Never before in our travels has the US dollar been as strong as it’s been on this trip. Never mind the free-falling NASDAQ. Forget about a plummeting economy. The dollar has been stalwart. Which means that everywhere we’ve gone, our bucks have gone farther. This was definitely the case in Italy, where we could splurge at restaurants and wine shops because the favorable exchange rate made delicacies delightfully cheap. It’s also true in New Zealand, where their dollar has descended to 10-year lows.
It’s funny, because prices here look much the same as at home—on menus, in boutiques, in real estate ads, and on grocery store stickers. Except that the NZ dollar is worth about 43 cents! Which means that most everything costs less than half what it does at home. To top it off, tax is always included in the price. And in restaurants, the tip’s included too! Thus we can visit our favorite nearby establishment, Vino Vino, and dine on filet mignon, garlic mash potatoes, roasted vegetables, and an herbal pesto for $10—while the fine wine lists runs from $10-25. It’s served with earnest smiles and breathtaking views. In total, three of us consume all the courses and drinks we can handle for about $50. At home in a comparable place, that might float one person. Might.
So you can understand if we occasionally get carried away—and buy things we aren’t sure we even need simply because they’re irresistibly affordable. Like the roadside goods shown here.