On Jan. 1, 2002, 300 million people in 12 European countries ditched their old coins and bills and switched to the euro. This weblog kept track of the quirky human side of this gloriously epic yet tediously mundane transition, with correspondents in ten countries sharing their experiences.
Your hosts were David F. Gallagher, an American journalist living and working in Milan, Italy, and Joyce-Ann Gatsoulis, an American journalist living and working in Athens, Greece.
Andreas Purkott is a German graphic designer living and working near Heidelberg, Germany.
Graham Spencer, a.k.a. Graybo, runs a small nursery and event management business in Chichester, England, where he also lives.
Sue Kane, a.k.a. pseudo morph, is an American who has lived in the Dutch province of Brabant for 18 years.
After five weeks of using the euro, I have to confess that they are still a mystery to me. The coins are not becoming more familiar with use, I never seem to have any 50 cent pieces (the coin needed to unlock a shopping cart) and the stores really don't like bills larger than a fifty.
I don't seem to be alone in this. We went to buy a new table and chairs yesterday. When it came time to present us with our bill, the salesman scribbled wildly on a sheet of paper for a few minutes, then muttering deprecations against the euro finally pulled out a pocket calculator to add up the bill.
The ferry ride home was 1.88 euro. The driver of the car told the ticket seller to keep the change, it was only a nuisance. Which seems to sum up the general feeling about the copper-colored coins very well.
The "foreign" euros have finally landed here, too. I got my first foreign euro yesterday from the train station when buying a train ticket, and I was sure to show it to everybody. It took me a little figuring out and guessing to finally realize exactly what country's euro it was, though. It turned out to be German, although a lot of people I showed it to thought it was French or Dutch.
My father wanted to bring some of his left-over marks to the bank (a whole bucketful...) but it turns out some of the banks were closed because of a strike of some type. I turned in my piggy bank in the first days of January, and I still haven't received the money on my bank account. According to the newspaper, it was to be expected. The banks are a month and a half behind the schedule in opening those piggy banks.