F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 Luggage

 

What is the fee for checked luggage and carry-on bags per person for International flights?

Your first checked bag for international flights is normally free. The second is bag to Europe the baggage fee for most airlines is usually $60 and $100 per piece for the 3rd, 4th and 5th checked bag.  If it feels too heavy, it probably is. Don’t over pack. You will be charged extra for bags over 50 lbs. For a CHECK LIST of what to bring, click here.

For PACKING TIPS (flat method) click here.

More PACKING TIPS (roll method) for ladies click here.

Most airlines allow one small carryon bag that will fit in the overhead compartments and one small item such as a purse or briefcase per person. If it’s too big, it will have to be checked.

Will my luggage be checked all the way to Munich?

Yes.  You will clear customs when you arrive in Munich and again at the first airport when you land in the US.  Your luggage will then be rechecked to your final destination on your return home.

 

Money

 

Can we use credit cards to pay for the trip?

Sorry, we’re not set up for credit cards.  We considered offering credit card payments, but found we would only have to charge more for the trip to cover the extra expense.  We are trying to keep your tour price as low as possible.  As you know, when it comes to credit cards, there are really no free lunches even if you get frequent fliers miles or rebate checks.  Someone has to pay and it always ends up the consumer when it’s said and done.

Should I buy Euros before leaving?

It’s convenient to have some Euros for spending money the first day of arrival, but not essential.  You may want to buy a snack at the airport before the busses leave for Grassau or a drink with your evening meal at the hotel. You can buy Euros at the airport or order Euros at your bank before traveling, however, the exchange rate is better in the German banks and ATMs. Cash is preferred when exchanging money at the bank. Money orders require an additional exchange fee. You’ll have a chance to exchange money the day after arrival.

Is it advisable to pay in full to lock cost of the Euro to the USD at its current rate?

No one knows the future cost of the Euro to the USD.  If you pay for your trip in full, we can move your money into Euros and your trip cost will not change if the Euro increases (or decreases) to the USD.

How much cash should I bring?

You are responsible for your lunches and a few dinners, gifts, souvenirs, your beverages and personal items. Cash is king so $500 – $800 cash per person should suffice for most travelers. Major items, i.e., that coo-coo clock that you may want to have shipped home right from the store can all be paid for by credit card.  Check your credit card PIN number by using an ATM with your credit card before leaving home to verify it will work at ATMs in Germany.

The Sperrer Hotel has safes in the rooms for valuables, extra cash, passports etc. We have never had any report of anything being stolen from the hotel rooms.

How expensive are things in Germany?

Prices are comparable to costs in the US.  Groceries are cheaper while clothing is more expensive, but usually a better value.  Beverages cost more, but dining is still comparability the same.  You are on vacation – enjoy yourself.  If you want it, buy it.

What about tipping – how much?

In Europe tips for service is usually included in the price.  When service is rendered. It is common practice to “round up” allowing the waiter/waitress to keep the change.  When the service is outstanding, 10% additional is an expectable practice.  For our hotel wait staff, the bus drivers, etc, we “pass the hat” the last day for the entire two weeks.  Gratuities are strictly volunteer and not mandatory. However, if you find the service was outstanding, make a contribution. Your bus and hotel staff will sincerely appreciate it.

What happens if the Euro rate goes down?  Could we get a refund for the difference?
No.  Most of the risk with the Euro is on the tour company.  The biggest risk in a tour business is most the expenses in Euros.  All the lodging, ground transportation, meals, entrance fees and even airfare is affected by the cost of the Euro.  When the Euro goes up, the tour company loses.  If the Euro goes down and US dollars have already been moved into Euros, the tour company loses again.  Tour companies needs to estimate what the Euro will be two to three years ahead of time and calculate a fair price for the tour brochure.  There is no intention to gain on the exchange rate.  It becomes too complicated to start with refunds should the Euro drop to the USD.  Tour companies are not in the futures business for others to profit with no risk.   The price of the tour is based on a fair price for services received.  There is a built in surcharge just in case the Euro goes above a certain amount because a tour company cannot afford to pay for ones vacation if the Euro goes much higher than predicted.  If that should happen, billing everyone that has not paid in full before that time becomes a real headache.  No one likes an added on cost once the price is set.  If someone wants to win with the cost of the Euro, then they can speculate by buying Euros when they think it is low and they will save when they use them in Germany.   But if the Euro goes up to the USD, they lose.  If we knew what the Euro was going to do in the future, we’d all become rich.

 

Arrival In Munich

 

Where do we meet in Munich?  At the gate or at the baggage claim?
We will meet in Terminal Two the nearest information booth just as you come out of customs with your luggage.  We ask for your patience the first day as we gather everyone together.  If you are arriving on an earlier flight, just relax around the airport.  There are shops to stroll around and coffee shops to get a lunch with time to get acquainted with others coming in.   We will meet most of you as you come out of customs in Terminal 2.  Here we will give you your badges and your luggage tags with your room numbers and hotel assignments.  Most of you will be arriving at Terminal Two, however the connecting European flights could be coming in at Terminal 1.  For those, grab a cart and make your way over to Terminal 2 to join the rest of the group.   We will all meet at the information booth in Terminal 2 just outside of where one comes out of customs.  The basses will be waiting just outside Terminal 2 with plenty of time to get all the bags loaded.  Our busses will have “Kreuz Reisen” (Kreuz Tours) written on the side, unless we have a Double Decker bus.  In that case, it will be the only Double Decker there.  Once our last flight arrives and we get everyone together, we will be on our way.  Once we arrive in Grassau, we will have a chance to gather at the Hotel Sperrer for a welcome drink and an orientation while the bags are delivered to the rooms.  (If you have more than one drink, you are responsible to pay for it with the waitress.)  We will give everyone a chance to get freshened up before dinner.  After dinner, we will take a little time to play music and dance after dinner.   We don’t want you go to bed too early as this will help you get accustomed to your new time change – also known as jet-lag.

How long will we have to wait for the bus in Munich?

For those arriving on earlier flights please be patient. We realize it’s a long day after experiencing an overnight flight. Time passes by fast at the airport.  There are snack bars and stores to browse or just enjoy the time with new friends.  Our busses will arrive about the same time as our last flights arrive. All flights for our group will be arriving before 12 noon and we should be on our way to Grassau shortly after we round up our last passenger.

What is the seating arrangement on the bus?

There are no seating assignments on the bus.  We want to give everyone a chance to sit in the two front seats so we allow everyone one opportunity to sit at the front.  We ask that you take notice of who’s sitting in front of you each time so you can notify us if someone is missing before the bus departs.

What happens if I miss my connection then miss the bus in Munich the first day of arrival?
This is why it’s good to have the insurance.  If no fault of yours, you can make a claim to cover your loss of a taxicab ride to the hotel.  This is also essential information to have if you miss the bus on tour and for your family and friends to contact you.
Hotel Sperrer, Ortenburger Str. 5, 83224 Grassau, Germany   http://www.hotel-sperrer.de/  Telephone from USA: 011-49-8641-2011 or Fax: 011-49-8641-1881.  Hotel Sperrer from inside Germany and Austria: 08641-2011.

When will I know what room or hotel I am assigned?

You will receive luggage tags for your rooms at Munich airport. Your bags will be delivered directly to your room.

How do I open and close those windows and doors?

The European windows and balcony doors open and close using a lever type handle. Place the lever parallel position to open and close. To lock it, put it in the down position. It will tilt towards the room in the upward position. Your room key can be double locked with a dead bolt action.

How do we know what’s going on the next day?

Information will be announced at dinner or on the bus for the next day’s activities. Daily activities and bus departure times will also be posted at each hotel. You can also download the tentative short or long itinerary from for your specific tour in advance.  You can find tour information under Upcoming Tours in the top menu.

 

Food

 

What if I don’t like what’s on the menu?

The food is always excellent!  For the vegetarian, there is a variety of salad choices daily.  One can always order off the restaurant menu at their own expense.

 

Clothing & What To Wear

 

Are there any Laundromats in town?

Unfortunately there are none. Pack accordingly.  We had a single guy have some stuff sent out for cleaning and it came back dry-cleaned and expensive.  You might bring a small container of laundry soap to rinse small items out in the sink.

What’s with the “no shorts rule”?  Is it a dress code, cultural, or weather type thing?   

There is no such rule. Wear anything you like.  However, you will not find any of the Germans wearing shorts like the Americans.  Blue jeans – yes.  Just be aware.  You may feel uncomfortable wearing Bermuda shorts.  You will discover it does start getting a bit chilly this time of year and you can probably get by without the shorts.  For the most part, the Germans are well dressed, especially on Sundays.  They like to dress up and often put on their traditional Bavarian outfits.  Now, if you have a pair of Bavarian leather shorts, (Lederhosen) with the traditional suspenders, Bavarian hat, you will be right in style.

What type of clothing we will need for the 2 weeks. Dressy?  Mostly casual?
Dress casual, dressy outfits are not required. Dress in layers, leave the heavy coats behind.   The Mozart Dinner Concert will not require a coat and tie for the gents. The Germans will dress up.  We will be spending the day touring the city with no chance to change for the evening concert.  We will be coming in as a group, but still want to be respectful for this elegant dinner concert.  Shorts, tank tops, no collars, raggedy jeans would not be appropriate.

How should I pack for the weather in Germany?

Fall weather is similar to Washington State.  Indian summers – cool in the morning and evening and usually pleasant during the day. The weather can be unpredictable, so bring an umbrella or you can pick one up in town.  Pack for layers, sweater and light jacket or windbreaker. Consider polo and short sleeve shirts – no shorts.  Ladies – slacks and lose fitting dresses and comfortable walking shoes. Dress in layers.  No heavy coats – pack a light windbreaker.   It’s usually pleasant in September, but no guarantees.  Dress casual and comfortable – no dressy outfits.  Even the Mozart Dinner Concert does not require coat and tie.  We will be spending the day touring the city of Salzburg with no chance to change for the Mozart Dinner Concert as the bus goes back to Grassau.  The German don’t wear shorts much unless they are leather.  Wear your Lederhosen and you will be right in style.   Bring comfortable walking shoes.

For Square Dancing: Casual dress is acceptable for all square dancing. We suggest long sleeve shirts for the guys and a squaw dress (prairie skirt) for the gals. Petty coats take up too much room in your suitcase and are not necessary. Jeans, slacks or a dress is also okay. Gals may wish to take a dress along and change before the dance when visiting a club on the road.  Most of the German square dancers do dress in SD attire.

Is there a dress code?
There are no dress codes.  You can wear anything you like.  However, you will not find any of the Germans wearing shorts like the Americans.  They are just not worn.  Blue jeans, – yes.  Just be aware so you won’t feel uncomfortable.  We Americans stand out pretty much already without wearing something that no one else is wearing.  You will find it does start getting a bit chilly as fall approaches and you can probably do well without the shorts.  For the most part, the Germans are well dressed, especially on Sundays.  The Bavarians like to dress up and often put on their traditional Bavarian costumes as everyday dress.  Now, if you have a pair of Bavarian leather shorts, or Lederhosen along with the traditional suspenders and the Bavarian hat, you will be right in style.

Does everyone wear petty coats or are prairie skirts okay.  
Petty Coats takes up a lot of room in your suitcase.  Pack a squaw dress or prairie skirt.  These can also be used during the day. Anyone caught wearing a petty coat at a casual dance will be automatically thrown into the town fountain.

Will square dancers have time to come back to change clothes before we dance in the evening or will we be dancing with a group from that area. If so, may we wear jeans to the dance?  

Jeans, slacks or a dress is just fine.  For the square dancers, we could be visiting the Dip-n-Diver’s in Munich and the Zugspitz Promenaders near Oberammergau.  For the ladies, you can take a dress along and change before the dance if you like.  Most of the German dancers do dress in square dance attire.  All other dancing opportunities are casual.

 

Travel What-Ifs

 

What happens if I get sick or have to see a doctor?

There are paramedics at the fire station near the Sperrer Hotel with a doctor on call 24-7.  The doctors will come directly to your room if need be. There is a larger clinic at Prien on the Chiemsee Lake, about 16 km and a huge heart hospital in Rosenheim between Munich and Grassau. If there is an emergency, call on any staff member and we will get help.

What should I do if I can’t find my insurance documents before leaving on the trip?
If you want to take a hard copy with you, simply call Travel Guard and they can send a copy directly to your e-mail.  Their number is 1-800-826-4919.  You really don’t need a need to take your confirmation with you.  If you have a problem, missed connection, health, etc., you will submit a claim when you return.  If something does come up, keep records of your mishap.

Will we need to present passports when traveling between Germany and Austria?
The borders are usually open but we ask that you bring your passports in case they are checking during security crackdowns.

Will we be able to get boarding passes ahead of time for our International flight? 
In some cases, yes.  We suggest you arrive in plenty of time to get your boarding passes at the airline ticket counter and check your seating assignments for the entire trip.  You can also request updated flight itinerary.

 

Hotel Amenities

 

Do they have Internet wireless capability for my laptop?

Yes. The Sperrer Hotel has wireless WIFI capability. There is a small fee by the day or by the month. Ask about this service at the hotel desk.  You can also find other places to access the Internet such as free WIFI at the Tourist Information Center near Hotel Sperrer.  There could be a computer set up for public use in the information office or at the bank.

Do the hotels have single and double beds?  How about showers? What about smoking in the rooms?

In Europe, all double rooms have two beds together with one headboard and footboard.  Each bed has its own pillow and feather covers.  Single rooms have one bed. The covers are feather covers that are warm and cozy. Most Germans sleep with their windows open for fresh air. There is no top sheet. The feather cover has a slip cover that serves as the top sheet. The bed is made by folding the feather cover in half.

All rooms have showers – some with bath tubs. Washcloths are not provided.  Soap bars are very small.  There are no shampoos or conditioners.  Not all European hotels supply these.  Bringing a washcloth and your own personal soap, shampoo and conditioner makes things easier.  Because of the liquid restrictions when flying, these items can also be bought at the local grocery store in town.

The hotel is totally non-smoking. There are designated smoking areas in the restaurant. However, there is no smoking in the area where we dine for dinner. Smoking is forbidden in the dance hall or on the bus.

Do the rooms all have private showers?  YES!

Will we be staying at any hotels in Germany that have indoor heated pools?  
No hotel swimming pools.  Lake Chiemsee is about 16 km and there is a river on the far east side of town.  You might bring something to break the ice.

Will there be a place to store our passports for safe-keeping at our hotel?
Yes, Hotel Sperrer has a personal safe in each room.

What about hair dryers, razors, clocks and curling irons?

Rooms do not have hair dryers or curling irons. European voltage is 220 volts at 50 hertz – not good for 110 volt clocks. Use a battery alarm clock instead.  Plug a unit designed for 110 volts into 220 volts and the results will be maximum smoke. You can bring converters for your camera, razor or battery chargers. Most new electric razors, battery chargers and even your laptop computer can be charged using 220 volts with no problem, but it is suggested you read the manufacture’s specifications first. You will need an adapter plug for your 110 cord to allow you to plug into the 220 outlet.  Appliances that have both 110/220 volt can also be found in the US stores or online before traveling.  You can buy in Germany an inexpensive 220v curling iron, hair dryer or iron for about the same cost and use it during your two week stay.

Why should I bring my own washcloth and soap?
Washcloths are not provided – at least not like the ones we are use to.  Soap bars are very small.  There are usually no shampoos or conditioners.  Hotels may provide soap, but it”s usually in a tiny bar for one time use.  These items are considered personal items the same as shaving creams and skin creams.  Bringing a washcloth and your own personal soap, shampoo and conditioner makes things easier.  Because of the liquid restrictions when flying these items need to be in small containers and in a sealed plastic container.  These items can be bought in the local stores in town.

What about clothes hangers?  Will they have enough of them in the rooms for all our clothes that hang? 
Usually there are hangers in the closets.  However, it doesn’t take much room to bring a few extra wire clothes hangers just in case.  You can leave them behind after the tour.

Do we need to take adapters for the difference in electrical power?  
Electrical plug adapters will be needed to plug your 110 volt cord into the 220 volt outlet socket.  Be sure your battery charger, razor, iron, hairdryer or laptop is adapted for both 110 and 220 volts.

 

E Tickets

 

Where is my e-ticket?  
Your e-ticket is the itinerary with a six digit airline locator that you received from the airline, Orbitz, Expedia, or what have you.  The truth of the matter is, you don’t need to bring a thing except two government issued IDs (one being your passport) to get your boarding passes and they will print an itinerary for your trip.  It’s suggested you show up 2 hours before your flight.

I received the itinerary for our travel.  It all looks good to us.  When you say “our tickets”,  I am assuming the “actual” tickets will arrive with the rest of our travel materials.  Please confirm this.

I know – we all remember when you were issued paper tickets with the travel agency and you had to guard them as if they were cash!  Not anymore.  The copy of your itinerary ARE your actual tickets.  They are called e-tickets.  If fact, you can go up to the counter a couple of hours before your flight, show them your required ID and they will issue you a boarding pass.  Do recommend you bring a copy of your flight itinerary so they can check your names and find you in the computer easier.  Anyway, they already have your name and the six digit locator code in the computer.  You just won’t find any paper tickets anymore.
For international travel you will need to check in – especially if you have checked bags.