Der Amerikanische Urlauber

Friday, May 06, 2005

Power Struggle

Myth No. 2: American appliances don't work in Europe... Posted by Hello

This commercial always comes to mind whenever I think of using American appliances in Europe. It makes me chuckle...

I wasn't quite sure about how to go about it, since I obviously need to bring my cell phone and charger, and I also really wanted to bring my iPod. Yesterday, though, after first saying make sure you bring a charger, the woman from the NIAF writes back that her supervisor said not to bring any appliances whatsoever, even with a charger, since they would blow out.

Yeah, well you can see how much I listen to authority when I know otherwise... I decided to do research, since I know a lot of people travel extensively and somehow get their laptops and iPods and cell phones powered up globally. Well it turns out most new appliances have a range of 100V-240V. In the US we have outlets that give out 120V, in Europe it's 240V. So unless your appliance is newer and specifically has in writing somewhere that it can handle this range, the scene when you plug it into the wall in Europe probably looks a bit like the Roaming Gnome's experience above. Which makes me laugh just thinking about it (I don't know why I find it so funny)

I personally think they don't want to be held liable should we lose any of our valuable electronics, or better yet, if they're stolen. I still have no clue where we'll be staying. They said we'd have the itinerary by the end of the week... as well as our e-Tickets. This, by the way, is the first time I will be using an e-Ticket instead of an actual ticket to present at the check-in counter. Last time I flew though was in 1996, before anyone really even had the internet. Progress marches on...

I'm more than a little interested in where we're staying, only to end everyone's incessant questioning of me "does it have a communal bath?" All I know is the recent email said to bring flip flops for the shower, which means one of two things: a) it's a communal bath, or b) since we're sharing the room with three other people, the private bath becomes a de facto communal bath. I'm more inclined to believe it's the latter. We're staying at economy, but then, economy means lots of things. As long as it's clean, I don't plan on spending a lot of time sitting in a room there anyway, especially when it's with three other people not related to me (it's bad enough when it's my brother and sister)

They say to get some money changed over into Euro here before we leave. Well, if I go to my Bank of America branch... we live in a suburb of Tampa... they don't have a ready reserve of Euros in supply, so it would probably take a day or two, so I should probably do that next week. Then again, they just may have a lot of Euros, who knows.

My mom remembers right around when the Lire was getting replaced by the Euro, an old Italian couple came into the bank, when she was working for Bank of America as a manager and regional vice president, and wanted to change it into dollars. They had about 5 million lire... It took quite a while to count and convert it all, but when they did it came out to a lot less than 5,000,000...

I ordered a guidebook today off Amazon... Lonely Planet: Rome. Usually the Lonely Planet guides tend to be good, so I went with that; my cousin had recommended a really good one, but I didn't feel like paying $35 for a guidebook with all the expenses I have. This was only $12. So considering they're a good source and it was $12 ($16 with shipping... I didn't qualify for free Super Saver!) I'm happy.

Sweety is actually going to Rome before me... this Monday in fact. (Have a great time Sweety!) So I'm really looking forward to hearing about her trip before I leave myself. (And you better not forget my postcard either!)

I'm off to study some Italian, so arrivederci ed a presto!


  • At 4:17 PM, May 07, 2005, Blogger Psi-Lord said…

    I guess I'd totally forget to check the voltage if I were travelling to a foreign country. #^^# But then, maybe I wouldn't, since that's something we actually have to do here, too. That's because, as a rule, Brazilian wall sockets give out either 110V or 220V (well, strictly speaking, it's either 127V or 240V, but everyone traditionally refers to them using the former values), and so, whenever your plugging something at someone else's house or at a hotel, for instance, you usually have to check which of those are actually the option they have. That's indeed a good thing about modern appliances, though—they handle it themselves, so you won't have to worry about it. It was so common, many years ago, to find people complaining they forgot about it and bought a 240V TV set when they actually had 127V wiring at home, hehe.

    Oh, and LOL @ the gnome. =D

    When my Architecture class travelled to those historical towns I told you about, back in 1998, I was so worried about the places we'd be staying at, too. I was especially terrified about bathrooms (even if they are relatively clean, I hate the idea of communal baths myself). In Belo Horizonte and São Paulo, we slept at football stadium dorms—the former was okay, three people in each room, and each room with its own private bathroom; the latter, though, was kind of weird, with ten people per room and communal bath (at least the girls had independent shower cubicles). The best hotel we stayed was at Tiradentes, with two or three people per room and huge private, very clean bathrooms; the worst, however, was at Ouro Preto—again, about ten people per room, with the beds all squeezed in, and the oldest, most horrible mattresses ever! The bathroom was the worst part, though—although they were private, I believe the shower curtains hadn't been washed for ages, and were all slimy... Yucks! Really traumatising... We all wanted to kill the professor who got us in there.

  • At 5:40 PM, May 07, 2005, Blogger Joe said…

    Oh god, that's some experience you had!

    I just hope they get this itinerary to us soon so I can at least do some research and know where I'm going. The curiousity is killing me!

    I'm just glad I'm not the only one who doesn't care for this communal bath thing. I mean I don't want to sound like a spoiled pampered American or anything, so having a Brazilian friend that hates them too makes me think that not many people like them period. lol

    From what I've seen, most European hotels are shying away from communal baths now, when they renovate, and the new ones all have private baths.

    Even if it's private, as long as it's clean... I mean I actually expect it to be, this is a big organization that's paying for this, and even though something's economy, it doesn't have to be a dive.

  • At 3:07 PM, May 12, 2005, Blogger The Yankee said…

    1. You cell phone and iPod chargers will work in Europe. All you need is a European plug adaptor (not a voltage converter). Unless you have a real old cell phone it should be 110-240v, same with your iPod. I just went to Europe and Australia with iPod Shuffle , Blackberry, digital camera battery charger and Samsung cell phone and used my standard cord with an adaptor and had no trouble at all.

    2. You can bring some Euros along but I always wait until I get there and withdraw from an ATM at the airport. ATM withdrawls will get you market rate on foreign currency. The second option is to use your charge card. Credit card companies get you market rate but add 3% conversion. Should you get to the airport and find the ATN not working, you can get Euros as a cash advance with your credit card. One note - Make sure you have a 4 digit PIN on your ATM, European ATM's only use 4 digit PINs. Second note - Call your credit card company before you depart and tell them you are traveling and using your card. If they suspect "odd" activity on your card (such as someone using the card in a foreign country) they will reject purchases until they have proof that it's you that is using the card.

  • At 3:51 PM, May 12, 2005, Blogger Joe said…

    Fantastic, thank you so much, Yankee, I really appreciate it!

    That's exactly what I figured. I know so many businesspeople and frequent travelers go all over the world with their cell phones (mine is equipped to roam internationally, by the way, it was one of my favorite features of it!) laptops, iPods, etc. Obviously they have to charge it, so that's why I figured everything was probably fine.

    So now all I need is an adaptor, but I hear they sell those at like Radio Shack.


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