Meet the euro

TRAVEL SMARTS

Worth about 90 U.S. cents, it's the new currency of 12 countries

January 13, 2002

If you're planning a trip to Europe, here's what you need to know about the new euro, which became the standard currency in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain Jan. 1.

Visitors and residents have until Feb. 28 to use old national bank notes and coins before the francs, marks and pounds sterling will no longer be accepted (though they'll still be convertible into euros at European banks).

If you have unconverted cash after Feb. 28, consider using it in vending machines. There are more than 3.5 million machines in Europe that have to be updated, and it may take a while before they're all euro-friendly. Or, you could donate the old currency to UNICEF's Change for Good program, which redeems unused foreign money for charitable causes. For information, go to www.UNICEFusa.org / donation / change.html.

The euro comes in seven notes (denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5) and eight coins (2 euro, 1 euro, 50 euro cents, 20 euro cents, 10 euro cents, 5 euro cents, 2 euro cents and 1 euro cent). One euro note roughly translates to 90 cents American.

For more euro information, check out the euro Web site at http: / / europa.eu.int / euro / html / entry.html. -- Tricia Bishop

TRAVELERS PICK THEIR FAVORITE CITIES, 2001

Conde Nast Traveler magazine's 2001 Readers' Choice poll picks these as the top 10 favorite foreign and domestic cities.

United States

1. San Francisco

2. New York

3. New Orleans

4. Chicago

5. Charleston, S.C.

6. Boston

7. Honolulu

8. Santa Fe

9. Washington

10. Savannah, Ga.

Foreign

1. Paris

2. Sydney

3. Rome

4. Florence

5. Bangkok

6. London

7. Venice

8. Puerto Vallarta

9. Hong Kong

10. Vancouver

Great eating, all over the U.S.

Heading to Tucson? Be sure to stop at Gus Balon's bakery for one of his giant cinnamon rolls. And don't miss the honey-dipped donuts at Allie's Donuts in North Kingstown, R.I., or the green chili cheeseburger at the 66 Diner in Albuquerque, N.M.

Those are some of the 531 picks for "great regional meals" on roadfood.com, which lists the best food -- often informal and inexpensive -- to be sampled on your travels throughout the country. Reviews come from members and the site's founders, and include light, colorful commentary about dining experiences. -- T.B.

Stars and bargains

The Hawthorn Suites hotel in Orlando, Fla., is offering a "Show Us Your Stars" discount program through Feb. 14. Bring in an American flag (or a picture of a flag) with all the stars showing and you'll get a one-bedroom suite for a dollar a star. The hotel is only half a mile from Sea World, 5 miles from Disney World and 4 miles from Universal Studios. For hotel information, go to www.hawthorn.com. To take advantage of the offer, call 800-331-5530. -- T.B.

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