Thoughts, musings, prices

Trip Start Mar 18, 2012
Trip End Apr 25, 2012

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's a lot of fun to explore new places, to taste unusual foods and drinks and generally to experience how things are done in other countries.  People often ask us at home about prices and things so I thought I would share some of that.  We are staying in apartments because it is generally cheaper and well, much more comfortable than a hotel room. We have stayed in big cities near the centre which is naturally more expensive but still cheaper than the typical hotel room in the US.  The apartment in Berlin came to about $85 US/day and the one in Prague a bit more than that (and more central).  Next week, we will travel to smaller towns in eastern Germany and the apartments there will be 35 Euros/night so maybe about 50 USD.  Food, well you can eat high end and pay a lot or eat at cheaper places; with prices similar to the US.  Supermarkets, the same.  Some items will be more, others less.  I like that the "everyday" items here wold be like imported expensive goods in the US (conversely, imported US goods are naturally more expensive-we laughed when we visited KaDeWe department store in Berlin which also had an "imported" food section of US and Brit goods- a box of pop tarts was like 7 Euros or 10 USD-I guess if you are an expat in need of the taste of home you would spring for that as a treat).  Here are some supermarket prices from the past few days in Prague:

1/2 kilo (about 1 pound) sliced edam cheese (for sandwiches)-25 koruna or about $1.34
1 package sliced fancy salami 31 cK (Czech Koruna)-$1.66
1 litre milk- 18cK- just about $1.00
1 500 ml bottle dark (GOOD) beer 11.50 cK- 61 cents
1 pkg of 4 apples- 44.90 cK- $2.40
1 250 gram pkg Jacobs Kronung coffee- 99cK-$5.30
4 bananas- 30 cK-$1.60
2 litre bottle Pepsi Light (diet) 37 cK-$1.98

Our first meal out here which was the one on the boat: 2 glasses wine, 1 fresh lemonade, 1 pizza and 1 plate home made taggliatelle w/ham and mushrooms came to about $22 total.  Naturally you can spend more or less; you can purchase stuff on sale in the market or go to more expensive eateries.  I would say clothing and electronics are definitely more expensive than in the States.

We had just gotten used to the Euro in Germany and have now had to switch to converting in our heads to Czech Koruna.  There are about 18.5 Koruna to the US Dollar so at first glance, everything seems really expensive. You also have to get used to a pocket full of coins because most countries do not print bills for small denominations of money so you get lots of coins very quickly.

In Germany, you also pay a relatively large deposit on plastic and glass bottles, about 25 Euro cents on plastic soda bottles (that's maybe 40 US cents) and 8 Euro cents on beer bottles.  You take the bottles back to the market, put them in a machine that reads the bar codes and get a slip you take to the cashier to get your money back.  You also carry your own bags or pay to purchase your own plastic ones.  I carry some around in my camera case (my "purse") which also has maps, etc so once you are used to it, it becomes second hand.

One other interesting note; for our accommodations, there has been no deposit or credit card numbers to reserve apartments (with the exception of the one in Berlin which took a 50 Euro credit card deposit).  Apartments were reserved solely through emails and paid in cash on arrival.  This was our experience with our previous trip to Germany as well. Can you imagine reserving accommodations without a credit card number or deposit in the US? I have already confirmed with our next apartment for next week through email; its kind of nice to know that business is still conducted with word of honour in some places. At least that's how I am interpreting it! If I am incorrect; perhaps others can enlighten me!
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