Almost A Holiday The stores will be closing between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm today. That will be the last of the shopping until December 27th. We decided that we had better run off to the market and get our goodies for the potluck tomorrow. The best place to go is the big market. We bought a large chunk of smoked cheese, fresh red and yellow peppers, pickles, radishes, both red and white, cookies from the Christmas market and wine. We are set to make our snack tray. We get it all home and put away. Ron goes out again hunting for the schedule of Midnight masses. His information gathering is diverted by rectory receptions that do not speak English and cannot understand what he wants. He returns home frustrated and lacking the information that he desires.The rest of the day is spent reading, writing, and watching BBC News along with CNN. They are running a number of specials on the Euro debut on January 1st, and I am fascinated by the topic. What interests me is what this will due to national identity. The Germans interviewed are the most upset about losing their marks. Many nationalities are concerned about the prices being rounded up and being cheated, a real concern that each countries government has sworn to monitor with a close eye. Over three hundred million people will be using the same currency as of January 1st and the logistics of it are overwhelming. If anyone is interested in seeing the new money, both bills and coins go to www.cnn.com/euro for a preview.Ron’s assignment the last few days has been to plan a trip to use some of our train time before we lose it. Tonight, I started the search of finding hotels. After reading Miss Garnet’s Angel, we both wanted to visit Venice again. I have been there three times in the past, but only for one day each time. Ron has only been there once for one day. We are taking off on January 6th for three nights in Innsbruck, Austria and then going to Venice for another three nights before returning home to Budapest very late on the 12th. We will be initiated to the world of the euro since both Austria and Italy will be among the converts. I for one will be pleased not to have to bring a calculator along to decipher that 1,792 lira equal one dollar, hence I will not pass out when a restaurant bill comes out to be in the high thousands. During one day in Innsbruck, we are planning to take a day trip of a couple of hours to the country of Liechtenstein. It is probably one of the smallest countries of the world, just larger then Vatican City. It is .9 times larger than Washington, D.C., but is one of the richest countries in the world and has a royal family. Due to their size, they do not have their own currency, but use the monies of Switzerland one of their bordering neighbors. The hotel rooms were over one hundred sixty a night, being it is such a rich country, so we bypassed staying within the principality and agreed on a day trip.It took hours and hours going from one site to another looking for the best hotel deals that were available. We had originally intended to book Venice for the 2nd of January and therefore spending my birthday somewhere else. There was a good package on the www.italyhotels.com web site, but by the time we figured out the train schedules and made decisions about Innsbruck, the last of the packages sold out. We did find other really good deals on this web site for Venice and they also book hotels in other countries, so the name is misleading.