Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Sending Post from Germany Abroad

Christmas is coming (no, it really is; there is Stollen and Glühwein in the supermarkets already)!

So here's a quick post about posting using Deutsche Post.

I've been burned in the past by finding I am paying more to send a greetings card to England than I have paid for the card itself.

The first thing to note is that it costs more to send a card in a coloured envelope than a plain white or manilla one. The reason is that the contrast on the address isn't machine-readable, and/or that the bar-code they print on the envelope after reading the address isn't. i.e. even if you print the address on a white sticky label and stick it on, the machines can't read the barcode. Therefore they have to be hand-sorted, and that costs more. How much? Well, if you send a standard envelope (up to 23.5cm x 12.5cm) to a German address, it usually costs 55 cents. If you send it in a red Happy Christmas envelope though, it costs 90 cents. For post sent abroad, there is a similar hike in prices.

The second thing to note is that there is a steep price increase dependent on the size of the envelope. The same standard envelope costs 70 cents to send to the UK (1.70 to the USA). Now, say you have a colourful envelope and think you can cut costs by putting it into another envelope, for instance a plain A5 manilla one, you will find that you aren't saving anything at all. Quite the contrary! Sending an A5 (21.0cm x 14.8cm) envelope to the UK costs an incredible 3.40 euro (6 euro to the USA). I speak from experience of getting stung by this.

I'll not even start about the weight of the envelope. You can check out the cost of sending a greetings card (or any other kind of package) by using this postage calculator on the Deutsche Post website. Note that 'Briefumschlag' means a letter or card in an envelope, and that when you have chosen the destination (Großbritannien = Great Britain), the width (Länge) and the width (Breite), you should hit 'Porto Berechnen' (calculate the postal rate). Unfortunately there is no option to say if the envelope is 'bunt' (coloured) or not.

Standard paper and therefore envelope sizes can be found her.

By the way, all small envelopes sent to the UK from Germany go by Air Mail (Luftpost) so you don't really need to write this on the envelope or put on a sticker. Whereas post from the UK to Germany goes by ship and overland by default (and therefore takes a lot longer to arrive) unless you state otherwise (and pay more). Go figure.

Better still, send an e-Card instead! Admittedly your recipient can't hang them on a string over the mantlepiece, but on the other hand e-Cards don't gather dust and fill the dustbin (or paper recycling bin) in the new year.

May I be the first to wish everyone a Frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes Neues Jahr!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Berlin Festival of Lights 2010

It's the annual Festival of Lights in Berlin once more. Lots of cultures have similar festivals this time of year as the nights draw in and the biting cold of Winter start to become more imminent: Diwali, Samhain, er - the Blackpool Illuminations. But only Berlin's festival also has Glühwein on hand too, hurrah!

Here are a few snaps I took walking from Potsdamer Platz, by the Brandenburg Gate, along Unter den Linden, to the Berliner Dom (cathedral). Enjoy, and to hell with thinking about the carbon footprint of it all!

(p.s. click to biggify!)