The message from the Vienna sausage stall was clear: 'Please, no euros'

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The Independent Online

In Vienna, there were signs that the currency transition was not going as smoothly as planned. Some bars and clubs were happily accepting euros from early-morning revellers, but others had simply given up.

Austria

In Vienna, there were signs that the currency transition was not going as smoothly as planned. Some bars and clubs were happily accepting euros from early-morning revellers, but others had simply given up.

"Please, no euros," a note read in the window of a sausage stand at Vienna's Prater fairground early yesterday.

"It's too complicated to be accepting euros at the moment," the owner of the stand said. "The queue is just too long."

Finland

Raija Vinni, a kiosk saleswoman braving the bitter cold at Helsinki's main train station, said her shop would only be giving change from today. "It would be easier if we already had some euros to give back," she confessed, but said she had warmed to the whole idea of replacing the markka. "Initially I was a bit nervous, but the machines are so good."

Greece

In Athens, an elderly lottery ticket salesman said no one had paid with euros and he appeared scared by the prospect. "If anyone does, I won't take them," Christos Kotsias said. "I don't know anything about them. I'll only take drachmas."

At the Esperia Palace Hotel in central Athens, a concierge said the first people to use the currency had been a group from Japan, offering a 10-euro (£6) note for a bar tab.

"It sort of works like the dollar, with cents and stuff," said Sarah Mathews, visiting from New York. "I haven't gotten my hands on one, but it will make life simpler."

Ireland

Dublin shop assistant Phyllis Roe fumbled for change in euros for a customer who gave her Ir£10 (£7.75) for a newspaper. "It takes me a little bit longer than the younger ones [clerks]," Mrs Roe said after she handed back 11.70 euros (£7) to customer Eddie Fitzgerald. "I gave Ir£10 and I got back more than 11 euros," said a bewildered Mr Fitzgerald, 50. "But it's the same as everything else. In 1973 we had the changeover to decimalisation and I got used to that too." Long queues formed outside the Central Bank of Ireland, which exchanged new bills for old and offered customers champagne, hot whiskey, tea or coffee as they waited.

The government, which said the changeover went smoothly, spent more than Ir£5m on a campaign of public information.

Luxembourg

At the Hotel and Restaurant Saint Nicolas in the Luxembourg village of Remich (population 3,000), owner Lucien Houdremont's biggest headache was not the euro but the annual flooding from the Moselle river, which stranded his New Year party guests for hours. The new money caused hardly a ripple. "Our preparation was excellent" said Mr Houdremont. "We have been accepting Belgian francs and giving change in euros all day. Everyone is happy. We have the calculators the government gave us."

Spain

Spain's first euro heist took place hours before the new currency became legal tender. Two armed men robbed a bank in north-east Spain of 90,000 euros. Otherwise Spaniards greeted the euro with caution yesterday, clinging to pesetas, especially for small transactions. Long queues formed at banks and many people turned away in disappointment when they were unable to get their new money. Only 75 per cent of ATMs in Spain were ready to spew out euros yesterday, but the authorities said 90 per cent should be ready today. Some 900 bank branches opened yesterday for three hours to allow people to exchange pesetas for euros.

Portugal

A woman in Oporto was the first Portuguese citizen to withdraw euros from a cash machine, 15 seconds after midnight. The Portuguese central bank said 47 per cent of the country's 8,800 cash machines had been stocked with euros. More than 100,000 withdrawals, worth 5.2 million euros, had taken place by early yesterday. The finance minister, Guilherme Oliveira Martis, said both currencies should not be used simultaneously but taxi drivers were giving change in both euros and escudos.

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