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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Messages 1 2 

Making Mistakes with Currency by rumblefish on 6 February 2003 12:10pm
has anyone made a big mistake with the currency im usually pretty good with the local lingo but the one thing i always struggle with is numbers and currency my last trip to naples they had just gone over to the euro and i gave a taxi driver what i thought he asked for 30 euros but i think he was asking for 13 euros cos that was one hell of an expensive ride thats about twenty pounds just to go 2 miles no wonder he was pleased, I was annoyed with myself allday its just sometimes you panic and its not your currency so you just start handing it over mind you its usually only when you first arrive after that obviously I was very cautious. girlfriend thought it was very funny shes not very good at the lingo but is pretty good with numbers and currency. My first ever trip to france I was 10 I went into a bakers and instead of asking for 3 croissants i mistakenly asked for 13 I was too embarrassed to say anything there went my daily allowance.
Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by stephlynne on 6 February 2003 4:25pm
I haven't made any mistakes with currency, but I did find it interesting that it can be so hard to exchange money. When my husband and I went to Peru we were told ahead of time to make sure all US bills were crisp and clean with no tears, otherwise they would not be accepted. We made special trips to our bank to get new pristine bills, and tried to pack them all carefully so they wouldn't get damaged en route. When we went to a money changer halfway through the trip, they refused a $20 bill because of a miniscule tear that we could barely even see. They told us they could only give us $19 worth of Peruvian soles for it. We managed to keep the bill and use it as $20 (not $19) at home.
Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by peripatetically on 6 February 2003 5:54pm
Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by peripatetically on 6 February 2003 5:55pm
USA: Rumblefish, I made a mistake with currency, but it's such a long story and I haven't the time at the moment to tell you. Please, if you don't see it here in about another day or two, REMIND me! I'll try to explain it fully. In the end, it was one the best things that's ever happened to me!
I made a note to myself. So I'll try very hard. It's pretty good.

Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by peripatetically on 7 February 2003 3:48am
USA:Hey, Rumblefish, I'm ready to tell my story. Here it goes.
On my first trip to Vienna, in 1975, I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel and spent a few memorable evenings in the Intermezzo Bar with friends and my traveling companion--Some Austrian friends which I met with my traveling companion the previosu year. One was a middle-aged gentleman and the others were in thier 20's and related. Because so many memories were made there and we loved the bar itself--(very classy with a huge Czechslovakian crytal chandelier- we decided to make a visit to it on a subsequent trip in 1979, when we visited Vienna but stayed in a differnt hotel.

After a day of exploring the countryside, we decided to shower and dress for dinner, but first we thought a drink was in order. We arrived a little early, for most bar-goers, around 6:30 p.m. and decided to sit right at the bar and not in a booth. I ordered a small bottle of wine, and my friend ordered herself a mixed drink. We had not eaten yet, so I decided it wasn't a good idea to drink more than a glass. We had no other plans that evening so we thought we'd eat and return for a quiet night with no other running around town. We were pretty tired from our day's activities. As my friend and I were paying our own bills separately, she placed her schillings on the bar and a little while later the bartender came by and took them and gave her change. I had placed my schilling there too, in front of me, and waited and waited for him to come and take it so we could give him the bottle of wine to keep while we ate and returned later. The bartender was a handsome guy, about 38 or so. He was becoming more and more busy, but often passed us and looked at my money laying there. I didn't say anything, for my friend and I continued to talk about a myriad of things including our next day's plans, etc. It became increasingly worrisome that I was being ignored. After about 10-15 minutes of waiting, but while staying occupied, I decided to say something. I excused myself and told him I was ready to pay my bill and would he take my money. He was such a gentleman. He stopped, and half bowed and said something like, "I would be very pleased to do so, but there is not enough money to cover the bill. He half smiled and I was sooooooooooooooooooooooo embarrassed. My friend began to laugh and I blushed and he blushed and we all had a good laugh. I was so confused because I had just come from Germany a day before and the Euro wasn't used yet. For some reason, my mind wasn't calculateing correctly that night. I usually had no problems with currency conversions, but I did this time. After I rummaged through my purse for the correct amount, which came to an extremely large amount I still owed him, we all laughed for a long time. He was too embarrassed to tell me I was not placing the right money there and so he was also embarrassed. His English was really good, but we detected that he was not Austrian. His accent wasn't quite of one who would speak German as his native language. We asked about that and he told us he was Hungarian. A very long friendship followed and he and his family invited us to Hungary after we told him Budapest was a place we would love to see someday. He lived there until his early 20's but escaped to look for a better life in the west.(A very long story). However, he sent his daughter back to visit his family every summer when school was not in session and he and his wife would get her at the end of the summer each year. It was at this time, he told us would be good for us to make plans. After a few years, and many letters and Christmas cards later, we did just that. We made plans to be in Budapest for a week by ourselves and then meet them for another week where they were staying on Lake Balaton, a favorite resort of many Hungarian people. While we were in Budapest on our own, we somehow, managed to do an awful lot without knowing a single word of the Hungarian language (and very little German). It was fulfilling to us to have accomplished so much in such a different environment with such difficult circumstances. We traveled up and down the Danube valley by train and hydrofoil, and walked the entire part of the old city, took a bus tour of the newer section (also very old) and visited churches and took a million pictures. It was wonderfully educational. Our hotel was in the best location, overlooking the Danube and Parliment and sitting next to the Matthais Church and Fisherman's Bastion. We traveled by local bus, cab, etc. and ate in many cafes and restaurants, ordering things we had no idea what we were getting half the time. But the food and drink was scrumptious and the gypsy music divine.
Anyway, one night, our Hungarian bartender was to meet us at the hotel, so he arrived right on time with flowers and took us to meet his family at an outdoor restaurant with music and tons of food. It was a dream come true--- fun, fun, fun. Actually, he was a famous soccer player at one time for the country and was known by a lot of people in Budapest so he was able to entertain us lavishly, a lot of special treatment. After that dinner, he took us on the oldest subway in Europe and then to a nightclub. He escorted us back to the hotel by cab for a nightcap and then we said goodbye until 3 days later. He went back to Lake Balaton with his family that night, where he was staying for a total of 2 weeks. He returned to our hotel that weekend and took us to Lake Balaton to spend the 2nd week with them. Of course, he took us everywhere to see the sites. A trip across the lake on a boat for a special lunch, a nice swim each day in the lake(We had our suits), dancing and shopping. I tell you, it was wonderful. When our time was up there, and time to go back to Vienna, he took us in his car, while the other family members returned to Vienna with family friends in another car. On our way, we passed an old castle ruin, etc. It was a most interesting ride. (Crossing the border was an experience I'll never forget and one of which wasn't to be taken lightly at the time. But that's quite another story. Maybe I can tell you about that another time. Remember, he was an ex-patriot of Hungary!) Anyway, he had made reservations for us about 4 blocks from his home in Vienna, at a little place near Schoenbrunn Palace in Hertzing, a residential and upscale neighborhood. He invited us to his house many times for lunch and dinner and took us all over the place, not to mention Bruck, a town south of Vienna. (Another story here, so tell at another time-- involving a wedding.) He also took us to the elderly gentleman's new home in the Wachau Valley, near Melk Monastery(yet another story). He did this while working a the hotel bar that week and still had the time for us. By now his vacation was over. Talk about being hospitable!!!!!!!!!

On other trips to Vienna, he took us to dinner several times, too, some in his home again, some in Grinzing(Schmidt's)-not too touristy at all), and lovely, etc. I could go on forever. He let us choose whatever we wanted to do and he made arrangements to make sure it was done for us, often being a personal tour guide.

I feel so very fortunte and can't count the blessings I have experienced because of him (and some others I have met while traveling). And... all because I didn't rememeber the currency that one night I stopped for a before dinner drink!!!!!!

Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by MissFruitcake on 7 February 2003 11:05am
You have the coolest travel stories!! (and a scarily very good memory!)
Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by peripatetically on 7 February 2003 8:57pm
USA: MissFruitcake. I'm glad you like the anecdote. They are fun to recall for others to enjoy. Here's another for you and for

The reason I have a good memory is because I did my homework before my trips, took tons of photos and made many many notes along the way. I always keep a journal of some sort and often document what I hear people say about a place if they are explaining something new to me. I also pick up pamphlets when visiting places, send postcards to people and recant what I learned the day I wrote them. All this helps the memory. Also, I have shown slides and my picture albums of all my trips to many many people and have repeated the stories a gazillion times. I must admit, sometimes the dates and experiences of some trips start to meld together and I forget a few things. But I'm doing pretty good remembering most. Every now and then, I pull an album off the shelf or turn on the projector, and "Voila!", there is the trip again. So much comes to mind with every photo! And my home is largely decorated with things from my trips---Not too many touristy , ugly things. Mostly pretty, decorative and tasteful items. Sketches, and plaques, linens, Christmas items. I had a featherbed and linens sent from Munich, and many other things from Rothenburg and Nuremburg too (Lots of Christmas tree ornaments, pyramids(if you know what they are--not like the ones in Egypt!), nutcrackers, smokers(Insense burners, that is...), wax angels as tabletop and treetop decorations at Christmas, and more. I also hauled a ton of things myself, for myself and for gifts. Jewlery, music boxes, watches, tablelinens, plaques and spice bouquets. Some people gave me things like bottles of wine and a bust of King Ludwig, clothes, a dried flower picture made with flowers from her own garden. Some of the smaller type items are the most precious. I have a couple antique pieces from an Austrian friend--an old pewter- lidded and etched stein and a pitcher from the empire period. It's been a wonderful life on the road. I also have dumb things saved, but they are mostly boxed. I keep napkins and little flags from meals served, candy wrappers and champagne wine and beer labels (If I soak them in the hotel sink and peel and dry them, beverage coasters and stamps. I have also taken pictures of some of my meals along with the bottles of beverages I've consumed. In a very unsanitary toilet, I took a picture of the facility. UGH!

Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by MissFruitcake on 8 February 2003 10:35am
hehehe we all have dumb souvenirs!!
(but boy you have some fantasitc ones too!)
When I went to Europe I wrote in a journal and when I came home I combined it with all my photos, tickets, brochures, serviettes, chocolate wrappers (even a sparkly swizzle stick put in my gelato in italy!) and made a scrapbook. It's so precious to me now :)
Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by peripatetically on 8 February 2003 11:03am
You can say that again! Let me think, I bet I will remember more now that you've mentioned some of your stuff.

Re: Making Mistakes with Currency by peripatetically on 8 February 2003 11:03am
USA: MIssfruitcake, you have the idea! And... you jostled my memory again UH OH, here I go again.... I too have saved wrappers and things like that. Instead of making another comment about that in a separate chat, I amended my last one (at the end). But, although some of those things are in my picture album, some are not. One thing I collected, too, was a ski patch and other patches from mountains I have ascended. I skiied in Austria and Italy in 1976, right after the Innsbruck Olympics ended. It was great!! All those patches and ski passes and a scarf from the USA "Welcome Center", and other items, are framed in what we call in the USA a "memory" frame. I just counted mine and there are 22 pathces in that frame. But anyway, you can put just about anything inside the frames that you wish to display, no matter how thick. This is on the wall in my computer room, but some are more like boxes intended for sitting flat on tables. You can also use these items for dolls and big items, like soccer balls and dancing shoes, and christening dresses Whatever your imagination tells you. I'm sure they can be bought all over the world these days. I only recently assembled my patches and passes after cleaning out an old chest in which I found a bagful of memorabilia. Oh, and did I mention I have a few Hummels, and also a silver spoon from every country I've ever visited? I guess I could scavenge my home to see what I've forgotten, because things are in many places, daily reminders of my journeys. I have hand carvings from Oberammergau, and wooden hand-carved cherubs from Vienna. I have a pretty petit point eyeglass case and purse from there too. Cow bells from Germany hanging in the kitchen over my sink and a Hungarian warrior bottle-cover made from felt.(It's very cute and used over an old empty bottle of wine I drank on a trip.) I also have a few handmade tiles from places like Yugoslavia and, domestically, the California missions. I also had some pieces to my set of dishes sent home one year--Villeroy and Boch. It's no longer manufactured, so I'm glad I added to it at the time. I have a small wall mirror from Rothenburg which has a twisted edged pewter frame and a chain as its hanger--Very pretty with a small etching in the glass. Sometimes I bring home the glass I drink from if the waiter allows me to buy one. Occasionally they tell me to just take it as a small gift from the restaurant. I have saved all admission tickets and church programs too. I usually try to attend a regular church service on Sunday mornings when I travel abroad. (Not each Sunday I'm away, just one.)

I guess all this seems extravagant to people, but when I began to travel, I was beginning to set up my household and just automtically bought things while I traveled. Some are decorative and useful, but some are just for memories' sake.

There was a time when I loved to do needlework of all sorts, knitting, cross stitch, embroidery, crewel work, needlepoint. So, when I was visiting a little town along the Mosel River, I stumbled onto a wonderful shop that carried items to make. I bought a gorgeous pattern for a bellpull and it is admired by everybody who sees it. I also have a small picture I worked of a snowy church scene in the Alps, a man giving flowers to a woman, and a typical structure of a house from that region. Did I mention stained glass? Yep, I have a piece in my window of ancient Munich. I bought one for my parents but it is a scene of a wine taster in a winestube from the middle ages, perhaps, or maybe later. But, it's an old depiction.

This is good therapy, telling these things. Almost like another trip abroad and it's fun! I'm looking at my desk here and see a leather-covered pencil holder from a trip to the Schoenbrunn Palace. It depicts the back staircase of the building with part of the vast gardens in the background. On a few occasions I bought very nice calenders as gifts for people at home and chose a few for myself while I was at it. When the year was over, I framed some of the pictures for hanging. One is a set of alpine wildflowers and they are in one of the bathrooms. Another calendar offered ancient scenes of countrysides and towns of Europe.

Is my home beginning to sound like a museum? Not really, it's really very cozy. I have tended to not have any souvenir names inscribed on things, Instead, I tended to buy things the locals would use in decorating their own homes.

Maybe some of you younger folk who are beginning to travel can get some ideas of what to buy. Don't waste too much of your money on dumb stuff.(A little is a must, but be frugal and think longterm.) Find quality items that will last and be useful, whether as art forms or as a "tool". I know a lot of you are just beginning to get your feet wet as far as traveling goes, and maybe this is some food for thought. The most important part is to be respectful of the people and their traditions and cultures and have fun. Try to learn something. I come away learning new things about myself and appreciate how really really lucky I am to be who I am and where I am. I admire what others have to offer and don't profess to having all the answers about life and how it should be led. Just inhale the good life out there and be sympathetic and empathetic at the same time. Bring back knowledge to use to make yourself a better person and citizen of the world.

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