Tips on driving in Germany
I will be travelling to Germany, nextweek on a short business trip. Dont want to miss out on driving on the world's best roads (autobahns).
So any tips on rules/regulations on driving in Germany and whether I can manage without a International Driving permit to rent a car using indian license?
Read from a few threads that hertz accepts Indian driving license for renting cars. Being on short notice I couldnot get the IDP done, as I am in Bangalore and the address in DL is my native address along with passport.
Also, please suggest places to go around Stuttgart on weekends/things to do. Heard the MB and Porsche museums are nice places to visit. Suggestion on any other POI's welcome. Maybe track days by renting cars.
Ah, Geeeeeeermany lol. Good choice!!!
Well, here is my bit:
You can drive with your Indian drivers' licence as you are only there for a couple of days. You will need your visa to prove how long you are in Germany, of course. In any case, it is the law in Germany to ALWAYS carry your ID card or passport with you. So I advise you not to leave these documents in the hotel room. I have seen people (incl. myself) getting into trouble for not being able to identify themselves when asked.
Back to renting a car: apart from hertz also check out "sixt" and "europcar". They are often cheaper than hertz.
Will you be renting a car for only a day or several days? Keep in mind that gas is also a lot more expensive in Germany haha. In May it was at about 1.23 € per liter on average for normal fuel.
If you drive on the highway keep the following things in mind:
- honking is forbidden, so you should not do that at all, you may come across people who use their lights on you (instead of
honking) which would indicate they want you to give way lol
- taking another car over is only allowed from left to right - you cannot take over from any side like in India and you will end
up in trouble if you do
- the right lane is the one were the slowest drive, and left lane fastest - if you are slower than others who come from behind
make way to the right
- distance to be kept between the cars - usually at least 50 m! Police has increased control on that in the past few months so
don't pull up close behind anyone else unless you are just taking over and it happens to be like that for the moment
- If speed limit is up, stick to it! Sometimes you come across longterm installed speed control cameras, sometimes police is
hiding and will try to get a nice shot of you. :D
Especially in Stuttgart as well: WATCH IT! I have been to Stuttgart by car several times and they have some nasty cameras
installed in places you would not expect.
What else? Hmmm... let me think. Well, I think this is the most important for the highways. Using your indicators, respecting the rules etc. is a given I'd say. If you have any more questions just let me know.
With regards to recommendations for places in and around Stuttgart, it would be good to know how much time you have available and what you are interested in?! The black forest is very close by so that would be quite interesting and nice to experience for example.
Remember to carry your passport along with your Indian Driving License to prove that you have been in Germany for less than 6 months.
At Frankfurt Airport itself you will find the offices of Avis, Europcar, Sixt and Hertz all right next to each other.
Hop in and compare rates. Far better than booking online (which always works out more expensive)
Don't forget to take the FULL insurance, this also covers you and the cost of the car. Completely worth the few extra euros.
If in trouble, speak slowly and clearly and no matter what, always state the complete truth. Do not try to "work out" a situation. Nobody accepts anything in Germany, if you know what I mean. Sometimes a genuine apology and you may be let off with a stern word.
German police are not the friendliest in the world. Do not be scared by their frowns, lol.
Rest whatever she said, lol.
Speak slowly and clearly? I'd say that depends on your accent. Many Germans are simply not used to the Indian English accent and may ask you to repeat, that's all.
German police not the friendliest? Now don't generalise from one incident that you have experienced please. Many (though there are exceptions of course, as anywhere else in the world) actually are very friendly, especially with foreigners who stay friendly and show that they have not misbehaved on purpose etc. (all that provided in case anything happens at all, lets not expect the worst case).
Thanks Sam and The One, great to hear from you both.
And by the way, I am landing directly in Stuttgart through Paris.Hope I got many options there too.
Looks like you have saved me from the hassle of getting the IDP. I would be fine with the Indian driving license then.
Rules wise, looks almost similar to US, where I used to own and drive cars for around 2 years. So shouldnt be a trouble with that too. I was initially a bit worried about the right of way related rules I came across the net, which appeared more comprehensive compared to USA.
Regarding renting cars, my company will be providing the same, either through hertz or avis. Along with insurance and fuel for HOH. I would be taking care of fuel for non HOH driving.
I am interested in scenic drives, winding roads etc., castles and so on. But with the limited time 2-3 Weekends/4-6 days available for roaming I have a very short time for this. With nurburbring 5 hrs drive away, thats out of the picture as well. Please recommend me anything on those lines. Also some shopping recommendations would be great (Gadgets/Toys for my 1 1/2 yr old niece etc).
And about the german police, it looks like a feud going on between you too lol:
Anyway, it appears if I stay calm and collected wrt to the cops, I should be fine right.
I cant provide specific tips on driving in Germany (but clearly you have your hands full with Sam and Jenny :) ) -- so here is a related thread with some tips on LHD driving abroad.
My 2 cents on driving in country where LHD system is followed
The person driving should be in the middle of the road. period
Dont honk unless untill you are really angry at someone e.g. some lady fiat driver doing 40 kmh in a 70 kmh lane.
Pedestrians have a right of way no matter what.
Follow the speed limits and make sure you dont slow down traffic.
Be considerate of fellow drivers and yield where neccessary.
Last but not least, Be SMART and you will enjoy driving which of course you cant do in India abrring a few drives.
I missed driving the last time I was in Germany (2006). The roads are just fantastic superbly maintained. Even the regular roads in the cities are great. Much better than Bangalore at least.
As Sam said, please dont try to "adjust" with the cops, I was advised by my colleagues there to just state the truth if anything happens anywhere. In most cases it will work
The biggest culture shock for me was the timing of the local transport. One of the weekends I had to catch a bus to a train station and then board the local train to meet one of my colleagues who was taking me around. The bus reached the station at exactly 10:37 and the train arrived exactly at 10:40 and reached the destination at 11:27! These were the exact times that were mentioned on the net. Amazing. My colleague came to the station just a few minutes before the train came. He said the trains are never late so there is nothing to worry!
Regarding toys etc, everything there is expensive and most likely made in China :) so its just not worth it. I didnt find anything there that I wouldn't find in a good toy shop in Bangalore. So I just picked up a bunch of small cars for my son who was 2 at the time.
It was a total fun trip for me and completely paid for by my company
Another tip which I can give from my own experience is, learn all those parking signs and stuff. There are no english boards to help you there. Some streets allow you to park only during specific times in a day, and some you have to show that parking indicator in your dashboard before you leave the car, and in some places you have to pay. Yes I got one ticket for wrong parking once.
You should be also clear about what you are supposed to do when you are behind the wheel and you happen to hear a loud siren from behind - Ambulance / fire truck.
Even though Autobahn has no speed limits in most of the easy stretches, they do have dynamic speed limits in certain areas and static ones in curves and all. Follow the traffic - do not overspeed or slow down too much - in these places and you will be fine.
Even if Polizei stop you while driving, do not just get out of the car to explain anything. Wait for them to come to you - guess you already know this.
Apart form your passport and DL, its always better to carry your ID card if you work for some well known firm - like Siemens. Once, when stopped by the cops, they started behaving very friendly and one of them even started joking about Siemens's mustache (his hologram'ed face in the id card) once I produced it togther with the passport. :)
Sam knows a pretty lady (not TheOne :P) who can give you lift when needed :D
Check his blogs.
Please make sure you book a decent handling car at the Rental Counter and and make sure it is a Diesel(Maybe a Euro Ford/Beemer). Euro diesels are more fun :) , unless you want to rent a Porsche....
here are my two cents.
Germany country side is excellent. I was there for more than a year and I loved to travel by bus or by train. Frequency was good and I enjoyed every moment watching country side, their culture etc., rather concentrating on driving in unknown territory. Travelling in ICE (inter city express) is definitely memorable moment(s).
Since you are on business trip, company would pay you for hiring cabs. Even that is also an option. But, remember most of the drivers cannot speak English (even a single word). Having pocket dictionary / list of frequently used words woulbe definitely handy.
Numbers, week days, words to greet people or thanking people definitely helps you.
Thanks for all the inputs/tips you guys gave. It turned out quite useful for me.
I am atlast back from the trip. Had a very good weather this time around. But I was pretty much occupied, so went to a very few places such as the porsche/mercedes museum, titi see, lake constance, hohenzollern castle.
Rented out a Mercedes A class A150 Blue efficiency (Its like the Scorpio micro hybrid but more intelligent by switching off at traffic signals and suggesting the right gear to be in at any moment) at AVIS. The car lacks grunt for the autobahns(hardly touched 210 once). But on the country roads such as B27/B500, it handles like a dream. Maybe if I had some reference point, it might have fared poorly. But overall it was a comfortable car to drive in.
Will post some pictures of the trip later, during the following week.
In the US, it is the other way around, even with Hertz. Could you please confirm?
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