Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Stupid Strong Euro

(This is my weekly article from The Love Of Sports. Basically, I recap a bit of my recent trip to Spain. But even more basically, I complain about how shitty the dollar is when compared to the euro.)

So I’m back from vacation. It’s safe to say that I’m none too happy about that sad fact.

My trip to Spain was eye-opening, to say the least. But not in a sports-related way - for one main reason, which I’ll explain in a moment. Unfortunately (or fortunately for you animal-lovers out there) I didn’t get the opportunity to attend a bullfight while I was there. It’s one of their most beloved sports, perhaps second only to soccer.

Real Madrid is da bomb - Beckham or no Beckham; Ronaldinho or no Ronaldinho.

No, the real eye-opener was the shocking weakness of our good old American greenbacks, when compared to the powerful euro. Twenty-dollar bills? Spaniards now use them to pick up dog poop in El Parque de Juan Carlos I. Apparently, it’s cheaper than brown paper bags.

A 3 euro beer? That’s currently almost 5 of our pathetic dollars.

A Real Madrid t-shirt for 23 euros? That’ll set you back a cool $35, as of this writing.

And how about those cute little soccer shorts for 35 euros (not for myself, I swear). That’s the equivalent of $54.

It’s crazy.

A plate of fine Spanish ham with little delicious olives, and delectable Manchego cheese for 6 euros? $10.

Well, actually that’s a pretty good deal. The tapas over there are great, and a reasonable value.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how many more Americans would make the trip across the pond if it were just a bit more affordable – like in the good old days.

We’d be wise to give some love to old school European currencies – the Spanish peseta, the French franc, the Italian lira.

Wherefore art thou, favorable exchange rates?!?

Being a sports fan in Madrid right now is simply too expensive. Here are current costs of some other sports-related items/services I noticed during my trip:

- 4 tickets to a Real Madrid game (not nose bleed seats), 4 cervezas, and 4 jamon con queso bocadillos (ham and cheese sandwiches): 572 euros + 20 euros + 24 euros = 616 euros = $955

- Authentic “Raul” or “Robinho” Real Madrid Jersey (with or without simulated sweat stains): 80 euros = $130

- 4 tickets to bullfighting (cheaper seats, in the sun), 4 large sangrias, 4 orders albondigas (Spanish meatballs): 80 euros + 32 euros + 28 euros = 140 euros = $217

- Matador outfit (not including red bullfighting cape): 465 euros = $745

- Bullfighting cape: 45 euros = $70 ((I’d just use a white bed sheet dyed with cheap red wine: 3 euros = $4.60, including the wine)

- Tennis lessons (8 weeks, intensive, in Madrid or Barcelona): 1,080 euros = $1,675

I actually would have run out of money halfway through the soccer game. It’s a good thing we stuck to sightseeing and pretty much stayed away from any sporting venues.

So in certain ways, I’m glad to be back in the States. It actually makes me appreciate the relative value of an eight dollar beer at Shea Stadium.

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