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Just back from 2 weeks in Italy & WON'T be going to Europe again until the $ strengthens

Just back from 2 weeks in Italy & WON'T be going to Europe again until the $ strengthens

Old Jan 13th, 2008, 10:28 AM
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As a Canadian traveler, I would like to echo travel2's sentiments at the varying value of our dollar. I believe the highest exchange rate we've paid is $1.62CAD for 1 Euro!!! Ouch!

How do we manage trips to Europe? Well, we factor the exchange into the cost of our trip. Then we save, save, save! In the past 11 years, we have traveled to France 4 times and this year, we are going to Italy. (No doubt Italy will be more expensive than France.) So, while an annual trip is not in our budget, we are content to be able to plan for a trip every 2 or 3 years!

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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 10:36 AM
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Benitakaren - We also fly NWA from MSP and LOVE the 330s. As mentioned, the individual TVs are very nice. I also like the headrest deal built into the seat, as it supports my neck when sleeping. Enjoy!
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 10:45 AM
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Thanks for giving us your point of view. It's always interesting to hear what others think of the hit our dollar has taken.

It seems that while thinking about how much money you've spent on dinner and museums, you forgot to enjoy your time in Rome and Venice.

What did you enjoy in Rome and Venice? It would be a shame if all you remembered was how badly the US$ is versus the €.

I would compare the value of the € vs the value of the $ from your last trip before this disappointing trip, and see what the real difference was.

For me, I will take my recent Paris trip, and compare it with my previous Berlin trip. Today's rate is $1.48 to the €.

When I was in Paris this June, it was $1.34 per €, an increase of 14 cents on the dollar. For every €100 I spent then, today, I would have to shell out an extra $14.

When I was in Berlin in June 2006, the exchange rate was $1.26 per €, an increase of 21 cents on the dollar. For every €100 I spent then, today, I would have to shell out an extra $21.

I normally spend about €500 when I'm with my mom in Europe, which would mean an extra $105 from my savings at the 2006 rate (or $69 at the 2007 rate). These are amounts I think I can swing easily. And if I can't, then I feel I personally have no business going on vacation.

But I wouldn't give up Europe. Go East, young laddies.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 10:49 AM
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Oops. For Berlin, that should have been "for every €100, it would now cost me an extra $22." Which means that for my average expenditure, it would now mean an extra $110 from the 2006 Euro, and an extra $70 from the 2007 Euro.

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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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If you have any interest in learning a language, enrolling in a class in Europe is about as cheap a way to travel as there is around. You stay with local families and can get meals with them also. Classes are normally half-day. There is some sort of school in virtually any medium or large city.

Pick a city, find a school, and when you arrive you have not only the family you are stayinhg with as friends but also usually 20-40 students [ages 18-70 usually]at the school as well. They will all share the little "good" places they have found, great day trips, etc.

I've done this 6-8 times in both Europe and Central America and it really is a great way to get a better feel for life in the place you visit.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 10:58 AM
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Try being an international flight attendent and going to Europe everyweek without getting paid extra(left during the cost cutting era)-its getting ridiculous! That is why some F/A's are bringing food from home or only shopping for food at the grocery store for dinner. Sad!
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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Dutyfree...you're not on vacation. You're working. Totally different set of circumstances. And it's horrible what they put you through. I know. I have a friend who works in your line of business.

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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 11:26 AM
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One solution: be "old" , like my husband and I, and realize you don't have the time to wait until the dollar gets better! >)

None of us are getting any younger!
We are planning a trip for spring,,,not sure of details just yet. Planning is at least half the fun of the trip.....(the cheapest part).
We almost always have a car and often seek out where the locals are eating...order one main dish and one soup or appetizer,we don't drink wine,and still often eat 2 () meals a day in addition to breakfast. (sometimes the largest meal at lunchtime). We buy snacks in the suermarkets, which is a fun experience in itself.
julies: the prices you quoted don't seem too far out of line for Europe.
Of course I don't like what the dollar is doing.....and sometimes take issue with the prices of hotels etc....but we've decided not to forfit a European trip at this stage. (or else we might get "out of the habit".)
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 11:34 AM
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I started this thread & have a little feedback to the reponses I got. Unfortunately for me, I remember the day not all that many years ago (8 or 9 maybe) when it cost me .80 to buy 1 euro. When we planned this trip 1 euro cost $1.47 at a good bank rate. This means that when we calculated our costs we always multiplied everything by 1.5. The reality is it adds up, and I think people should be aware of this because when planning all too many people think about the costs of hotels and airfare and don't really think about total costs.

Yes, we can afford the costs of paying more dollars for the euro (we wouldn't have gone if we weren't able to), but we don't know if it is worth it to us to travel to places where the dollar buys so little. We had a really good time and did everything we wanted to, and there was only one thing we didn't do that we had thought about, and that was more a cancellation because of logistics than cost, although they were a factor. So, no, we didn't spend every minute worrying about every nickle, and we probably spent money where some people wouldn't have. But, we were very aware of how the depressed dollar affected costs.

As far as meals, it was not worth it to us to spend $75 -$100 a night for dinner every night for 2 weeks. Maybe some of you wouldn't bat an eye, but to us it wasn't worth it. We did spend quite a bit of money though at the nearby bakery (supposed to be the best in Rome) that had fantastic pizzas and sandwiches.

Perhaps I should have said Western Europe in my title. I know Europe is a big place, but everywhere in the euro zone the exchange rate is the same, and a dollar doesn't buy very many euros. I also know Rome and Venice (in particular) are more expensive than other more out of the way locales. But, for a dead of winter trip, cities are the place to visit. the countryside, which we normally prefer, looked pretty bleak from the train windows.

In fact, we have visited most of the more out of the way locales mentioned above, and many more than those. In addition to the usuals on the tourist route, we've been to Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, rural France where we've rented gites, rural Germany, rural Spain, and Turkey.

As I said in my original post, I just want people to be aware of costs up front. And, you all know as well as I do, that probably 70-80% of the people who use this forum are planning trips to the usual big tourist attractions and cities. There they will face similar expenses.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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The best meal I had in Venice was a delish tuna sandwich with olives from a cafe window. It was 1.30 Euro. I wish I could have found any eatery for 50 dollars a meal, that is a bargain. We researched decent eateries in Venice, and our hotel owner led us to some that were "up and coming", just like the guide books said also - these places were packed early. The food was just ok, and sometimes not very good. So if I went back, I would cut costs with dining out in Venice. We spent 15 full days in Rome, Venice, and Florence, had accomodations that went from 80-150 Euros, with the later only being 3 nites. We spent about what we budgeted-$8,000 dollars including airfare. We shelled out lots for the food-even all the cheap pizza on the run, museums, and so forth. I thought we kept a tight budget, but the money went quick. My son just got back from Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Peru. In some of the countries he dined on fab food, with a large group, and with drinks, for 20-40 dollars. I will choose my next destination based somewhat on the exchange rate also. There are many great places to go, some can just wait for me. And they will.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 11:40 AM
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I just returned from a trip to Hungary. Budapest was great. Most of the museums were free or not at all expensive. There were many expensive, touristy things, though, like embroidery, ceramics, famous cafes (Gerbeud) etc. Instead of shopping in Budapest, I shopped in smaller villages. I loved Szentendre, Eger, Estergom, Visigrad, and especially Pecs. You can save a lot by visiting smaller towns and villages that aren't big tourist hubs. The Fodor's guidebook notes that prices along the Danube Bend are 20% less than they are in Budapest, and frankly, I loved the quiet, charming towns and villages.
A few years back, while traveling in France, I would go to supermarkets and buy beautiful cheese and bread and fresh fruit, and then treat myself once in a while to a fancy restaurant.
I've not traveled at all to South/Central America, but I hear that it is beautiful and not at all expensive. And some cities (I think Buenos Aires, etc) are even supposed to have the European charm.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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Julies, I understand that most people would agree with the following statement, but I'm not so sure that I agree with it completely.
"for a dead of winter trip, cities are the place to visit. the countryside, which we normally prefer, looked pretty bleak from the train windows."
As I said, I was in Hungary from the end of December and returned recently. Budapest was great, but the little towns and the countryside was fabulous, even with the cold. In fact, my boyfriend and I stopped by some vineyards and it looked quite magical with icicles. We also had wine in the taverns and enjoyed the haven of warmth in the cold. I'll post pics soon.
You are right, Europe is expensive, and if you don't want to return for some time, that is your choice. I just want to point out that it is possible to go to Europe and not spend an excessive amount (I don't have such a huge budget), and it is possible to go to places off-season, save some money, and still enjoy the charm.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 12:08 PM
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I'm sure you've been told that the prognosis for dollar strength is rather bleak. One currency analyst whom I've known and respected for ten years firmly states that she doesn't see a healthier dollar for at least a decade. It would be a shame to decide to ignore Europe for such a long period of time.

You might want to investigate S.A....we loved Chile, Argentina and Brazil on several visits and admittedly the dollar more than holds its own there.

But, on the other hand, following many of the sensible tips offered on these forums could make for a more comfortable visit to Europe without mortgaging the farm. I recently spent a week in NYC..ouch..makes Europe look like a bargain if you meticulously plan for it.

Whatever you decide, Julie, I wish you many happy travels to wherever..it's a big world.

Stu T.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 01:05 PM
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Another cheap dining option in Rome (relatively speaking):

I think that even without the Euro/$ exchange issue, Rome hotel prices have really skyrocketed, at least based on the reported prices people are paying here. 200 Euros per night for a standard room seems quite common (although I think you can often do better, but like I said this seems like a commonplace price). A 1972 book I read mentioned a pension in Travestere where you could get room and full board for $4USD per day. But with the whole world wanting to go to Rome, and with Rome being just a small city, it's inevitable that supply and demand will be at work.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 01:37 PM
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It's rough with the exchange but I am also Canadian so I've had to contend with a weak dollar for many years. The Canadian dollar is up a bit this year over last so I may notice an improvement on value for money next June in France.

Nothing will keep me from traveling to Europe but I've had to really search for bargins on air flights, hotel and car rental to try and make my budget work. I've also reduced the amount of days overseas from 14+ to an average of 11 days. Better that than not to go at all since travel is my passion in life.

I will usually forgo the expensive hotel breakfast for a cafe down the street. Picnic lunches are wonderful and I make a point of keeping my dinner splurges to a select few opting for Trattoria or family style restaurants. A moderate meal at home can easily cost in excess of 100.00 per couple.

I almost always go over budget but never regret taking the trip. Mind you my house might fall down around me yet if I don't start sinking some money into it. I just can't help thinking that a new deck could buy me two weeks in Tuscany...

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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 02:20 PM
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Two first courses of pasta, two main dishes with meat, one salad and wine for two would cost more than $50 at Denny's and that is a crummy place indeed. At least you dined in Rome.

And, a Motel 6 around So Cal would cost more than $105/night and would not be in a better part of town, that is for sure. So, California travel would not work for you either.

I am sorry--I am not trying to be mean spirited here, but I really do not see the point of your upset. You did well.

Anna Roz
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 02:23 PM
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To my dear Canadian friends,
Don't forget that in most provinces you have that pesky 15% tax on everything. Plus you are often taxed on the tax. It is called the harmonized tax I believe. For instance, at a restaurant they first charge you the federal tax on your meal and then you are taxed on that sum for the provincial tax. Plus don't forget the 15% tip. It really adds up. I was in the Azores last summer where they use the euro and I remember thinking that Canada was way more expensive. Quebec City has become very expensive for eating out and I would dare to say that in Europe that you could eat for the same amount if not for probably less than you do Au Canada!
In Europe the price is what it is. No tipping and no tax to worry about. In Montreal you look at a menu and you see an entree for $25. Well you have to add another 30% for tax and tip.
I am going to Spain next month and I managed to buy some euro a few months ago. I am glad that I did. I am not worrying(well yes I am a little) about the exchange rate. I am just going to spend about $100 per day on meals. Im going for a week and I really want to enjoy my time there.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 02:52 PM
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Italy is expensive. Period. The Euro could be worth $0.01 and the prices would still be expensive. I remember when I was in Italy in 2005 hearing people from Deep Southern Italy (south of Naples) complaining about how when Italy converted to the Euro, prices eseentially doubled due to the "strict" fiscal discipline imposed by the EU, at least compared to when Italy only had to (mis-)manage the lira.

As I recall, an espresso standing up at a bar other than in Rome or Florence was around €1-€1.25. Cappuccino was around €2.00. Contrast that with when I was in Lisbon last month: the most expensive espresso I had was €0.65. In fact, the most expensive meal the 3 of us who went to Lisbon had was around €35 for 3 main courses, 3 salads, house wine, and water. €35 = $52.

Keep in mind that although an "official" Italian meal is an appetizer, primo, secondo, and vegetable, you are under no obligation whatsoever to eat all of that. I've found that I am frequently plenty full just eating the bread/breadsticks brought out as part of the cover charge, plus a primo OR secondo, plus a vegetable. So that cuts out two servings per person, at what can easily add up to €15-€20. In fairness, though, Southern Italy is comparatively cheaper than central and northern Italy, mostly because the economy there is worse and it's not generally on the tourist rote.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 03:02 PM
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<<One solution: be "old" , like my husband and I, and realize you don't have the time to wait until the dollar gets better! >>

Hear, hear!! We love Italy and always want to go back.
This year we go in mid-May for 3 weeks.

But over time I don't know what the story is going to be -- after our retirement 10 years ago we have had to manage our money carefully, and the stock market, etc. are making it harder now.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 03:22 PM
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"but we don't know if it is worth it to us to travel to places where the dollar buys so little"

I KNOW THAT I'M SHOUTING BUT MY HEART IS IN ITALY.... and Mari I don't know if 60 is young or old but I'm willing to pay extra on some things.

The plane, we live in the rusal western US and if can get any ANY flight that is more direct we are willing to spend a little extra.

Room, we only want something clean and okay (we're usually in an agro by Radda) so rooms are not a huge priority.

Food, we usually have a large lunch and no dinner.

Wine, well there goes our budget.

Friends we've met along the way, absolutly irreplaceable (I'm a horrible speller)

Is'nt it interesting how we all value our time and travel. Is'nt it great that we EVEN have the ability to get out of our small worlds and experience life.
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