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Depressed and stretched / low dollar, higher prices!

Depressed and stretched / low dollar, higher prices!

Nov 6th, 2007, 03:28 AM
  #1  
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Depressed and stretched / low dollar, higher prices!

I'm working on my upcoming trip to Europe and experiencing some sticker shock. Not only is the dollar weaker and airfare higher but several of my favorite reasonably priced hotels have raised their prices. One went from 140E to 165E per night (in Amsterdam). I'm starting to think a European trip is changing from affordable luxury to just LUXURY. Please share the "whine" witn me or talk me back to my senses. You know, misery loves company! The only bright spot I'm seeing right now is that I'm still sure a liter of local wine will still be lots cheaper than a glass or two in a restaurant here!
suec1 is online now  
Nov 6th, 2007, 04:28 AM
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Yes, the wine. I enjoyed France where they filled my water bottle with wine for 1 Euro. Check tours and Eastern Europe. Visit an area that you have not been to. Amsterdam is not cheap when it comes to hotels. Turkey is cheap but the wine is terrible. I did a tour of Ireland last summer and we stayed at nice hotels and I felt it was a good value.

Don't expect things to get much better. The American Dollar is almost equal to the Australian Dollar and they said last night on the news, the price of oil could go to $250 in two years.

In other words, now might still be a good bargain.
wally34949 is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 04:44 AM
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I travel often in Europe as well as in the USA. Now, I would say, we haved equal costs. The USA used to be much more expensive.

Still, in western Europe a meal is not more expensive than a meal in the USA. With hotels it is the same. If you complain about 165 Euros in Amsterdam: Have you recently tried to book a hotel in New York City? (Please do not compare a motel in Backroadtown, Alabama, to a hotel in a capital city.)

In western Europe, there are still many interesting places where you can get a double room in a decent hotel for less than 100 Euros.
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Nov 6th, 2007, 04:54 AM
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For hotels try www.hrs.com. They've got the lowest rates for hotels in Europe and you pay directly upon check-out, so no service charges or other hidden fees some hotel portals charge, apply.
Andreas_US_GER is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 05:01 AM
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Well, are you looking for luxury or are you looking for affordable? I ask because I question how much of either you are getting for €165 per night. I know you aren't getting the Pulitzer or the Dylan. And you are just knocking on the door of the lower prices at a place like the Marriott or some of the NH hotels. To be blunt, I just don't see the point of paying the going rate for hotels of that type. Use Priceline and you should be able to get a decent 4-star for around $100 (yes dollars) per night, as I did last month at the Movenpick - very nice if a bit out of the way.

If you can nail down the hotel via Priceline, I don't think that Amsterdam is really that expensive. Neither are Brugges or Brussels. Even Paris isn't that expensive to visit (perhaps no more than New York or Vegas or Boston), if you get lucky with the hotels. Just don't look to do any major shopping, as this is where you will get absolutely hammered.

Finally, as for the wine, I doubt you will find much wine in a restaurant in Amsterdam (or UK, or Scandinavia, or Belgium, or...) that is cheaper than in the US. As for the grocery store, you can get a bottle for $5 in the US just as easily as you can in Europe (outside of the main wine-producing areas). They will both be equally mediocre to poor.
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Nov 6th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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Western European capitals are seeing a leveling of cost to some degree, thanks much to the Euro standard. Rome used to seem a bargain next to Paris, say, but Rome is now expensive.

Last year I visited family in a small town in Ohio, where the two motel options were both pretty basic. An old, depressingly brown Day's Inn and an older, but possibly cleaner, independent. I negotiated a $69 rate - living in NYC, and always hearing requests for rooms "under $100", I found that high.

But service costs - not to mention energy, which heats/cools/lights the rooms and cleans the linens - are higher today. No to mention the weak dollar, for us American travelers. Not to mention I don't get to go for a while anyway!

Alternatives: Argentina is still a good buy and Buenos Aires a fascinating, "European"-feeling city. Restaurants there are particularly a bargain. (Don't be surprised if four of you eat wonderfully for the price of 1 in NYC or London.) As to hotels, just steer clear of the international chains, which charge international rates. Locally owned properties are the bargains.

Don't wait too long: Argentina's economy is on the comeback road.
tomassocroccante is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 05:16 AM
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The previous poster hit the nail on the head. Go to Argentina if you want affordable luxury.
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Nov 6th, 2007, 05:21 AM
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>>>Finally, as for the wine, I doubt you will find much wine in a restaurant in Amsterdam (or UK, or Scandinavia, or Belgium, or...) that is cheaper than in the US. As for the grocery store, you can get a bottle for $5 in the US just as easily as you can in Europe (outside of the main wine-producing areas). They will both be equally mediocre to poor.<<<

This is right, but only half the story. In Europe (except UK), you will find a huge selection of decent wines for 4 to 5 Euros (6 to 7.50 USD). In the USA, similar qualities are sold for 10 to 12 USD plus tax.

The differences grow bigger if you move to sparkling wine and high-quality brandy and cognac, especially when served in a restaurant.

And do not forget: All prices in Europe are final, including taxes and service, while in the USA tipping has become outrageous (I have been in several restaurants where a tip of 22% was automatically added to the bill).
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Nov 6th, 2007, 05:43 AM
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We found Spain very reasonable.
Four or fuve plates of tapas (raciones)and 2 glasses of wine always came under 30 euros even in the nicest places in Barcelona.
Metro tickets are under a euro, and a bottle of wine in a store can be had for several euros
We rented a very nice apt. in Madrid ( around the corner from Plaza Mayor) for 125 euros a night.

We stayed in beautiful Casa Morisca in Granada for 148 euros - it was worth it.
Even flying within Spain was a bargain ( Madrid - Granada : 40 euros on Vueling)



danon is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 05:56 AM
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sorry, it was Barcelona - Granada, from Granada to Madrid we flew Iberia for 50 euros.
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Nov 6th, 2007, 06:11 AM
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"This is right, but only half the story. In Europe (except UK), you will find a huge selection of decent wines for 4 to 5 Euros (6 to 7.50 USD). In the USA, similar qualities are sold for 10 to 12 USD plus tax."

I disagree on a few counts:

1) I have been to the following countries since January: Belgium (2x), Norway, Sweden (multiple times), UK (3x), Holland (3x), Denmark (home, for now), France (2x), and Italy. In all but Italy and France, I did not see much in the €4 to €5 range (retail). Even in Italy and France, I wouldn't describe what I saw as a significant number of labels.

2) I do not find the quality any better at those low prices. Indeed, in most of those countries, the cheaper wines seemed largely the same Australian, South American, and Spanish wines you get in the US at the same price points. In France and Italy, this is supplemented by French and Italian wines not good enough for the export market. You also get more South African wine in Europe at the low price range, but I generally do not find South African wines to be any good, even compared to other cheap wine.

3) I think you are underestimating the value of some $10-$15 US wines. Labels like Mont St Michelle, Rosenblum, Ravenswood, Rancho Zabaco, and Rabbit Ridge are all good and reliable options. At that price range in Europe you are taking a real chance. Indeed, there are entire wine regions - Tuscany and Burgundy, for example, where I think it nearly impossible to get an even decent bottle in that price range. Both regions do have genuinely great wines, but all of the good ones are priced accordingly.

4) Not all states add sales tax to wine - Massachusetts, among them.

"The differences grow bigger if you move to sparkling wine and high-quality brandy and cognac, especially when served in a restaurant."

I will grant you brandy and cognac, but sparkling wine is a little tougher argument. Proseccos and cavas are increasingly common in the US, and can be had in the $10 range. Chateau Ste. Michelle out of Washington produces a whole range of well-regarded sparklers in the Champagne style in that range as well. I do not find genuine champagne to be a great bargain in Europe, though the selection is usually better.

Now what I will grant you about Southern Europe only, is that you will get more value for your money at the mid-tier restaurants, both in food and wine. I have long said that you can have a truly amazing French meal in Paris or New York or LA or London or Las Vegas, and that you will pay accordingly. What sets France apart is the quality of mid-range places exceeds the typical "family" restaurant in the US. This is particularly true regarding the wine lists, as most mid-range US places have a tough time selling anything in enough volume to really be competitive with price. At high-end places, where you are paying for expertise and the carrying costs of a large cellar, I find prices comparable.
travelgourmet is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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I found the same recently looking into hotels in Paris. I'm no expert and have only been once before but even the often recommended "Budget" favorites were ~125euro+, get that into USD and it is out of my price range especially traveling solo.

It won't stop me from going but I realize I'll probably need to drop my "standards" from a 3-star to a 1- or a 2-star or look in the less central neighborhoods (like I always advise other people not to do!).
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Nov 6th, 2007, 07:04 AM
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Okay, travelgourmet, I add "except UK and Scandinavia". I admit that in Denmark, wines are outrageously expensive.

Otherwise, your post stands for a fundamental difference between Americans and Europeans.

>>>In France and Italy, this is supplemented by French and Italian wines not good enough for the export market.<<<

This is a typical misunderstanding (or should I say: arrogance?). In French, Italian (and German and Austrian and Swiss and Greek and...) stores you find good inexpensive wines made by regional producers who are simply too small to export their products.

The Swiss hardly export any of their wines, because they drink more than they produce. But they make excellent wines.

Export has nothing to do with quality. Or do you want to say that Ernesto & Julio Gallo produce great wines?

>>>Indeed, there are entire wine regions - Tuscany and Burgundy, for example, where I think it nearly impossible to get an even decent bottle in that price range.<<<

Excuse me, but you do obviously simply not know the wines of these regions. Both in Tuscany and Burgundy, there are hundreds of producers who sell good wines for less than 5 Euros per bottle (believe me, I just came back from Macon last week - in a small, neigborhood-type supermarket in Tournus, I found at least two dozens of vins de Bourgogne for less than 5 Euros, and I bought a few bottles, and I can say, they are really good). Chianti even had a bad reputation for being a cheap-wine region, and during the last years they (successfully) tried to raise their quality level.

travelgourmet seems to be oriented towards big brands (like Mont St Michelle, Rosenblum, Ravenswood, Rancho Zabaco, and Rabbit Ridge). And maybe this is the reason why he/she thinks that a European wine needs a big brand (like Chateau Mouton) to be good.

In Europe, we like to explore the small, family-run wineries and regional specialties which are often a bargain.

traveller1959 is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 07:38 AM
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I actually like the wines that are a blend or Merlot and Cab. They often have the cheapest prices.
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Nov 6th, 2007, 07:39 AM
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Have you checked out www.hostelz.com for a list of hostels in Europe? I flew Business Class to Europe and stayed at a seven-bed dorm in Barcleona.
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Nov 6th, 2007, 08:01 AM
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>>>The Swiss hardly export any of their wines, because they drink more than they produce. But they make excellent wines.<<<

As do Austrians.
elina is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 08:04 AM
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well
hotels are very expensive only in big cities.
If you rent a car and go let say to Marche (300 kilometres northest of rome) you drink good wine, eat as never eaten before and sleep for few euros .... and you are off the beaten path ...which is a plus in my opinion
ciao
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Nov 6th, 2007, 08:10 AM
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"travelgourmet seems to be oriented towards big brands (like Mont St Michelle, Rosenblum, Ravenswood, Rancho Zabaco, and Rabbit Ridge). And maybe this is the reason why he/she thinks that a European wine needs a big brand (like Chateau Mouton) to be good."

Whoa Nellie! I was just trying to offer some options that are easy to find, good value, and reliable. Don't take this to mean that I only drink stuff from the big producers. Would you prefer if I suggested ROAR or Gypsy Dancer or Williams Selyem or Caffaro or Lange or some guy basically making it in his garage in Mendoza, Argentina (Carmelo Patti, was the guy, BTW)...? I see no value in offering a comparator that most people have never tried. The major brands serve as a useful benchmark precisely because of their ubiquity.

And this is exactly my point about many of these cheaper European wines. They are so small that it is difficult to know much, if anything about them. You are taking a real chance on the quality. Yes, you may end up with a good bottle, but a bad producer (how would the average person know?) or a bad vintage and the wines can be shockingly bad.

"This is a typical misunderstanding (or should I say: arrogance?). In French, Italian (and German and Austrian and Swiss and Greek and...) stores you find good inexpensive wines made by regional producers who are simply too small to export their products."

I wouldn't call it arrogance, just a belief that quality doesn't stay a secret. And that quality is prized enough for folks to pay for it. If a wine is only selling in one region, for $5 a bottle, I believe there is often a good reason for it.

And you toss out Swiss wines. Fine. They aren't exported, but they aren't exactly cheap either. And Austrian wines are becoming very common in the US - often for less than $20 per bottle. But none of this shows that wines in Europe are the incredible value they are being made out to be.

"Okay, travelgourmet, I add "except UK and Scandinavia". I admit that in Denmark, wines are outrageously expensive."

Actually, wine is not outrageously expensive in Denmark. Sweden and Norway, yes, but not Denmark, as they don't have the same taxes to discourage drinking. Prices are higher than in the US, but not by a frightening amount.

But, the larger point was that everyone throws out "Europe" as if it is a single entity. These rules about cheap wine just don't apply to much of Europe, including the UK, Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium, even Germany. We are talking about roughly half of Western Europe! And I don't get the sense that Eastern Europe (outside maybe Hungary) offers the sort of variety you are talking about. That there are cheap wines in France and Spain and Italy is fine, but I fail to see how this is overly useful to someone who, as best I can tell, is going to Amsterdam. Yet, everyone says "wine is cheap in Europe" and this is, frankly, incomplete information.

"Excuse me, but you do obviously simply not know the wines of these regions."

I can assure you that I am not the only person to have made such statements. Burgundy, in particular, long ago ceased to be a value region.

"In Europe..."

Ummm. For the record. I live in Europe.
travelgourmet is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 08:25 AM
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Poland. Palatable wines begin at $2.5 for 75 ml. Most are from Bulgaria and Moldova. Of interest to beer drinkers, we have brews of 5% to 10% alcohol content. A half liter can about 70 cents! Bottles are less expensive but you need return the bottle for its deposit.
GSteed is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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"It won't stop me from going but I realize I'll probably need to drop my "standards" from a 3-star to a 1- or a 2-star or look in the less central neighborhoods (like I always advise other people not to do!)."

Why would you drop your standards? USE PRICELINE!!!! This cannot be stressed enough when traveling to major cities in Europe. Sure, you won't get to choose your exact hotel, and it isn't cancellable, but is it really worth staying in a 1-star in suburban Paris when you can get into a comfortable (if generic) 3-star closer in?
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