Archive: €uro Support Group
All over Europe, Euro bills and coins have become familiar, to locals and tourists alike. All the old Italian lire, German marks, French francs, etc., are now worthless souvenirs.
Here's what you thought of the Euro, in the first two years of use:
Christmas markets without the Euro
In response to the post about the terrible inflation at the German Christmas markets that resulted from the introduction of the euro, I have observed the same thing. There is an alternative. Christmas markets also became popular in the nations of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and still thrive there. Many of those are outside the Euro zone, and therefore have much better prices than the ones in Germany. Prague, for example has a great Christmas market on Old Town Square with another on Wencelas Square. Budapest does as well, and in Slovakia try Bratislava. Even smaller towns like Sopron, Hungary have Christmas markets. Before the Euro, I prefered the one in Vienna. Now Prague is clearly the best. Escape the euro, and you will generally escape high prices. Indeed that is a good rule of thumb for European vacations generally since the euro came in.
Euro 'Rounding Up'
Euro inflation — due to the "rounding up" of prices to the next Euro or even 10 Euros — has won legal recognition from an Italian justice of the peace who ruled in favor of Carlo Rienzi, president of a public advocacy group called the Codacons. U.S. tourists, too, noticed prices higher than would be indicated by official Euro conversion rates in countries switching to the new currency. On Jan. 19, 2004, Associated Press reported from Rome that Rienzi was awarded symbolic satisfaction in a claim against an espresso bar that overcharged him by 23 Euro cents (30 cents US) for a cappuccino as the Euro conversion was made two years ago (Jan. 1, 2002). In a scene watched over by police, The AP said Rienzi went back Jan. 17 to the coffee bar in Ladispoli, 25 miles northwest of Rome, and got his cappuccino at the pre-Euro price. Rienzi's suit asked that prices be restored to pre-Euro level but apparently he was the only customer to get the reduced price.
Nashville, IN USA 01/19/04
The issues that the EU is confronting now are issues that were anticipated and will have to be dealt with the same way the United States dealt with the unification of its original 13 states. These very same points that have been made concerning unequal status of the various economy's of member States, inflation, higher rates and even higher taxes, are all elements that the US had to wrestle with over 200 years ago when unifying its member states under one currency and govenment.. In fact the 'one currency' issue in Europe I should think would be much easier to accomplish given the technology and means in today's world. But nevertheless, these are all valid points that must be resolved if a 'united Europe' is going to emerge.
However, hauling out each and
every hump in the road to hold up as one more indicator of its failure
is a very short sighted perspective, especially when Europe's economy
is still as dependant upon a healthy US economy which is in my opinion
being manipulated today by people whose politcal agenda has anything but
a healthy Europe in mind. But think what you will, I say anything that
facilitates a greater unity will ultimately succeed — — as history repeatedly
Mililani, HI USA 01/14/04
More on the Downside of the Euro
Issues like sovereignty and democracy do seem to resonate with Europeans opposed to the Euro. When I was in Malta last year, I was watching UK TV and in an interview with a leader of an anti-Euro organization, I noticed an interesting poster on the wall of his office. It had the word ''Euro'' fashioned from a pair of handcuffs, with one side half open to form the E, the other closed to form the O, the chain running between them and the letters U and R inserted.
For myself, however, I would rely more on the very real pocketbook issues. I would suggest the slogan; ''If you like higher prices, you will love the Euro!'' That should be a concern of both local people and tourists alike. In the early days, the Euro advocated claimed that with one currency would bring about ''convergence'' of prices where they would sort of meet in the middle. That has not happened. Prices in cheaper countries have risen to the level of the more expensive countries, and prices there have climbed further as a result of the introduction of the Euro.
As the British-edited news magazine
The Economist has pointed out, the Euro was ''a political project with
economic consequences'' rather than the reverse. Yes, interest rates are
a real pocketbook issue for Europeans. The Economist has pointed out that
Europe has found out the hard way that one size does not fit all. Faster
growing economies like Ireland need higher interest rates to keep them
from overheating, while stagnant ones like Germany need lower rates to
give them a boost. When they are all limited to one rate, somebody loses.
The description of the Euro as ''sterile monopoly money'' is not mine.
It came from a German student I sat beside on a return trip who was very
much against the Euro, like most Germans, but IMHO it is an apt description.
I did add the ''bland and boring'' part myself to her description.
The Euro Grinch Who Stole
We just returned from a trip to the Christmas Markets in Germany. We stayed in Munich and visited the Christmas markets in Ulm, Augsburg, Nuremberg, and Salzburg, Austria. We were shocked at the inflation that has struck Germany since they went from the Deutsche Mark to the Euro. Forget about the exchange rate, which is awful for Americans in Europe, the Euro has doubled the prices of everything except food purchased in a market – like Aldi. Plus, Tegelmann, or Penny Markt.
Example: In 2000 we made the same trip, except the currency in Germany was the Mark. One Mark cost .47834 cents, roughly .48 cents. A cup of Gluhwein (warm spiced wine) at any of the Christmas Markets cost 2 marks or .96 cents. December 6, 2003, a cup of Gluhwein cost 2 Euro or $2.46 based on the exchange rate on December 6th. The example holds true for everything, including restaurants and department stores. It's like the country did a "find" on the DM and then a Euro "replace all" [i.e., just swapped the currency symbol without adjusting prices].
As a result of the high inflation,
we did no Christmas gift shopping in Germany. We do enjoy the atmosphere
of the markets and Germany. We will return to the Christmas Markets in
the future. But we won't be buying any Smoking Men, Pyramids, or
shibogen and not too many cups of Gluhwein or Nurmberg sausage sandwiches
Pottstown, PA USA 01/12/04
As to the Euro being a threat to democracy, I think we can dismiss that out of hand since the emergence of a new currency has little to do with the form of government that people select for themselves or have imposed on them. In this case the Euro has even less to do with that than perhaps any time in recent history.
The second point that the 'Euro is a threat to national Sovereignty' can be dismissed as well. Currency doesn't threaten national Sovereignty, but rather the creating of a one unified currency is a result of decaying nationalism and the overwhelming view of the peoples of the world that the globe is shrinking and national differences of anykind are and should be, secondary to the efforts to esablish unity and concord among nations. The sweeping away of contending and diverse currencies is nothing more than an innevitable occurance resulting from this widely held view.
As to the Euro threatening the national control of interest rates, well, interest rates in all nations are today so directly influenced by the economic conditons of sister nations in the same hemisphere, that it seems to me that national control is no big plus on this issue.
Today, there is almost no such
thing as an entirely 'national' problem. Almost without exception, the
conditions of one nation directly or indirectly influences the stability
or conditions of another. This is not going to go away, but rather will
intensify to the point where you can expect global currency, global weights
and measures, universal languges in addition to ones mother tongues, reglious
and political unity and the recognition of the general oneness of mankind.
If not, we ignore this at our own peril.
Mililani, HI USA 01/12/04
Why Sweden said NO to the Euro
Swedish voters decisively voted down adoption of the Euro 56% to 42% - a real landslide. Exit polls tell an interesting story, and dispell the pre-referendum theories that opposition came mainly from people concerned about the welfare state and older voters who just resisted change. Actually, the age group that voted most heavily against the Euro was the 18-30 year old group. That speaks volumes about the Euro's lack of any future chances in Sweden.
The biggest concerns among anti-Euro
voters according to the exit polls were, in order: 1) the Euro was a threat
to democracy 2) the Euro was a threat to national sovereignty 3) the Euro
would eliminate national control of interest rates 4) the Euro was a threat
to the welfare state. The polls in the UK show that the Euro has even
less chance of winning voter approval there than it had in Sweden. And,
at least the politicians there did promise a referendum. Pity the poor
Germans. Opinion polls showed that more than 70% of them opposed the Euro,
but their undemocratic politicians rammed it down their throats without
a referendum. The Bundesrepublik acted more like the old DDR in the way
they handled this matter.
Euro creates happy spenders
The Euro has achieved two monumental things: Its introduction finalized the drive towards eliminating unhealthy national priorities and supplanted it with an 'us' mentality among the participating nations. And (2) it removed an artificial fenceline between countries economies that now invites International investment where previously it discouraged investiment at times. [Those who complain] that we as Americans have to pay more to play on their continent can take refuge in the idea that the peoples of Europe are experiencing a greater sense of wellbeing and security.
Mililani, HI USA 01/10/04
I'm stationed in Germany and the dollar keeps dropping lower and lower against the euro. You can only live like a King for so long.
Dollar support group?
How about changing the name of this topic from Euro support group to dollar support group? The euro doesn't need any more support...just checked the exchange rate in the paper. Its down to 0.77 euro per dollar. Correct me if I'm wrong, but thats about a 40 percent drop over the last two years.
Lafayette, LA USA 01/10/04
No to the Euro
Going to Europe and spending euros instead of marks and francs feels like going to Europe and always eating at McDonalds. I go to Europe for the different feel of the culture, and losing a country's own seperate currency takes away from that. I really don't like giving up culture for "convenience". If I wanted convenience, I would probably just go to EPCOT and skip Europe.
Charlotte, NC USA 12/29/03
The main reasons for the dollar's weakness are (1) the fact that U.S. interest rates are lower than European ones; and (2) the U.S. current-account deficit. To remain solvent, the U.S. needs to attract $3 billion worth PER DAY of foreign investment — and the higher the national debt grows, the bigger the problem becomes. Oil is not as much of a factor, since almost all the world's oil is priced in dollars — which also means that gas prices here in Europe have actually gone down a bit lately. Anyway, keep in mind that the euro is not really at "historic" levels; if you take a similarly-weighted basket of European currencies and look at rates over the past 50 years, the "euro" has been as high as $1.40 (and as low as $0.60).
Amsterdam, Netherlands 12/24/03
Euro Good for Travelers
I personally think the Euro is a good idea for travelers,
despite the increase in prices and despite the loss of a country's individual
currency. It eases the burden of money exchanging by having the traveler
only exchange money once for their entire stay in the European union.
That convienence and lack of constant exchanging and the fees and losses
that entails are almost worth the problems, in my opinion.
La Porte, IN USA 12/19/03
The weak dollar
In preparation for my next trip, I've been watching the exchange rate on the Euro and Pound. It's been an educational experience. The Bush administration is purposely keeping the dollar weak against foreign currencies. Although they deny it, it's part of their economic recovery plan. A weak dollar policy is like a tariff on foreign goods. It also makes US goods cheaper overseas. Unfortunately, it is hurting European economies. I have read that the EU will take measures to weaken the Euro if the dollar keeps slipping. The French and German budget deficits, among other things, are threatening to break up the EU. My theory is we won't see a strong dollar until the US economy is fully rebounded, or maybe if a new administration is elected in 2004. So Rick's Thrifty Fifty travel tips are more important than ever.
As far as prices jumping when
the Euro was introduced, we see the same thing here in the US. Whenever
they raise the tax on gas or cigarettes, the day it goes into effect,
the price jumps at least twice the rate of the new tax. The retailers
know that everyone is expecting a price jump, so they take advantage of
us by inflating their prices, hoping we won't notice in the confusion.
Reno, NV USA 12/13/03
The downside of the euro
It is sad to see the Deutsch Marks, francs, guilders, etc. fall by the wayside. In their place, we now have the bland, boring, sterile monopoly money called the Euro. Using the national currency was always part of the culture in travelling abroad. Now, we are deprived of that in most of western Europe. Hooray for the Danes and Swedes who have voted down the Euro, and the Brits, who are overwhelmingly against it according to the polls. The Euro is already costing travellers, by driving up the cost of currency exchange and prices generally. I was in Germany the day the Euro came in, and when they changed the prices from even marks to even euros, you could see the jump. Now, even the European central bank has admitted that the introduction of the euro caused prices to go up after denying it for a long time. For me, I now have a definite preference to visit countries that still use REAL national money like the UK, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Poland, Sweden, Hungary,etc. The euro is a real turn-off.
Euro rate bad, airfare good
Well there are ups and downs, the airfare is so cheap right now that it will make up for the bad exchange rate. I got roundtrip to CDG from Philly for $250! Now I just need a cheap hotel and I am ready to roll.
Phila, pa USA 11/16/03
Better to have one currency
In my opinion the world needs one currency. The diverse competing currencies that exist literally keep some national economies on the verge of bankruptcy. So Europe's move to adopt the Euro was not only beneficial but in the long run will develop what most think will be a 'supra-national' economy that will be a 500lb gorilla. We Americans better get used to our 'buck' not ruling the world anymore.
The more nations that adopt the Euro in the next months will force additonal index adjustments and prices will attempt to find its natural levels. This means additional price increases most likely in small increments.
I've been to Europe twice since the Euro has appeared and find it very
handy. Some people have complained about prices going higher with the
currency changeover, but they don't seem to recall that they invariably
lost money in the past with the conversions of currency while traveling
between countries. So from that standpoint we now save money. I think
the U.S. should adopt the Euro and get rid of the dollar. It would be
easier on everyone. Who knows? Maybe even Switzerland would get in line
Mililani, HI USA 10/16/03
Euro and trip costs
I try not to get too wrapped up over the cost of my European trips. So far all my month long trips in Europe, following Rick's methods, have cost me about $3000 for everything. Although my trip in 2001, with the Euro at about 90 cents, I was able to do the whole trip for about $2200. Somewhat different situation this year, with the Euro at $1.20, so the whole trip probably cost closer to $3000. (One thing I do that Rick doesn't do as much, is stay in hostels, which probably brings down the cost somewhat compared to what he recommends. Since I'm traveling solo, staying at hostels helps me meet fellow travelers.)
However, you have to admit that because of a higher priced Euro, (22%
more from 90 cents to $1.10), is going to increase the price to out of
their affordibility. I'm kind of funny too, in that I tend not to let
the price Euro influence my travel, but the cost of the airline ticket.
Even though the airline ticket is only about 1/4th (or less) the price
of the whole trip. I guess it because it's the first thing you have to
Sunnyvale, CA USA 09/09/03
Euro is bad?
I'm looking forward to my first trip to Europe in two weeks. I find it interesting that some folks equate a weak dollar and a strong Euro with the Euro being inherently "bad." Sure, it's nice to have a fun, fabulous AND inexpensive European vacation, but are we somehow inherently entitled to all that? I don't think so. Economies go up and down. I'm just grateful that I'm able to go!
Seattle, WA USA 09/03/03
Euros and Ireland and Stouts, oh my!
Just got back from a "British Isles" trip (UK and Ireland). Although the UK seemed expensive, when I got to Dublin, it got even more painful. I heard in Ireland inflation is fairly high (apparently one of the problems with the "one currency fits all" philosophy), so a lot of the prices quoted in Rick's books were way off (the price of a bowl of noodles in that place in Dublin was about twice what Rick mentions (10.50 euros), no longer what I'd consider cheap. Sad to say, the best meal prices in Dublin were at the McD's. So a couple of times I broke down and ate there ("the horror, the horror").
Another shocker was the price they charge to tour the Guinness Brewery
Museum. I think it was 13.50 euros. In general, I'd say don't bother.
Find another brewery somewhere that is smaller and has free tours (all
beer is made generally in the same way, no matter where in the world you
are). Wait until you're in Belgium to do a brewery tour! But since I'm
in the business, I could not come all the way to Dublin and not visit
it. Some of the best beer to be had in Dublin was not Guinness, but from
the little microbrewery called "The Porterhouse", on the edge of Temple
John S. Watson
Sunnyvale, CA USA 07/10/03
Just returned from 5 months in Europe; the Euro was a blessing to my psyche. So cool to not have to hassle with different currencies and conversions. I only needed to know how the how the Euro stood against the dollar, then it was smooth sailing!
CA USA 06/19/03
The US is Expensive!
I'm just back from a trip to the US and had the impression that things were extremely expensive there ($128 hotel room! $15 mediocre dinner! $5 lousy pizza!). Many Americans make the same kind of remarks about Europe. I think the point is that we will always get ripped off when we go to countries or places we don't know well. We don't know where the locals actually go when they want decent yet inexpensive accommodations or food. Paying 7.50 EUR for breakfast? Do like the locals do: go to any bakery and buy bread or pastries. $45 dinners without wine? Find out where locals go to eat. Apart from that, Switzerland really IS an expensive country.
Paris, France 06/17/03
Some tips from a former resident
I lived in Germany for three years. The time after the Euro conversion was a wonder: not having to change money to go from Germany through Austria and into Italy. Before you leave on a trip to Europe:
1. Make sure you have an ATM or debit card (Cirrus) and PIN.
2. Make sure you have plenty of money in your checking account.
3. Do NOT change money here in the States.
4. Do NOT bring much cash.
5. Know your daily limit for ATM withdrawals in Euros.
6. Use the local bank ATMs and take out up to your limit. The bills are usually an assortment of denominations - unlike the masses of twenties here at home).
7. If you visit a military base, do NOT use the community bank — it has lousy exchange rates.
8. Check out the backs of the Euro coins and try to figure out which country they are from. (Personally I like the art work on the Italian Euros best).
9. Try to figure out what the pictures on the bills mean (they are windows, bridges and doors) and enjoy the artwork.
10. Relax and have fun. That is what travelling is all about - isn't
Crofton, MD USA 06/16/03
Declining value of US$
Ah, if only we had the foresight to see the trend in the declining value of the US$ versus the Euro. Last March, when I visited Italy, the rate was something like 1.09:1 (Dollars to Euro). Now its worse. And there's nothing we can do. But this drop, although significant, shouldn't deter us from visiting Europe. I think the strength of the Euro is here to stay, at least for another couple of years. So go ahead an visit your favorite country(ies), and learn to find the deals, whether it be at hotels or dining. You don't have to spend $45 on a great dinner (without wine) if you frequent the places where the locals go. Try to stay at pensions or private homes, or even at convents in Italy. Ride the trains and metro and walk a lot. That's how you get to feel the pulse of the place and its people.
Santa Rosa, CA USA 06/14/03
The Euro is bad!
The Euro has made European travel very expensive! 2 years ago the $ was high and were able to eat and travel rather cheaply. Now with the Euro everything has gone through the roof.
Iselin, NJ USA 06/11/03
Costs ever higher!
Just returned from France and Switzerland. Costs were 25% higher than I anticipated even with careful planning and exact numbers for hotels and transportaion costs. All food was expensive. Easily spent $30 for picnics for 4, breakfasts were Euro 7.5 to CHF 17.5 each. Evening dinners easily $45 per person without wine. Admissions prices were 15 - 50 percent higher than guidebooks listed. The War/Peace memorial museum at Caen is now Euro 17.50 (and not worth it). Anyway, just be prepared and enjoy spending it!
San Antonio, TX USA 06/10/03
Euro out of control
Rik T.in Italy is exactly right about the Euro issue! When we arrived 2 years ago, the U.S.Dollar bought about 10% more against our local currency in Holland. Now, it buys 20% less on the dollar...er, make that 30% less when you do the math from the 10% we used to be ahead on AND, everyone HAS definitely raised prices unbelievably! Europe is far from cheap any more. Don't even think about the fees at money exchange counters! That will eat up another big chunk of your vacation fund! Do plan to exchange your money via ATM machines!
A quick warning about the Euro rate; I'm in the military, stationed in Italy 3 years now (Germany for 2 years prior to that). I can tell you first hand that the Euro rate is absolutely killing us over here. Not only is the dollar ridiculously unfavorable (today's rate is about $1.17), but when they changed over, the majority of businesses (even Mom & Pop stores) significantly raised prices, as if nobody would notice. In fact, some places in Germany (and elsewhere) actually DOUBLED their prices!
To give you an example, when I was paying in lire, my rent was about
$475 a month. My rent is exactly the same now, but the equivalent in US$
is now $583. That's over a hundred dollars difference. I'm a huge traveler,
and I've had to scale back due to the strong euro/weak dollar. It hasn't
stopped me, but it sure has made traveling a lot less fun. I used to love
the euro because it made traveling easier, but now I'm convinced that
it's the worst thing that ever happened to us over here. If anyone has
any questions or anything, feel free to email me.
Vicenza, IT 05/29/03
Euro Travelers Checks
I thought I was doing a smart thing buying a substantial quantity of Euro TCs (American Express through Bank of America) here in the US, and I probably was in the end, but I had some doubts after first arriving in Italy last month. The idea was to have what I considered a cash equivalent, with loss protection, rather than relying totally on ATMs.
Cash is useful, because a number of Rick's recommended hotels will give
a reasonable discount for payment with cash, rather than by credit card.
I found that restaurants were not too keen on taking the Eurochecks (some
might, after grumbling a bit). Most of the hotels (3 star type) we stayed
at would accept them at par, even exchanging them for additional cash
at par, but don't go to a bank, or even worse, a money exchange, as they
will charge commission. At the Rome Termini exchange I was offered 88
euros for a 100 euro check! If you do go for Eurochecks, it's a good idea
to ask what the exchange rate is first to see if it's reasonable. I lucked
out as the euro went up after I bought them. Some banks don't charge a
fee for selling the checks.
Anacortes, Wiltshire USA 05/20/03
Re: 100 EUR bills
I've been living in the Eurozone for about a year now, and I've never gotten anything larger than a €50 bill from an ATM (my usual withdrawal is bet ween €120 and €200). In Berlin on Saturday, I withdrew €150 and got two €50 notes, two €20, and one €10. So I guess it just depends where you go.
Brussels, Belgium 05/11/03
Avoid 100 EUR bills
I've been using ATMs (linked to checking with a 4-digit PIN) both in and out of the Euro-zone for a year without problem (except when the rare network problem occurs). In the States, when you withdraw $100, you usually get 5 $20s. In Europe, you usually get one 100 EUR bill, which merchants are loathe to break for small purchases, especially early in the day. Try an amount like $80 EUR. In some tourist areas (in Prague especially, it seems) ATMs seem only to dispense big bills, you may have to try several to find smaller bills. It's also useful to carry a few .20 & .50 coins (or their equivalent in other currencies), toilets often charge for the privilege.
Budapest, Hungary 05/09/03
Euro, Kroner, Crowns, and Pounds oh my!
Yes the Euro is great, but my husband and I planned a trip through England, Germany, The Czech Republic, and Denmark. We still had to deal with 4 different currencies. The potential headaches were alleviated, though, when we left the traveler's checks behind and pulled all of our cash out of the local ATMs. They are everywhere and our bank gave us a great exchange rate. We paid for the large expenses (train tickets, hotels, etc.) with our credit card so we wouldn't break the bank. I highly reccommend it!
Port Orchard, WA USA 04/29/03
Changing Money in Ireland
My wife put together a beautiful 8 day vacation for us in Ireland by watching Rick's DVDs and using his Ireland guidebook. All went well until I walked into a bank and asked about converting US 100 dollar bills into euros.
Much to my dismay, just about every bank, change bureau, etc, has stopped
changing US 100 dollar bills. They claim a very high counterfeit rate
and will NOT take them. Luckily, a small change bureau in a department
store in Dingle accepted my 100 dollar bills. Lesson learned: always travel
with ATM cards.
Front Royal, VA USA 04/10/03
Euros OK, but.....
Yes, using the Euro was easy (just in Rome for 6 days), but I still miss Italian Lire. The only problem I had was that, for the first time in 30 years' European travel, I was often asked for exact change. I was not able to find out why.
Durham, NC USA 03/29/03
I have been travelling to France every summer for the past 23 yrs and I personally miss the franc. Last summer I noted the elevated prices on everything...my first experience with the Euro. Yes, it was close to the dollar but my 4E beverage was now costing me 7E and so on.....! For this coming summer I have already made two necessary deposits....the mastercard deposit for 300Euro cost me $336 and the 200E traveler check cost me $226. That blows my budget out of the water when I based the entire trip cost on 1E = $1. Just remember all the hype about the Euro will depend on the economy at the time you are travelling.
How much is that?
The most obvious benefit is how easy it is to convert the cost into dollars in your head. So if the conversion is .97 or 1.08 to the dollar, easy enough to say it's a dollar. It has been almost a year since I travelled in France, and although I was somewhat dissapointed that I just missed getting to use francs, the Euro is SO easy. There was none of the constant "so how much am I really paying" that went on in my head when I travelled to England just prior.
Austin, TX USA 02/21/03
Simplicity of the Euro
The simplicity of the euro's use through the twelve participating nations should be quite beneficial: more tourism, fewer complaints, less counterfeiting, uniform monetary manufacturing, etc.etc.
CA USA 02/20/03
Euros/ change and all
Did anyone mention change machines? After all, you can't use those 50 euro bills you get from the ATM to pay for parking, bathrooms, etc. There are change machines at airports, next to ATMs, but they accept maximum 20 euro bills. The way we deal with it? Request an amount from the ATM that is not in increments of 50s (e.g. 280 euros, rather than 300).
exchanging dollars to euros
I cannot emphasize enough shop for the best exchange rate. Rates between US travelers cheques or US dollars was minimal to get Euros in Italy. However rates differences were large with the banks. Excellent exchange in Florence is Bank of Sicily. Worst was Bank of Siena in Siena. Also allow time, bank clerks work very slowly.
Walnut Creek, CA USA 09/25/02
Need coins for the laundromats? Find some street performers and offer to swap paper currency for coins. It helps if they see you throw a couple of Euros into the guitar case first.
Robert G Smith
Lancaster, PA USA 09/15/02
Euros in Switzerland
If you are headed to Switzerland after visiting countries that use the Euro and then going back into Euro countries, don't change all of Euros into Swiss Francs. We found a lot of places in Switzerland (but not all) accept both and most give the going exchange rate for that day. Some of the cash register receipts even have the price both in Francs and Euros.
Euro Traveler's Checks
I planned my trip with Euro traveler's checks as the main source of cash. That was bad. None of the gas stations we went to accepted them. We always asked if we could use them first. The only places we could cash them were the $100 and above motels, which we only stayed in three nights and certain banks. I am very glad that I had my credit card with me. I used it more like a debit card by paying a couple thousand more to it before I left (just in case). I was also able to get cash anywhere without paying any interest. The card was accepted every where except zimmers and pensions. I will not take travelers checks again. I had to wait to get back home to cash them. The two banks that I do business with would not even take them. I could not find an office to get 'free' services. I am glad I did not lose them either.
Youngsville, Nc USA 08/02/02
Deutsch Mark/Euro Overnight inflation
When the mark was discontinued and replaced by the Euro, there was instant 5-10% inflation across Germany. For example, a meal at a fast food restaurant was 9 Deutsch marks was roughly equivalent to 4.5 euros. On January 1st, the same meal cost 5 euros. I guess they just figured they would round up the prices to the nearest euro. Well, folks, thats a pretty large increase if you think about it! I want the DM back!
Oakland, NJ USA 07/29/02
Hooray for the Euro !
The euro is the best thing that ever happened to european travel. It's easy to figure one euro is a little less than a dollar (hoping it stays that way as the two are getting closer and closer in value) and when traveling from country to country its nice not having to figure out different currency. Now if Switzerland would just get on the ball. They don't have to join the European Union, just accept the euro as they're right in the middle of euro-using countries. It is a pain to have to change to Swiss Francs just to store your luggage and have lunch in Geneva before proceeding around Lac Leman and into Italy.
We were in Europe in April and the change had just taken effect. Being euros and cents rather than dollars and cents made it easy to get the lingo and make change. It was strange being more familiar with the currency than the locals, who were still struggling with the coins and had to have the shopkeepers point out the right coins like they were foreigners. In fact in one little fruit market in Nice, the man ahead of me was trying to buy a few bananas and got really upset when the man would not accept his French coin, flung it on the counter and stormed out. The owner followed him out; I think he thought the man was going to steal something. Anyway I asked if I could have the coin because i sort of collect coins, especially ones they don't make anymore, and he said okay.
As to ATM machines and debit cards. We used both without any trouble
although we did take a little cash to make sure, but the exchange rates
for cash are so horrible at the airport and bureau du change that next
time i will use the atm in the airport instead. They are everywhere, although
hard to notice because they are just inserted in the walls and not neccessarily
Janice L. Killingbeck
Saginaw, Michigan USA 07/05/02
Count your change
Just got back from three weeks in France & Netherlands. This was my 6th trip to europe. A successful trip. I have a tip to pass along- Make sure the change you get from a purchase is in Euros. After returning to the hotel I discovered the taxi driver gave me change in Francs, not Euros. So, like your mother taught you...count your change AND make sure it's in Euros. (duh!)
Denver, CO USA 06/21/02
According to a little article in my neighborhood paper, some foreign vending machines reject Belgian euros because they're too heavy. But then again (as the paper also noted) so is the King whose face adorns them! How long till they start referring to them as "Fat Alberts"?
Brussels, Belgium 06/20/02
Found the Euro to be very nice on the last trip. Couple of notes: Watch the change you get back, even in May, people were fumbling with the coins, checking the number side to see the value. Both shortchanged and often overchanged! The coreect or near correct change seems to be preferred. Many store people didn't like changing large bills, nor did they seem to have an abundance of coins or bills for change. The one and two cent coins appear to be useless. They will pile up in your pocket unless you make an effort to get rid of them.
IA USA 06/07/02
Re: a previous post that said "Many in Germany and Austria do not, these are still very much cash oriented societies." That's not quite true, they just don't use credit-cards. They use the EC (or Maestro now) cards instead of cash.
Re: Prices higher after the conversion to the Euro. I was watching the British news last night and one news report said something about a study was done, comparing the prices of the most commonly purchased items (like groceries) before the euro and after the euro. The study found that prices were indeed higher, even taking into account a 4 percent inflation rate.
Arlington, VA USA 05/31/02
I just spent three weeks in Italy and France and had NO problems with the Euro. It was very easy because I didn't have to exchange currency in each country. I found bb's comments interesting because everything was priced in Euros. When I charged something, the receipt would come back in Euros (but identify Lira or Francs in parentheses). I think that was in order for the locals to get a better idea of how much they were spending.
San Francisco, CA USA 05/10/02
The country of origin may still matter
A friend in Paris had trouble getting a bakery to accept his payment in euros. The clerk objected because they weren't *French* euros. Sort of defeats the whole purpose of switching to euros in the first place.
San Francisco, ca USA 05/09/02
Euro Scam in Italy
CAUTION! The 2 Euro coin is almost identical to the old 1,000 Lire coin — same size, almost the same design. If you buy gelato for 3 Euros and pay with a 5 Euro note, you may get the 1,000 Lire coin (worth $0.50) instead of the 2 Euro coin you are entitled to (worth $1.80). So you have been shortchanged $1.30. And you won't even get your 50 cents unless you want to stand in line at a bank; the Lire coins are no longer legitimately used in commerce. The concierge at my hotel confirmed that some unscrupulous vendors hoarded 1,000 Lire coins just so they could pull this scam on unsuspecting tourists.
Oakland, CA USA 05/04/02
EUROS and "EC CREDIT CARDS"
Living in Germany for the past 3 months; here are some Euro-thoughts:
1. Change (small coins) continues to be a problem in many EU countries. Shopkeepers are very grateful when you can give them coins and many specifically ask if you have coins. It will take a while before enough small coins are in circulation. Countries like Italy have not had to use small denominated coins in decades!
2. Prices. Many complain that merchants have used the conversion from old curency to the Euro as a way to hide prices increases. In some cases this is true. A recent program on German TV reported on firms that priced items (from tires to package vacations) in Euro in the same amount as previousley priced in DM, a doubling of the cost!!
3. RE posting
from 3/19/02 on the "EC Credit Card" being accepted in Germany and
Austria instead of the Visa...I think what he means is the "EC Carte". The
EC Carte functions as a debit card and an ATM card on you account. Probably
the establishment does not take credit cards at all. Many in Germany and
Austria do not, these are still very much cash oriented societies.
washington, dc USA 05/01/02
I just returned from a week in Europe. The ease of conversion is great, but I think the prices are much higher than just last summer, particularly in Paris. Food and drink in some restaraunts seemed to be almost double. Be prepared to spend alot more once you are there!
Tucson, AZ USA 03/31/02
love those euros & a US bank warning
Because the Euro/dollar exchange rate is so close, you can easily budget across Europe. Like another poster said, if you think of it as an about 1-1 exchange, you'll come out ahead. One thing to watch out for — ask your bank in advance about "foreign conversion fees." I'd never had a problem with this before, but on my most recent trip (March 2002 to France), I discovered the hard way that Wells Fargo now charges a percentage for using a check card for purchases outside the US! I may change banks because of this.
San Jose, CA USA 03/22/02
Just got back from Germany & Austria & didn't have to change money at all. ATMs are everywhere. Plus, we just budgeted at $1 = 1 Euro and always came out ahead on our budgeting. One word of warning - many places I tried to use my VISA credit card to charge things said "EU Credit Cards" only. It meant I came home debt free, but also that I did a little less souvenier shopping than I would have otherwise. But, I would definitely say that was a small inconvenience to an otherwise smooth trip as far as money goes.
Seattle, WA USA 03/19/02
I decided to take Amex Euro Traveller Cheques for my two month trip. Each city had an Amex Office and I got the face value of the cheque (no commission). Cashing them at Change Bureaus would incure about a 5% commission. The best part about using Euros was that I had a better feel for the price than the Europeans who still thought in their old currencies. The proof in that was that I did not get ripped off once when getting my change from a merchant!
Vancouver, BC Canada 03/16/02
Being a AAA member, I went to inquire about Euros before our trip to Paris.
Instead of heading over with Euros in my back pocket, I had a Global Currency
card. This card is free to members and works in any VISA-marked ATM machine.
I found this route very efficient and ended up with fairly good exchange
rates. (1E=$0.91 where the current exchange rate is 1E=$0.87)
IN USA 03/11/02
Just returned from the French Riviera and had no problems with clerks making change using Euros. Did discover the best exchange rate was at the Poste Office. Most had ATM machines and I had no problems using the machines. Only saw one American Express office in all of the towns we visited. I always take a few travelers checks to be on the safe side (fear of card eating machines) and found that the American Express Euro checks were easier to exchange. AAA is a great source if you are a member.
Even though the Swiss aren't officially using the Euro, you will find that it is accepted in the larger cities. My experience in February of 2002 is that the more rural you get, the less they accept the Euro. And, even in the larger cities like Zurich, some of the smaller stores will not accept it. I suggest carrying both Euros and Francs. use the Euros when you can, and the Francs when you can't.
Tampa, FL USA 02/20/02
Making change in Euros
From my son in Germany: Expect delays until the clerks get used to the Euro coins. He says it takes about 2-3 times as long as it used to when going through the checkout stand in his local Supermarkt. In a few months this problem will go away, but in the meantime be patient — the clerks are trying to get it right!
Mother of American in Germany
Small change problems in Italy.
With the switch to the Euro across Europe, the country having the most problems is Italy. The Italian government has recently taken hits in the European press for being unprepared. Italians themselves are having a better time, but still have problems with the small change, which didn't exist for them prior to Jan 1, 2002. Italians are used to dealing in the thousands, so they're struggling with counting out cents. Americans are used to small change and can quickly figure that adding a few cents will make change easier. For example, with a total of $2.12 Americans might pay $5.12 to get $3.00 change. Italians don't think of this and pay $5.00 to receive $2.88 in change. Many cashiers whom I have encountered get confused when given additional coins to make the change easier. If you do this, make sure the cashier understands what you are doing to avoid confusion and problems.
Bassano Del Grappa, VI Italy 01/13/02
Euro- the first week
The first week of January was a very confusing time in Austria (and Germany to some extent). Many vending machines like phone booths and lockers still took only the old Schilling coins. Then a week later, scores of automatic lockers were taken out of business, that is only those that were Schilling-only. As a result, the left-luggage (secured by a person working at the station) was getting a lot of business from travellers. Many things still have the prices as if they still had the old currency value (not rounded in Euro although the Euro price was clearly stated).
Foster City, CA USA 01/13/02
Rick's Report from Italia
Jangling my pocket full of euros, it occurs to me that 300 million people now carry a bit of Europe in their pockets. The practical value of the new currency is huge — no more hassle of money-changing between a dozen countries. One currency allows Europeans to easily compare prices between countries and to speak the same monetary language. But the real impact of history's biggest money switch goes way beyond the money. A united Europe is moving from a treaty-formed abstraction to a reality — with a constitution.
Just minutes after the New Year began, my usually cynical Dutch friend, Hans, called me (from his vacation condo in Spain's Costa del Sol) simply to declare, "I'm a European!" There's no looking back as countries — which in the last century's wars killed tens of millions of each other's citizens — are weaving a new national awareness. In fact, beginning this March, a constitutional convention (headed by former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing) will hammer out the rules of this new Europe in a two-year process. Germany, with the largest population, favors a parliamentary European government. The French and smaller countries want to maintain more national sovereignty.
Now that the true European currency has arrived, any euro concerns will pass like the Millennium Bug. Much as a child is ceremoniously weaned off a bottle, Europeans are ceremoniously dumping, burying, and serenading away their old currencies. (Italians are building a towering statue out of 200 lire coins.)
Older people are a bit befuddled by the crisp bills and shiny coins. My grizzled cabbie pawed through his change purse thinking the new euro "nickel" was worth five euros. When I explained to him that his coppers were nearly worthless, he cursed as polite older people do, saying, "Porca miseria" (The misery of a pig)!
Museums have two cash-register tills with handy calculators, as old currencies are spent for the last time and shiny euro change is returned. By this summer the introduction of the euro will be old news. Over time, the francs, marks, pesetas, drachma, and lire will be something only we older travelers will remember.
After just a couple days in Italy, I already think I've gained a few kilos. Unable to pick between several fresh pasta dishes last night, the waiter suggested building a sampler plate with three pastas. My plate: fusilli with truffle sauce, ravioli with porcini mushrooms, and tagliatelle with smoked salmon. In Italy, I may pay for my meal with a new currency, but I can still order all my dinnertime favorites.
Rick Steves, writing from Italy 01/08/02
Where are your Euros from?
You can tell where a Euro note was printed by looking at the first character of the serial number on the "bridge" side. Here's the list:
AUSTRIA — N
BELGIUM — Z
FINLAND — L
FRANCE — U
GERMANY — X
GREECE — Y
IRELAND — T
ITALY — S
LUXEMBOURG — R
NETHERLANDS — P
PORTUGAL — M
SPAIN — V
They've reserved three codes for the "missing" countries, as follows:
DENMARK — W
SWEDEN — K
UNITED KINGDOM — J
I just bought some euro banknotes at Thomas Cook in Seattle, whose serial number starts with U. Which tells me they're from France. This also means that if you ever encounter a euro whose serial number starts with W, K, or J, it's a fake!
Seattle, WA USA 01/05/02
I just got 5 sacks of Euros from Germany. I hope they make good Christmas gifts, everyone here seems to be excited about getting them as there are lines at every bank. For anyone still here and going home for Christmas stop by the bank in your country and pick up a few starter kits. The first Euro, brand new and never handled.
PA USA 12/17/01
Here's a witty new web site dealing with the transition to the Euro. It's run by Europeans so it gives a bit of insight into how they're dealing with the new money. http://www.lightningfield.com/eurotrash/
Asheville, NC USA 12/06/01
Check Your Receipts!
We just got back from Paris and had problems with one store charging us in Euros after they added the price up in Francs. On most receipts they are printing the Francs amount in large print and the Euros amount in small print. As I was going over my receipts to prepare for customs I found one where they had charged me in Euros instead of Francs. This is a big difference. Instead of paying 327 FRF, I paid 327 EUR. We are still trying to contest the charge, but are not getting very far. My word of warning is pay attention to both prices! If I had taken the time to look at the Euros (which should have been in the small print), I would have noticed the problem.
Plano, TX USA 10/16/01
For those who like to save currency as a souvenir, a laminated piece of paper money is a great bookmark for your travel/guidebooks. Save currency from countries in Europe before the Euro is enacted to have a great memory.
Seattle, WA USA 09/18/01