It was the perfect start to 2002, we were being given money… so where are we now as we mark Happy Euro Year 20 years on?
And what has it meant for those of us whose every instinct is to travel?
The truth is that for millions of millennials in Europe they won’t have travelled with anything else.
While for everyone who travels under a British passport we’ve always been told to look at it as board game money.
I say that, though ex-pats, of which I was one for 13 years living abroad have had to adjust quickly.
It usually starts when you’re buying booze in the supermarket.
And it’s only when you stop baulking and having to make mental adjustments at the price of a bottle of wine.
It’s more than a tenner… that you’ve truly assimilated.
So as this day is designated Happy Euro Day, was the Euro a good idea and is it right that Britain stayed with the pound?
Like everything there is the economical argument and then the emotional one.
And whenever that arises the emotional always prevails.
In countries too that have come over to the Euro there is still a sentimental attachment to the old currency.
Now if you’re a Fortysomething, Fiftysomething or later then you’ll probably remember well the frank, Deutschmark, peseta, escudo, lira or drachma.
And if you’re like my Dear Old Dad then you’ve probably got a box somewhere with all that old coinage.
A careful man, I imagine that he thought he might have use for them again if the Euro experiment failed.
So what do we miss about our old foreign money?
Well, it was the only time in our lives that we could really feel like a millionaire…
When we got our hands on lira.
The trouble was working out that it cost thousands to buy groceries.
And if you did try the lingo a queue would quickly form as you’re asking the teller how much you’d get for your few pounds.
Of course more of the world is outside of the Eurozone than in it.
Now I’m not about to go all numismatic on you but I do have a Jordanian dinar stuck on the side of my bookcase. And old Turkey notes too.
A souvenir of my Istanbul adventures with Turkish Airways, and with G Adventures trip to the Middle East.
But in truth just some money of such little value that I couldn’t get rid of it.
Any old money
Airports do take your old money in those glass boxes in the terminal.
And the descendants of the Nabataeans too in Petra where a trader tried to flog us notes from Iran with Saddam Hussein’s face on them.
Now doubtless there would have been many who would exchange dinar for Hussein.
But they had more than the look of a Monopoly note with Saddam’s face drawn on.
Working for the Yankee dollar
There are some notes which are gladly accepted wherever you go and they’ll grab your hand off in the Caribbean for the Yankee dollar.
And there are 39 currencies around the world pegged to the dollar.
As a guide your yellow reggae bus in Barbados cost half of the Bajan dollar, $1, when I rocked it there a few years ago.
In the States itself you can buy Confederacy money at fairs in the Deep South on your road trip.
But the real money is in the Union dollar.
And the more Benjamins (Franklin), or $100s, you have in your pocket the luckier you are.
Conversely, the $1 note is named for the Greatest American of them all, George Washington.
So be careful when you’re tipping.
Me? I always make sure I keep a fistful of dollars with me!
Happy Euro Day everyone or whatever currency you deal in… just, maybe avoid Saddam notes though.