Monday, 21 January 2002
I read the NRC (, a Dutch newspaper, on the Newark - Amsterdam flight. Ads and news reports list amounts in Euro. The guilder has obviously disappeared, even before I set foot on Dutch soil again. It feels strange to me.

Euro converter

f 10.00= € 4.54
€ 10.00= f 22.04

The rest of my countrymen have had several weeks to get used to the Euro already. But I arrive at Schiphol, Amsterdam airport (, without a penny. While I was in the USA I updated all prices on the SUMit web site. All amounts are listed in Euro from 1st January onwards:

A greyish 5 Euro note and a colourful tenner But, this entrepreneur has not yet seen a Euro himself.

Even before passport control I stare at the cash dispenser curiously. I withdraw my very first Euros, a few € 50 notes. My first reaction is one of disappointment. What grey, pale notes compared to the colourful guilders!

Anyway, I'm now prepared with fresh cash, ready for my first lunch appointment, here at Schiphol airport. I stow my luggage in a locker for the moment. The machine is asking for euro coins. Which I do not yet have. The money changer asks me Don't you have anything smaller? I beg your pardon? No, of course I do not have anything smaller. I would not come here to change money if I did, would I?

Surprised I stare at all the coins.

  • The shiny coins look a bit kitsch to me.
  • Is this really the legal currency now?
  • Why are there so many different coins?
  • The coin for 2 Euro has two colours. Good, that one is easy to recognise then.
    (But no, later in the week I discover that the coin for 1 Euro has two colours too, grmbl...)
Anyway, the locker machine is happy with the 2 Euro coins. So far so good. Yes, I have spent my very first Euro.

After lunch I go home by train. My first debit card payment is for the train ticket. The rail catering service announces the coffee price in Euro, but still mentions the guilder price too. And should we have insufficient euro change, we will return guilders.

My first note I spend on the taxi home from the train station. Yes, I am a real Euro consumer now!

Back home I update the financials for the fourth quarter of 2001. Expenses are still stated in guilders, so I transfer them in guilders. I convert my January expenses from dollars to euros. It still feels odd to me. I still see the euro as a foreign currency.

Price A pound of drop The Saturday newspaper
Old price in guilders f 5,90 f 3,75
old price in € € 2,68 € 1,70
new price in € € 2,90 € 1,80
price increase 8% 6 %
During the week I develop a strong suspicion that the Dutch shop owners have seized the opportunity to raise prices considerably. Groceries are more expensive. The local Chinese take-away has rounded all his prices upwards. My weekly shopping on the Saturday market confirms my suspicion. All new euro prices are substantially higher than the old guilder prices.

Later in the week I find some guilder coins hidden in a coat pocket. Hm, I thought I had said goodbye to all those coins. Should I keep them? Suddenly the coins are a memory of a distant past. You know, when Europe had different coins and a new year did not decrease your buying power with 6 to 8%?

Till next week,