towns, rural areas, seaside, North German plain, Middle/South German hilly country?

Your relatives will of course be able to give you a lot of pointers. Your starting point in Schleswig-Holstein is convenient for Hamburg, of course, a lovely city (full disclosure: I am a Hamburger by birth so I might be biased), Germany’s second largest (and less provincial than Berlin IMO) with a bustling port, the Alster lake that you should take the few hours’ time to walk aroung and many other attractions. Easily worth some days.

When you are driving overland you might do worse than just leaving the autobahn at noon and in the early evening, drive into the next midsized town and just look/ask around for a restaurant at noon/a small hotel in the late afternoon/early evening, respectively.

A navigation system in your rental car (or rented separately) would be useful especially if you are used to regular city layouts (which are rare in Germany).