Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't Travel To Europe

When planning a vacation, there are all sorts of questions one must ask. Where would I like to go? How long do I want to stay there? Where will I stay? What will I do while I'm there? How do I plan my itinerary? Which airline is most reliable? How will I get about once there? Will I travel by taxi, bus, or walk? Will I be able to deal with any language barriers? Will anyone there speak English? Do I need to learn the basics of a foreign language first? How do I ensure I get the best prices?

The questions could go on and on which is why, I suppose, that some travelers opt for a tour package. The advantage of such a promotion is that all the worry of the aforementioned anxiety-producing questions has already been addressed, leaving you free of stress and better able to enjoy your trip. All you have to do is save your pennies and then fork over a humongous check, or put a ding in your credit card that the best auto body and fender shop would be hard pressed to repair.

The disadvantages of a tour package? Well, ten countries in eighteen days - like the one I went on - can quickly become a blur. You rapidly reach the point of saturation; sensory stimulation overload. Your computer simply doesn't have a large enough gigabyte hard drive to store and replay all of your pleasant memories. Best take a video camcorder or a good digital camera with you and prepare to use it constantly. Otherwise, you will forget a lot of your encounters.

Tours are preplanned so that groups can experience some of the highlights of each area, that the tour company owners feels vacationers would like to experience. Or are they? Did it ever occur to you that tour promoters are out to make money? And that the planned daytrips include junkets to destinations that merely allow them to make the greatest margins after negotiating "group-discounted" admission prices? This is evident in lodging, if you've ever spent a night in decrepit environs.

There's never enough time to properly enjoy one locale before you're whisked to the next. At the Eiffel Tower - after strenuous climbing - we reached the second platform. Try standing atop a thirty-seven story tall building. That's the height of this level, and it provides a spectacular panoramic vista of Paris. By then, only eight minutes remained of our alloted visitation time. We had to cram into an elevator then rush two hundred yards to the bus. By that time both Hanni the tour guide, and Marco the driver , were visibly upset, one clucking in German, the other muttering in Italian.

You can't say you've visited Paris unless you've attended the Louvre. It is filled with marvels. Paintings. Leonardo's Mona Lisa. Sculptures. Venus de Milo, and Nike of Samothrace. Our tour guide - just before leaving us to wonder, on our own - explained that to properly experience all that the Louvre has to offer, one would need to expend four and a half months. We had three hours and forty-five minutes. By now, you might be wondering yourself, "aren't these columns supposed to be about precious metals?" "Aren't we travelling a long ways to get there?"

I apologize for the side trip, but some of the same questions that arise regarding travel are pertinent to the buyer considering the purchase of foreign gold coins. First of all, why would anyone want to purchase gold, let alone foreign gold coins? In the United States, and worldwide, our respective governments are expanding the monetary base of all fiat currencies. While this debasement is a global phenomena, it is most egregious in America, leading to dollar depreciation that is rapidly eroding our purchasing power.

Tangible gold - and to a lesser degree, silver - held in one's own possession, have long been according the status of a safe haven. They provide sanctuary to the forlorn - fleeing foundering fiat - festering from foolish failing fiscal policies. Our once-great nation is about to become a banana republic, and it won't be because we will be planting acres of Musa sapientum in our southern states as global warming encroaches. It will be courtesy of approaching hyperinflation.

That said, why would anyone want to purchase foreign gold coins? For the same reason one might want to travel there. Curiosity. The mystique of exotic locales. The desire to experience something exraordinary. The reasons vary, but - just as one might be wary of a leprous peasant child purporting to be a docent guide - you need to be careful that you are not purchasing overpriced coins of purported numismatic value masquerading as nonconfiscateable gold bullion.

Unscrupulous dealers will sometimes import foreign gold coins and market them in this country, not because they offer compelling value to buyers, but because they can purchase them cheaply and then mark them up for greater profits. There is no such thing as any type of gold coin - not subject to confiscation - if government criminals decide they want to repeat the Roosevelt Grand Theft of 1933. They make the rules, we're just the fools. But, if that happened, it might be wise to keep a few hidden. Just for safekeeping.

One problem with foreign coins is that they don't come in easy-to-recognize fractional ounces as do more common bullion coins. If your buyer is a coin dealer - or an avid collector on ebay - you'll be fine. But, otherwise your resale market for coins with bullion content like .1867, .2304, or .2354 ounce could be limited. These coins do have a robust resale market, and premiums are paid for such gold coins, but that demand exists in their own countries, not here Stateside.

If you wish to purchase foreign gold coins, do it only to augment a foundation of several ounces of familiar American Eagles. Then, if you still want to tour the golden globe, there are several countries that produce gold bullion in an internationally recognized form, the one troy ounce round. Stick with any bullion product from Canada, South Africa, Australia, Austria, or China. You should be fine. See the sites of these nations. Just stay away from sidestreets and alleys. Otherwise the little guys could pick your pockets.

Buy Silver. Buy Gold. Save Copper. Start Now.

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