Tourist Prices in Europe: Nutty or Normal?

I came across this article from the Times of London on outrageous cafe prices in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. The gist was that even rich people are staggered by the prices. When the guy who owns Diesel jeans gets quoted complaining about a €5.80 each music charge and €22 for two spritzers, you know things have gotten out of hand.

Mr Rosso’s protest comes as the Venice council — with the aid of the police — is cracking down on tourists who picnic on or near St Mark’s Square, with on-the-spot fines of €25 for those caught eating takeaway food. Many visitors complain that they have no choice, in view of the “astronomical” prices charged by cafés or restaurants, with or without music.

Of course there’s a solution to all this: don’t go where all the other tourists go when it’s time to have a drink or eat lunch. As Charlie Leocha argues in his Tripso column My Favorite Venetian Restaurants, there are plenty of great places to eat in Venice if you avoid the tourist traps.

He also argues that Western Europe isn’t as ungodly expensive as many writers (including me) make it out to be. Here’s a rundown on some prices he took down on a recent trip to Pampola, Spain, in dollars. (As I’ve noted before, Spain, Portugal, and Eastern Europe – outside the capitals – are your best bets for finding good values.)

* A bus ride from the airport to the center of town costs 1 euro, or about $1.40.
* A taxi ride from the airport to the center of town costs 10 euros, or about $14.
* A cup of café solo, the equivalent of an espresso here, costs 80 to 90 euro cents or about $1.10 to $1.25.
* A glass of good wine or beer in a bar costs 1.50 euros, or about $2.10.
* A six-pack of beer in the supermarket costs 2.64 euros, or $3.65.
* A platos combinando meal of chicken, French fries and peppers, right on the main walking street of town, costs 14 euros, or less than $20.

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