Ride Berlin Transportation like a Boss

Coming from a place with pitiful public transport (looking at you Seattle), it took me all of 10 seconds to develop eternal love for Berlin‘s comprehensive public transportation. It only took a few seconds longer for me to have strong opinions on what is and what is not acceptable when riding public transportation in Berlin.

Eberswalder U-Bahn PHOTO: Erin Porter

The thing is, everyone rides public transport in Berlin. Unlike more elitist systems in places like New York City, the young, the old, the poor, the well-off, the tourists, and the locals all ride the rails around this massive city. You really don’t need car as you can usually get within a block or two of where you want to go with its elaborate system of buses, trams, U-Bahns (underground), S-Bahns (above ground rail), regional trains, and even ferries. Run by BVG (with some assistance by Deutsche Bahn), it is truly a marvel.

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The Zollamt and What to Expect

This post comes late as I’ve been struggling to regain balance and find spare time during these late summer weeks. Two kids out of my three were recently struck by stomach flu, meanwhile two weeks worth of holiday luggage had to be packed, and the au pair we had been counting on was such a bust that instead of staying a full twelve months with our family as originally planned, she left after two.

The Au Pair story could be a blog post in itself which I may write after I’ve recovered from this recent disastrous experience. Today though I wanted to write about our experience at the local Zollamt or customs agency that I had with this former au pair of ours that screamed, “German Way post!” Continue reading

Moving with Max

Pets are becoming more and more a part of the family. They live in our homes, sleep in our beds, and the lucky ones even join us on vacations. So when considering relocation to another country many pet owners would never dream of leaving their furry family members behind. Thankfully for us pet-people, German-speaking countries welcome pets, especially dogs. While moving with your pet to Austria, Germany, or Switzerland may be far less complicated than say to the UK where quarantine rules apply, these countries do require three very important things: a valid rabies vaccination with proof, an identifying microchip, and some additional paperwork.

Switzerland, Austria and Germany currently require the standard EU veterinary certificate, formally called Form 988, which your North American vet will likely be familiar with and may have copies available in their office. There is a fee to have this form filled out. In the past this form has required an endorsement stamp from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or The United States Drug Administration. Currently the form only asks for your vet’s stamp. Be sure to check each time you are to travel as I have found these requirements change time to time. Form 988 can be ordered online or downloaded through various websites, for example: Continue reading

Rx for Drugs in Deutschland

German Apotheke logo

The official German Apotheke logo.

One of the more important items on the pre-departure checklist for expats or travelers headed to Germany concerns any prescription drugs they may require during an extended stay. Those who need certain medications can bring their own prescription drugs with them when they travel to Germany — in their carry-on or checked luggage. That’s not a problem. The hassles only begin when you want or need to “import” your own prescription drugs to Germany from the U.S. or some other country. I have some personal experience with the complications that can arise when you have your own medications sent to you in Germany by a friend, spouse, relative or anyone outside Germany. You may also want to do this, since your U.S. prescription plan may not cover you in Germany, but it is fraught with peril.

First, let’s talk about how you can avoid such complications and related hassles up front. (In other words, what I should have done, but didn’t.) Then I’ll tell you what happens if you don’t follow this advice! Continue reading