Europe Travel Digest

Investors Business Daily makes these points about obtaining cash from automated teller machines overseas:

  1. There are now more than 320,000 ATMs in more than 100 countries.
  2. The major advantage of an ATM in Europe other than the convenience is the wholesale rate on currency conversion. According to a 14-country study, using a U.S.-issued bank card in an ATM was on average 43% less expensive than exchanging currency at an airport money counter and 57% less expensive than at a hotel.
  3. On-screen instructions for obtaining cash are usually in several languages, including English.
  4. If you use a credit card instead of an ATM debit card, the transaction is a cash advance and interest will be charged.
  5. MasterCard/Cirrus locations can be found on-line at http://www.mastercard.com. Visa/Plus locations are at http://www.visa.com.
  6. Obtain a four-digit PIN (personal identification number) before leaving the U.S. Most machines will not accept PINs longer than four digits. Use numbers not letters since most overseas ATMs do not show letters.

Use an American Express card to pay for one of Swissair's vacation packages and receive a $75 discount. Prices start at $999 per person (double occupancy) and include roundtrip air from New York or Newark to Geneva or Zürich, six nights hotel, breakfasts and a rental car with unlimited mileage. Price applies to midweek travel from September 15 through October 31. Contact: 800-688-7947.

Groups of 15 or more can book Swissair packages that include roundtrip air, seven nights hotel accommodation, breakfast daily, hotel transfers and local taxes and service charges. Prices begin at $677 from New York, Newark and Boston. Contact: 800-688-7947.

The Budapest restaurant, Dreher Halaszcsarda, recently charged four tourists more than $6,000 for dinner and drinks. Apparently the restaurant has a policy of multiplying listed prices by a factor of 10 after 7 p.m. The restaurants manager call the high tariff "night prices" and said the restaurant charges what the traffic will bear. The maximum fine for violating the city's consumer protection laws is 30,000 forints ($176).

The U.S. Embassy in Budapest has warned about overpricing and strong-arm tactics employed in some Budapest cafés and nightclubs, although the Halaszcsarda was not among them.

German Life magazine, which is getting better with each new issue, plans to increase coverage of Austria and Switzerland. The August/September issue will include a travel piece on Austria, specifically focusing on the cities of Innsbruck, Graz, and Linz. The October/November issue will carry a story on Bern, Switzerland. One-year (six issues) subscriptions are $19.95. Write Zeitgeist Publishing, 1 Corporate Drive, Grantsville MD 21536, tel. 301-895-3859, fax 301-895-5029.

The Zürcher Festspiele takes place June 28 to July 20 and offers an extensive schedule of opera, ballet, theater, concerts and art exhibitions. A free booklet containing the full schedule of performances and other program information can be obtained by mail or fax from Zürcher Festspiele, Postbox 6036, CH-8023 Zürich, fax 011 41/1 215 4035.

The Gasthof Fraundorfer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen has new phone and fax numbers: 9270 and 92799.