A lesson both Brian and I learnt on our trip to Florence, Italy, was to budget better. As we were only staying for a week, I thought that $1000 Canadian would be enough spending money for myself, and I think Brian had budgeted for $1500 Canadian. The problem is when you are staying at a hotel and all you have is a mini fridge, you’re going to have to eat out a lot. Thank goodness a hearty breakfast was included at our hotel. Dining in Florence is not inexpensive and as Canadians we tip regardless of where we are, and what the culture may be around tipping.
Leaving shopping, museums, taxies and excursions such as our Taste of Chianti Tour with Walkabout Florence Tours out of the equation, dining was our number one expenditure. All the scrumptious Italian food prepared by others was leaving us travel poor. Especially when most lunches were at least 50 Euro plus tip (that would be $72.91 Canadian plus a tip!).
We also found ourselves saying, “hey look this is only ten dollars”, score! No, it is ten Euro which is equal to fifteen Canadian dollars. We suffered from our low Canadian dollar value, and the more frustrating part is when you’re hitting up mainstream spots such as Starbucks, their prices don’t change, at least not numerically. For example, a Grande Latte costs over five Canadian dollars in Canada, but in Italy, Germany or France, a Starbucks Grande Latte costs over five Euro, same numeric price, but not the same! Do you catch my drift!? I bought a gorgeous leather cross body purse which I do adore for 180 Euros which cost me approximately $273.00. The exchange rate can hurt especially when you see the difference on your bank statement. Today one Euro is equal to .69 cents Canadian, .61 cents to the British Pound and .75 cents to the US Dollar. Sadly, Canadian money presently is not doing so well.
Another lesson we learnt is when catching a cab, it is way less expensive to catch one outside of the busy downtown area, all that was required was crossing the Ponte Vecchio bridge which would knock off at least 10 to 12 Euro to return to our hotel which was not too far away, but away from the craziness of all the tourists. We figured this one out towards the end of our trip.
No doubt about it, we had a wonderful much needed vacation taking in surreal landscapes, and we really enjoyed our dining experiences.
Also, for anyone who may have an exceptionally long PIN to their bank card (I have an eight digit PIN), the bank machines in Italy only allow a maximum of six digits, so I was unable to draw cash from my main bank, so I had to draw money from my VISA and then transfer money from my other chequing account online. It was a pain in the posterior region and I did incur some additional costs, so if I had known this, I would have just dumped extra money on my VISA so it would have a positive balance. Anyway, I hope some of this information may be useful to others who are planning a trip away to Europe.
I have no regrets on anything I bought and I had a fantastic trip despite being currently “travel poor”.
Sadly, with the US dollar being worth so much more than our Canadian dollar – it would seem our money has the value of Monopoly money.
It isn’t just cute! Lots of Canadians have taken some artistic liberty with our famous blue five dollar Sir Wilfred Laurier bill.