My First Taste of Germany Pt 3
The money has been quite entertaining to say the least, but more accurately challenging. For those of you who are not aware, Germany, along with 16 other member states of the European Union (EU) uses the Euro, pronounced, in German, as “oy-row”, not “oreo” as one of the fellows in the Head Start pronounced it!
The sign for Euro is “€“. Allegedly, the symbol was designed after a public survey had narrowed the original ten proposals down to two. The European Commission then chose the design created by the Belgian Alain Billiet. While this is the official story, it is heavily disputed by Arthur Eisenmenger, a former chief graphic designer for the EEC, who claims to have created it as a generic symbol of Europe. He says the inspiration for the € symbol itself came from the Greek epsilon (Є)—a reference to the cradle of European civilization—and the first letter of the word Europe, crossed by two parallel lines to “certify” the stability of the euro. I like history, so it was interesting to me.
To me, the Euros looks like monopoly money, and there’s more of it! What I mean is that while US denominational coins consist of pennies, nickels, times and quarters, (easy enough, right?) the coins for Euros consist of 1¢, 2¢, 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, 1€, and 2€. I hijacked one of my 7-day vitamin containers to help me learn to work with so many coins. Don’t laugh, Wade! I’m sure it’s entertaining to the cashiers when I pull out my pill strip-box and count out the money, but it’s better than always pulling out a 20€ banknote or the likes. It helps me keep things straight so that I don’t give the wrong thing by mistake.
So if you go up to the cashier (kassierer) and the register says that your price is €2.23. It is just like in dollars, 2 euros and 23 cents…. Or zwie euros und driundzwanzig. Fortunately, all the cash registers typically have a display to show you how much it is, in the event that you just didn’t quite hear them.
Most of the stores do not accept ATM cards (Debit Cards) unless it’s the EC, which is the debit card (debitkarte) for local German banks. I guess it’s a good thing and a bad think. The good thing is that I recognize that having immediate access to your bank account can encourage overspending and impulse spending, or, in the very least, spending more than you initially intended. Also, with using your ATM / debit card so often, it becomes a security risk. So the good thing about most of the stores not accepting US debit / ATM cards is that it minimizes your risks of theft, as well as reduces your impulse spending. For instance: I went into XXXL and figured out how much I wanted to spend on exactly what items. I then went and withdrew the amount to cover it and spent only that. The bad thing is, that not all ATM machines will accept your card. If there is the word “bank” after the name, then typically the ATM present will accept your card, but this is not always the case. I know where the ATMs are downtown, and that helps. Another notation: you know how when you withdraw $100 from the ATM how it gives you $20, typically? Not an ATM here! If you pull € 100.00, it has not problem spitting out a € 50 or even € 100!! Not cool! Especially when you are simply wanting to pay the parking garage their € 0.80 for parking 2 hours in their garage while gorging ourselves on sushi.
Exchange rates change daily, and the ATM receipt will not always show you the exchange rate. Now, if you were to “check your balance”, many times, the exchange rate will be on that receipt. But when you withdraw money, you are never sure the exact exchange rate. Today, as of 15:30 on 17 August, the current exchange rate is € 1.282 per $1.00
http://www.x-rates.com/ is a great site to go to for currency exchange.
Okay folks. That’s enough for the day. It’s time for me to head over to the local getränkemarkt for my beverages. I’ll explain in my next “Taste of Germany” entry. Auf wiedersehen!