Compared to 20 years ago touring around Europe has become a lot simpler due to the Euro.  Gone is the challenge of trying to use up all your money buying random duty free and chocolate at the airport, only for your flight be delayed for several hours and so you haven’t got any money for a coffee, never mind anything to eat.

We are visiting 7 countries but are only actually using 4 currencies; the Euro (Holland, Austria, Italy, Germany); the Czech Koruna; Hungarian Forint and the Swiss Franc. The Euro, as I have said, is no probem.  It’s also a lot easier when comparing prices.  Basically Sterling is about 3/4, so €4 is about £3.  Simple.  Koruna and Forints are in hundreds and thousands so they took a bit more working out.  We did take our first tram in Prague with me convinced that we had just paid £8 for the tickets (we hadn’t…obviously).

Before we came out we got bought some currency for each of the countries and planned to put the rest on the Post Office credit card. Travel Tip; get one.  You don’t get charged for using it abroad and the exchange rate is usually better than you get for cash.  I once put a deposit for a hire car on it in Spain and due to the fluctuation in the exchange rate at the end of the week I actually made money on the deposit which was credited to my card.  If we really got desperate we knew we could always draw from the hole in the wall.
This has been working well (except in Amsterdam where nobody seemed to accept cards) but we have been playing the “get rid of the money before we leave the county” trick.  We always had the safety blanket that what we had left over we could just exchange in Euros (but where’s the fun in that!).  The other thing is that most Bureau de changes only take notes.

I miscalculated terribly in Prague and was left with a few thousand Koruna (ok, that’s only about 20 quid, but still it’s the principle).  This was even after we bought lunch on the Prague to Vienna train.  We had plenty of money to buy food…but they ran out of food to sell us half way to Vienna.  To add insult to injury the guy in the restaurant car gave me 2 x 50 Koruna coins instead of a 100 note!  Doh!

In Budapest, I did better and after a bit bartering with the stewardess I just ended up with a 1,000 note. But my piece de resistance was today when by doing my “little boy lost” look I got rid of all my Swiss Francs.  I thought I had enough for a cup of tea (which we had to share) and a Bretzel.  I didn’t.  I was a few cents (or whatever a “bit” of a Franc is called) short.  I held my hand out with the shrapnel that I had left and she rummaged through it the way an old lady in a sweet shop would do when a child hasn’t enough money for the penny chews.  She smiled and said “that’ll do”.  Result, all my Francs gone and a cut price Bretzel to boot.  We are now in our final country so we are back with the trusted Euro.  I’ll see what I can get for my Koruna and Florins in Freiburg when we get there tomorrow.  Still, for once I will at least have something to put into the easyJet UNICEF envelope on the way home on Wednesday.

As I said, we are back in Germany so today’s cake is that Bavarian classic…Tiramisu.  Ok, it may not be local to here but it was local when we were in Como.  I just ran out of time to eat it!  Recipe link here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tiramisu_cake_13686

Trip Tally
Cars x 4
Planes x 2
Trains x 12
Bikes  x 2Trams  x 10
Boats x 4
Bus x 4Metro x 5
Funicular x 1
Fake airships x 1
Museums x 4
Concerts x 3
Theatre x 1
Cinema x 1
Sport x 1
Tours x 5
Different cakes eaten x 21
Different beers tried x 15
Christmas shops visited x 3
Australians spoken to x 9

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