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Voltaire Brown

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Voltaire Brown's Don't Travel Europe Home Page
- Voltaire Brown's Opening Words
- Basics
- Notes To Unintelligent Travelers
- Documents and Packing
- Money
- Getting To Europe
- Voltaire Brown's Closing Words
Baltic States
Iberia (Spain/Portugal)
Europe's Other Losers

Voltaire Brown never made a lot of money. He goes over currency exchange and various outdated exchange rate information


"Money makes the world go 'round and is equally as useful in making people go around the world. Without money, people would stay home and watch reruns on television, and the tourist industry would be out of business. Every national tourist industry knows this, and from the moment you arrive in Europe, they will be trying to part you, the fool, from your money. "  Voltaire Brown

If you think you'll spend $2,000 on your trip, bring $5,000.  Think $5,000, bring $15,000.  Over $10,000, take your life's savings.  In Europe, every shop is quaint, every restaurant is new, and every sight is unseen.  Your spouse or traveling companion will nag you to do it all.  Usually, one-third of what you pay reflects the true value of the good or service that you buy, the other two-thirds the amount you're being ripped off as a tourist.  Americans routinely overpay by four times, Canadians and Britons by three times, and New Zealanders by about one-and-a-half times.  Australians are actually entitled to a discount if they sing "Down Under" while munching on a vegemite sandwich. 

The best way to carry money is to take somebody else's.  Second to that, we recommend counterfeit bills.

Currency Exchange

Currency exchange is one of those necessary evils every traveler must suffer through.  Most European currencies fluctuate vís a vís other currencies, so you never know exactly how much local money you're going to get for your own.  The only constant in the jungle of floating exchange rates is that you're going to get ripped off.

Currency exchange in Europe works something like this.  You walk up to a currency exchange booth and hand them your dollars.  The cashier will, in turn, give you nothing.  In the worst cases, the commission costs are higher than the amount you're actually changing, so you'll wind up paying the cashier even more money to still get none of the local currency.  A few examples of exchange rates are listed below.

Exchange Rates For US$1 At Some Popular European Destinations         Valid April 1991

Country Newspaper Rate What The Traveler Actually Got
Austria 11.80 schillings 1 schilling and a goofy smile
Belgium 38 francs 38 African francs, worth about 17¢
Bulgaria 0.84 lev a headache
England 0.63 pounds sterling an outdated British coin from 1941 plus a correction of his English pronunciation
Germany 1.65 marks a sample of a German sausage
Greece 152 drachmae one U.S. dollar -- no one's ever around to change money
Italy 1,250 lire his wallet stolen
Norway 6.70 krone a lot of small talk and little money
Spain 110 pesetas alternate greetings of "Welcome to España" and "No hablo inglés"
Sweden 6.20 krona nothing, but the female cashiers are pretty

Where To Put Your Money

This shouldn't be too difficult.  As we've already explained, once you get to Europe to change your money into local currency, you won't have any money to worry about.

Women can hide the odd bill between their breasts, if they're large and firm enough -- the bills, that is.  This will not discourage European men from stealing, but you may get a nice fondle in the process.  You're probably going to be fondled in any case, particularly in Italy, so you might as well put some money there to justify the ordeal.  Men can conceal currency notes inside their shoes.  This comes in very handy when you're trying to pay in Germany.  Germans would rather accept nothing than take smelly money.  It reminds them too much of the hyperinflationary times after the First World War when currency notes had the value of garbage.

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 Voltaire Brown talks about money, currency exchange, exchange rates, and how to run toward the pitfalls and get ripped off!