Regarding "Going to Europe? Here Are Ways to Cut Costs" (On a Budget, Feb. 16): We went to Europe for the first time last spring, and we had different experiences.
When we bought tickets for the overnight train from Amsterdam to Paris, the ticket seller told us that tourists could not buy a couchette. We had to buy a roomette for $162.
We ate at an informal place in Florence, Italy, and didn't leave a tip. The next night we waited more than half an hour for service, so we left. My advice: If you eat somewhere and do not leave a tip, regardless of the service charge printed on the check, do not go back.
In Germany and Italy when we said we did not want the VAT paperwork, we got a reduced price. Shopkeepers said it was too much paperwork and government hassle.
In Paris and Florence, some cabdrivers started the meter at their starting point, not at our pickup point. Now I know to check the meter first.
And finally, beware of current guidebooks with outdated information.
Grace A. Allen