• It's getting easier to obtain money from a machine in Europe. The Swiss Postal Service and Visa now offer Visa card holders access to 570 Postomats (ATMs) throughout Switzerland.

You can withdraw up to 1000 Sfr. ($676) per day anywhere in Switzerland, 24 hours a day. The Postomat cash dispenser network covers all towns and major localities nationwide. Make sure you have a four digit pin number.

• While it may be getting easier to get money from a European ATM it's not getting any cheaper to use a credit card overseas. On the contrary. According to Consumer Reports Travel Newsletter, First USA Visa and MasterCard customers are now being hit with a 2% surcharge on all credit-card purchases made outside the USA. (Citibank card holders had already been paying the 2% gouge). This is in addition to the 1% currency conversion surcharge Visa and MasterCard are already passing on to customers.

This means, of course, that for every $1,000 in overseas credit card purchases cardholders will pay $30 to Visa or MasterCard. However, since they get their bank's foreign currency exchange rate when making overseas purchases, it still is cheaper to use credit cards. You can't change $1,000 into foreign currency for less than $30. The banks know this; hence the new charges. Providian Bank in San Francisco charges its Visa and MasterCard holders a whopping 5%

American Express and Diners Club continue to charge just 1%.

• Here's a rundown on Switzerland's major summer festivals:

Zürich Festival

June 26 to July 18

Started three years ago, the Züricher Festspiele presents a wide variety of cultural events including opera, chamber music, choral works, Shakespearean theater, ballet and even tango. Tel. +41/01/269 90 90, fax 269 70 25.

Montreux Jazz Festival

July 2 to 17

One of Switzerland's top events presents the worlds best musicians in a great setting. Tel: +41/021/963 82 82. Web site: www.montreuxjazz.com

Verbier Festival & Academy

July 16 to August 1

The year's program features classical music, jazz, theater, dance and master classes. Sir Neville Mariner and James Levine will both conduct the Symphony Orchestra of the Curtis Institute. A chamber music series will showcase Elisabeth Leonskaja and Sarah Chang and a "Tribute To Broadway" features Harold Prince, Joel Grey and Teresa Stratas. Tel. +41/021/922 40 10, fax 922 40 12, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Web site: verbierfestival.com/en/

Music Summer Gstaad-Saanenland

July 16 to September 4

This year's festival will pay homage to composers from Dvorak to Chopin, who died 150 years ago this summer. Tel. +41/033/748 83 38, fax 748 83 39, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Web site: musiksommer.ch/

Vevey Festival of the Winegrowers

July 29 to August 15

More than half a million visitors are expected for this rare event, held but once each generation. This is only the 11th festival since 1783. The program will consist of concerts, theater, parades and reenactments of historic traditions presented by a troupe of 4,600 performers. Tel. +41/021/(922 20 20, fax 922 20 24; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Web site: fetedesvignerons.ch/en/

Locarno International Film Festival

August 4 to 14

Variety calls Locarno one of the world's six top film festivals. Films are shown at various screening theaters and at an outdoor theater in the Piazza Grande on a giant 85 ft. x 46 ft. screen. Tel. +41/091/7510232; fax 7517465; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lucerne International Music Festival

August 14 to September 11

One of the world's top classical music festivals celebrates its 61st anniversary this summer with a series of 18 symphony concerts and a new series of midday concerts. Tel. +41/041/22644 80, fax 22644 85, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Web site: lucernefestival.ch/en/

Berne Dance Festival

August 27 to September 11

The country's leading celebration of dance is staged in an old power plant on the banks of the River Aare as well as in bars and restaurants scattered around the Swiss historic capital, Tel. +41/031/376 03 03, fax 371 03 33; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Blues to Bop & Worldmusic Festival

Lugano, September 2 - 5

Over 100 hours of free entertainment including country, folk, ragtime, jazz, be-bop, and the blues in piazzas all over the city. Tel: +41/091/913 32 32, fax 922 76 53, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Web site: http://www.bluestobop.ch/?lang=en

April 1999