How to spend your Aussie dollars in Europe

The Aussie dollar looks set to continue its record run against the euro, so if you've been dreaming of a European escape now could be the perfect time.

ANZ Senior currency strategist Andrew Salter has said as long as the global economy doesn't go into a major recession, "we would not rule out the Aussie going higher against the Euro”.

So the next question is...where to from here? We've got a rundown of some of the most luxurious European destinations and the best gifts to spend your money on. So there's no excuse for coming home empty handed.

Spain
Spain is one of the major saffron producers in the world, and the plant is grown in Castilla La Mancha. It is more expensive than gold (by weight), but you only need a small amount to give a wonderful flavour to your dishes. Saffron is sold in little plastic boxes at any market or spice store.  

Spanish shawls are beautifully embroidered, and make a really unique souvenir. They can be worn during summer evenings, and they also make a wonderful covering for pianos, tables, beds or couches. The best ones are made of silk and Seville is famous for its hand-embroidered shawls. 

Toledo is famous for its steel. Apparently the Templar Knights placed high value on swords from here, so shops in the old town are brimming with them. Toledo's swords and shields equipped Europe's cavalry right up until firearms rendered them useless. If you don't have a real need for a sword, a letter opener made from Toledo steel is a great option.

France
As the culinary capital of the world, food is taken very seriously here. Why not take home some specialties from all corners of France, including hand harvested salt from Fleur de Sel or Sel de Guerlande; callisons d'Aix (ground almond-based sweets with icing) from Provence; nougat from Montelimar; butter caramels dur or fondant from Normandy) and Dijon mustard, found in Maille shops founded in 1747!

If you want to moisturise, lighten, tighten or cleanse your sking then go no further than a typical Parisian pharmacy (look for the illuminated green crosses above the storefront). Parisian women take their beauty routines very seriously, and you'll be amazed at the options. You can get everything from Parisian-only brands to high-end names like Le Prairie.

If you don’t want to spend all your savings on super-expensive and famous perfumes, you might find some affordable and delicious scents in Grasse, the perfume capital of France. Many perfumeries offer discounts, and you can also pick up some small samples in one of the perfume factories open for tourists (Fragonard, Molinard, Galimard). The most original souvenir would be a perfume you make yourself – why not sign up for a perfume making class in Grasse and mix your own scent!

Austria
The cuckoo clock has long been a favourite Austrian souvenir, loved for its elegant wooden case and intricate carvings. Some cuckoo clocks also have a parade of forest creatures, townspeople, and other animals that celebrate the passing of every hour by circling through small trap doors.

Even if you're not a lover of bling, you'll be impressed after a trip to Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens. Designed by artist Andre Heller, it is Austria’s second most visited museum. You'll marvel at its 11-metre high crystal wall, boasting twelve tons of glittering semi-precious stones. And you can also see the world's biggest crystal, which weighs 62 kilograms.

Look out for the signature red and gold packaging of Mirabell's Echte Salzburger Mozartkugel. The Mozartkugel was first created in 1890, in honour of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. These delightful treats are a ball of marzipan rolled in nougat cream, speared with a wooden stick and then dipped in bittersweet chocolate.  The Mirabell version is the only one to be completely round and has became synonymous with Austria.

What would you like to buy with your strong Aussie dollar? Tell us about it in the comments section below, or share your ideas on twitter and Facebook.

Take a look through all our trips to Europe, including our self-guided walks. You can order a FREE brochure and sign up to our eNews for inspiring articles, competitions and trip updates each month.

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