Throwing Around $100 Bills - 2
The Europeans practice myriad energy conservation techniques, which save money. I find them fascinating:
* Bicycles, Vespas and Smart Cars. As you rush past rail stations on the train, one guaranteed sight is hundreds of parked bicycles whose owners ride to the train, commute somewhere and bike home in the afternoon. The cost of fuel is a few calories and no cash outlay. The next step up is a Vespa scooter: dangerous, but inexpensive to buy and cheap to run. But to me, the stunners are the little Smart Cars developed by Swatch (the watch folks) and Mercedes—so tiny, they can be parked nose-to-curb. I am an unabashed gawker at these little, two-seat charmers. The closest thing to them may have been the Topolino (“Mouse”) that Fiat manufactured from 1937-1955. Some Smart Cars are already in the U.S. with more on the way. Chris Woodyard of USA Today calls the Smart Car a “breadbox on wheels.” With a top speed of 90 mph and highway fuel consumption of 40 mpg, they sell for around $12,000 and are cuter than a ladybug. In a collision between a Smart Car and an SUV, I would prefer to be in the SUV. But any of these little guys—bikes, scooters or Smart Cars—should be terrific for zipping around town, leaving plenty of money left over to spend on other stuff.
* European hotels. When you walk into your room, you may find that it’s completely dark and the lights do not work. However, when you slip your plastic key card into a slot next to the door, all the lights come on. When you leave, you take your card key with you—removing it from the slot—and all the power in the room is turned off. Why should the lights remain on in an unoccupied hotel room?