Good to know

Arrival

All major European and American airlines offer flights from the big cities in Europe to Florida. There is even a bunch of charter airlines who offer comfortable non-stop-flights directly to Fort Myers. Thus there is only a relaxed flight time of approximately 10 hours to South West Florida.

 

Beaches

On the off shore islands Sanibel and Captiva you will find up to 6 miles long beaches which are shallow and offer clean and crystal clear waters. There are no algae, rocks, sea urchins or jellyfish. These beaches are just perfect for your holiday with children. Flora and fauna on these islands are unique and invite the guests to dwell on them. People preferring livelier beach activities are perfectly served at Fort Myers Beach. In addition to the above there are numerous other beaches just waiting to be explored.Please also refer to the separate chapter "Beaches" in this folder!

 

Biking

The flat topography in Cape Coral, Fort Myers as well as on the off-shore islands Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Island offer very nice networks of biking routes which are marked perfectly.

 

Boating

In Florida you don't need any license for driving boats. Boats can be rented at a couple of places in Cape Coral.

 

Currency

In the US you can exchange European currencies only at airports, in some exchange offices in the big cities and in the big hotels. Traveler cheques are accepted trouble free in shops, hotels and restaurants in the same way as cash, the change is given back in cash. Other than that foreign currencies can only be changed at banks (banking hours: Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., sometimes even on Saturday). Some of the banks have a limit when changing cash or traveler cheques (200 - 300 €) and you have to be careful with the exchange rate. Therefore it is recommendable to bring one of the major credit cards. Visa and MasterCard (Euro Card) are most popular in the US. With such credit cards you also will get cash. Euro cheques are not accepted! Banknotes: Independent from their value the American Dollar notes all look the same and have the same size. Therefore you have to take special care when paying the bill, counting the change and giving tip. Coins: One Dollar is divided in 100 Cent. The following coins are used: 1 Cent (Penny), 5 Cents (Nickel), 10 Cents (Dime), 25 Cents (Quarter). Careful: The Dime is smaller than the Nickel!

 

Children

The Americans are extremely child-friendly; you will realize this already upon arrival at the airport. Families with little children are always preferred. Florida is the perfect holiday country for children in every respect. The beaches are wide, the ocean and the gulf are shallow and show only little surge. The big theme and amusement parks (also the water parks like Sun Splash in Cape Coral) are virtually tailored for children. Almost everywhere you will find reduced entrance fees for kids. In restaurants they provide high chairs and offer cheap dishes with the perfect kid’s taste. In most of the restaurants children also receive painting books and colored pencils. Some of them offer specials for lunch like: "Buy an adult dish and get the kid’s meal for free!"

 

Climate

Florida has 330 sunshine days per year. On the below mentioned rainy days - also in the so called rainy season July and August – the rain is falling in showers only, most likely in the afternoon or the early evening. After that it immediately gets fair and warm.

 

Conversion F into °C: (Fahrenheit - 32) x 5 / 9 = Celsius
Conversion °C into F: (Celsius x 9 / 5) + 32 = Fahrenheit

 

Celsius:  100  50  40  37  35  25  20  15  10 
Fahrenheit:  212  122  104  99  95  77  68  59  50  32 

 

 

The average climatic conditions are:

  • Jan. – Mar. 25 °C at 5 rainy days and a water temperature of 22 – 24 °C
  • April – June 28 °C at 8 rainy days and a water temperature of 25 – 30 °C
  • July - Sept. 31 °C at 13 rainy days and a water temperature of 30 – 31 °C
  • Oct. - Dec. 26 °C at 8 rainy days and a water temperature of 23 – 28 °C

 

Clothing

Light dresses are the rule in Florida. You can access nearly all tourist attractions in shorts. You will see many people in the roads just wearing shorts and T-Shirt. The better restaurants insist in jackets as well as long trousers for men. Since the rooms in restaurants, shops, cinemas and other facilities are cooled down to 18 degrees C, it is recommended to bring a pullover or a light sweater. In winter time this is recommended anyway.

 

Electricity

Power supply in the USA is 110 Volt AC at 60 Hertz. You can either bring special adaptors from home or purchase them locally.

 

Emergency number

This is the "911" in the USA. You also can drive by yourself to the "Emergency Room" of the next hospital. Usually you will find the pharmacy inside the drugstores.

 

Fuel prices

Compared to Europe, fuel is still very cheap in Florida. At the moment (beginning of 2005!) the price is USD 2.15 (for regular unleaded) per gallon, which is 3.8 liters.

 

Handicapped persons

In Florida everyone and everything is perfectly prepared for handicapped persons. They always get a very warm welcome und can rely on a very natural and easy atmosphere. All attractions offer special services for handicapped people. Handicapped accessible toilettes and telephones can be found anywhere. The big theme and national parks even offer wheelchairs free of charge or at very low costs.

 

Immigration

When you have a valid passport and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days in the US, people from the European community and Switzerland do not need any visa. As of October 2004 all immigrants (also children!) have to possess a machine readable passport. During immigration the officers will also take a digital picture of your face and two finger prints additionally. Please fill in the immigration forms which will be handed over to you already during your flight correctly and completely. Otherwise you will hear a friendly but insistently "Please stand back in line!"

 

Medical care

In the US you have to pay the invoice for any medical treatment directly to the doctor. As a visitor you are generally considered as private patient and have to pay the correspondent fees. Therefore we recommend that you close a travel insurance (including the US) or/and have a credit card at hand.

 

Post offices

In general post offices are open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays form 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can get stamps in souvenir shops or any hotel. Airmail to Europe is $0.60 for letters and $0.50 for post cards. Mail boxes are colored in blue. Important: In the postal office you can drop all kinds of letters, small parcels and packets but you cannot make phone calls. In case you have bought a bunch of stamps in the drugstore, you can simply drop your stamped mail in your private mail box at the vacation home, lift up the little flag and the next day our mail man will pick it up upon his tour.

 

Public holidays

On the following official public holidays all authorities and many shops will remain closed:

  • New Years Day: January 1st
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King: third Monday in January
  • Presidential Day: third Monday in February
  • Memorial Day: last Monday of May
  • Independence Day: July 4th. This is celebrated very big with fireworks and lots of other activities
  • Labor Day: first Monday in September
  • Veterans Day: November 11th
  • Thanksgiving Day: fourth Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day: December 25th

There are no more religious holidays!

 

Rental cars

It is mandatory to rent a car to enjoy your holiday to the fullest and to visit all the attractions in and around Cape Coral as well as to tour all the places of interest in Florida. It is the best to book this car in your country at your local travel agent. Coming from most European countries you only need the national driving license. If you have one of the major credit cards you do not need to pay the deposit for the car. Please always observe the speed limits!

 

Security

In Florida, no one should care about his personal security. However, as in any other country of the world you should avoid the problematic zones of the big cities. Amongst others we would like to mention: Liberty City in Miami or Ybor City in Tampa. As in another country we warn against giving hitch hikers a ride. By the way: In Florida the complete names and addresses of offenders – even in bagatelle cases – are published in the newspapers on a regular base.

 

Shopping

In general the business hours are 9 a.m. – 7 p.m... However, most of the shops are open until approximately 9 p.m., some of them even 24 hours around the clock – then of course also on Saturdays and Sundays. Huge shopping centers (so called shopping malls) consist of numerous little boutiques all under one roof, most of them are laid out very lovely with little creeks, fountains, water falls and plants. Here you can also buy the leading brands on extreme good terms. At the cashier the Sales Tax of 7 % will be added to the total purchase.

 

Telephone

You will find public phones in any place. To make a local call you have to pay 25 Cents. Therefore you always have to carry a couple of quarters (25 Cent-coins). The access code for countries outside the US is 011, then the country code followed by the area code (without the Zero).

 

Travel by car

All major European driving licenses are accepted, nevertheless an international license is recommended. The speed-limit is 55 - 70 mph (90 - 110 km/h) on the highways. In the cities as well as in more frequented areas the speed limit is 25 to 55 mph. In general the American traffic signs are similar to the ones in Europe; at least they speak a clear language. Normally there is no “right before left”; in any case the traffic is controlled by signs. '4 Way-', '3 Way-' or 'All Way-Stops' mean: Remember exactly which car in what sequence (considering all directions) stopped at the crossing. In exactly this sequence you can continue driving, in other words: You start driving again after the car that had stopped before you. In the unlikely case that two cars stop simultaneously the rule is "right before left". Do not throw any litter (like cigarettes) out of the car because you will get penalized very hard: Up to 500 USD and approximately 30 hours on duty for waste collecting are the result! Nevertheless: Sheriffs and police officers are exceptionally friendly and helpful in Florida.  

 

 

 

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