When we arrive in a new city, a walking tour is a great way to get introduced to the city and get oriented to special sights. Paid walking tours are available in most cities and can cost from $5 to $15 per person. In many places we are able to find free walking tours. There are two basic types of free walking tours.
I’ve re-blogged this article from another blogger to show the rather dramatic drop in the Euro versus the dollar which has taken place recently. Just since we arrived in Italy, the exchange rate has dropped to 1.18 from 1.25.
Even though this is good news if you are looking to visit Europe, know that if you purchase a tour package you may not benefit from this drop in the Euro. The tour operator will charge you in dollars and will fix your cost at the time you book. This could work to your benefit or to your detriment depending upon what direction the exchange rate takes from that point. But, all things being equal, you should be able to book travel now at a lower cost that you could have only a few months ago.
Bad news for the European Union is good news for U.S. travelers. Over the past six months renewed economic concerns in Euroland have driven the area’s currency down nearly 16% versus the U.S. dollar. That means every country using the Euro, all 19 of them, is on sale. Every hotel, every meal, every taxi ride is 16% cheaper than it was just six months ago.
As with most sales, these bargains won’t necessarily last. So if you’ve had your eye on a shiny new European vacation, it’s just gotten a whole lot more affordable.
If you’re in the market for even deeper bargains look further east where the Russian ruble is down about 45% versus the dollar.
The city of Turin (pics) played host to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. My guidebook says that the event was very successful and brought a building boom to the city including a new Metro system. Since then they have hosted numerous conferences and exhibitions. You can see some of the results of these efforts yet an excess of graffiti seems to plague many areas.
When I posted about Venice, I neglected to mention cicchetti. This refers to small snacks or side dishes served in bars around Venice. These may be small sandwiches, crostini, vegetables, a variety of seafood or other small portions of typical full course plates. You can pick and choose portions of these dishes. The bar we visited for cicchetti had a variety of about 20 different items to choose from, priced from 1.5 Euros to 3 Euros each.
Cicchetti is generally available throughout the day and locals may stop in at any time for a quick snack. Usually, cicchetti will be accompanied by a glass of wine so there is a social ritual that goes along with this type of food. The bars are generally small and may only have a few tables where you may stand while having your snack. It’s a terrific way to experience some different foods and to take part in a very Venetian activity.