oh, cool! and your friend know how to spend they bitcoin-richness? :O
Yes, we're trying to fight the deflationary spiral and use our coins, I think he got his EUR back from trading them at MtGox :] And yes, cash would have been good for this scenario, however, in the modern world you hardly ever have cash, it's usually debit cards that are used. Cash is so... hard to transfer if not face-to-face, and besides, easily stolen by pickpockets
And - cash is easy to withdraw from the account, but very hard to put back, you'd have to go to a bank to deposit it if you wanted to use it to pay over internet.