Trends in the Tri-Border Area

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but here are some guidelines to help you navigate life in the Tri-Border area. Thanks to the HereatGK Facebook community for helping add to this post. If anyone else has epiphanies that I should add, feel free to let us know in the comments!

General Tips

Always have change on you. Between restrooms, shopping cart deposits, parking ticket machines, restaurant service tips, and bus rides, you’ll be using it all the time.

A coin purse is helpful for all of the loose change. A light colored interior will help when you need to locate the correct change. The picture below shows a convenient and organized way to carry change. Similar items may be sold in stores

469874800_880Research stores, restaurants, and attractions before you go. Opening hours may also include a lunch break or be limited on certain days, so check ahead of time. Some attractions close or have limited hours during the winter.

Self-service ticketing machines (at train/bus stations, in parking garages, etc.) generally only accept local bank cards, chipped credit cards, pre-issued parking tokens and/or Euro coins. Don’t expect your US credit card to work.

Restaurants

Restaurants are usually closed on Mondays (sometimes Tuesdays too).

The universal signal to let the waiter know you’re ready to order is to close your menu. If this doesn’t work, you’ll have to wave him/her down. The same goes for when you would like the check. Hand signals work really well.

Know tipping conventions for the country that you’re in. In this area, the general rule is to round up to the next euro or two.

Shopping

Stores are closed on Sundays. Exceptions are called Koopzondag in the Netherlands. German cities sometimes open stores on Sunday too, but it’s more rare. Touristy towns like Valkenburg and Monchau are open on Sundays, along with big cities like Maastricht, Roermond and Eindhoven.

Stores are open later (usually to 8pm) on Thursdays in the Netherlands. For a full listing of participating cities click here.

You will have to pay for plastic bags in most stores, so it’s nice to have a lightweight bag that doesn’t take up too much space to keep in a purse or pocket. I keep a heavy duty one in the car too.

Fresh produce that is loose should be bagged prior to checkout. There should be a scale nearby that you can put the items on, press the corresponding item’s button, and a label will be printed to be affixed to your bag. Some grocery stores will weigh your produce, but they are the exception.

Parking

Most parking must be paid for or has a time limit. Check out this post for more information. Also, beware of blue lines in the Netherlands, which denote parking areas for permit holders.

Miscellaneous

Ever hear something like a tornado/air raid siren? It’s the notification for the volunteer fire department.

Has a car driven slowly down your road while ringing a bell and carrying a trailer of junk? They’ll take your scrap metal.

Download apps to your smartphone for services you plan on using, especially for public transportation. We have a listing of useful apps here.

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