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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Brits in Greece cool on euro
Rhodes street scene
For Britons, a holiday is the first chance to try the euro

What better place to put the euro to the test than the sprawling Greek market of Rhodes town?

The medieval citadel is swarming with British tourists looking for bargains. For many it is their first chance to use the new single currency, and the dizzying range of offers and trinkets makes it a baptism of fire.

At the end of a scorching hot day, have the traditionally wary British warmed to the new currency?

British holidaymaker Elaine Astle
Elaine Astle thinks Britons get a worse deal

Elaine Astle, from Birmingham, is in Greece for her summer holiday with her partner and son.

She finds the new currency easier to use because its denominations are similar to the pound, but she thinks prices have risen.

"It's more expensive than it used to be," she says. "The taxis are still reasonable, but other things have gone up."

She has always been sceptical about Britain joining the euro and she is still unsure.

"The only thing that bothers me is if we're getting less value," she says.

The argument that she could save money by exchanging less often holds little water for her.

British tourist Dave Gardner
Dave Gardner: More "open" to the euro

"You only save money if you travel a lot."

Among the thousands of tourists shuffling past the souvenir stalls and clothes shops, there are plenty who agree.

'Prices up'

Dave Gardner, from Liverpool, is more open to the euro, but he adds: "Everyone says they put the prices up."

He still thinks prices are low overall though, even though the pound has weakened in recent weeks.

By the towering Palace of the Grand Masters, the centrepiece of the old town, John and Monica Gambell have stopped for a well-earned drink out of the sun.


Everything tends to get rounded up not down

John Gambell

They remember decimalisation and the effect it had on prices.

"Everything tends to get rounded up not down. That's what I wouldn't be keen about," John says.

They acknowledge the single currency is "convenient", but are not taken with it enough to support British entry.

"I think it will come in eventually. We're surrounded by people who use it, so we're going to get used to it," John adds.

It is starting to get dark, and the hard-sell shopkeepers that work the cobbled alleyways make way for the restaurant owners and musicians.

'I prefer to stay British'

A few outdated posters are the only clues that the drachma was ever here.


You don't have to exchange it all the time or worry about the banks ripping you off

Lee Tyson
Lee Tyson is based in Germany with the Army and has found the euro a lot easier to deal with.

"You don't have to exchange it all the time or worry about the banks ripping you off," he says.

Nonetheless, he wants the UK to keep the pound.

"It could be easier but I prefer to stay British."

As the crowds finally melt away, Britain's tourist masses have been charmed out of plenty of euros. But it looks like getting their pounds will take a little more persuading yet.


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