Subject: Currency & cars
Regarding the discussion about obtaining foreign currency before arriving - I always get $100 or so in the airport before I get on the plane, It's quick and easy, the exchange rate is OK (not great - just OK) and I don't have to worry that the only ATM in the airport is out of cash.

Regarding car rental, I agree that it is a great way to see a country and I love to have a rental car for all of its conveniences. However, if you don't speak or read a language, sometimes the traffic signs can be very confusing. Parking is always a problem for me - where, how to pay, is it legal, etc. Driving in large cities is a nightmare to be avoided. And no matter how convenient, a rental car is a responsibility. There is always a sigh of relief when I hand over the keys.

For many trips, a car is just not necessary. This year I spent a week in Cortona with a car, but then used the train to go to Florence, on to Trieste and Slovenia and back to Venice. A car would have taken me just as quickly, but I wasn't making stops along the way this time - just going from place to place.

Callie in New Orleans