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Things to know from A to Z

This page is meant as a brief overview. For more detailed information, visit the facts page of the German Federal Foreign Office.


About two thirds of the German people are Christian: half Roman-Catholic, half Protestant. From the University Main building, the nearest Catholic church is the Bonn Minster (in the center of the city), the nearest Protestant church is the Kreuzkirche, Kaiserplatz 1. There is a synagogue in the Tempelstraße 2-4, and a mosque in the north of Bonn, Theater-Straße 12. Map


Germany is famous for its beer. It is brewed under the terms of the Beer Purity Law, which is well-known all over the world. So, be sure to taste it. But be careful: The favorite type of beer differs between regions, and you might be looked at strangely when ordering the wrong one. Breweries in Cologne make Kölsch; those in Düsseldorf produce Alt (never ask for that in Cologne!), and Bavarians are known for their white beer. Pils is drunken all over Germany.
There are also many good whine growing areas in Germany, for example in the near Ahr Vale or around the Mosel River.


All of Germany uses 230 Volts AC. Don't forget to buy an adapter before leaving. The german "SchuKo" outlet also accepts Euro plugs.


There are no German holidays during the AOSD.06 Conference.


There are many Hospitals in Bonn. The closest large hospital to the university building is the Johanniter Hospital, Johanniterstraße 3-5, Phone (0228) 543-0. Map
In case of an emergency, dial 112 (free call) from any phone. Wired phones are preferable, since the emergeny call center can immediately see exactly where you are calling from. St. Petrus Hospital, Bonner Talweg 4-6, Phone (0228) 506-0 is a smaller hospital and closer to the conference venue.


Most of the younger Germans speak English, which is taught in all secondary schools. If you are looking for something, don't hesitate to ask passers-by. They will be willing to help, but you really have to ask.This is unlike many southern countries where people are more likely to ask you if you need help.

Mobile Communications

Germany has four concurrent GPRS-enabled GSM900/1800 networks provided by T-Mobile, Vodafone, E-Plus and O2. All networks offer a good coverage. In Bonn, UMTS is available, too. American visitors should check their cell phone for compatibility with European frequencies. WLAN Hotspots (802.11b/g) are available in most university locations including the main building. All visitors of the conference will get free access.


Germany only accept Euros. Most banks in Bonn have cash machines offering 24/7 service. Common credit cards are accepted. However, this does not apply to all shops. The EC (Electronic Cash) card system is much widespread in Germany. The EC system is preferable for many small shops, because, compared to credit cards, the shop ownerspay smaller fees since the card company debits the customer's bank account more or less immediately and gives no real credit. If you prefer human service or want to change Traveller Cheques, banks are usually open on monday till friday from morning untill late afternoon.


International newspapers are available at most kiosks in the city of Bonn, especially at those inside of the station. If you are looking for a book to read, visit "Bouvier" in front of the university main entrance. They have a large collection of international books downstairs.


Bonn has many pharmacies, especially in the city. From the university main building, the nearest pharmacy probably is the "Kaiser-Apotheke", Kaiserplatz 4, Phone (0228) 635744. Just a few steps further in the same street, you'll find the "Hofgarten-Apotheke", Phone (0228) 632655, which calls itself an international pharmacy. Map


Phone numbers in Germany consist of the actual number and a pre-dialled area code (Bonn: 0228) which can be omitted if you want to call somebody in the same area from a wired phone. In all GSM networks, you have to pre-dial the area code whereever you are! To call a German number from a foreign country, omit the leading zero from the area code and use +49 instead. To make an international phone call from Germany, dial 00, then the country code (e.g. 1 for United States or 33 for France), and finally the number. In the GSM networks, using +33 instead of 0033 also works.

Even though almost everybody has a cell phone in Germany, there are still public phones. The market leader T-Com (old name: Telekom) has even announced to install new ones for the tourists. You can pay with credit cards (via operator), coins or special phone cards, depending on the phone. Phone cards can be bought at all post offices and some kiosks. Please note that modern public phones have no phone booths - they are just stainless steel pillars with a lighted logo on top.


Police officers in Germany wear green/khaki/black uniforms. In case of an emergency, dial 110 (free call) from any phone. Wired phones are preferable, since the emergeny call center can immediately see exactly where you are calling from.


German mailboxes are yellow, and both local or foreign letters can be deposited in them. The price for a standard letter with up to 20g to the EU is EUR 0.70, to the rest of the world EUR 1.70. Postcards are cheaper; EUR 0.65 to the EU, elsewhere EUR 1.00. Stamps can be bought in every post office (e.g. at the Beethoven monument) or at stamp machines, which understands multiple languages. Map or More Information...

Public Transport

Bonn has good local public transport facilities. Apart from various bus lines (identified by three digits), there is a subway in central bonn, which becomes a tram in the outer districts (lines identified by two digits). Do not be confused by the various operators, like SWB, RVK, RSVG, SSB and KVB, to mention a few. All these operators have joined the local transport union "VRS", and a VRS ticket is all you need. Buying a week ticket is recommended. It is available for EUR 17.30 and valid for whole Bonn. Please note: The airport bus (line 670) has special prices. With your VRS ticket, you may also use some of the trains of the national railway company "Deutsche Bahn" (DB) around Bonn, especially lines starting with "RE". Using "IC" or "ICE" lines requires additional payment before entering the train.

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Modern German radio stations mostly broadcast songs in English. For a whole English program, tune your radio to BFBS1 (97.8 Mhz).


Due to German laws, normal shops are only allowed to open on monday till saturday from 08:00 till 20:00. On sundays and holidays, they are closed. Many shops will not even be open this long. These restrictions do not apply to restaurants, bars etc. Another exception to the rule are petrol stations, which may be open 24/7 and often have small (but expensive!) super markets attached.

Non-EU visitors can get tax refunds when leaving. Look for shops with the "tax free" logo and ask for a refund cheque.


Smoking in the public is generally allowed and common in almost all restaurants and bars. However, there are also many non-smoking zones, including most stores and the Bonn station (even outside!).


To call a taxi in Bonn, dial (0228) 55 55 55. There are also taxis waiting in front of the main station. You pay a base price of about EUR 3.50 for the first kilometer and a fee of around EUR 1.20 for every extra kilometer.


The time zone in Germany is GMT +01:00.


Waitors expect a 5% - 10% tip. It is not included in the check.

Tourist information

The tourist information in Bonn offers maps and other essential information. Windeckstraße 1, Phone (0228) 77 50-00. Map


Germans drive on the right side of the road. The speed limit in cities is 50 km/h, outside 100 km/h. Many highways do not have a speed limit. Many tourists rent cars and drive at high speeds on the highway. An international driver's license may be required for non-EU visitors.


Most hotels offer international TV programs, e.g. CNN International or BBC World. The Deutsche Welle, located in Bonn - Bad Godesberg, also broadcasts parts of its program in English. If you have a DVB-T compatible TV card inside of your notebook, you'll be able to watch at least CNN (594 MHz).


A valid passport is the only requirement for both EU and US citizens. EU Visitors can stay in Germany without limits, US visitors for a maximum of three months without special requirements. For further information or other countries, please consider the official country list.


The water quality in Germany is excellent. In fact, no other "food" is controlled that strict, and many people make mineral water on their own by just adding gas to tap water.

Edited by the AOSD Conference Committee.  Send comments to: