Tourist Scam Alert: 2006
Tourists are targeted by scam and rip-off artists everywhere in Europe. If you know the games (spilling the mustard, bus 64 in Rome, and so on), you're less likely to be a victim. By sharing the latest scams (and learning from each others' mistakes) we'll all travel more safely.
Remember, pickpocketing attempts throughout Europe can be expected unless you wear a moneybelt under your clothing. Smart travelers leave wallets at home and store their credit cards, passport, paper money and rail ticket(s) in a secure moneybelt. Visit our Travel Store for Rick Steves' recommended moneybelts.
What cons and scams have you encountered?
Read the Distillation: Tourist Scams, 2005
When I went to Rome, Nov. 2006, with my 9 yr-old daughter, I used a travel wallet. It is a tri-fold, large nylon wallet with an adjustable string. It was big enough for our 2 passports, airline tix, and money. I put one arm and my head through the loop and wore the wallet across my body with the wallet under my arm. Then I wore a jacket or shirt over it. I kept a few euro coins in a zippered pocket of my jacket for easy access for minor spending. That worked well for me. I met quite a few people who said they'd had their pockets picked. We met a couple on a tour of the Colosseum area who told us that just that morning a group of gypsy girls swarmed the husband, pulling his arms, jumping around, and then they fled - with the wallet he had in his zippered jacket pocket. He had an Air Force ID in the wallet. Perhaps that scared the kids because they suddenly ran back to him, claiming to have "found" his wallet - and wanting a reward for returning it! Don't think a zipper will stop anyone - even if it's in your front pocket. Also, the people at our hotel, Hotel Oceania (highly recommended), advised us to keep our airline tix and passports in our room in the safe - not to carry them around. They said they'd bring them to us if we had any trouble and needed them. I also left one credit card, some US cash and the Euros I was going to use to pay the hotel bill at the end of the week in the safe as well.
M E Sofield
Belle Mead, NJ USA Sun 12/31/2006
Scammed in Rome 15.12.2006
My husband and I had a weekend break in Rome this December 2006. We would call ourselves 'street smart' but we still got scammed by the lost Armani rep. We got called over to a car by a well dressed gentleman asking us if were were English and waving a map at us in his hand. We went over to his car, we were on the passenger side so he had to lean over to speak to us. He asked us directions to the French Embassy, which he said was near the station, we had only arrived in Rome a couple of hours before, but my husband did his best to give him directions. It was only thinking back that we realised how stupid we were, when my husband was giving his directions, he didn't really seem interested, he kept chatting away, introducing himself, shaking my husband's hand and bringing me into the conversation, I stood back a bit from the car as I would not have been able to help him with directions. He brought me into the conversation, his wife was from Manchester, he asked me my height, I told him, he then produced from the passenger footwell of the car a genuine Armani sample - a leather jacket worth at least £500.00. He thrust this into my hand insisting it was a gift and was most insistent I did not sell the coat, it was a gift. I did not hear him ask my husband for money, apparently he said his Visa card did not work and he needed money for petrol. When my husband took 50 euros out of his pocket (this was all the money we had taken with us that afternoon), I questioned what he was doing, I thought he was paying for the coat, I didn't want the coat I would rather give it back. The con man leaning over to the window pointed at the money saying he wanted this note which my husband pulled out and showed him it was a 5 euro, no he didn't want that he pointed to another note this time a 20 euro, when my husband took this out he took that and pointed at another note, this time a 10 euro, well he got 30 euros before my husband cottoned on. By then it was too late, he wouldn't hand the money back and he drove off and we were left 30 euros short and a nice 100% vinyl coat. We were a bit dazed by this and whilst we continued walking and discussing how we could have been caught this way, another car pulled up with a gentleman waving a map at us asking us if we spoke English, we both replied together shouting 'no'. I don't know if this chap was geunine, but I didn't want to find out. It occured to me later that if my husband had pulled out a wallet, it was possible this man would have snatched it and driven off. The rest of the weekend was spent with no hassle other than the usual annoyances with roses and beggars etc. I wish I had read this web site before I travelled as I see there are two incidents reported the same as ours. We felt rather silly aferwards and didn't report this incident because as my husband pointed out - we bought a coat for 30 euros - more fool us!
Mrs J. Drummond
northants, UK Fri 12/29/2006
response to Barcelona
Barca is no different than any other metropolitan city. Been there many times, never a problem. Just be a little street smart--like in SFO, NYC, LA, CHI, etc.
Utah USA Wed 12/27/2006
Good Samaritan scam in Germany
If renting a vehicle/driving in Germany, good samaritan laws require you to stop and help drivers if stranded/stopped on the street. There has been a problem recently with non-German citizens, mostly French and some Czech Republic individuals taking advantage of these rules. A car will stop on the road, and the driver will flag you down, then ask your for gas money to get back to their home nation, then will get beligerent if you refuse. They mostly target areas with large amounts of Americans or tourists.
Kindsbach, Germany Tue 12/26/2006
Lewis & Clark Wallet Minder
I have been on trips through Prague, Paris and Munich recently without incident. I keep my wallet (only cash and atm card) in my front pocket in a Lewis & Clark Wallet Minder. It essentially straps the wallet inside velcro and clips to your belt. I also use a money belt for other valuables.
Question - has anyone had a negative experience with this approach? In some ways I like it because I do not have to access my money belt while we are out. Planning a trip to Spain in the spring and would like some feedback.
Chandler, AZ USA Tue 12/19/2006
Taxis in Rome
It is also not correct to assume that just because you get an "official" taxi at Rome Termini that you will not be ripped-off!
USA Tue 12/19/2006
Taxis at Termini in Roma
It is not correct that one should avoid all taxis in Roma. But you should avoid all taxis except those with a Cummune de Roma medallion on the door. Additionally, at Termini and the Airports, take only the taxis at the official taxi stands, again with the seal on the door. Never take a taxi or any other conveinces offered by those scammers who rush you before you get to the front door.
Charles M. Luther
USA Sat 12/16/2006
Possible scam or worse
I am not sure if this was a scam but my instincts told me it could have been dangerous. In Sinaia, Romania, a group of us (two couples) encountered two women in a coffee house. They seemed very nice and after some conversation decided to accompany us on a walk that we were going to take. When we got to a taxi stand, one of the women started making conversation with a driver and then "invited" us to take the taxi with her and her companion to visit a "beautiful" village, some 5 kilometers away. I guess our NYC instincts kicked in and we made an excuse not to go with them - aside from the fact that it was getting dark. The one who spoke passable English became somewhat insistant - could we meet them tomorrow, etc? We said we couldn't and quickly got away from them. Later on when we spoke to our tour director, he knew of no village, beautiful or otherwise that was anywhere near where we were. Was it legitimate...maybe. But on the other hand we could have been dumped somewhere, not speaking the language and possibly robbed. Bottom line, listen to your instincts!
Saratoga Springs, NY USA Sat 12/16/2006
Response to Barcelona Post
It is silly to base a broad opinion of any city on one or two experiences. Large cities in America and equally riddled with petty crime problems that many Americans may not experience because they are clearly natives. Many European tourists in America have told me of similar scams to those I have heard in Europe. It is important to keep in mind that large cities are reasonably expected to be more touristy and therefore more attractive the various petty thieves around the country and the world. THe important thing is simply be smart, and make an effort to blend in.
AZ USA Mon 12/11/2006
You are correct. Avoiding all taxis that originate at either Rome airport or Rome Termini is good advice for tourists in order to avoid begin ripped off while in Rome.
Hiring a private driver or shuttle service to be pick you up at the airport is a good choice. These shuttles and private drivers can also be hired to take you back.
Otherwise, taking cabs which did NOT originate from Rome Airport or Rome Termini always proved to be a good decision. They were amazingly cheap.
USA Sun 12/10/2006
Taxis in Rome-avoid
I second all the tips about avoiding taxis espec from international airport. they are scam artists a terrible way to be welcomed? to a city for a tourist. The Police should regulate as they are stealing thousands of euros from innocent travelers.
USA Sun 12/10/2006
A scam that seems prevalent in Paris ( we encountered it 3 times there) is for a person to "find" a ring on the ground and then ask if it is yours. He then remarks that it is gold and offers to sell it to you. Each of these rings, if not palmed, could be placed on the ground ahead of time. They are worth about 20 cents apiece.
USA Mon 12/04/2006
Just returned from Paris this week and I was so glad that I had come to this forum before my trip. We encountered every single scam/hustle: bracelets, gypsy girls, obnoxious and frankly semi-violent rose guy and a pickpocket (the worst one in history). It was my experience that a firm "No!" or a non-friendly glare worked often. In some cases it got physical, as when I had to push off the idiot pickpocket who stopped on the same escalator step as I was on and felt on my side, trying to get into my empty pocket, and I actually had to ball up my fist and make a threatening move to the abusive rose guy. Once they knew you couldn't be punked, they left you alone. Also, be prepared to be swarmed by smarmy "salesmen" trying to sell you cheap trinkets if you go to the Eiffel Tower at night. Most take no for an answer, while some try to finesse you into a sell. Once again, a firm "No!" seems to work.
Los Angeles, CA USA Sat 12/02/2006
I spent 4 days in Barcelona in October and did not have any of the below mentioned problems. Nor did I witness any crime. I wore a money belt and did not let my guard down. Barcelona is a beautiful city, I would hate for travelers to be diverted from the city based on one couple's post.
Barcelona is just like any other big city. Just be street smart. Don't let your guard down and wear a money belt. Have fun.
SF, CA USA Sat 12/02/2006
Why go where tourists are targeted and have sh*t sprayed on them? Barcelona
It is best to avoid European cities with out of control crime problems. You simply are statistically more likely to have a problem in one of those cities despite being alert and taking precautions. Even if I had not lost my wallet in the incident below, my wife and I still had sh*t splashed/sprayed all over our clothes and in our hair. Who needs to deal with that as well as several hours in a police station on a holiday!!??
We recommend avoiding cities known for out of control crime that is specifically directed at tourists. BARCELONA is one of these cities based on our experience over 4 days, observations and research. We're sorry to have to report this because we very much wanted to like Barcelona and it is a beautiful city. However, it is just not worth the hassle!
We've lived in Amsterdam for 4 years and traveled throughout Europe so it is not like we are not mindful of petty crime. Barcelona's crime problem is the worst we've seen!
Our incident occured in the Eixample area -- Modernist quarter, noted for its art nouveau buildings. This is supposed to be the safest area away from all the petty crime!
There are many other beautiful cities in Europe that have and are taking care of the crime situation. We'll be there!
Chris & Mel
Amsterdam, The Netherlands Thu 11/30/2006
Security in Europe
This has been said often on this board and in Rick's books but perhaps it is due again. Rules for travel in Europe. 1. Be alert. 2. Bear in mind the thieves are professional. You are not faster, better, tougher or more clever than they are. 3. Wear a concealed money belt or pouch. Then relax and enjoy yourself. And READ Rick's books and this board.
Charles M. Luther
USA Wed 11/29/2006
BARCELONA HAS AN OUT OF CONTROL CRIME PROBLEM: AVOID!
After 4 days in Barcelona in November 2006, we witnessed and experienced more crime here then in 4 years in the rest of Europe and 16 years in NYC and Chicago!
My wife and I encountered what I've recently found out is the notorious bird poop scam. We were splashed with brown crap in the back and on our heads. We unfortunately fell for the nice person who appeared and offered to help us clean our clothes while at the same time helping himself to my wallet which was zipped in a travel vest.
We're Americans who have lived and traveled in Europe for almost 4 years and must have let our guard down. I feel personally violated but was naive for allowing such a thief to get close to me let alone clean my clothes. It happened very fast.
We heard and saw lots of other crime while there including other pickpocketing and meeting two Europeans who had been assaulted by a group of 10 men (I guess we were lucky). The police appear to be overwhelmed and the judicial system does not keep the thieves off the street (if it is not violent, it is a "minor problem"). The police officer that took my report told me his station gets 100 reports a day of robbery!
Out of all the cities I've been too, I recommend taking your vacation time and money elsewhere until they decide to get this under control!
For all parts of Europe....wear a money belt and use a wallet with little if anything only!
Regards -- Chris and Mel
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands Wed 11/29/2006
SCAM IN VENICE & Safety Concerns in General
During our recent adventure in Central & Eastern Europe, (Germany, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Switzerland, Lichenstein, Czech, Luxembourg) we are happy to report no major issues with safety or scamming. We did get scammed on the boat taxis in Venice. We parked at the main garage then got a 10 Euro taxi to Venice. On the way back all of the ferry boats went on strike. According to other guests and residents, it is a common occurance to just walk off the job and leave their post. We had to pay 50 euros to get back to the garage with another taxi boat. Of course, we got overcharged in a few restaurants along the way.
SAFETY: All-in-all, safety concerns are way over-rated. Lordy, all of Europe is safer than nearly all parts of America. We walked in the darkest, offroad places --- the poorest areas and the most touristy avenues and never felt unsafe. Ever. Even with all of the graffiti, backstreets....
If you listened to the rantings on this board and others, you would believe that everyone was out to get you at every turn and you had to keep your hands on a tazer gun nearly the whole time. It is just not true.
Perhaps I am less concerned since I am ex-Army infantry and still realtively young. (32) and I wouldn't hesitate to chase and slam any potential ill-intended suitors --- but don't walk around wasting time pretending that everyone is out to get you. Check on your gear, your $ routinely and your sanity and enjoy it.
I wore cargo pants with security zipper pocket for my passport and $. I also wore my Tamrac Expedition backpack (very heavy-duty photo bag) and did lock the zippered compartment with my mini-laptop. Nothing more than that.
Keep your possessions close and secure, stay alert and just have fun. It is very safe, unless you go looking for trouble and if you do, then you are bound to find it!
Enjoyed it, but so happy to get back home on American soil. Water? Is that mild-mineral, extra mineral, with gas, without gas, sparkling, non? Anything but tap... :-) Just give me a big bottle of Aquafina or Dasani and a bag of Doritos.
New Orleans, LA USA Mon 11/27/2006
Just got back from Rome, and the only problem was just me being stupid and inexperienced. But, I learned my lesson! When we first arrived, we got a taxi from the Termini station (without getting a quote ahead of time). When we arrived, the price was 28 Euros (crazy amount!) I was surprised, but I handed him 2 20's. He took them and then showed me two fives as if that's all I handed him. I had just arrived and was very confused, so I paid it and realized what happened right after he drove off.
After that, I asked every taxi driver for a cost before I got in and carried smaller bills. I never had another problem - even on busses and trains.
The rose and umbrella people aren't really scams. They're just people trying to sell things. They can be a little pushy, but I found that saying no and then turning my head away from them and ignoring them worked perfectly.
USA Sat 11/25/2006
I was in Paris and went to CDG to meet my friends. On the RER in to the city, a teenage girl was handing out little trinkets. I waived her away; she set the trinket on my knee, and I brushed it off onto the floor, obviously making her angry. She sat glaring at me but also eyeing my friend's day-pack sitting on top of their luggage. Just as the train came to a stop, I reached over and picked up the bag. She swore, kicked me in the shin, and got off the train. I got the last laugh.
Charles A. Robinson
Lodi, CA USA Sat 11/25/2006
Slit tire in Barcelona
While in Barcelona, we stopped our car (a new Renault with French plates) to look at something, and a man on a scooter rode up and started asking for directions. While we were talking to him, his partner apparently slit our rear tire with a knife. Several blocks down the street when I pulled up on the sidewalk to change the flat tire, the same two men arrived, disguised with motorbike helmets, to give directions to a "tire shop" just around the corner. I had the trunk lid open to access the spare tire, thus limiting my view into the interior of the car. While the first man was trying to convince me to go with him to the tire shop, the other man was in the car and going through our stuff, including my wife's purse. A local woman on a balcony started screaming at the two thieves; I closed the trunk lid, started shouting and waving the tire wrench, and the two of them dropped the purse and ran off. We have used money belts for over thirty years of world travel, so there wasn't anything of value in the purse, just make-up, photos, small change, etc. We were staying in an outlying area, so we went to a Renault dealer near the hotel and had the tire replaced (80 euros). When I returned the car to Renault Eurodrive in Paris, I mentioned to the agent that we had been to Barcelona, and he said, "Did you have your tires slit?".
Charles A. Robinson
Lodi, CA USA Sat 11/25/2006
While waiting for the bus, a car stopped and asked for directions. When I approached the car they asked if I was Italian. I said no, but could speak a little if they needed directions. They said they were Polizza and needed to see my passport. I was a bit dumbfounded but have been in Italy long enough to recognize that the police dressed a little better then these fellows. I asked to see his ID again, again he quickly flipped it open. Although I still did not have enough time to read it, I did not see any Italian colors on it, and in Italy, anything offical shows the Italian colors proudly. He again asked for my passport. I said 'No. Thank you' and I walked off. I turned around and they proceeded to drive away. I forgot to get the license plate, but escaped intact. Researching this, I believe that they wanted either to hold my passport ransom or search my things for valuables/money. My advice is if anyone offical comes up to you, they should have proper credentials and should allow you to fully study the credentials. If you are still suspicious, you can ask for more proof or verification via another offical body (ie you want to see a police car). If not, walk away. Note the license plate if you remember such that you can report it to the authorities.
Rome, IT Mon 11/20/2006
Scams - just say SOMETHING!
What are these "evil stares" and "glares" and "serious looks" that everyone here seems to give the pickpockets. If I'm being targeted then by ALL MEANS just "Holler" at me "Hey, You" or something. I would rather have the definite possibility of protecting myself or others rather than rely on someone else's "evil stare" for protection.
Just SAY something!
USA Sat 11/18/2006
Ghost Walk Pickpocket
a couple of years ago my husband and I went on a free ghost walk in London that came with our ticket on the double decker bus tour of the city. It was great fun and the company that did it was WONDERFUL. However while we were standing outside the houses of justice I was (as I always do) keeping my eyes open for any funny business. Everyone else including my husband was rapt by the story telling. A young man in his 20's who was walking down the street came up to our group and stood there listening (the street was pretty busy). I was standing a bit back from the group and I noticed he was looking at the pants of all the men in the group. I think he was trying to figure out where they were keeping their cash. He inched up closer to one of them men in the group and I cleared my throat. He looked up at me startled that someone had noticed him. I gave him my best "don't you dare" look and he shrugged his shoulders and wandered off. Just goes to show you always keep your eyes open. I enjoyed my night emmensly and no one in our group got ripped off.
Denver, Co USA Thu 11/16/2006
Rome Termini Taxi Scam Nov 8th
I had a learning experience. I was scammed by a taxi at Termini. My wife and I stood in line at a Taxi stand at on one side of Termini. We had not seen the larger one in the front of the station. I should have known something was wrong when our driver singled us out of the line and refused to take the person in front of us. As we started to move, I noticed he had no id in the car. This was a white Mercedes wagon that was too clean inside to be a taxi. Long story short he stopped on a crowded street and insisted our hotel was down the street and that he was not going to go around the block because of traffic. He charged us 30 euro and dropped us off miles from our hotel. We happened to be back at Termini later that afternoon as part of our hop on hop off tour. We looked for him to get some revenge, but didn't find him. We also noticed when we returned the police were watching both Taxi stands to keep the crooks away. :) Otherwise had a great time in Rome. Ricks walks and recommendations are wonderful. Reading these postings helped us avoid other scams. Thank you for your help. Watch out for a white Mercedes wagon with no meter that looks semi official.
WI USA Tue 11/14/2006
To the EF Student Who was Scammed in Rome
I've taken numerous student groups to Europe. Rome is definitely the worst. But student travel groups are great because they give the kids "a taste" of Europe and most want to go back. I have a student who went with us her freshman year and is now celebrating graduation by backpacking across Europe on her own!! Just remember, if you are leading a group, educate them on possible scams! We always tell our kids to wear a money belt. In 10 years, we've never had anyone pickpocketed. I hope you won't be deterred by scams and you will travel again.
USA Sun 11/12/2006
Taxis at Termini in Roma
You should not be scammed by taxis in Roma at Termini if you go to the official taxi stand. Do NOT take the taxis waiting at the curb when you walk out OR those that rush up to you in the terminal. When you walk out the door look to your right at about 1 o'clock. You will see a long covered walkway and probably a line of people on the walkway and a line of taxis loading up. These cabs have a logo on the door saying COMMUNE DE ROMA. Go there and get in line. The lines move very fast. Should you need a larger cab for more passengers or luggage, step to the side when your turn comes and the next van/taxi will get you. Remember the rules of European taxis: Every piece of luggage the driver puts in the trunk carries a charge. Carry at least one bag in your lap to save money. Be sure the meter is zeroed. Tell the driver exactly where you want to go BEFORE HE LEAVES. Everywhere in Europe, especially on the street, get a price BEFORE YOU GET IN THE TAXI. Once in you are legally obligaged to pay and the driver may stop a policeman to convice you.
Charles M. Luther
USA Sun 11/12/2006
Rome tourist scams
Over the summer, I went on an EF Tour with my high school (something I realized I wouldn't do again, because I didn't like being tied down by a tour group). I was walking in front of the Spanish Steps in Rome with my friend when two men came out of nowhere and started tying strings on our fingers and proceeded to make bracelets. Well, we felt like we were trapped and I kept checking my back pockets while the men kept saying "Don't worry!" in broken English. I didn't get pickpocketed, but the men got three Euros out of me for those bracelets. Less than ten feet and a minute later, another man walked up to my friend with a dozen roses and said they were free "for the pretty girl". He then turned to me and told me to pay for them. Well, my friend shoved the roses back in his arms and we just walked away, a little faster than before. We learned (quickly) not to let street peddlers take advantage of us anymore. Just be a little cautious, and when possible, stay away from the tourist traps. I had a better time in the undiscovered local places anyway!
New Orleans, LA USA Sat 11/11/2006
Learn a little of the language
This anecdote illustrates the advantage of knowing the language of the country you visit. In Firenze last year we were watching a performance by a troupe of taiko drummers in front of the Duomo. Anyone who has been to Italy knows that there are legions of beggars, many of whom seem to be young girls who whine and look pitiful. Well, I speak enough Italian to get by fairly well, but my husband is clueless. Normally he ignores beggars, but when a girl came up to him with a cup on this occasion, he gave her some change. I asked him why on earth he did that and he said, "Wasn't she collecting donations for the taiko troupe?" I said, "Didn't you read her sign!? (It was scrawled on cardboard and said something like 'Sono povera... blah blah'.) Besides, even if she had said that she was collecting for the performers, would you actually believe her?"
The moral: Learn a few words and phrases of your destination country, and familiarize yourself with the customs. It could keep you out of trouble and will add to the enjoyment of your trip.
Willits, Califo USA Fri 11/10/2006
Rome Taxi Scams
The only time we were ever fleeced by taxi drivers in Rome was at Termini. We took taxis several different times while in Rome. We thought they were quite affordable and always honest...unless Termini was the starting point.
USA Thu 11/09/2006
Rome taxi scam
At the Rome train station we ran into a taxi driver who wanted to charge us 25.euros for a very short trip, claiming there was a "politcal strike" causing problems. We balked at this and he gave up on us. Out another door was a taxi driver who took us to our hotel for 5.euros. Ask first; save yourself $26. or so.
SANTA ROSA, CA USA Wed 11/08/2006
the ring scam
Has anyone actually taken the ring that the gypsy gives you and done a runner? Do they come after you? I've heard of this scam (and other typical gypsy scams) rearing its ugly head in Oslo, now that they're "allowed" to come here. The ring scam is the one I want to troll for the most. I mean, what are they going to do? Call the cops on me?
Oslo, Norway Tue 11/07/2006
money belt access
If you access the money belt during the day you are essentially using it like a fanny pack, just under your clothes. I think of it as a portable safe- the whole point is to keep it concealed at all times. Once or twice if something unexpected came up and I needed more cash I would get into a restroom or have another in our party sort of block me while I fished it out- but that should be a rare exception to the keeping it hidden all the time rule.
USA Mon 11/06/2006
I used a money belt the last two trips - the only thing is, how do you use it without anyone seeing (like if you are buying something?)
I am very cautious now about everyone - though there are wonderful people all over Europe, and you can generally tell the good from the bad pretty quickly. I actually now find it an interesting slice of Europe - the gypsies and such, we had a few girls pout at us at the airport for money (they were run off twice by the police, and that was a lot of fun to watch).
I was sort of hoping to get to yell "no" to a Sacre Coeur bracelet guy, but noone approached me. I've really changed my attitude while travelling. I used to be much more meek, being nervous around others if they were seeing money and such. Now I'm much more ready to stand up for myself.
The most interesting we saw probably was this actor type person near the d'Orsay (it was absolutely NOT an old woman), hunched over with a hooded robe on and a cane, with one hand out with a cup. I joked that I should have potato chips or something for people like that.
I think next trip, I'd like for both of us to have dummy wallets with some monopoly money inside, along with the money belts. I wore my fanny pack this year with a minimal amount of stuff in it - makeup, a few dollars - over my money belt. If someone targeted me, they'd not have gotten much.
From what I've seen, it seems like those who really need the money won't bother you for it. We stayed in the 12th, and there was not as much scamming there (not a touristy area really). But there was one man, obviously homeless, who hung outside the laundromat. He didn't ask anyone for anything. I considered giving him some money, but he seemed to be taken care of by the neighborhood (some of the business people were often with him).
I am going to read more up on the scams and such for next year. But I think the most important thing is to be alert, be firm, and have a few Euros/coins in your pocket if you do feel really threatened or uncomfortable (or if you want to actually give some money to someone because you genuinely want to).
And just because someone approaches you and asks if you speak English, it doesn't make them a scam artist (and someone below seemed to think). We had someone who had a genuine question, and saw that we were Americans. It can be a little nerve-wracking! But there are millions of tourists in Europe every year, and just being alert will put you ahead of the pack. I'd be more worried about losing my pictures than the camera, so maybe storing pics on another CD or card would help too.
FL USA Mon 11/06/2006
High tourist areas like around Sacre Coeur in Paris have rip-off artists that will try to make friendship bracelets on your arm. I didn't have problems with these people because I totally ingored them. However, some of my friends didn't listen to my advice & ended up having to buy the bracelets. Also if people ask you if you speak English & you can tell that they are beggars, it is best to ignore them. Many of these people also don't know French but they know some English. I spoke to them in French & they left me alone.
Ohio USA Sat 11/04/2006
The scams on this site are not unique to Europe. Tourists anywhere are targets. We use the same cautions in Paris, LA and the City by the Bay. Go to Europe, be careful and drink in the culture, wine and great food.
Ca. US USA Thu 11/02/2006
Pick pocketing in Eastern Europe
I love travelling and all that it brings. However, on occasion, I've witnessed a crime or two. This time it was in Vienna and later in Prague. In Vienna, school age kids acting like part of Fagins gang of thieves would start to walk on to the subway with a crowd of people and they would stand by anyone who had an open shopping bag. They would reach in and grab something just as the doors were closing and you were on your way and they had lifted whatever you had purchased. My friend yelled out "watch out for the pickpockets" and everyone became aware. The kids ran off and gave us the universal one finger salute for wrecking their day. In Prague,at the train station, we watched as a young woman approached a man carrying a bag. She asked for a light for her cigarette. As they parted, she walked away and turned back to say something to a man on a bench. We first thought he had said something rude, but then she pointed to the ground. It was a wallet. He quickly picked it up, looked in it, took out the contents and threw it over his shoulder into the ravine area behind the benches. About 20 minutes later, the woman and several other people showed up. They split the procedes and went on their way. Be wary at the Prague Station. Oh, the police came by later and it was a fun night for all at the station.
Aurora, CO USA Tue 10/31/2006
We've traveled in europe for about 13 years and even lived there for 5 and still had a backpack stolen from AT OUR FEET in the Brussels main train station! There weren't a lot of people around so we let down our guard. When you look up at the train board while standing on the platform (or anywhere) put your hand, or something on or thru your luggage strap. It was a costly, painful mistake that we blame on our own stupidity and jetlag! Maybe we'd been more lucky than smart all those years or we're just getting soft...
Peoria, IL USA Sun 10/29/2006
PacSafe day pack
We went to Europe last year with a money belt and common sense. We did not encounter any problems. And could clearly see how pick pocketing could be so rampant in crowded metro trains.
This year I purchased a PacSafe purse for a day pack. It is lined with wire so a thief cannot slice open the purse. And it has an extra clip that attaches to the zipper, so fast fingers cannot easily unzip the purse.
I am satisfied with this purchase because this year I went to big cities again and traveled on crowded metros. It allowed me an extra sense of security, along with my money belt.
I bought my purse at REI.
USA Wed 10/25/2006
All I read On RS' letters is that thieves are rampant in Europe, particularly on trains, buses, train stations, etc. Common sense tells me that if I am in Europe or anywhere else, including the USA, I need to safeguard my property, my wallet and cash included. My wife and I have been to Europe many times and have never been victims of thievery or any other kind of crime. We have also lived in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean for a number of years. Keeping our eyes open and planning the day's itinerary helps determine what to take with you. So, THINK and PLAN. You will ok everywhere.
San Marcos, CA USA Wed 10/25/2006
I visited Budapest on 20th October 2006 as part of a stag party. One of the guys was ripped of in the EDEN club he bought a couple of beers for two of the strippers working there and ended up with a bill of over 800 euro. He insisted on calling the police and they kindly escorted him to the bank machine so he could hand over the cash to the thugs from the club. we were overcharged by the taxi's and restaurants. Take a look at the following web site it has the regular scams I wish I had read it before I went. Anyway once you have read it Budapest is a fantastic city. http://www.budapesthotels.com/touristguide/dangers.asp
Budapest, Ireland Wed 10/25/2006
Pick Pocket vs Texans
Paris Metro, We were taking the train during the am commute. The car was really packed, I felt a hand inside of my jacket pocket and it was a man trying to rip me off. When knew he had been busted he could not run and my wife and I grabbed him and pulled him off the at the next stop and hit the emergency call button at the station. The police arrested the man. The police recovered 6 wallets and other items from this man. I shoved my Texas Flag dew rag in the thief's pocket and reminded him "Dont Mess with Texas"
Austin, TX USA Tue 10/24/2006
Crime on Trains
It is not the train that you have to be so aware...it's the subway system in Rome that is bad. If you are traveling 1st class from city to city...I see no problem with crime/pickpockets. We travel 2nd class and had no issue. It's when the criminal can purchase a ticket for a few Euro and ride all day --with ripe pickings in tourists and LOCALS pockets and purses. It's NOT just us Americans that get picked, it's anyone that has something of value on their person!
Again...trains from city to city are fine...it's just in the larger cities that you have to use caution!
This is from personal experience in 7+ trips to Europe in the last few years. Others may have experienced something different. this is MPOV.
WI USA Tue 10/24/2006
Had a Wonderful Trip in Italy - No problems
More perspective...I just came back from 2 weeks (Sept.22 - Oct.9) in Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence, Livorno, and Rome again -- riding the trains the entire time). I was pretty nervous after reading all these emails on the "Graffiti Wall", but I have to say NOTHING HAPPENED TO US! Ok, we may have paid a couple of euros too much on taxi rides but to my knowledge the only money I "lost" was what I was spending on so many beautiful things. And the contents of our purses, bags and credit card receipts appear to support my conclusions. Believe me, I bought my REI steel reinforced mesh lining city bag with extra clip lock and TSA approved locks for my luggage. And when we were struggling with our big, overstuffed luggage on the trains, I was worried, but nothing happened. That doesn't mean it can't, it just didn't happen to us. Maybe we were lucky, maybe it was a combination of being alert to our surroundings or riding first-class or not acting overly paranoid and instead concentrating on having a great time, but we were fine. I'm not trying to negate anyone else's unfortunate experiences, because obviously Sh*t Happens, but you cannot let paranoia or fear steal you of a wonderful experience! We met terrific locals and fabulous fellow travelers. How lonely our trip would have been if we had let fear rule us. I LOVE ITALY!!! I AM TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH THIS COUNTRY!!! I cannot wait to go back and have more adventures!
Believe me, I know what crime is--I live in Washington, DC and I've worked on Capitol Hill. Cheers.
Washington, DC USA Mon 10/23/2006
To C&C in Paris,
the guys selling roses in Paris and many other cities aren´t really crooks or do anything devious, they just sell roses. If you take one, that means you want to buy one. Sometimes they can be a nuisance, but what they do is not a scam.
USA Mon 10/23/2006
ATM safety tip
It's a good idea when using ATM's, especially if you're withdrawing a lot of money to put it into your wallet/purse in front of the machine. It's very easy to have a wad of notes snatched from your hand as you walk away from the machine. The person behind you will generally not mind a extra few seconds waiting. Thieves and pickpockets know about the cameras in the machines/on a nearby wall, so use them to your advantage. Also, I know our money might be different to what you're used to, but wait till you get somewhere safe to inspect it! I once saw an American woman waving a couple of hundred pounds worth of notes in the air in Central London so her friends could see it. Made me cringe, she was such an easy target. Europe is generally safe, but keep your wits about you.
UK Sun 10/22/2006
Well, we only know what you tell us, and you DIDN'T tell us the outcome. Thanks for finally including that...
USA Sat 10/21/2006
yes I did....the guy didnt' get away with it OF COURSE I LET HER KNOW! DUH!
USA Fri 10/20/2006
Pickpockets in Rome Subway
Well...did you WARN the lady about the pickpocket?
USA Fri 10/20/2006
Nicely dressed men
As stated below, it seems that American tourists are not aware of the pickpockets in Europe's larger cities, as they dress like business men.
I observed a pickpocket get onto a subway train car in Rome, he rushed on the car just as the doors were closing.
He was dressed very nicely, like just getting off work. Clean shirt, nice hair - very attractive Italian male. He had his sport coat drapped over one arm, and was holding a newspaper in the other.
As my husband and I were close to the doors, near the center pole, I observed this man's hand/fingers working the zipper on the woman's handbag just next to me! I looked up, made eye contact with him, and he gave me a "LOOK" that was meant to frighten me.
Moral of the story. You need to be watching your surroundings, not just for people that "look" like they might steal from you, but at everyone! Pickpockets have adapted, and will continue.
I'd also be aware of "teenagers" with ipods in their ears, carrying anything in their hands to hide the purpose of their ride on a crowded subway train, or down a crowded escalator!
USA Thu 10/19/2006
Rose ripoff in Paris restaurant's
The rose ripoff/scam is rampant in Paris restaurants.
Usually men, sometimes of Asian origin sometimes European types, usually well dressed for the later, come in the restaurants and propose roses to diners. As a French couple living in Paris, we see them all the time and we even get proposed the rose.
The most devious actually hand the rose to women who sometimes take them.
We were in a restaurant and a tourist woman took the rose. The guy then went to the husband and asked for 10 euros.
Just say no thanks.
Paris, France Thu 10/19/2006
My tips for dressing in order to avoid pickpockets/scams.
Money pouches are a good idea but only if hidden I think. Overtly visible pouches just make you look like a tourist and thus brand you as a target. Besides they also make you look bad on the photos.
In case of hot weather where it's really not possible to have enough clothes on on hide the pouch, I recommend a pair of shorts with a front pocket that can be closed.
And very important change your attitude in function of the places you go. Put your backpack in front of you in crowded places, look around with a stern look, be aware of your surroundings, lift your nose up from the map.
Be careful when unknown strangers address you but remember that sometimes they really want to help.
We were in Lisbon and having a hard time with a bus change. A women volunteered to help us and she was really helpful and did not demand anything.
Paris, France Thu 10/19/2006
Budapest drinking scam
I was twice in Budapest a couple of years ago and encountered/heard about two scams.
The first one is similar to one already posted but slightly different. Two guys from our seminar went to a bar and "met" two young comely ladies. They had a chat and the ladies invited them to go to another bar which they accepted.
They had simple drinks at the other bar but when the bill came it was horrendous something like 100 or 200 $. Their beverages were grossly overcharged.
They did not have enough money so one of them had to go to an ATM while the other was forced to stay behind by the bar's bouncers.
The morale of this is that young pretty women usually don't come up to men in the street and bars in any country be it Budapest.
The second scam was encountered by my wife. She went to buy a metro ticket at an official booth. She got her ticket but coming back she was not sure of the change. I checked and she had been ripped of grossly.
She went back to the booth while I looked and she did not have to say anything he just gave her the right change without a word.
Morale is do not hesitate to take time to count your change.
Paris, France Thu 10/19/2006
Lisbon restaurant appetizers
Be careful of the appetizers if you go eat in restaurants.
When you sit down in any restaurant, the waiters always put some appetizers plates on your table eveb before you've ordered.
These are not free !
In respectable restaurants, their price will be indicated on the menu but in disreputable restaurants it won't be and you will be overcharged for these when the bill comes.
If you don't want any just give them back to the waiters.
Paris, France Thu 10/19/2006
I don't understand tourist scams and pickpocketing. I've lived in the USA all of my life (I'm in my 60's), sometimes in large metro cities, sometimes in Podunk, and have NEVER been approached by a scammer and have NEVER had anything stolen off my person. Maybe I've just been lucky, I don't know. But--on our first trip to Rome last spring, husband had his camera stolen off his person, out of zippered bag, which was under his zippered jacket. Sheesh, that guy was good! Do the thieves target the locals also, or is it just tourists?
USA Thu 10/19/2006
Detecting and avoiding pickpockets in Madrid
I wear a money belt when traveling (thank you Rick) so my money and passport were safe, but I had my camera stolen almost as soon as I got to Spain. My camera was stolen, I'm sure, by someone who was riding behind me on the escalator. I had not had much sleep with the time loss on the flight from the U.S. to Spain, and wasn't careful about holding my purse so my hand was over the zipper opening.
I also knew that I was too conspicuous in wearing a red jacket but had forgotten that I no longer owned the dark colored one I wore in Spain last year, which had helped me blend in, until it was too late for me to replace it before my trip.
The problem with pickpockets has gotten much worse in Madrid in the past year and a half according to one of the staff members at the hostal where I stayed. She said that it is NOT just tourists who are victims and showed me how she has to protect herself when traveling to and from work: shoulder bag strap across chest, jacket over bag, then arms across jacket and bag. She said that there has been a large immigration of young people from South America who have been unable to find jobs in Spain and therefore have taken to crime to survive.
I was able to spot them on the subway/Metro as follows: Despite the warm weather, they are carrying jackets. In standing next to a potential victim, they cross their arms, drape the jacket across the arms, covering their hands, which are then free to open zippers, etc. I detected a young woman in the act, and promptly moved to the other side of the train, spoiling her plans, but there were 4 more young thieves there. I watched them lean on the railing at Puerta del Sol station, watching for a potential victim to walk down the steps, at which point they would quickly get up and follow.
Mission Viejo, CA USA Wed 10/18/2006
most pashminas you buy on the streets in europe aren't real cashmere... i was talking to a woman in a market in florence who showed me how she puts stickers saying "100% cashmere" on the pashminas she sells, but that really they are a polyester blend... they're still warm and soft, just make sure you don't pay too much for them unless you're certain you're getting the real thing.
Chicago, USA Mon 10/16/2006
Why, oh, why on a website whose author states over and over to wear a moneybelt do people keep posting stories about their pockets being picked?!! Don't keep valuables in your pockets!!
USA Sun 10/15/2006
Pickpockets on Italian trains
While taking the train from Vernazza (Cinque Terre)in Italy to Nice, we were in a compartment next to a large family of "gypsy looking" folks. The children were in the compartment and the adults were sitting in the aisle with their luggage. Some of the luggage was on one side of the aisle and some luggage on the other so that anyone walking to another car or to the rest room had to walk throught the "maze" they set up. They would jossle people passing through. About 15 minutes after going to the rest room and returning to my compartment, I realized that my money clip that had been in my left front pocket was missing. I searched the compartment as the pockets of the travel pants I was wearing were not tight. I know that my pocket was picked by these people, but had no proof and they were so smooth that I didn't realize that anything had happened until later.
Houston, TX USA Fri 10/13/2006
First Class Eurail/DB Update
I've been corresponding with Customer Service at DB. They agree with me that a First Class Eurail should be entitled to the same courtesies as a DB First Class Ticket and are reviewing this policy in respect to changing it. Their reason for banning First Class Eurail Pass holders was, "Well, that's how we did it when we started the First Class Lounges." I have asked them to keep me informed and will post progress.
Tucson, Az USA Thu 10/12/2006
Correct change - look at your coins!
Just back from a quick hiking trip to Switzerland. My companion wanted a bottle of water when we arrived in the airport. I had some Euros left over from my last trip, and we had not found the ATM yet to get Swiss Francs.
We stopped at a shop in the airport and I asked if they could take Euro. she said yes. I asked for change back in Swiss Francs so I could use it while in country.
I made the mistake of NOT looking at the coins returned to me. She gave me British pounds. Totally unusable for me. Not a huge amount of money, but still ---I was upset when I discovered this once we hit the hotel.
I'll keep the British money, not sure when, if ever I'll get back to London, but this is just a warning to check your change to make sure you get what you expect to get.
She might have thought we were British citizens since we did not speak fluent German or French, only English, so in her mind, she did me a favor!
CO USA Thu 10/12/2006
Pick Pockets at Train Station Turnstiles
Recently, I toured Vesailles Palace on a day trip from Paris using Rick Steves PARIS GUIDEBOOK.
Rick warns of pick pockets at the train station and even though I was vigilant, my pocket was picked.
Here is how it happened. As I was leaving Versailles, I was going through the turnstile at the train station. Out of no where, a small woman slipped in behind me and went through the turnstile with me. I felt her hand go in my pocket and I stopped and blocked her from getting out of the turnstile. My traveling companion grabbed her arm and held her as I took inventory of my pockets.
As a traveler, I have a large inventory: Digital camera, wallet, iPod, a small amout of cash, etc. After searching my pockets and finding everything important, we let her go. Later, on the train I realized that she had gotten away with my Paris Metro pass (13 euros).
My advise: ALWAYS look over you shoulder before you go through a turnstile.
Vancouver, WA USA Wed 10/11/2006
Re: Deutsche Bahn First Class Lounge/Eurail
Why do you feel that you were ripped off, and whom do you think did it? Certainly not German Rail!
It's not a rip-off just because you didn't get something you wanted, but were not promised, didn't pay for, and had no right to expect.
German Rail never indicates that the 1st class lounge is a benefit for Eurail pass holders. In fact, their website specifically says, "The DB Lounge is available for first class passengers with a valid TICKET [my emphasis]... ." The fact that a Rick Steve's Bread for the World railpass is not the same as a German Rail 1st class ticket should not need any more explanation, it's obvious.
Neither the Eurail website nor ETBD's website indicates that your pass includes all the benefits of a first class ticket. Did someone where you bought the pass promise you use of the first class lounges? If so, your beef should be with them.
In the summer, Munich is a popular "jumping-off" spot for rail pass holders on their way to Italy. I suspect the sign is there to prevent them from filling the lounge so that full fare ticket holders can't use it. I'm sure if you had just paid €106 for a full fare 1st class ticket to Vienna, you would object if you could not use the lounge because it was full of people with €31 per day Eurail passes.
Just because Austria has extra space in their lounge and, out of courtesy, allows pass holders in, doesn't mean all countries have to do it. Maybe Eurail should prohibit their members from opening the lounges to pass holders, ever, because it creates the false impression of a right.
USA Wed 10/11/2006
I second David's perfect advice below. Blending in is what Rick recommends also and it will work for all traveling abroad. I wear Docker khaki pants that seem to fit in almost everywhere, with shirts that are fairly universal. Money belt and small digital camera in a little pouch on my belt that hides underneath the shirt and I am on the streets and invisible to mischief makers. I always enjoy it when a local mistakes me for one of them and starts speaking the local language. If I am in a place where the dress is very different, I will do a little shopping and buy something local--something nice to take home as a souvenir and be useful on the road. If you look like a tourist you will be the first to attract attention and pay the price if there is a bad guy around. Why go to Europe and look like Chevy Chase in Disneyland? Unfortunately, in my travels I see many Americans that look like that--they might as well have on a blinking neon sign.
Bellingham, WA USA Wed 10/11/2006
Credit card fraud
Upon checking our September VISA statement, we discovered a fraudulent charge that was made on Sept. 17th (the middle of our 2-week trip), to a store in Bellingham, WA. My husband called the customer service dept. at Visa to dispute the charge. He ended up talking with the "fraud officer", who said this is becoming a frequent problem for European travelers. A shopkeeper will take a person's credit card, go in the back and make a copy of it, then somehow sell it to someone in the States. The result is that VISA is cancelling our credit card and will be mailing new ones to us within a week. They will also mail us a new statement with the fraudulent charge removed. The fraud officer is going to keep tracking this issue for us. Please be sure to check your credit card statements carefully!
Kirkland, WA USA Tue 10/10/2006
Deutsche Bahn First Class Lounge/Eurail
I don't know if this is properly a scam or not, but it's certainly a ripoff. I had a First Class Eurail pass this summer. In the Munich Main Train Station, there is now a big sign at the door of the First Class lounge that says "No Eurail Passes" and the attendant is quite rude about it. It was quite a surprise, coming directly from Vienna, where there was no question about my using the First Class lounge. I have queried Deutsche Bahn about this, but have yet to receive a reply explaining why a First Class Eurail Pass, purchased via Rick Steve's Bread for the World promotion, is not the same as a First Class ticket, purchased from DB.
Tucson, Az. USA Sun 10/08/2006
When in Rome
Being a Roman native, I travel to visit family every year. My recommendation to all is try not to look like a tourist, fanny packs camera's around your neck type of stuff, I'm not saying to go around with an Armani suit but look presentable and yet comfortable, logos like NFL, NBA will make you stick out and most likely became a target.."Try to blend in"
Not sure on prices of goods don't be afraid to ask "how much" (quanto costa) get it in writing if you can. If you want to avoid rip offs, do some window shopping at first. Stick with many of Rick's recommendation you'll be fine.
Many of the bars and tavola calda's will give you a receipt before or after your purchase. And if you're not sure for dinner? Ask your hotelier or someone local for a good spot even a store owner…I'm sure they like to eat at a good spot.
If anybody approaches you and it doesn't look or feels right, bring your hand in front of you chest height (like a stop motion) and say NO, GRAZIE! And walk away.
Enjoy my ROMA BELLA
Pacifica, CA USA Sun 10/08/2006
Pashmina is the Persian Word for Cashmere
You weren't ripped off, just two different words for the same item. You are generally fine buying these scarves from reputable businesses withoout a problem. A St. Goar mercant I would say is a good bet that you bought the real deal, so don't worry. Where you do have to be careful is with street merchants in some places that have cotton or other blends, but have it labeled as 100% Pashmina. There are also some good blends of Pashmina and Silk--usually 70/30. When you buy on the street you take a chance, if the price is too good be wary. If you ask around you can always find a good, honest place to buy wherever you are. When in Turkey, I used my hotel or my trusted tour guides to send me to the right places. Pashmina (cashmere) scarves are sold all over Europe--I have bought them from Sweden to Turkey. They can be made in many different places from Turkey to Nepal to Iran to China.
Bellingham, WA USA Sun 10/08/2006
Marie's phone card Rome Fumicino problem
I wouldn't recommend buying a phone card at ANY airport. The ones they sell at SFO are also over-priced. I suggest buying one at Costco or another warehouse. I bought an MCI Prepaid Phone card at Costco that has 700 minutes for $19.99. Even though I use more minutes when I call from overseas, it is still very economical. When I go overseas, I get the toll-free access number for the country I visit by going to the following site.
San Francisco, CA USA Fri 10/06/2006
Arno's Europecar/Kemwel experience
Arno, if you haven't had success yet then I suggest you contact the Ombudsman at Conde Nast Traveler. The link http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/traveltips/detail?articleId=10462 will get you to see other experiences and their outcomes.
San Francisco, CA USA Fri 10/06/2006
Scotland and Italy
I have good news to report about scams in Scotland. I did not encounter any. The cab drivers did not try and rip me off! I felt safer than where I live in the US. After about half way through the trip I stopped wearing my money belt. I was always cautious. One thing I would do on my next trip anywhere is use the combination locks on my day bag like I saw a few people do.
I met up with some people who said that the pickpocketing was really bad in Italy. This is in reference to the swarming of children around you and then grabbing at your day bag etc. One lady said she had locks on her day bag so they were not able to get anything.They did try though.
Snellville, GA USA Fri 10/06/2006
Paris Hotel Scam
There is a very sinister scam going on with 2-star budget hotels in Paris. I was just in Paris and experienced it first hand. This is how it works – when you arrived at the hotel with your reservation in hand, they would tell you that they are overbooked or your room has a plumbing problem or the windows is broken or whatever excuse they could think of to tell you that they don't have a room for you. Then they would offer you another room at another hotel for the same price which is of course nothing like the one you have reserved and expected. By now you are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. You can either stay in the lousy room at the other hotel or drag your luggage back out onto the street and hope you can find another hotel with an honest management. On two different occasions I made reservations months in advance through reputable web sites with two different 2-star hotels. One, Hotel Aux Trois Portes, sent me to another hotel which put us in a single room(there were two of us, me and my girlfriend), with no toilet and no bath. A shower costs 3.50 Euro. My original reservation with Hotel Aux Trois Portes was for a double room with toilet and bath. Another hotel I had a reservation for, Hotel de Bruxelles et du Nord, sent me to a one star hotel which was dirty, the beds had bed bugs, the bathroom was not finished, AC outlets did not work, windows would not close, and basically a run down place. This seems to be a Paris problem only because I reserved and stayed at many other 2 stars hotels in Provence and the French Alps and didn't have a problem at all. As a matter of fact we have traveled through out Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Scandinavia and have always stayed at 2-star hotels and never had a problem. This is not a problem with the websites I made the reservation through either since they should not be policing how the hotel is run. I believe the problem is with the hotel operators. My advice is to be cautious of budget hotels in Paris. There are many fine 2-star hotels and honest hotel operators but evidently many dishonest ones as well. Pour through the internet and read up on reviews of the hotels. Avoid the ones with no reviews or even with the slightest negative comment from other travelers. Better yet, you may want to consider forking out a bit more money and stay at a 3-star hotel or hotel chains like Ibis or Best Western or Mercure. You are there to have a good time and Paris is a beautiful place. You want to be spending your time seeing the wonderful attractions and not be pounding the pavement trying to find a hotel room. You want to have a nice room to go back to at the end of the day and not be dreading and be disgusted to go back to the hotel.
SF, CA USA Fri 10/06/2006
to Susan-hotel storing bag
Susan, Contact the hotel and ask if they will store the bag. I've lived in Europe for over 4 years now and some will not store it due to insurance reasons etc. Also, some will store it but it's not in a secure area-my hotel in Venice stored our bags in an unlocked room right by the front desk, but that desk was not always attended by someone. Check before assuming.
Italy Fri 10/06/2006
Pashmina is Cashmere
I found this on the web as well: "Pashmina is often inaccurately described as the highest quality of cashmere. In fact there is no difference between cashmere and pashmina. The highest quality of pashmina is the highest quality of cashmere, and the lowest pashmina is the lowest cashmere. Pashmina and cashmere refer to the same thing. The raw material comes from Tibet and Inner Mongolia."
USA Thu 10/05/2006
Pashmina and Cashmere
I have just checked the definition of both Pashmina and Cashmere on Wikipedia, and it sems to me that they are different names for very similar items. There may be some difference in quality, but it is not clear, and I would hesitate to pass judgement on a label in English on a foreign made garment sold by a shop in Germany. When you travel overseas, you fnd that things are called by different names. Do not assume that a shop is out to cheat you - examine the goods and see if they are what you want at a price you want to pay. If it seems too cheap, there is probably a catch.
UK Thu 10/05/2006
Paris - Golden Ring Scam
While sitting on a bench along the River Seine (sigh!) - a young man approached us and 'found' a man's golden ring on the ground in front of us. He gave this to my husband. Instinct kicked in - "something doesn't seem quite right". He then asked for money - which we refused - three times. Finally he gave up and left. We had three more 'ring findings' while we were in Paris.
Seattle, Wa USA Thu 10/05/2006
We had a small very "exclusive" botique type store rip us off!!! I don't know the name of the store, but it was in St. Gore, Germany. We bought MANY "cashmire" scarfs from them. But when we got home, we noticed that you could peal back the lable that said Cashmire and see that it was really made of Pashmina. We were very disappointed! DON'T SPEND YOUR MONEY AT THAT STORE!
Wilmington, USA Thu 10/05/2006
Meg & Dublin Pass
Meg: Obviously you were disappointed with your experience with the Dublin Pass. It would be very helpful for the readers of this forum if you could tell us why you are so unhappy.
USA Sun 10/01/2006
Being careful no matter where you travel is a great idea because tourists are always targeted. In many European countries, and in much of the world, if you're traveling, it pretty much defines you as "rich" in some people's eyes.
Europe does have guns, and when they're kept in the hands of law-abiding citizens (like Switzerland), the crime rate is low. When they're not, it's high (Great Britain).
What Europe definitely has much more of is property crime such as home invasion, purse snatching and pickpocketing. I've felt safe in both the U.S. (New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Memphis, Asheville, Chattanooga, Orlando, Atlanta, Los Angeles) and Europe, but I do take more precautions over there because it's more common, and it will be that much more of a hassle if I'm a victim of a crime. I won't be around to identity the thief or to testify if it even goes that far.
Atlanta, GA USA Sat 09/30/2006
Dear Rick: I just got back from a very good trip to Mexico my fifth. On the night before my return I was swindled by a con-artist at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You may wish to remind your readers that con-artists can be elderly and they can work for hours to pull off a con. I have worked for a time in area of child safety, helping teachers instruct children in ways to keep safe. The lessons I would pass on to folks are: • Swindlers look friendly, safe and do things to win your trust. Roberto was small, elderly, not menacing in anyway. Slightly over-friendly people or slightly insistent people should set of warning bells. • He repeated himself several times to build his story in my mind. He got me thinking of his needs, the need for company, the need to have his bag watched, and the need for change. Stay in control, say no! He stopped grabbing as soon as I objected. • A con-artist will work a long time on the con. I knew not to open my wallet to anyone, but after nearly two hours I let my guard down. • Swindles can happen in crowed public places such as nice restaurants. That was probably the best meal that I had on my trip. I was not familiar with the buy tickets scam with the order a meal and watch my bag distractions. Now I am. I hope others can learn from my experience.
mn USA Sat 09/30/2006
This is very complicated but we rented a car through Kemwel here in the US which books Europcar in Europe. We needed car seats for our 2 and 4 year old so requested them in our online reservation. We paid our bill and received our invoice which stated that any special requests could not be guarenteed. Being the concerned parents that we were, we secured car seats from relatives in Brussels because we did not want our kids traveling without them. We got to Brussels, told the Europcar clerks that we did not need the carseats and proceeded on our merry way without them for the rest of the 3 week trip. When we got home and more than a month after we returned our car, there was a $1,200 charge on our car.
What was it for? After much inquiry it was for renting carseats, not returning them and a theft fee! The office in Brussels acknowledges that we did not use them, nor steal them, corporate Kemwel refuses to credit our account.
We are not rich, we cannot afforda $1200 charge for something we did not use! We are working through Visa now but it is so frustrating HELP...
Brussels, USA Sat 09/30/2006
Just to bring some perspective to all this--I am currently at the end of my 5th major expedition to Europe, having traveled through most every country east to west north to south. I wear a money belt and exercise all sensible precautions. I have traveled with another person on 3 trips and solo twice. After having encountered almost everything one can on the road, I will say this: EUROPE IS A SAFE PLACE TO TRAVEL. People, don't get paranoid after reading these postings. I feel so much safer in Europe than I do in the USA. I had to laugh a few years ago when I contacted someone on this board who was terrified of going to Europe after reading all this--and she was from Los Angeles! Come on, violent crime is epidemic in our country while guns and violence are very rare in Europe. When bad stuff happens in the rare instance it may, it is usually the dishonest taxi driver, or the bag taken from a hostel, or being shortchanged, or pickpocketed. Just be aware. But even that happens to a very, very small percentage of people traveling to Europe. Yes, there are dishonest people who will try to take advantage of you anywhere--just be on your toes, but also relax and have a great time! I have walked alone late into the night in most European cities without any problem. I have not been scammed or hassled to any degree, oh once I got overcharged for a taxi in Madrid that I posted here and learned a lesson about. On the other hand, I have had a lifetime of wonderful experiences with people being kind and helpful to this wayward vagabond out in the world alone. The great times outweigh the challenges 100 to 1--and the hard experiences make the best stories later. Don't worry, have fun out there!
Bellingham, WA USA Sat 09/30/2006
NEVER let your guard down for a second...
Word of the wise, for the lone traveler especially: Don't ever let your eyes off your bag for even a second.
I was in a Copenhagen tourist center for ten minutes at the end of August and my bag was taken right from between my legs, very bold of the purloiner I thought, but nonetheless, I lost my journal, camera and supplies only two weeks from being done with my trip. I had never been that careless before and I was devastated at first, but life goes on. I didn't lose anything too valuable since I was wearing a money belt with my credit card, etc in it. If you ever must put your bag on the floor always make sure the strap is around your leg, which I normally did...
Other than that, I would recommend staying away from the people who "just want to talk" or need to take you away from a crowd to do so. Always keep your head and never trust anyone with anything important, especially anyone you've just met. Always eye suspicious people right back and let them know you see what's up.
I'm a 20 year old female from Detroit and I've walked around all over Europe at night with no saftey issues, I find Europe in general to be less dangerous than many cities in the US, but always keep your guard up no matter what.
Happy and safe travels!
Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England Fri 09/29/2006
I just returned from a 3 and a half month, 14 country European tour and didn't have any problems. My friend however fell for the bracelet scam at the Sacre Coeur in Paris. She was approached by a man asking her to help with a demonstration, then proceeded to make a bracelet on her finger. He chatted her up and when it was done tied it around her wrist and pulled out his wallet and demanded 20 euros. She paid $3.50.
Canada Thu 09/28/2006
Susan and leaving luggage
First, this question should be posed on the "Traveler's Helpline" board, not here..this is for cons and scams that have been encountered...not for questions - - for future reference.
And to answer your question. The hotel should have NO problem storing your luggage.
Perhaps you can email them before you leave for your holiday to inquire if this is OK, but I cannot imagine that they would have an issue if you are gone for only one night.
With the issue with luggage on airlines in England, it would be wise to make sure that the hotels are OK with left luggage still...
USA Sun 09/24/2006
We will be making an overnight trip from London to Paris, and I'm wondering if it's safe to leave a bag overnight with the hotel in London? Do they store bags if you're coming back the following day to stay at the hotel again? Thanks
Plano, TX USA Sun 09/24/2006
Money Belts or not
I just returned from two weeks in Paris. I was traveling alone and was naturally concerned about losing my money or passport. I find money belts very uncomfortable and since Paris in the last couple of weeks was warm and humid I just skipped using one. Instead I used a wristlet which carried my money for the day, keys and copy of passport page. It worked just fine and I was able to dispense with my usual oversize purse. I carried my camera in one of those plastic bags I got in a local grocery store, looked like a local and had not one bit of trouble.
Tucson, AZ USA Sat 09/23/2006
are also necessary in an emergency, I learned in Paris. Whether you use a neck or waist model, having everything in one place made it possible to grab when a fire started in our hotel. I had been keeping it in the room safe at night (when available)but after that have now started keeping it right by the bed folded in with my clothes for the morning. As others stumbled down the stairs and outside, nobody had their passports, etc...
USA Sun 09/17/2006
Pickpockets, Thieves, Scams
Reading these posts was a great education for me in my upcoming trips to Scotland and Paris. I have decided to go with a money belt. My day bag will have a TSA lock interlinking all of the zippers and last but not least I am adding my whistle, which is of a good size. No one is going to mess with my bag! The whistle is for the rose guy, the mustard and bird poop people and anyone else that looks suspicious. I will be ready! I may look stupid but at least I am taking precautions. By the way I am booked on Rick Steve's tours which one is this coming week and the other is at Xmas in Paris. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences.
Snellville, GA USA Sun 09/17/2006
Travel Agency Scam in Istanbul
This scam happened to me in Istanbul's touristy area - Sultanahmet.
I was walking on Divan Yolu (28 yr old, Canadian girl travelling alone), when a young well-dressed man came up to me and started talking to me in very good English. He was persistent but not in my face so we chatted briefly and after a few minutes of talking I let my guard down a little, something i never do being a lone world traveller.
He brought me to the travel agent across the street from his shop which he said did tours similar to Fez Experience. Its more expensive, but its much better he said.
The travel agent quoted me a price, but me, ever the skeptic didn't sign up. Later in the evening, I went to meet my new Turkish friend at this shop. He brought me to another travel agency where he had other friends working, after some idle chat the owner said he could draw me up an itinerary and as well. I agree. Am quoted the same price as the first place so I figure its fair, whip out my credit card and pay. The following week, I'm having dinner with some Australian girls in Pamukale. We talk, they tell me that their tour, with the same company as I signed up with, – which includes one more place than I'm going to (they went to Gallipoli), cost them 560 euros, 300 euros less then I paid! Ok no, single supplement but come on, I was overcharged.
The moral of the story is - even if locals are friendly - do your research, go to at least 3 shops before you commit to a tour.
About two weeks later, while sitting in a travel agency in Capaddocia talking to a Sultanahmet travel agency veteran, the whole scam and how I fell for it was made obvious to me.
vancouver , Canada Fri 09/15/2006
Prague, Paranoia, etc.
I must admit to being scared about our trip to Prague this summer due many postings on this site. Happy to report that we had no problems either with pickpockets or with shortchanging. Prague was the favorite city for both my teenagers and my husband. Personally I would like to return at a time other than summer when it would hopefully be not so crowded, but I enjoyed it very much as well.
We've had pickpocket attempts twice in Rome but it would never stop me from going there. Yes, you must be vigilent, and yes, bad things do happen. But please put it in context - I had my wallet stolen from my purse while at work and from a lunch counter in LA. I've had my car broken into twice and my apartment robbed once. I feel safer in Europe at least with regards to my personal physical safety than I do in many US cities, including the one in which I currently reside. For those who are visiting this site - take the warnings as a helpful hint, just like any other travel hint.
Atlanta, ga USA Fri 09/15/2006
Chris - I agree !
I absolutely agree with Chris. I've been going to Prague for more years than I can remember. A once great and beautiful city has now become the centre for assorted scams and rip-offs. It's really sad but short changing tourists and over pricing foriegners is now the accepted way of business in Praha 1 and Praha 2. If you don't believe me look at the difference in prices between the old terminal 1 at the airport ( reasonable rates ) and the new terminal 2 at the airport ( treble the rates of terminal 1 ). It's a disgrace !
Nottingham, UK Fri 09/15/2006
AVOID PRAGUE LIKE THE PLAGUE: Thieves galore and crowds of tourists. If you ride the #22 or 23 tram and some nice men try to help you onto the tram, punch them once for yourself and once for my dad who had his wallet stolen from his front pocket. The local police must be in on it or incompetentent as this is an ongoing problem for the last 5 years at least!
Amsterdam, Holland Thu 09/14/2006
Rather than avoiding Prague and all it's beauty, travel smart with a money belt so you don't lose your valuables!
CO USA Thu 09/14/2006
This link was a tremendous resource preparing for my trip to Europe last summer, but it can also give (especially first time travelers) the impression that everybody in Europe is out to scam or mug you. I think it's helpful to be prepared based on the experiences of others (for example, I was on the lookout for bands of gypsy children, who I never saw, but was caught off guard by a pushy rose guy in Rome not knowing about them)but don't let it all ruin the excitement of looking forward to your big trip. I think the message is that, as Rick said, the bulk of the scammers are at the big tourist attractions or hanging around services tourists will need (i.e. taxis at the airport). Traveling light allows you to both appear and BE more independent, and knowing what to watch out for is just good preparation. For the record, in five European trips each a month long and going all over the place, never once have I had a problem...except the rose guy, who was obnoxious and upset when I finally just dropped the roses when he wouldn't take them back and yelled for awhile...
USA Sat 09/09/2006
paranoid after reading all this
When approached by scammers selling roses or whatever, I had great success with keeping my mouth shut (they had no idea what language I spoke and would try several), a disdainful look on my face, no eye contact, accompanied by a dismissive flick of the wrist and keep walking. They seemed to assume I was a local, even though I'm a redhead!
I found this website extremely helpful, it certainly made me much more aware and cautious, streets ahead of anyone who hadn't read it, and a month around Europe with two teenagers went without a hitch.
I'm sure we weren't always given bottled water, or the right change, but I didn't worry about it, just added the cost of those small euros to the total cost of the holiday. The main thing was that our credit cards, money and camera were safe.
You could easily become paranoid that they are all out to get you after reading all this, but really, so many people make it so easy for them, they'll bypass you if you stay aware.
Australia Thu 09/07/2006
Friendly??? watch out
Con artists are very friendly the only time I was short changed (that I know)was by a very Friendly waiter in Italy . ( 5 euros by the way)
Bellevue, WA USA Sun 09/03/2006
I have found that if you place the money belt in the small of your back and not in front (as shown on TV) you will have no problem with comfort.
TX USA Sat 09/02/2006
False Police in Amsterdam
I was in Amsterdam recently & on last day confronted a well known scam which spoilt the mood of my otherwise fantastic stay there. A very Italian looking man with poor English but holding a map in one hand and a cheap disposable camera in other,requested me to take his pic by canal side ,just few steps away from milling mid day crowds in Prinzengraht. As I took a pic two burly looking chaps stepped forward flashing a badge and shouting "police..stop". By then I already guessed whats happening. I growled at them back something not very pleasant in my native language & quickly walked back into the crowd after throwing the camera back at that "Italian" who was clearly an accomplice. The pair of "Policemen" did'nt bother to follow me.
Peterborough, Cambs ENGLAND Sat 09/02/2006
Opera ticket scam in Vienna
A year ago when I was in Vienna my friend and I wanted to buy tickets to that evenings opera. We were walking around Stephensdom which is near the opera house and were approached by a rather official looking lady in a long velvet cape who was selling opera tickets. There were at least 8 more of these people walking around in the square, all were selling tickets. She spoke perfect english and said she worked for the opera house and that that they sold tickets in the square to help shorten the lines at the box office, she had a clipboard complete with seating chart of the opera house, we were allowed to pick our seat from what was still "available" we bought what we thought were very good seats at a reasonable price to the evenings opera and were given a reciept along with the tickets. Later that night were very sadly turned away, the opera had in fact been sold out for a month. We were told by the box office employees that the people in capes selling tickets in the square around the opera house/Stephensdom often sell fake tickets to tourists telling you it is for the evenings performance. (The ticket looked real to my friend and I) They warned us that the only safe place to purchase tickets was from the box office. Unfortunately it was to late for us and we were out about $200. DO NOT buy tickets from the friendly people wearing capes in the square. Please learn from our mistakes.
CA USA Fri 09/01/2006
Keep valuables out of sight when dining outside
Diner's beware! When you are seated outside at a trattoria or ristorante in Italy DO NOT place your wallet, camera, or anything tempting on the table. Certain "undesirables" are looking for this and can reach over the railing and in a second your valuables are gone! Running after the thief is often useless as they will have already handed your stuff over to a second of third party. My boyfriend is a waiter in a large ristorante near the Piazza della Repubblica in Florence. He sees this happen frequently. Someone will shove a paper in front of you. You're looking at the paper and not seeing that your stuff is being lifted off the table.In a flash.
Florence, Italy Thu 08/24/2006
PICK POCKETS IN ST. PETERSBURG
D WE WERE ON A BUS TOUR, AND AT FOR A POPULAR TOURISTO SPOT, I NOTICED 2 MEN AND A WOMAN EYEING US GETTING OFF THE BUS. LIKE A PACK OF LIONS, THEY FOLLOWED THE GROUP, PRETENDING TO TAKE PHOTOS, AND SINGLED OUT 2 VULNERABLE AMERICAN TYPES AND TRIED TO PICK THEIR POCKETS. ANOTHER BENEFIT OF DRESSING TO BLEND IN. THEY MUSCLED PAST MY HUSBAND AND I.
USA Tue 08/15/2006
Paris Metro ticket scam
Yes, at the Louvre we also were offered "help" from an older lady with 2 thugs standing off in the distance watching everything. We got out of there quickly!
Too bad all of the wonderful sites have to be located in Paris.
USA Mon 08/14/2006
Paris Metro ticket scam
We had read about the Paris metro ticket scams, so were prepared for what happened in the metro stop at the Louvre, in June of 2006. We needed tickets, and planned to buy a carnet of ten tickets at the automatic ticket machine, but the coin slot was jammed and inoperable. Just as we discovered this, a "helpful" young man came over to explain that the machine was broken, but he just happened to have ten tickets he would sell us. The alarm bells immiediately went off, in our heads, and we finally were able to buy the tickets using our credit card, all the while being harangued by the very persistent scam artist, to just buy his tickets. Be forewarned, the French metro automatic ticket machines are not easy to figure out if your French is limited to the usual tourist vocabulary. But don't give in to this scam, because I feel certain that none of the tickets were valid. Thanks to whomever posted the warning that alerted us to this scam!
Albuquerque, NM USA Mon 08/14/2006
Rome calling card rip-off
Why don't you post this on www.tripadvisor.com in the Rome Forum for lots of users to read? I think more people would see it there.
USA Mon 08/14/2006
phone card Rome Fumicino
Beware of the phone card issued at Rome Fumicino airport. It looks very official, purchased from the booth with an attendant. It's called Scheda Telefonica Internazionale Prepagata. I paid 20 euros plus 4 Euros, Airport fee? I used it once and it expired after 5 minutes. When I called the customer service they told me it was only good for a few minutes. Total ripoff, so I told them I would post that info on the internet. The color of trhe card is green and yellow.
Verona, NJ USA Mon 08/14/2006
Boat trip onLake Garda, Italy
We were looking forward to taking a 'cruise' on Lake Garda in Italy, so purchased our tickets in Maderno for the 'slow boat' to Limone. When the boat didn't show up, we went back to the ticket office where the guy said it was broken and the only boat running was the 'fast boat' (a hydrofoil, we later learned). He reluctantly exchanged our tickets for the more expensive 'fast boat' tickets (with a charge of several more euros apiece), then told us it didn't leave until 3:30 that afternoon...a four hour wait. He then explained the return times and circled them on our printed schedule. The boat to Limone ws enclosed with no hope of 'strolling' on a deck, so we contented ourselves with looking out the window of the passengers in front of us. After spending an hour or two in the delightful town of Limone, we returned to the dock 15 minutes early to catch the return boat. Fifteen minutes after departure time, we finally asked two policemen where the boat was, and were told that there was no boat - that the last one departed an hour sooner. The lady at the bus station told us that there has never been a boat at the time printed on the schedule. We ended up taking a bus, but waiting an hour and a half for it. When we got back, we saw the man who sold us the tickets. After refreshing his memory, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Come back tomorrow." Because we were leaving the next day, and it was not enroute, we didn't get our money back.
Winthrop Harbor, IL USA Sun 08/13/2006
our class was warned about scams before going to europe. we all had hidden pouches and kept our valuables tucked away. none of us that i know of had any problems. we traveled through italy, switzerland and france. but i was not mentally prepared or warned on pricing. i thought i was being charged a euro too much for my drinks and looked at the kiosk menu and realized that i was charged 1 euro more and did nothing. in a train station fast food restaurant in switzerland a lady charged me 5 francs for a cola. i didn't want to turn down the coke like there was a problem with her. and a local had a disappointed look on her face. i know it's tourists like me that make tourists an easier target.
Corpus Christi, Texas USA Sun 08/13/2006
Roman restaurant scams, revisited
If "USA" had bothered to read the NYT article for which I provided the URL, he/she would realize that the article in question was not a restaurant review, nor were the restaurants mentioned necessarily the high-end type of restaurants on which USA imagines that the NYT would naturally focus. Rather, the article identifies a particular type of scam that has evidently been endemic in restaurants in Rome, in all price ranges, for years. The writer interviewed a dozen restaurant owners and managers, most of whom acknowleged the scam-- though never in their own establishment, of course!-- and that it is widespread. Many restaurants, for instance, have price discrepancies between identical items on the English and Italian-language menus. As one source points out, however, if the price quoted on the signboard outside the restaurant for pasta carbonara is seven euros, then that will be the uniform price. However, what often happens is that an order will be flagged by an unscrupulous waiter as coming from a foreigner and not a "proper Roman". The order of pasta will then be prepared with cheaper or watered-down ingredients (dliuted sauce, pre-cooked or day-old pasta, for instance). This sort of fraudulence and deception is illegal, of course, but as all of us who have travelled in Italy know, illegalities abound, in part because of under-funded and under-staffed regulatory bodies. In Rome there is an enforcement outfit known as the Polizia Annonaria designated to keep tabs on public eating places and other aspects of the marketplace. But with only 100 officers to monitor the thousands of restaurants, cafes and bars in Rome, there is, as the article says, "plenty of wiggle room"-- especially in a city which "welcomes" 16 million tourists a year. Hence many of those tourists will continue to be victimized by amoral thugs openly operating as legitimate businesspeople. And that stinks. I'm happy you had such a good experience while dining around Italy, USA. Many, many people do; we never had any serious cause for complaint while dining on our two trips there. But face it, you-- and we-- got lucky. And luck is a fickle lady indeed-- especially when greed and opportunism get involved.
Vancouver, BC Canada Sun 08/13/2006
Delicious dining in Rome and Italy
???? In six weeks of exploring the entire country of Italy, including Sicily, the food was DELICIOUS. This was recently- last summer. We never ate in really fancy, NYT- type reviewed restaurants, so perhaps it's true that those might somehow differentiate among or between their patrons. I think the old advice about eating where the locals are eating is always the way to go, anyway. Never once were we overcharged (although we eventually learned to ask to not have the bread basket brought automatically, since that is not free), the waiters were wonderful and I still dream about the food!!!
USA Sat 08/12/2006
Restaurant Scams in Rome (NYT article)
In the August 9/06 New York Times (Page A4) there was a disturbing article (titled "Diner Beware: Turisti Pay More in Roman Restaurants"), reporting that many restaurants in Rome (and, I suspect, in other Italian cities) not only exploit tourists by overcharging for meals or adding hidden charges to the bill, but that they even serve tourists cheaply prepared, substandard versions of the standard meals served to Roman residents, while charging the same price (or even more).The article can be accesed at http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/world/europe/09italy.html. (If this URL doesn't work you'll have to try your local library.) Reading this article left me with a depressed feeling. It's one thing to have to fend off the usual predators: pickpockets, thieves, "leather jacket" con artists, short changers, and so on; but if you can't even get a meal in a reputable restaurant without running the risk of being victimized, where does that leave us? And when will Roman restauranteurs get it through their greedy heads that if they continue with this kind of victimization, eventually their victims will get fed up and stop coming? Sigh... maybe this would be a good year to just stay home, or at least to avoid Italy. Why go where you're not welcome?
Vancouver, BC Canada Sat 08/12/2006
I was robbed twice in Europe in Dec, 2005. Both happened on trains. 1st time was on train platform in Rome, train to Florence. Gang of young teenage girls surrounded me and "attempted to help me" lift my large bag onto the train. While some of them were pushing me and my bag onto the train, several others were behind me stealing my wallet from my purse that was on my shoulder. 2nd time was ON the train from Florence to Venice. There was a gang of 8 all ages and sexes. When I got to my first class seat, a Russian or Romanian guy (dressed in Armani)refused to relinquish my seat. When I produced my boarding pass, he and I were surrounded by the rest of his gang who all pretended not to understand what I was saying. So, I had no seat, standing in the aisle with 7 bags (incl. my travel companions' bags who decided to go somewhere?) and 8 criminals decending upon me to rip me off. So, they succeeded when my attention was diverted with an old woman (one of the gang) who had a walker and hit me with it. It was then, that they stole my entire purse. The attendants on train did nothing to help me. The police in each town said this happens over 100 times a day. All I could do at this point was to take their picture, and give it to the Carbinieri to turn over to Interpol..Let's hope they did so.
Dallas, TX USA Thu 08/10/2006
On our last 3 trips to Venice, while purchasing a vaporetto pass, we were shortchanged at the ticket window. How stupid do they think we are?
USA Thu 08/10/2006
Count your change!!
I think that Americans are way more prone to just accepting change in foreign countries without checking to make sure it's accurate. Dishonest people definitely take advantage of this misplaced trust. Bottom line - Count your change before you walk away! It's a wonderful thing to think the best of people and not expect to be scammed but it will cost you if you don't take care.
San Diego, CA USA Thu 08/10/2006
Money Scam in Italy
No, it is a scam!
Rick identified this scam a few years ago on this website.
It is being done deliberately because the coins are very similar and they know Americans (even some Europeans) are unlikely to notice the difference.
It used to be the 100 lira coin because it looked like a 2 Mark piece. I had that pulled on me at Frauenkirche in Munich years ago. The 100 lira coin was worth something then, about 6 cents vs. $1 for the DM 2 piece.
USA Mon 08/07/2006
Money Scam in Italy
That's just like getting Canadian coins in the US. You go to a store and end up with quarter-or nickel or penny - like coins and they are useless in the US. So, not sure it was a rip off in Italy.....those coins are still in circulation and are useless, but you got the right coins, so it all ended up well.
USA Mon 08/07/2006
Money scam in Italy
In Bolzano, we went to a restaurant for dinner. When we were paying, our change should have been around 6 Euros. We received what certainly looked like 3 two Euro coins. Normally we would have just pocketed the change, but I was in the process of collecting a set of Euro coins from each country we travelled to so I was examining the coins to see which country they came from. These coins looked really strange. They turned out to be 500 lira coins, which of course aren't worth anything but look amazingly like a 2 Euro coin. Interestingly enough, we called the waitress right back and showed them to her. She just shrugged her shoulders, took them back and gave us Euros instead. She didn't even try to pretend that she wasn't the one that gave them to us. So watch your money.
Nelson, BC Canada Mon 08/07/2006
Krakow bus thugs
We only used the bus once in Krakow, and that was leaving our hostel to go to the train station. We had our backpacks with us since we were leaving the city. As soon as we got on the bus, I went over to put money into the ticket dispenser. I had already put the money in and was waiting on my 2 tickets, when a plain clothed person asked me for my ticket. I explained I had just gotten on the bus and was getting my tickets. By this time, they were printed, but of course, I hadn't had time to validate yet. This person was with a group of 4 men. The lead guy then told us we owed a 75 zloty fine each. I suggested we go talk with the police. They followed us and I found a male and female police officer who told us that there was nothing that they could do, even though they also stated that "these men are NOT legitimate". Being that 1)the police were not going to help us out, 2)we had a night train to catch, and 3)there were 4 of them and 2 of us, we exchanged money (we had spent all of our zlotys in anticipation of leaving Poland) and gave them the 150 zloty fine (I really only gave them 144 zloty, as I took the cost of our tickets that I had bought out), then caught our train with a very sour taste of Krakow in our mouths. I recommend not using the public transportation in Krakow at all if you go, especially with travel bags or if you look like a tourist. It is a fairly easy city to walk. Krakow overall was overrated anyway, but the side trips to Wieliczka and Aushwitz were well worthwhile. I might choose an alternate base town however if I had it to do over again.
Raleigh, NC USA Sat 08/05/2006
While taking a 5 or less minutes walk to a beach in southern France we were robbed so quickly one knows professionals were at work.Our leased car with it'sred plates was adead giveaway,they arrived next to our car in a big hurry then waited for us to go,we had planned carefuly and were aware but relaxed anough to become lazy.Asmall purse under the seat,a coat with dollars in the pocket,and full bag of our vluables including some prescriptions,air tickets and car papers were gone,lucky we kept our passports and travelers checks on us.They popped the lock on the driver's side, could be done from sitting in their own car unseen,popped the trunk and they were gone almost no visible movementif anyone was watching.All was replaced,insurance was a great item to buy before leaving,it ruined our vacation because of all the calling and remenbering of what we lost,report to police ect ....By the way cashing trveler's checks at the biggest banks is no picnic they don't do it anymore,they charged us $80.00 to cash 300.00 and that was their limit for the day.Our highlight for the trip was the Millau bridge,want to see it just write the name,there is anough infos to last a week.Yes there are many ways to get your vacations ruined,when on your own learn to swim real fast.
USA Sat 08/05/2006
We departed in Rome on 23 June 06, managed to get back the refund in full and in cash( less commission). Our plane departed in Terminal C, and the Vat refund office was at boarding Gate 3. There wasn't any problem, what we need to do was to get to the airport earlier and check in at the airline desk and get into the boarding area. Present the Vat forms at the counter and get it stamped and go to another counter for your cash refund.
Singapore, Singapore Fri 08/04/2006
We have never had a VAT refund work. I have always had all the stamps, paper work in order, and mailed to the correct address. Nothing, nada. One time, only once, we received a note saying the invoice was not printed correctly. Have everything shipped home.
CA USA Fri 08/04/2006
Rome & Paris
We experienced the "lost leather jacket salesman" scam in Rome last November. Luckily, I had read the board and knew about it. My husband, ever ready for a story to tell the grandkids, played along with the guy, showing him how to get to the train station and giving him a map. He gave us two "leather" jackets as a thank you. Then asked for money for gas. I pulled out a 5 Euro note and told him that was all we had. After several minutes of me trying to give back the jackets and him insisting that we must have more money, he gave up and drove away. I now have 2 vinyl jackets and a great story to tell. We saw those same jackets in the flea markets for 8 Euro each, so we think we scammed the scam artist!
Also had a young girl in Paris ask us if we spoke English. She then gave us a note explaining she was relocating and needed money. We shook our heads no and walked away.
Also, not a scam, but beware. RS recommends a basement resturant across the street from the Vatican. Can't remember the name, but the guidebook says that if you mention the book, you get free wine. Not so. Also, they charged us 2E for a glass of tap water. And no one seems to speak English, so they don't understand when you ask about the charge.
Any tips about scams or things to beware of in Munich? We'll be going there mid October.
Grosse Pointe, MI USA Fri 08/04/2006
Impossible VAT refund
We just returned from three weeks in Italy and saw no sign of pickpockets, etc. The only "scam" we encountered was the Value Added Tax refund system. In order to request a VAT refund, you have to get your paperwork stamped at the departure airport after you have gone through immigration. In Rome, we were told the VAT refund office was in another terminal, even though we were in the international departure terminal, so it would be better to get the stamp in Munich, where we connected. In Munich, only one person knew where the office was, and she said it was closed most of the afternoon. So there was no way to get this stamp before we left and there is no refund without the stamp. When I asked the Lufthansa rep about this, she said it happens all the time. I'd rather give the money to some pickpocketing poor kid than the EU taxman.
Mountain View, CA USA Fri 08/04/2006
You will see attractive woman walking up and down Vaci Utca. They are not prostitutes. They approach young men, pull out a map and pretend they're east european tourists looking for directions. This is a scam. After you help, or don't help them, they will ask you to have a drink with them at a nightclub. JUST SAY NO. They will take you to a bar where the only access is via elevator and the price of a Coke is $20. Of course they will order Cognac. While we were not victims, I did meet a Brit that paid £ 100 for 3 drinks. In the evenings, we counted as many as 15 "drink whores" strutting their stuff.
Columbus, Ohio USA Thu 08/03/2006
When the train entered Hungary from Slovakia, the train conductor starts the scamming. They will look at your ticket and say in broken English, "too many kilometers". We argued with her and got the price knocked down to 25 euros for 4 people. The two French guys that got ticketed for smoking on the train platform in Bratislava got charged 50 euros for two people. This is a scam. When this happens, argue with the conductor, ask for their name, a receipt, and take their picture.
Columbus, Ohio USA Thu 08/03/2006
Could It Be Luck, Too?
After half a dozen trips to Europe I've never experienced a single one of these scams, either- including a month in Italy, traveling all over. (Well- except for seeing the rose guys.) I am a fanatic money belt user and do just as the previous poster does. On the other hand, my husband ALWAYS dresses like the most stereotypical American tourist- white socks, white tennis shoes, shorts and a loud print Hawaiian shirt with a big camera around his neck and his wallet in his back pocket. AND he insists on opening huge maps up right on the street- or even the subway (while I scootle away and pretend I don't know him!) And nobody has ever bothered him, either. Go figure!
USA Tue 08/01/2006
I feel ignored. We have been to Europe several times and have never been ripped off , had our pockets picked or over charged by any business. My wife had her fanny patted twic while in Italy; she has anice one. We never look lost, never let any one "help", and never do map work in public. You have to at least look like you know what you are doing. Happy Travels
Paradise, Ca., Ca. US USA Tue 08/01/2006
My husband gave me a strange look on the Paris Metro as we standing on a very crowded car near the exit. A boy of about 14 was picking his back pocket. We were wearing money belts and were not worried because we wanted to see the boys expression when he would finally discover the phrase book in the pocket he thought was a wallet. It was priceless, he was so disappointed. He even let it slip back down into the pocket. Guess it's all part of the European experience as Rick says. We could hardly keep from laughing out loud.
Vermillion, MN USA Mon 07/31/2006
low end scam - water
It doesn't rise to the level of pick-pockets (I detected mine on the Paris RER before he got anything) but we found several places in Europe where, even if you ask for a carafe of water (since there is a lot of good tap water around) you get bottled water. The friendly folks will even open it for you. We know that on at least 3 occasions, we got a bottle that had been refilled with tap water, but were charged 4 euro. Next time we visit Europe (and we will, because we had a wonderful time) I plan to know how to say, in whatever language "if it is open, I will not pay for it"
Grand Rapids, MI USA Mon 07/31/2006
My wife, sister and her friend just retured from two weeks in Italy. My wife's billfold was stolen out of a zippered purse on the Metro (subway)in Rome. She did not notice until we reached our destination. Luckily we stopped payment on all cards and most of our money was in another compartment. As an amateur, I cannot overemphasize the caution that must be exhibited when in public, especially on public transporation, in Italy nowadays. The level of expertise shown by whomever lifted the wallet (and closed the purse afterward) was almost beyond belief. You cannot be too cautious. This experience has significantly changed out perception of large Italian cities.
Marietta, GA USA Mon 07/31/2006
Tips for Prague
My wife and I have been going to Prague on a regular basis for over fifteen years. When we first went hardly anyone spoke English. That has all changed, now everyone working in the shops and tourist attractions of Praha1 and Praha2 speaks English to a very high standard. That's the only good change I can think of.
Our stay in Prague last January will be our last. In particular the restaurants situated just outside the old castle have become extremely dishonest. They routinely and very cynically overcharge and what is on the bill bears no relationship to what you actually ordered. It is now a regular thing to add items to a bill in beirkellars and restaurants that have not been either provided or asked for or which are just plain spurious.
Always change your money before you arrive in the Czech Republic. I haven't had a fair exchange rate since before the tragic Prague floods of a few years ago. It was soon after the devastation caused by the floods that all the scams really started. I've even been ripped off by good quality hotels, bills have been added up wrongly and I've been charged for items that were clearly indicated as complimentary gifts.
The only thing I have never had a problem with is changing money back when I leave the Czech Republic. If you do have to change money while in Prague go to the Czech tourist agencies, they are called Cedok and there are branches all over Praha1 and Praha 2. You will still be fleeced but not as badly as at independent money exchange booths. It breaks my heart to say this, because I really love Prague but I'm not going back and I can no longer recommend it. If you go prepare to be scammed at some point. Dishonesty is now the norm in Prague.
Nottingham, UK Mon 07/31/2006
'Pierre Cardin director', still lost in Rome begging petrol money
The 'Managing Director of Pierre Cardin', as mentioned as far back as 2003 on these boards is still lost in Rome. This 'French' guy didn't understand when I told him we came from 'Royaume-Uni' (the alarm bells didn't ring at this point though!). Nor could he figure from a tourist map that he was right beside the Circus Maximus (despite the large road signs). His business card is a bit of pink cardboard. His wife is now from Manchester.
The jacket he gives you is still ugly tartan and of course he still gets insulted if you only give him €10 for petrol, because French visa cards apparently do not work in Italy. We gave him the jackets back and managed to get the money back off him.
Of course it was only afterwards that it dawned on us that the head man of Pierre Cardin wouldn't be driving himself in a knackered VW hatchback with a crumpled business card...
N. Ire UK Mon 07/31/2006
To Carmen in Phoenix
That was not a scam. If you don't validate your tickets you can get fined. Those are the rules!
Caserta, Italy Mon 07/31/2006
RE: Tips for Prague
Get your Czech money from an ATM. Money changing places can be risky. I would start out with a conservatively low amount as you will not be able to change your Czech money back to Euros very well later, since the currency is very soft. The tickets for trams are pretty simple. There are transit ticket machines at major tram stops and subway stations and offer English instructions. Rick's tips in his guidebook for Prague and eastern Europe for these are helpful. You can get your tickets from ticket windows in subway stations as well. Follow Rick's advice on security for Prague very closely! Watch where you put your money and be careful when you pay somebody that you get correct change back. We just got back from Prague and everywhere you went, shops, ticket sellers, and cafes would routinely try to rip us off by miscounting change or overcharging for their merchandise. They take advantage of foreign tourist's unfamiliarity with the local currency. I've been all over Europe several times and am very savy about pick-pockets, but after arriving in the train station, spending a few minutes finding the one ATM and buying some water, I discovered that every zipper on every outer pocket of my bags had been opened about 3 inches by thieving fingers! I don't keep anything valuable in those pockets, but it was a good lesson in being aware! Watch your belongings carefully wherever you go, especially in crowds, on public transportation and in all tourist areas. You will notice that even the locals are very protective of their bags and purses. I hope you find Prague more friendly than we did. The people were extremely unhelpful, few spoke English or pretended they didn't. Also, Prague is overrun by tourists so be prepared for the huge crowds! Thousands upon thousands! We cut our stay in Prague down to only 24 hours. It's just wasn't worth the hassle of the crowds, surly people, and constant attempts at ripping us off. I really hope you have a much better experience than we did. You will be staying in the old city which is very pretty and relatively safer than the rest of Prague.
Portland, OR USA Sun 07/30/2006
It Happened to Us...in a Second!!
My daughter and I were in a small 'pottery' town just north of Nice and had just parked our rental on the main street in front of a McDonalds and near the Post Office. .....The sun was shining and there were townspeople about. I still had my seat belt on and my daughter had turned off the engine and unlocked the doors. ......Out of nowhere, two young men appeared and one opened the back door and the other opened my front door and he began groping at me for my purse. He ripped my purse from around my neck. The strap broke but the seatbelt was holding the purse. My daughter reached over and scratched at him and screamed and blew our horn. I couldn't move becaue of the seat belt. I can still feel his breath on my face. .....Meanwhile the guy in the back was searching for stuff. We only had 2 jackets there. The townspeople heard our screams and came running. The thieves ran away and it was all over in about 25 or 30 seconds. Our jackets were in the street. I had some blisters where my purse strap broke and some bruising where he tried to hold my arms down. We are savvy travelers. I had traveled alone for 5 years all over Europe. Never had even a bad moment. I expect it was the nice rental auto that we had that attracted the men.. I had rented an average car but at the airport they upgraded us to a fine one because they ran short. We don't travel as showy tourists ever!! Other than the auto don't know what we could have done differently.
Pittsburgh, PA USA Mon 07/24/2006
Taxi Rip-off in Rome
My wife Karen and I visited Italy last October and had a wonderful time...until we stepped off the train in Rome. After dozing during the trip from Venice to Rome, we were caught off-guard by a man who offered to help with our bags and take us to a taxi as we exited our 1st class car. He grabbed the bags and placed them on a cart, then began moving toward the terminal. When we arrived at the curb, a waiting taxi driver asked where we wanted to go, and told us the cost was 25 euros, plus tip. We told him we thought that was too high, he said there was a strike going on. After we arrived at our hotel, we found out there was no strike. Moral: In Rome, be sure to use the taxi queue outside the terminal. The normal fare to our hotel would have been less then 10 euros.
San Diego, CA, CA USA Mon 07/24/2006
Polish Night Trains
I encounterd a funny scam on a night train from Katowice to Warzawa. Two young men approached me while I was in my seat. As one asked me to stand next to him as his cohort snaped a photo of us. I found it bizarre but thought nothing of it until I realized my wallet was gone,but it was my "dummy wallet" (it was empty) I wish I could've taken a photo of their reactions to finding no money or credit cards what so ever. Having a fake wallet is a good way to distract crooks from your money. I recommend the eagle creek UnderCover™ Hidden Pocket thats were I keep my passport, credit cards, and cash. Unless the crook feels you up and then places his hands down your pants your safe from being pick pocketed also its more comfortable than money belts which have a habit of sliding every which way.
Mission Viejo, CA USA Sun 07/23/2006
Milan Airport Shuttle
Watch your bags on the Milan Airport Shuttle. On the last day of my vacation last summer, after spending a long hot train ride from Pisa to Milan, I was ready to rid myself of my backpack and get on the cool air-conditioned bus outside the Milan train station that would take me to the airport. I was one of the first passengers on the bus and placed my pack in the luggage hold under the bus before getting on the bus. When we arrived at the airport my pack was gone! I assume someone walked by the side of the bus and snatched it right out of the comapartment as we were waiting for the bus to fill. The bus driver was no help and so I made a report with the airport police who were very courteous. Luckily, I had all my very valuables on me in my money belt and only lost my souveniers and personal items.
Port Orchard, WA USA Sun 07/23/2006
Minor deterrent to pickpockets
Have learned that to have my backpack rifled through in Italy is just part of the trip. Have never lost anything significant, however. My last two trips, I have taken to clipping a carbiner or safety pin to the zipper pulls. Makes them more difficult to get into and have not had the problem in a while. Still don't carry anything of value in them.
USA Sat 07/22/2006
Pickpockets on the subway in Rome
When we were in Rome last year, right when the doors were closing on the subway car, a very nice looking Italian man, well dressed, rushed into the train car. He carried a newspaper and a briefcase. My husband and were holding onto the middle pole. I had my hand over my shoulder bag, and that bag in in front of my body. My husband had nothing in his pockets.
As the train moved down the tracks, I happened to look down. I noticed this very nicely dressed, very attractive man with his finger on the zipper of the woman that was standing next to me. He was working the zipper open right in front of me. Our eyes met, and he shot me a VERY dirty look. Very threatening. I tried to nudge the women to let her know what was happening, but right at that time, the train came to a stop and we had to get out. I'm not sure if he managed to get her wallet, but watch out.....
One thing I can add is that I had my eyes locked on a "gypsy" woman with the smallest baby I had ever seen in her arms. Now I wonder if they were working in tandem.
USA Mon 07/17/2006
Pickpocketed in Rome 7/1/2006
For the past 25 years, my husband Richard has traveled all over the world and never had a problem with pickpockets until we vacationed in Rome, Italy. On July 1st, 2006 we took the subway back to our rental apartment near the Colosseum and about 30 mins after we were home Richard commented that he couldn't find his credit cards, $, archeaological tickets, etc. After a few minutes of hunting it dawned on us that he had been pickpocketed at the Metro!!! We were coming back from the Pantheon and as we got on the subway car a woman with a child kept pushing my husband roughly. I didn't see it as he was behind me and I was headed into the car in front of him. The subway at this time was not that busy either - the cars being 1/4 full. Anyway, he commented on the rudeness of this woman and the fact that she jumped off after pushing him in. We were so tired from touring it didn't occur to us that he'd been robbed. Anyway, Richard had been carrying his Amex card, Visa car, $100 Euros and our archeologic tickets to Colosseum etc in his front velcroed pocket on his shorts. As the woman pushed him, the child reached in and took the goods!!! My husband didn't even feel it!! They did leave our camera in the other pocket which I was grateful for. :) We figured out later that she probably targeted us as we bought our Metro tickets. From that point on my son guarded my hubby's pockets or we took taxis (when they weren't on strike!). On Monday July 3rd Richard went to Amex for a replacement card and the office was full of people (about 100) doing the same thing!! Also Italy does not like travelers checks - we found out the hard way - don't take travelers checks as they refused to take ours at every turn. Also be aware that these women with children train them as young as 2 years old - hubby and son saw this combo in action at the Metro the day they went to replace the Amex card. So ya'll be very aware of your surroundings in Rome - the pickpockets are out there in force!
The Woodlands, TX USA Mon 07/17/2006
Paris Metro Cheats
It's probably an exaggeration to call this a "tourist scam," but it's not unusual for two people to try to jam through the turnstiles on one ticket on the Paris Metro. I've noticed this especially at metro stops in residential areas in the less swanky arrondissements. When I first arrived in Paris I watched some people who obviously were together doing this, but yesterday I found my own carte orange (monthly metro/bus ticket) appropriated for this purpose as a scam artist who saw it in my hand waited for me to enter the turnstile and then insisted on pressing himself through despite my protests. At least I made some noise about it that deterred him from pickpocketing me (which, honestly, I doubt was the intention, as this wasn't in a tourist district and I think this guy was just a simpe fare cheat), but I felt "robbed" nonetheless--and it's not hard to see that when another person presses so closely it presents an easy opportunity for pickpocketing. As a woman this behavior also made me very uncomfortable!
So the next time I went through a turnstile I watched my back; I also practiced grabbing hold of the turnstile and slamming it shut behind me, which I hope will deter such cheats in the future.
San Diego, CA USA Sun 07/16/2006
The ATM scam discussed below is true but not limited to Italy. It is common through out the world including the US. The ATM needs major alteration which, at first glance, may be hard to detect. However, there are some obvious clues. Go to -- http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/atmcamera.asp -- for a much better description of the problem including photos. Once you seen the photos you will have a better idea of what to look for. We are just back from Italy, in and aruond Rome, did not see anything like this.
Centennial, CO USA Sat 07/15/2006
Italy ATM scan
This is from the US state department web page about an ATM scam in Italy ..... The U.S. Secret Service in Rome has been advised of, and is assisting Italian Law Enforcement authorities in investigating, an increase in the appearance of ATM skimming devices. These devices are attached to legitimate bank ATMs, usually located in tourist areas, and capture the account information stored electronically on the card's magnetic strip. The devices consist of a card reader installed over the legitimate reader and a pin-hole video camera mounted above the keypad that records the customer's PIN. ATMs with skimming devices installed may also allow normal transactions to occur. The victim's information is sold, traded on-line or encoded on another card such as a hotel key card to access the compromised account. Here are some helpful hints to protect yourself and to identify skimming devices:
1) Use ATMs located in well-lit public areas, or secured inside the bank/business 2) Cover the keypad with one hand as you enter your PIN 3) Look for gaps, tampered appearance, or other irregularities between the metal faceplate of the ATM and the card reader 4) Avoid card readers that are not flush with the face of the ATM 5) Monitor your account statements for unauthorized transactions
Organized criminal groups operate throughout Italy, but are more prevalent in the south. They have occasionally resorted to violence to intimidate or to settle disputes. Though the activities of such groups are not generally targeted at tourists, visitors should be aware that innocent by-standers could be injured.
USA Fri 07/14/2006
10 Euros overcharged
We took the Venice-Florence-Rome RS tour in the fall 2005, and in each city, someone tried to rip us off for 10 Euros. In Venice, the waiter tried to charge us for a bottle of wine we hadn't ordered. Luckily, our local guide straightened this out for us. In Florence, my husband and I went to the Science Museum (with Galileo's finger) and the guy at the ticket booth tried to withhold 10 Euros change from us. We kept insisting, and he finally gave in, even though he tried to talk his co-worker (who hadn't seen what bills we had given) into believing his side. Then in Rome, the waiter tried to charge us for 2 desserts, when we'd only ordered one and then split it. The extra charge was 10 Euros. We saw others from our tour group, and warned them that the waiters might try to pad the bill.
As for moneybelts and so on, I find that the silk moneybelts don't get sweaty since it's a natural fiber. Even if it does, who cares? Your important papers and money are safe. I took a camera bag on this Italian trip, the kind with the steel cable in the waist strap, and kept one hand on the pouch at all times. There are 3 zippers that all clasp together with a short tether anchored to the pouch, making it impossible to open one without first undoing the clasp. There is another pocket on the stomach side of the pouch, and that was where I kept my ATM card, money, and so on. No one could've accessed that pocket without my knowing it, since I wore the strap very tight.
VA USA Fri 07/14/2006
Exchange rates and exchange commissions
This isn't so much a scam as more of a heads-up when changing cash at exchange windows. On occassion we would change a few dollars cash when in another non-eu country only for the day or two. First, the exchange windows or banks would oftentimes only advertise the rate that they were SELLING their dollars for; this rate is always better than the rate for BUYING our dollars, which is what most tourists are doing. So for the first couple of times we were wondering why didn't get as much money as we thought we would. Look for the posted rate that they are BUYING dollars for. The second thing that we were scammed on was the commission. Sometimes they would advertise 0% commission and then afterward we would find out it was only when the bank was SELLING their dollars, but not when they were BUYING ours. If you don't ask what the commission is they sometimes just randomly add a commission. For one $60 transaction we were charged a $9 commission which is 15%. Fortunately, most of the time we used our ATM card a received very good rates without the hassle.
Littleton, CO USA Fri 07/14/2006
I never encountered any problems with safety. Follow all "the rules" and you'll be fine: wear a money belt, lock your bags to the train if you can not see them and lock the zippers together as well, if you are in a hostel do the same, and always be alert on buses and in train stations. If someone approaches you and you feel uncomfortable about them,learn how to say "go away" in the local language--it worked for me everytime!
Memphis, TN USA Thu 07/13/2006
I used the PacSafe Shoulder bag on my last trip, absolutely love it. Has convenient inner pockets, looks nice, etc. Seemed more secure than a backpack for camera and things to carry all day. But I still wore my money belt - even a shoulder bag can get ripped off of you.
CA USA Tue 07/11/2006
I was reading about the PacSafe purse.
It's suppose to be "anti-theft" in terms of the wire in the purse. Hence it cannot be slashed.
I plan to use a money belt. And I am thinking of getting the PacSafe for my day pack, since I will be carrying my small digital camera and my stash of cash for the day.
I felt uneasy on the Metros in Paris and Rome last year even wearing my money belt. I am from SF and was surprised by my uneasiness.
I would be curious if anyone has a PacSafe purse and what they think.
Your comments would be most appreciated.
SF, CA USA Tue 07/11/2006
Spain Train Scam
My two friends and I recently returned from a two week trip to Spain. We were leaving Barcelona on the night train to Madrid when we encountered what had to be a scam. We checked with the tourist booth as soon as we got to the station, showed our tickets and were told where to go and what to do. As we tried to board the train we were confronted by the conductor, who, after looking at our tickets, informed us that they were not valid since we had not confirmed our reservations. As soon as he told us this, a man who had been standing off to the side came up to him and begin speaking in Spainish and offering him money. At this point he told us that we had to go back upstairs to straighten the situation out. At that point we figured that we were being scamed so he could sell our seats. Two of us stayed to watch him so he could not sell our seats, and the third went to get one of the train attendents to help translate. After talking to him, the attendent told us that our tickets were valid, but the conductor had the final say as to who could get on and who could not. At that point I took a pictuer of him with my digital camera, wrote down his name, and my friend managed enough Spainish to say that if he did not let us on we were calling the police, then the train company, and that all of our parents were lawyers and we would sue. At that point he looked at the tickets again and said, in English, "Oh, I made a mistake, you can get on". We barely made it on in time.
Kent, Ohio USA Fri 07/07/2006
Italian Mail Theft
The problem is going to be being able to prove where the theft, if it was theft, occurred - in Italy or after the package was handed off to whomever handled it in the US. And that it was theft, and not just bad handling along the way.
It could be that some of the glass pieces were smashed in transit, and customs or whomever repacked them disposed of the destroyed objects - especially if there were glass bits that could have punctured the packaging.
It would have had to go through customs in the US, though not every package is actually opened and inspected. It's possible that the package was damaged when customs opened it to examine the contents, and then not properly re-packaged. However it would be pretty clearly marked as such - they would always reseal it with marked tape to let you know that they had opened it.
That said, if there's any sign that it has gone through customs, perhaps you could contact them to see if they would be able to provide info about the condition of the package when it got to them. Presumably if it was damaged when they got it, they'd have noted that so they wouldn't be held liable and it would mean that the damage occured either it Italy or an intervening country.
Scotland Thu 07/06/2006
Paris Subway Scam
Talked to a fellow on the Roissy bus from Paris to CDG. The "policeman" demanded to see a valid subway ticket and demanded a passport. The "policeman" dropped everything and then returned only the ticket and dissapeared. NEVER show anyone your passport or any other documents. This victim missed his flight home and waited two hours for the US Embassy to renew his passport. Happy Travels
Paradise, Ca. USA Wed 07/05/2006
Another way to get a cab driver to give you a fair priced ride is to tell him before you get in, "All I have is 10 euro, can you get me to XYZ on that?" - and then when you pay, make sure that all you have showing in yoru wallet is 10 euro, nothing more.
Littleton, CO USA Tue 07/04/2006
Theft in Italian Mail
My friend and I just came back from a 3 month trip to Europe, during which we each mailed about 7 packages of souvenirs home from 7 different countries and the only problems we encountered were with the ones we mailed in Florence, Italy.
We packed our valuables in lots of newspaper, and taped the box up with the tape provided, but our souvenirs were completely burglarized before arriving in the US and even the boxes themselves arrived in fragments. I received 3 of about 20 little glass souvenirs that were originally in my box, and they were repackaged in a padded envelope with a note from a New Jersey post office saying "this is the condition in which your package arrived here".
The post office in Italy itself didn't seem much different than other countries so I really didn't expect the risk to be any higher, but now I know. The saddest part is I lost about 100 postcards I had collected on the trip - really regretting that I put those in the box.
I am posting this to warn others, but also I am wondering if anyone knows of a way to report theft such as this. I haven't tried calling Italy's postal service just yet, but I can only imagine their response will be something like "Tough Luck".
Littleton, CO USA Tue 07/04/2006
Having traveled extensively through Europe (and currently living there), I have found that a few minutes of pre-planning will save you the stress of using the prevalent taxis from airports & train stations to your hotel or tourist destination: Ask you hotel when you book your room! They will tell you a range of what it should cost. Write it down and show it to the cabbie before you get it (along with the address, obviously). Only agree to the ride once the price is agreed on and don't get out and/or pay until you are clearly where you need to be. Half the time there won't even be a meter, as the transaction is already agreed on, so you don't have to sweat construction delays and traffic. It seems so obvious and only takes a few seconds, but it is well worth it. Flying completely blind leaves you stuck behind a language barrier arguing over fees for crossing bridges, having multiple people, etc. While you might pay on the 'high' end of hotel suggested range sometimes, it's usually a negligible amount and the taxi ride will make getting from point A to point B a lot easier.
Milton, PA USA Sun 07/02/2006
Watch your back!
On my first trip to Europe I learned a very important lesson-Never wear a backpack purse on the subway! While stepping up to get inside a well-dressed man suddenly stepped in ahead of me and turned so that he faced me and looked as if he were quickly scanning the metro stops. Not suspecting anything, I waited a few moments not realizing that someone behind me was getting into my purse! Right before the doors closed the man jumped off and when I moved all the way in my friend noticed that my bag was open. I was very lucky as they grabbed my makeup bag that was on top, probably thinking it was my wallet, and left behind my $1000 camera, passport, $500 Euro, and all my credit cards. I was VERY lucky and this was a lesson well learned! I thought I was safe as my purse was not easy to unzip but I did not feel one thing when it was opened. Be careful and keep your bags in your sight at all times!
San Diego, CA USA Sun 07/02/2006
The Paris Metro system is a breeding ground for tourist scams and tricks. One lesson I learned was that you should always carry your bag or backpack infront of you instead of behind you and you should always wear your moneybelt. Thieves can easily follow you in the crowded subway system and unzip your backpack without you even feeling it. If you plan to wear your backpack like a backpack, then only put things in there that you wouldnt mind loosing, such as an umbrella, hat, or a waterbottle. Always be alert!
PA USA Thu 06/29/2006
Tricks on the streets
When I went to France for the RS tour, a group of us were walking the streets of Paris when a man came up to us and told us (in English) that one of us dropped a gold ring. He held it up for us to see and kept asking who's it was. Knowing better, we kept walking. This is a classic example of a gypsie trick. Beware of people coming to you asking if you dropped your wallet, ring, or anything else that they "found and picked up". They will offer you the item in exchange for money, and if you do this, you might find out that the gold ring that you paid 50 Euros for was actually worth 50 cents!
PA USA Thu 06/29/2006
I was charged 35.00 for a two minute call from Paris to Amsterdam using the same little card stuck on the pay phone. My credit card company got the bill reduced to 5.00 with just one phone call. Try it......
San Francisco, CA. USA Tue 06/27/2006
Yes, this phone scam happened to me also, but my encounter was at a pay phone in Germany. On the inside of the phone booth was a sticker advertising cheap calling rates. You had to dial their number and then on to your destination number. Luckily I didn't use a credit card. I did, however, make a collect call. The pitiful souls that accepted my collect call, my family, wound up with an enormous phone bill for only a few minutes of talking.
What a stupid scam to fall for!
USA Tue 06/27/2006
Italy Pay Phone Scam
I obtained an international calling card before heading abroad but could not get it to work once there. I decided to make credit card calls using a toll free number listed in the pay phone booth in Monterosso, Cinque Terre. Big mistake! Their posted rate is 45 cents per minute to the US. So far, they have hit my credit card for almost $800 for making just 4 calls to the US totaling about 15 minutes! Be warned to get a legitimate card before you head out.
Germantown, MD USA Mon 06/26/2006
New level of ATM fraud
In Dubrovnik, we were getting cash from an ATM attached to a bank and were having abit of trouble getting it to work. Two men approached to help, but the card was stuck in the machine, so we went inside to retreive it and were waved away by the bank workers! They wouldn't even talk to us. We went back out and our "friends" said to keep pushing the cancel button and it would come out. It did, we had our card back and so we thought we were ok. A week later our cash was being withdrawn from ATM's in Marseilles. It was difficult to check our account on-line, because the transactions didn't appear on the date they were made, but on the date they posted to the bank(in one case it was four days later due to a long holiday weekend).
I have since read that there is a new level of sophisitication to ATM fraud called tinning, where the theives put a thin plastic card in the card slot, which also makes it stick in the machine, they watch you enter your PIN and when you go inside the bank to retrieve your card, they grab their plastic cover and put your card back in the machine to make it look like it has been stuck in there while you were inside the bank. Somehow they get a copy of your card either thru the sleeve they insert in the machine or just with imprinting it on some other material.
I would suggest following your gut again and cancelling the card anytime you have someone interested in "helping" around an ATM.
We have travelled alot and have never had a problem with thieves. This scam was new to us.
Jacksonville, FL USA Mon 06/26/2006
Caution at Louvre Metro Entrance
While in Paris we used the metro Louvre station to enter/exit the museum. After finishing up with all of the sights in the Louvre we headed to the metro to go back to our hotel. At the entrance to the station are self service ticket machines - no manned tickets here - only automated. We discovered that we were out of Carnet Tickets and we would have to use the self serve machines. Of course there was an older lady and 2 middle age men (obviously locals) milling around.
Since we weren't prepared with correct change we fumbled just a bit with the machines. Immediately the older lady pounced on us to "help us". She spoke no English and absolutely would NOT leave us alone. We were digging in our pockets for Euros for the machine, but her hands were all over the machine pushing the buttons and babbling to us.
OK, I came to my senses and told her "NO" loudly and pushed her away. Several times I had to do this...all the while she just stepped back 2 or 3 steps and the guys just stayed planted there. Finally I decided enough of this crap and we turned around and left for a different station.
We visited London, Paris, Germany, Switzerland and only Paris' self-serve ticket machines were difficult to figure out...other places were fine. Other places the ticket machines were fairly self-explanatory and no street-urchins waiting to extort money from us.
My word for Paris: I've seen the beautiful sights and that's enough for me. To bad all of these beautiful sights have to sit in Paris.
My last word of advice - when you first see that you're being watched and when you first realize that you're fumbling...just leave! Avoid thefts and pickpocketing by just removing yourself from the situation.
USA Mon 06/26/2006
Istanbul Taxi Scam
Taxi drivers in Istanbul,Turkey will "palm" your 50 lira note and show you a 5 lira. Claiming that is what you gave him. Or they will insist they have no change. Be firm and hint you will call the "Tourist Police"
WENATCHEE, WA USA Wed 06/21/2006
Not a street scam, but it caused me to feel targeted as a tourist so I'll post it here.
I recently ordered new prescription eyeglass lenses at a reputable-looking shop on a major shopping street in Antwerp. We talked over the details, which included the price -- which was agreed to be €155.00 for a pair of lenses (the man spoke very good English) -- and I left a €50.00 deposit, expecting the lenses to come within 5 days.
Yesterday I went to have the new lenses installed into my existing frame. I also brought along a SECOND frame, for sunglasses, which I thought to update as well. I was to be told the price for the second job the following day (today) as I came to collect the first job.
Then, today when I showed up, I was VERY surprised to hear that the price was €155.00 PER LENSE (!!), not per pair as we had agreed. But I KNOW that I had asked, because, well, I remember! And because I ALWAYS ask such questions. Always, even back home.
The man began to act very insulted that I would question his 40 years' of experience, and took BOTH of my frames into his hands declaring that I either paid the money or he would call the police. Excuse me, but where is the crime? I've paid a deposit in advance and waited almost a week for the service to be completed -- but I don't remember committing any crime.
What angered me the most is that he confiscated BOTH frames, even the one he had done nothing with, placing them into a plastic tray which he then covered by both of his hands.
I agreed that we should call the police if that was required, and then he hesitated. I could tell that he didn't really want to do that. Eventually it got settled my way, but it took alot of extra effort and stress to do so, and it ruined what should have been a harmless experience. Unfortunately these new lenses will always bear the reminder of my time in Antwerp.
Moral, get EVERYTHING in writing, even if you think it will color you as an untrusting, ungrateful American tourist.
USA Wed 06/21/2006
We were sitting on a bench in Paris last week when a woman stopped in front of us and picked up a large, gold wedding ring. When we assured her it didn't belong to us she magnanimously insisted we keep it--good luck for us. We said, no, it belonged to someone and we would give it to the police. She walked away, then turned around and suggested we give her money for a cup of coffee. We get the ring and good luck and she gets a cup of coffee. At this point we realized it was a scam and stepped up the idea of going to the police. She took the ring and left. We were curious to know how far it would have gone and how she intended to get the ring back (was the owner lurking nearby?) but wisely got out quickly. She also had made a point of showing us some sort of mark inside the ring indicating it was real gold. It was pretty slick and happened so fast we couldn't compare notes--like how did we miss seeing such a large shiny ring 4 feet in front of us? She wasn't French, BTW, and we don't speak French so this was all conducted in broken English. One last note--my husband remembers her saying she couldn't keep the ring because it was against her religion to wear jewelry. I missed that part. It all happened so fast.
Jim and Rose
Monadnock Region, NH USA Tue 06/20/2006
Brussels Taxi Scam
If you are flying out of Charleroi airport in Belgium and waiting for the bus at Brussels Gare du Midi rail station beware of taxi drivers telling you the bus has broken down or is stuck in a traffic jam. It's a load of horsefeathers. If in doubt check with the information desk.
Nottingham, UK Tue 06/20/2006
Rome garage scam - or not?!
Just had a great holiday in Italy - flew to Rome Ciampino then hire car to Puglia/Gargano. No feeling of being ripped off or scammed in Vieste at all, and only a bit of tourist tat in Alberobello. Drove back to rome via Caserta and then felt a bit more wary. Bloke giving you little ticket for parking car on street and asking for 5 Euros for the day! Parking was free and we were using my son's disabled badge! Man very persistant but price went down to 2 Euros. He wasn't aggressive but may have been either drunk or high so in the end I gave him a coin (I know, just the wrong thing to do) but anyway when we got back to the car 3 hours later a different guy was "watching" our car and guiding other people into parking spaces (then asking for money) but he was very civil and polite to us - even guiding us out into the road!! the pink ticket under the wiper I suspect! Outside Ciampino airport (early evening)when filling the hire car up to return it, we went to garage which was closed but took money in machines. We didn't realsie it was closed becasue immediatley 2 young men approched and said they could help us fill up and that we would need some change. He proferred 5 Euro in coins in exchange for a note so we swapped (and I checked coins were actually Euros!) Then he seemed to put a note into the pump and started filling the car for us. He then said it needed more so i think in the end we put in 10 or 15 Euros and got deisel to fill the car. They said they were doing it for tips but we were already suspicious so didn't tip and drove off. the car was full of fuel but what we can't quite work out is what was the scam and how did they do it?! I think the car only needed 10 Euros worth at most to be full, but don't know for sure. And what was the change thing all about?! We are still puzzled, and in a way feel bad that we automatically assumed it was a scam - but pretty sure it was!
Cumbria UK Tue 06/20/2006
Train station in Barcelona
My two girlfriends and I were almost victimized at the train station in Barcelona. We had missed an earlier train to Madrid and had to sit and wait a few hours for the next one. We were all sitting with our luggage in front of us and our books and camara bags were out. A young man (in his twenties) sat next to me and asked me what the address was, and all of us turned to face him. While he was asking the question, another man sat on the other side of us three, and Liz who was sitting in the middle told the Erin (on the left) to grab her camera bag. When she did both men quickly got up and left, then they had the nerve to cross in front of us together. The man that tried to get the camera bag was extremely good-looking, wearing a lacoste polo and had passed by us three times already. We just assumed he was "checking us out." Thanks to our Rick Steve's book we were very prepared.
Also in "The Ramblas" in Barcelona we stepped away from the crowd to see if we could spy any pickpocketers. We literally saw a man with clippers in his hand weeding through the crowd looking at people with bags and purses and deciding which one to clip.
Beware of men with black bookbags, as all three men were carrying them. Also beware of natives asking stupid questions. If they are Spaniards then they probably know where everything is located!!!
round rock, TX USA Mon 06/19/2006
Pickpockets don't look like Pickpockets
I had been warned, I was on the alert, they wouldn't get me. WRONG!
I was done over by a pickpocket in the subway in Paris after getting on at Anvers station just near Sacre Coeur. I moved my wallet from my hip pocket to the side pocket of my jeans & I was wearing a ski parka over the top. To my naive mind this arrangement was "unpickpocketable". I was wrong. The prime suspect was dressed in a respectable woolen overcoat & scarf, glasses & a felt hat, collar & tie & carrying a briefcase. (North African appearance) He bumped into my side pocket 2 flights of stairs away from the platform (I'm guessing to confirm the location of my wallet). I looked at him & didn't suspect for a minute he was a pickpocket. He happened to be beside me in the packed train which didn't strike me as strange at the time - only later. I had a stereotyped "Oliver Twist" type image of pickpockets in my mind. Don't believe it - these guys are professionals.
Fortunately I was carrying an all-but-empty wallet, but the loss of my drivers licence & credit cards prevented planned car rental a couple of days later.
It sounds kinda paranoid but you've just gotta be.
1. Suspect everybody of anything. They take advantage of your disorientation & unfamiliarity, and the trusting culture you come from.
2. Tell anyone who approaches you uninvited to stand back while you talk with them until you establish their credentials (& even then don't trust them).
3. Fanny packs or bum bags (depending on where you're from) are easy pickings for gypsy kids in large "family" groups with their "mothers". Don't use them at all. The steps of the subway at Colloseum in Rome is a great place to watch them at work.
4. Young Mothers with baby on their hip begging for money to "feed their hungy child" are nothing but method actors. This is what they do for a "job". Don't even let them get their first sentence out. Tell them to "get lost" before they are even within 10 feet of you. After a couple of weeks in Italy, you actually get quite sick of them.
Melbourne, Australia Thu 06/15/2006
We have handled the rose problem slightly different the two times we were ambushed. I simply held the rose out and firmly and loudly said, "No, Thank you." Of course, he refused to take them back. Again, I said, "NO, Thank you." and dropped them. Then turned and walked away briskly. As he tried to circle we keep turning away, ignoring his shouts and comments, and having no further contact with him. Remember his game plan is to maintain contact with you as long as possible and force your to give in. This is not case where being polite is required. Dump the roses and move on -- quickly.
Centennial, CO USA Tue 06/13/2006
It is very true- while I thought I was all set for pickpockets and the like, before I realized what was happening a really agressive rose "pusher" :) shoved a bunch into my teenage daughter's arms as we came down the Spanish Steps and refused to take them back. While not overly physically threatening, it felt very intimidating and he was screaming at her in Italian. Only yelling "NO" and shoving the roses back at him sort of worked, although he followed us for a little while...I really appreciate the valuable advice shared here, thank you! That said, it made me sort of paranoid before the trip- just a reassurance that I was in Italy for two months with nary an incident but the rose guy, taking just the sensible precautions and using the money belt system at all times.
USA Mon 06/12/2006
I've had experience with the bracelet scam in Milan, Rome on the Spanish Step and in Paris at Montmarte. While not with them I have seen these "bracelet vendors" try to grab the wrists of young ladies. It is very subtle and they didn't even realize it was happening. You definitely have to be firm and look them straight in the eye when you say no.
USA Mon 06/12/2006
The bracelet scam is very old and just about universal in one form or another. Basically you are presented with a very low cost item, whether you want it or not. If you accept you are charged an exorbitant price for it, often with implied physical menace. If it's not a bracelet it can be beads, key rings, cigarette lighters, dolls in cheap national costumes, wall maps, local street maps, luggage labels, in fact anything that is dirt cheap.
The physical menace is very real and it's damn hard, not to say a little frightening, trying to give the trinket back. Once they have the item on your person they refuse to take it back and start demanding money. Now it gets really menacing and a whole lot of people hand over in excess of ten USD for an item that is worth around fifty cents. Also they use the language barrier as a weapon so that you don't know what is being said, it is a method of causing distraction. In the end the vulnerable *mark* will part with cash for something they never really wanted. It sounds so simple that you are sure you can avoid it, when it happens you really need to keep your wits about you. The only defence is to say *NO* very very loudly and draw the maximum of attention to yourself. They work on the principle that this will be against a lot of peoples natural behaviour. The scam artists work on the principle that if they can work this scam on just ten shy, bewildered tourists a day they are on easy street. A very nasty example of this happened to a female colleague at Mumbai airport in India just six weeks ago. She was wheeling her suitcase from the taxi to departures at the airport at night-time. She is very short and very slender. A couple of large local boys stopped her and while one held some luggage labels in her face another placed one on her luggage. They then demanded payment. She was alone, unfamiliar with the language, the only white face around and could not see anyone who looked like they were in authority. Reluctantly she agread to pay 500 Rupees ( an outrageous amount ) when she got her wallet out the boys pushed her to the ground, grabbed the wallet and vanished into the crowds that are always present outside Mumbai airport. It was not a gentle push, she sustained serious cuts and bruises. The moral of these stories is - even if you are by nature a very shy, introvert, unasuming type of person, when confronted by this scam, shout *NO* as loudly as you can and keep walking as fast as you can. This is the only time I advise people to use all the bad manners and rudeness that they have. Never be polite, just get the hell out of there.
Nottingham, UK Mon 06/12/2006
Socking it away
Common wisdom seems to dictate wearing a moneybelt under your clothes and keeping a small amount of cash in your pocket for incidental purchases. I followed this practice in Rome recently, but felt vulnerable taking the metro from the Vatican area to Termini. The train was crowded, moving fast and bumping riders against one another. I had to hang on to an overhead railing and it dawned on me that someone could reach into my pocket and that there was nothing I could do to prevent it without falling over and risking injury. I wonder if keeping the spare change in your sock (if you wear socks) rather than in your pocket is the way to go while in transit.
Milwaukee, WI USA Fri 06/09/2006
Okay, I've traveled a lot in the past few years and thought I'd seen it all. This one's a new one even for me. My brother and I are standing outside the entrance to the underground Roman ruins in front of Notre Dame in April, eyes peeled for any would-be gypsie kids or fake limbs or babys when up walks this girl about 20 years old or so and FLASHES my brother (pulls her top up). No sooner had she done this than two younger guys (claiming we think to be her offended brothers??) start getting beligerant and jostling us around. Hands are all over our shirts, jackets, trousers, you name it.
Nothing was gained by this stunt, but even I--a veteran of would-be pickpockets--was stunned, and it took me the first several minutes to figure out that this was a set-up.
Dallas, TX USA Thu 06/08/2006
Money belts ? Travel pants ? Neck wallets ? Everyone of us has different requirements. The important thing is to take good precautionary measures and use them - always. I have to travel a lot on business so I'm required to wear a suit. A money belt is my best option. It doesn't matter, find what is best for you and use it. All suggestions are good. The only option that is bad is the one where you say *It'll never happen to me*. If it works for you, pass it on. I've been travelling for years and I'm still learning.
Nottingham, UK Thu 06/08/2006
Better Alternative to Money Belts
I personally prefer to use "travel pants" (L.L. Bean sells some) as opposed to money belts. First, off money belts get sweaty and damp when kept hidden beneath all of your clothes and are very incovenient to access. My travel pants have a special zippered compartment that can only be accessed by first unbuttoning the outside flap, then going into the pocket and unzippig a "hidden zipper" that is known only to the person wearing the pants. It is actually more difficult for a thief to access the hidden compartment than to accesss a money belt. The hidden pocket can hold a wallet and passport. As an added bonus the pants are light, airy, and dry quickly, plus they pass as formal slacks so you look more dressy and blend in. You can also be much less conspicuous accessing your wallet since you don't have to dig into your clothes and pull out a money belt in private.
USA Wed 06/07/2006
The whole point of the money "belt", even if it is worn on the neck, is that it is supposed to be entirely hidden! If you get out either style in public, even once you slide it back under your clothes IF a thief was watching they know you have it. It defeats the whole purpose. I wear my waist- style one with the important papers and extra moneys in little ziplocks, which helps with the sweaty issue as far as the contents :) If you absolutely must access either style make sure someone is blocking you, etc- people tend to use them just like fanny packs or shoulder purses and assume they can take them in and out all the time...don't do that!
USA Tue 06/06/2006
Adding to the waistband/neckband moneybelt debate...I've heard of instances where someone comes up behind you and cuts the neck string of neck money belts and then grabs them when they fall to the ground. I always use a waist band type since hearing of this, though they are sweaty.
USA Tue 06/06/2006
I just got back from two weeks in Paris with a friend. There were girls hanging out at the base of the Eiffel Tower begging for money, they'll ask if you speak English and if you say yes they'll hold up a card with a request for money. After the first one approached us I realized what was going on so when the next girl came up and asked if we spoke English I said "No habla inglais." and we didn't get hassled.
There were guys at the base of Sacre-Couer trying to put bracelets on the tourists, I just said "No" firmly and walked away.
At the Galeries Lafayette department store my friend was approached by a man who asked for her help in buying a Louis Vuitton purse and wallet, he said it was a present for his girlfriend and he already had bought something and wasn't allowed to buy anything else. He gave her 750 euros cash and she bought the items for him. I wasn't with her when this happened and when we met back at the hotel and she told me about it I said that I had read about people being approached to buy Louis Vuitton on this site!
My friend said she was tempted to just take the money and run, I wonder what the guy would have done if she had tried that.
Toronto, Ontario USA Mon 06/05/2006
Just got back from a few days in Budapest. Some scams I saw:
First, pickpocketing was the worst I had seen in any European city I have been to. (I've not been to Rome, but have been to 10 other major European cities, including Prague).
I had nothing in my pockets, but at the Fisherman's Bastion a Roma girl stuck her hand in my pocket, and I grabbed her hand. You could just watch the pickpockets scoping people out on Vaci ut, and other tourist hot spots.
At the church in the caves at Gellert Hill, there are a threesome of beggars, shell gamers, and souvenir sellers that switch throughout the day.
Not a scam, but a big reality, is that on the touristy M1 line there were agents checking for tickets nearly every time we rode over the three days. They would always target tourists, and would let locals get by with only buying a ticket rather than the hefty fine.
On a soggy rainy night after a 2200 cruise on the Danube, shifty taxi drivers tried to charge 5000 forint for a maybe 1-2km drive from the Danube to our hotel right off of tram line 49 down Bartok Bela. We refused and walked in the rain and managed to catch a tram that happened to be running AFTER the 2315 cut off time. Don't trust the cabbies.
Chicago, IL USA Fri 06/02/2006
Listen to your inner voice!
My friend, who recently returned from Spain, decided to enter a retaurant for a meal. He decided to put his attache case in the "hidden" compartment of his rented cars' trunk. Despite having a uncomfortable feeling about leaving his case in the locked car he nevertheless did so. Upon returning to his car he found the locks jimmied and his case missing. Evidently, someone was indeed watching his actions. It often pays to listen to your inner voice no matter how secure things appear to be!
West Chicago, Il USA Thu 06/01/2006
Isn't it true about sort of getting caught up in the strolling-along-enjoying-being-part-of-the-crowd feeling and stopping to watch street artists or "games"? While I always wore my money belt and was very cautious with money (and never had a single problem in 5 weeks), in Florence I was strolling and it was such a gorgeous evening and gelato and this guy with a boom box and a little dancing anime card that he explained with such a charming accent was activated by the "vibrations" of the music...5 euros, so easy to pack to amuse my students at home...and like an idiot, once back, hooking it up and trying to get it to dance!!! Would I have fallen for this on a street corner where I live?
USA Wed 05/31/2006
A group of us just returned from a 2 1/2 week trip to Italy. Be aware to validate your metro ticket when entering the station. Even if the turnstyle opens check your ticket. We did not and the metro workers were waiting for us when we were transferring trains. We were fined 100 euro if we did not pay that same day. We ended up paying 50 euro each that day and the Metro workers just put the money in their pockets. We were not the only ones who got scammed. Even locals were fined. The next day we went back to the same turnstyle and there was an out of order sign.
Phoenix, AZ USA Wed 05/31/2006
there's something on your back
having traveled to europe a cpl times the worst i experienced by far was the "bird droppings" scam which was previously mentioned. while in Spain we encountered groups of young men/teenagers who squirted stuff on our backs (i was traveling with my grandmother who was close to 80 at the time) luckily we were close to our hotel both times and i took her arm, her purse between us and we walked quickly to the hotel. there were always 3-4 boys close by and i'm sure they would have taken her purse quite easliy had we stopped or if she had been alone. being young i wanted walk many places i probably shouldn't have, i'm quite grateful no harm ever came from it. i can't say enough that being aware is SO imporant
USA Wed 05/31/2006
Watch out for the shell game like Rick says! I was waiting for a friend and I saw people gathered around nearby. I went over and watch for a while. It looked so easy. It looked like even the tourists were winning. I was finding the ball every time so I decided to play once. I thought for sure I knew where it was but it wasn't there, of course. The people in the crowd kept urging me to get my money back by playing again. I shouldn't have listen to them. I lost again of course! I would advise you to never even get close to those games. I wasn't going to play but I did and it cost me!
USA Wed 05/31/2006
Hello all! I just got back from a month all over Europe - as a group (study tour for school) we did Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and England. I then spent a week by myself in London. The only scams I encountered were the following:
In Paris, at the Place du Concord: Gypsy girls asking if we spoke English (my friend said yes of course because she didn't know what was going on) then the girl showed us a peice of paper that basically said that she had moved here from some country and had no money and if we could spare a few coins. Well I don't give money to the homeless people in my country so I wasn't planning on it there. We sais no and she walked away.
In Paris, Palace of Versailles: Not really a scam, but the guys that sell all that crap outside the palace were really pushy.
In Paris, Church of the Sacre Coeur:
There were guys at the bottom of the hill there (before you go up the stairs) who were asking if they could put a bracelet on your wrist. Having read other things about bracelets I flat out refused - but man, they were persistent. Once we got out of the way we watched them for a while and watched them but bracelets on other people. The weird thing is, is that they never demanded money. They put the bracelet on and the people walked away. The people that they put the bracelets on were normal toursits, so I can't imagine that they were 'plants' in the crowd. Anyone else have any ideas?
We did not get pickpocketed, but we saw some very suspicious people following our friend who had her purse draped over one shoulder. Once we called out her name and she turned around the people who were followinig her scattered off.
No big issues here - there were signs warning everyone about pickpocketing everywhere - even the McDonald's! I wore a backpack everywhere and I kept a lock on the back. I know that it made me look like a tourist but I already looked like one so I figured it was a small price to pay for the peace of mind. I felt people tugging on it once or twice but I was paranoid so it may have just been people bumping me in the crowd. Eiter way I loved having the lock on it, even if it did make paying for things a bit of a pain.
I bought a RickSteves MoneyBelt (the around the waist type) but I did not end up using it because I found it way too uncomfortable. A couple hours into my day (it was hot when I went) and it was soked and heavy. I have a belt that had a zipperd pocket that ran all the way through it where I stored my extra cash. I kept my wallet in a zippered pocket in my locked backpack and my passport and back-up cash and credit cards I left in my hostel locker (which I locked with a good quality lock.) I never had anything stolen and other than in Amsterdam, I never felt too uncomfortable. I'm really glad that I read this board as much as I did because I felt as though I knew every type of scam that could happen to me. Maybe next year I'll brave Rome. :)
Oh, and one more thing, you would not believe the amount of people (some of them members of my group) that wore neck pouches, money belts etc ON THE OUTSIDE! To me that is just advertising that you have a lot of money - those moneybelt strings are easily cut and if you lose that you've lost all you important documents and cash. It seems only logical to me but I guess it's not common knowledge...
Calgary, Alberta Canada Tue 05/30/2006
Scam in tourist areas
Having read this board before each of my trips to Europe, I was well aware of this scam with the Roma girls. I always say no and keep walking. Sometimes it takes a very firm no, bordering on shouting at them. This past April in Paris I observed the girls working the crowd of tourists as I sat waiting for my husband as he took the tower tour at Notre Dame (I don't like heights). There were 6 girls working together. They broke up into couples to approach mostly younger people. They stayed for about 20 minutes when another came running up and they all met together then ran away together. About three minutes later two police showed up. Apparently the girls had lookouts posted.
Florida USA Tue 05/30/2006
Do you Speak English Scam in Paris?
My husband and I just came back from a 9 day trip from Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. During our 5 day stay in Paris, we were approached on three different occasions by young females whether we spoke English. We shook our heads and kept on walking. I turned around to observed that they only approached tourists. These girls all shared similarities: they held a small piece of paper, they all looked Roma (aka Gypsy) and they all spoke fluent English.
We do not know what the scam could be or whether it was a scam at all. If you experienced this occurance, please share it with the rest of us!
Vancouver, BC Canada Mon 05/29/2006
My son arrived in Barcelona after dark on May 17, 2006 and took a taxi to his hostel. The hostel, Habana Home, is located off the Ramblas near a square. The square was full of soccer fans, since a game had just ended. As soon as he stepped out of the taxi with his suitcase, he was surrounded by a group of men who frisked him and stole his wallet from a front zippered pocket in his slacks. He had used his ATM at the airport for cash and had not yet put it in his money belt, so they got the cash and the ATM. They also tried to take his small bookbag but he held on. Upon arriving at the hostel he was told that he was lucky he wasn't beaten up. I guess this happens quite often. Lessons learned: put the ATM/cash immediately back in the money belt and don't arrive after dark.
Marietta, Ga USA Sun 05/28/2006
Looking like a tourist
I agree about trying to not look like a tourist. Granted, sometimes it's not possible, especially, for instance, when you are pulling a suitcase behind you.
On my last two trips to Europe I printed up business cards with hotel addresses, metro lines and stops, etc. I was determined NOT to be standing in a subway station or on a street corner with some big map unfolded and looking like a lost sheep. It really worked well.
Richmond, Virginia USA Wed 05/24/2006
Eastern Europe Currency Switch-A-Roo
In Eastern Europe, watch out for vendors giving change in the wrong currency. I was in a rush and the vendor in the train station gave me Slovenia bills as change in Prague. Since I was unfamiliar with the currency, I didn't recognize it until much later.
Cincinnati, Ohio USA Fri 05/19/2006
Securing your luggage when it is not under your immediate control is good advice. We always carry a very light weight, recoiling cable lock about the size of a deak of cards. When we cannot secure our luggage to something solid we will secure the bags to each other and hide the lock body out of sight. That way if someone grabs one bag, the other bag is going to go with them and it should a surprise and, of course, the two bags loosely tied together is going to be difficult to handle quickly and smoothly. It is unexpected and we assume the first bag will be quickly dropped. And this works well if you have to store in an open area or need to move quickly. I know they are locked together so I can easily pickup both bags togethers. Not a surprise to me.
Centennial, CO USA Sat 05/13/2006
Almost all transport has some kind of pole or bar all over the place and The RS store and other travel places have locks with long enough cables to hook your bag in situations like that. I was riding a crowded train in Italy and we had to pile our suitcases by the doors, too. You'd have to make sure to be ready and have it all unlocked well before your stop, so it's no good for short hops- but at least it might keep someone from grabbing it...
USA Sat 05/13/2006
Watch your luggage
I was on the tube going to London Heathrow for my flight home. At the second to last stop before arriving at LHR, a man boarded the train with a huge bright green hard shelled suitcase. On this train, the luggage storage area is right next to the doors. He placed his suitcase next to mine, and it was so big it totally obscured my view of my bag. He had no idea who owned my bad since he had just boarded.
The tube makes two stops at the airport, first at terminal 4, and then at the main terminals. It takes about 5 minutes to go from terminal 4 to the stop at the main terminals.
When we arrived at terminal 4, the guy reached down and grabbed my bag. But I was grabbed his arm before he took a second step. He apologized and said he got our bags confused, and took his large green case. No one would ever confuse my small brown wheeled bag with his.
Had I not been watching him, he would have jumped off the train, crossed the tracks and have been on the next train out. It would take me five minutes just to get to the next stop. These guys probably ride in circles all day between Hatton Cross and the airport, trying to steal luggage.
This manouver could take place on any train or bus. So be extra aware of people who board soon before the airports. Be aware of people trying to block your view of you luggage. Be aware in situations where you must store your bags near the door.
USA Fri 05/12/2006
Beware Flowers in Rome
In Rome, watch out for the young men (who are almost 100% of the time immigrants from the Mid-East or North Africa) who carry around roses... they are in abundance and you simply cannot miss them! They work on flattery and hand roses to women (often young or 'beautiful') while dishing out a load of compliments. One such man literally gave me a dozen such roses and shoved them in my hands despite my disapproval, then he turned to my husband and demanded money for them (and he would not allow me to re-place them back into his hands after I had repeatedly said I did not want any). These are fine if you don't mind your lady accepting a stem or two and paying a few euro, but they can be pushy. I got wise and started, literally, shoving these men out of my way whenever I noticed them approaching :)
Bonnie Boglioli Randall
Seattle, USA Fri 05/12/2006
While in Venice my wife and I had a threesome of Italians approach us after leaving a store neer the main square.
The short guy on teh right in the picture flashed a badge of some sort real quick like and said he was the police and needed to know how much I paid for what I had bought, something to do with investigating tax fraud. My wife got the quick pat down and pushed away from the wall I was cornered on being as she had no pockets at all in her pants. =) I kept my hands over my pockets as I had just placed a handful of change in there after making a purchase. My wife starts making a ruckass and telling them to stop touching me as they were trying to work my pockets. I retreated back into the store I came out of were they quickly tried to finish up a botched job, they rattled off some non-sense to the clerk who looked scared and tried to tell me to make my wife be quiet. We ended up parting ways pretty quick and then I followed them and snapped off a nice picture after they noticed me (I wasn't trying to be sneaky.)
Smile guys, I'm gonna try and make you famous. =)
SLC, UT USA Sun 05/07/2006
I agree with the previous post that the LL Bean travellers pants are a great and secure way to carry your money. In my opinion, they are much more convenient than money belts. In addition to the "hidden" inner zipper in the front pocket, they also have a zippered + buttoned enclosure in the back pocket. I keep my wallet in the back pocket and passport in the front. They are also made of a meterial that does not wrinkle, is light weight, are more dressy (hence you blend in more) and dry very quickly. The only downside is they are pricey.
USA Sat 05/06/2006
Men's moneybelts, hidden pockets
Women usually have few, or minimal, if any, pockets in their trouser (slacks, etc), so this message is more appropriate for male travelers. Any moneybelt you have to access in public is awkward, at best (I've had to do it in an Italian train station and a Scots bank; however, the least cumbersome for me has been the belt-loop money pouch with its black or khaki loop looped around the belt and accessed rarely. Functionally supplementing that, I recommend one of the "traveler's pants" from LL Bean, Travelsmith or others, which contains a zippered, hidden (but pretty east to get to, zippered pocket inside one of the front pockets of the trousers. It's a good place for credit cards and larger denomination bills. I usually keep about $15 to $20 in local currency in the non-sippered part of the pocket for coffee, snacks, postcards, etc, and make currency transfers in my room or divert a small amount of cash to the open part of the pocket when I visit the cash machine. For those of us (most of us) who are right-handed, I've found the Bean right-hand zippered compartment preferable to the Travelsmith left-side inner zippered pocket, but one may also want or need to choose based on style and fabric. Some other clothing makers, by the way, provide zippered pockets that apear rather obvious along the outside seam of the trousers, and they seem to me to be much less secure.
Seattle, WA USA Fri 05/05/2006
St. Petersburg ticket scam
St. Petersburg is probably unjustly maligned for being full of tourist scams. I encountered none of the "famous" scams, but I did fall victim to a minor con I had not read about. There are kiosks throughout the city selling tickets to various theater and cultural events. The tickets are legitimate, but if the agent offers to sell you special "reduced price tickets", don't go for it. These tickets are valid only for Russian citizens, or foreigners with a student or work visa. Thanks to the craftiness of our hostess, we were still able to use the tickets. But, if you want to avoid the embarrassment of being turned away at the door, your best bet is simply to buy your tickets at the theater box office and pay the full non-citizen price. Even this price is still far cheaper than for comparable entertainment in the US.
Broomall, PA USA Fri 05/05/2006
Speaking English Scam
Martia, I hate to break this to you, but asking someone if they speak English is not a scam.
USA Fri 05/05/2006
camera stolen on bus
comment on the camera being stolen on crowded bus....so husband didn't know a strange hand going down the inside of his front jacket??
i would notice a hand in front of me at all times...especially if it was inside my zipped jacket...
USA Fri 05/05/2006
Even at home!
We are all prone to scams especially in major metro areas. I live in Montreal, I've been groped, had my wallet stolen, and saw a guy you know what on the metro (subway). All this in the last couple of years. Be watchful where ever you go. I've never been hit while travelling though!
MTL, QC Canada Thu 05/04/2006
Camera stolen on crowded bus
Hubby and I just returned from Italy. He carried his camera (a $350 model, nothing very fancy) in a small camera bag, which he kept zipped, the strap going over his shoulder across his front, and his jacket over it all, and zipped up the front. You guessed it...while on a very crowded Italian bus in Rome, some jerk got the camera. We didn't realize it till right before our stop. We confronted the man we suspected, who, of course, denied it. Hubby went out the next day and bought an identical camera, which he kept in the camera bag, which now had a TSC lock on it. No further problems. Oh...we didn't take any more busses, we used the white taxis for the rest of the trip. No problems there at all.
USA Wed 05/03/2006
ATM Machine warning
Just a quick warning to always be aware of your surroundings. My parents (pretty savvy travelers) are currently in South Africa in the middle of their 3 1/2 week trip. Yesterday they went to a cash machine and just as my dad went up to the machine, my mom said something and distracted him, another man walked up behind them, so my dad stepped aside to let the other man use the machine while he talked to my mom. After he was done (apparently pretty quickly) my dad stepped up for his turn, and the guy was still there, trying to "help" my dad. Well, in the end, the guy walked off with both the credit card and the pin number before my dad knew what had happened. He figured it out quickly though and went back to the hotel to call to cancel the card.
Lesson: do you need "help" at home with the ATM? Probably not, so don't accept "help" when you're in another country. Always wait for the area to be clear before starting your transaction. If something seems amiss, get someone from the bank to help you (another lesson, I ONLY use ATM's that are attached to banks, partially for this reason). Be aware!
Seattle, WA USA Tue 05/02/2006
Just as we exited the Tuileries Garden we were approached by a woman asking us if we spoke English. I answered no in German. She was totally confused and left us alone. I was wearing my bright white sneakers that mark you as an American, they are comfortable!! She just could not believe she had guessed incorrectly and left us alone. Brush up on your languages, it works. The woman spoke PERFECT english, I would have fallen for it if I had not read this website.
Buffalo, NY USA Thu 04/27/2006
Not all Parisians are trying to scam you when they offer their assistance. We were totally lost when looking for Rue Cler(my husband was absolutely sure he knew how to find it......). We stopped a woman on the street and asked for directions in our hesitant french. She could not explain the directions so we could understand so she told us to follow her for about 8 blocks. This was a cold and windy Sunday morning, she went way out of her way for us. When we reached Rue Cler we bought a scarf for my daughter. The shopkeeper taught us how to tie it the "French way" and then we left. He left his shop and came running after us because my husband had forgotten his gloves. He left his shop unattended to find us. After wandering the length of the street we wanted to go to the Rodin Museum. We had no clue how to get there so we asked a gentleman who had just arrived to purchase his breakfast. He said it was too complicated to explain so he would drive us there. He led us to his Jaguar, opened all the doors for us and took us for a mini tour of the sights only Parisians know about, then he dropped us at the door of the Rodin Museum. We could not believe how incredible the people we met that morning were to us. We were overwhelmed by their warmth and kindness. Maybe the key was that we choose who we were approaching, it wasn't someone approaching us with an agenda.
White Plains, NY USA Thu 04/27/2006
The scam artists are at it again at the entrance to Monmarte by Sacre Coeur. We went in March and a huge crowd of them were trying to put bracelets on people as they went through the turnstiles. I screamed,"NO", and they were so startled the entire crowd backed off and did not bother the tourists behind me either. They continued to mock me after I went through the turnstile by yelling NO!! I didn't care, I knew I had startled them and maybe saved a few other tourists from the scam. I am a quiet person by nature but when you encounter a scam attempt or a robbery attempt you have to scream loudly. They do not want you to bring attention to them and they will back off immediately. A tip-the tickets to get you through the turnstile at Sacre Coeur are simply subway tickets. Buy a few extra when you take the subway and save yourself from the pickpockets while you wait in line at Sacre Coeur to buy tickets. You can just fly through the turnstiles without stopping. The French police have to know this is going on at Sacre Coeur. I do not understand why they do not post a permanent policeman at the turnstiles, that would save so many tourists so much grief when they visit this fantastic place!!
NYC, NY USA Thu 04/27/2006
Neck Pouch/Money Belt
It is a toss up as to which is best but both must be used properly. One disadvantage to the neck pouch is that it can be very easy to access, and often encourages someone to use the neck pouch in public and thus reveal that they are using a neck pouch. While pickpockets and petty thefts are the major worries, muggings are still a possibility. we have friends who lost everything by pulling out a thick neck pouch to pay for something and a short time later were in a narrow passage way on a train when suddenly he was pinned to the wall by one hand and another hand removed the neck pouch rather roughly.
Treat the neck pouch just like a money belt and NEVER, NEVER access it in public. The idea is to keep it hidden !!
Centennial, CO USA Mon 04/24/2006
It's one of those that if you ask 5 different people that question, you'll get 8 different answers. The only way to know for sure is to buy both and wear them during a normal day. Provided that you have a job where that wouldn't be too great of inconvenience, of course. This way, you'll know which is right for you.
Chicago, IL USA Sat 04/22/2006
For Adam: I think most posters here will agree it's probably not so much which version but just that you always use the one you choose! Both versions have their comfort drawbacks- in the summer when it's hot the waistband can feel sweaty (I keep money, tickets, etc. in little ziplock baggies) on the waist-type style and for me the shoulder one is uncomfortable but has its useful times. There is another style that is like a large fabric wallet that can be worn through a belt loop, and has two loops for the purpose, one black and one tan. It then hangs down in back under your pants/shorts but over your butt! If you always wear a belt anyway, that style might be a good one. Safety pinning it did not work well (I don't wear belts), at least for me. They take up so little room and arent't that expensive- you could buy two styles and experiment on the trip, if not before you leave. Again, the important thing is just that you believe in the concept- I'd rather have some uncomfortable moments than lose everything. And most of the time you forget you even have it on. If your hotel has a room safe, I usually leave it for the day in there.
USA Fri 04/21/2006
I am traveling to Europe for the first time this summer and am wondering what type of Money Belt people prefer, the waist or the neck version?
Colorado Springs, CO USA Fri 04/21/2006
Just a second note to add my comments about being robbed in Rome.
Many tourists have made comments about the annoying people who are selling the roses or umbrellas in Rome.
Yes they may be pesistant and annoying but when I was robbed last week and yelling for the police or for anyone to help me they were the first people to respond.
In fact four or five of them came to my aid and helped me to follow the gypsies who had stolen my wallet. They even helped me to try and find the police.
I think these men are honest people who have a hard life and are trying to make money in any way they can. So it is not the most respectable way but I do not think these people are thieves (most of them do not force you to buy their goods)and they definitely impressed me with their genuine concern for my well-being!
Just something to keep in mind when you are in Rome. If you do not want to buy the cheap goods from these men fine but please do not view them as thieves or criminals just because they are trying to get money from tourists...who isn't?
So when they offer their goods atleast look them in the eye when you say no and treat them with some respect...I do not think they are there to steal from you without your consent.
Dresden, Germany Fri 04/21/2006
My boyfriend and I just returned from a wonderful three day trip to Rome. Unfortunately I made the mistake of not using a moneybelt and was robbed while doing a self-guided audio tour of the Roman Forum.
I had walked inside a small room and the girls who robbed me followed me in and blocked my way so I couldn't get back out.
I felt them unzip my purse and realized right away what had happened. I told my boyfriend and we confronted them (luckily he spoke Spanish) and they claimed they were just students with a tour.
I knew they had taken my things but they denied it and even went so far as to lift their shirts and unzip their pants to "show" us they were innocent.
I knew there was nothing much I could do but I decided to follow them anyway and sent my boyfriend to get the police.
On one of the girls got angry and started hitting me with her bag but I kept following them anyway and started yelling for the police as we were walking.
I was making a scene and finally one of the five girls took the wallet and threw it on the ground in front of me and they all ran off.
I was very lucky and learned a great lesson!!! Just be careful at the forum and good luck getting any help from the police...there were none to be found!
April 21, 2006
Dresden, Germany Fri 04/21/2006
We arrived in Paris by train at Terminus Est and walked to our hotel, which was prepaid through our travel agent. The desk clerk said there had been an accident in the room and that we could not stay there. HE HAD SOLD the room. We were "walked" to a nearby hotel. The asst. desk clerk carried two of our bags and said "follow me". When we arrived at the second hotel, we quickly registered and started to pick up our bags, only to discover that one of the bags was missing. We know that the asst. desk clerk from the first hotel did set the bags in the small reception area, but I think that when he left, he picked up one of the bags. No one entered the small reception area of the hotel while we were standing there. Up until two years ago there were cameras in the reception area of the Paris hotels, but the employees complained that the management was spying on them, so the cameras were removed. (This was told to us by the policeman who filled out the report which you need if you file a claim with your insurance company.
Arlington Heights, IL USA Thu 04/20/2006
Bizarre scam in Prague
When I was in Prague last Summer, a group of us from the hostel went drinking and dancing at the club Roxy's. When leaving at about 5'ish in the morning, my friend I was with had these two attractive girls (one of them was pregnant) walk up to him saying 'yeah, you're sexy guy' and then one of them proceeded to start humping his leg. We were so drunk we didn't know what to think, she kept saying 'yeah' and started slapping him on the arse. He backed away, confused and disoriented and I noticed his wallet was nearly completley hanging out his side pocket, and was a wad of cash was nearly falling out of his back pocket.
We didn't think about it again till another guy from the hostel the night after told us he got robbed by two hookers outside Roxys. My friend said started making the arse slapping gesture and the guy just broke down in laughter, and said 'yep that was them'
Sydney, N.S.W Australia Sun 04/16/2006
Rome & Taxis
Some more reassurance for those of you lucky enough to have travels to Rome this spring and summer! While we didn't use taxis for train station/airport transport (where it seems like most of the scams posted here have happened) tired feet on several really hot August days meant we used taxis four or five times when we just ran out of energy. In all cases we asked how much the fare would be to our desired destination (usually back to the hotel) and a price was quoted- never more than 10 euro. It helps to carry bills in smaller denominations and the coins as well, to be sure you can pay the exact fare plus whatever you tip. We always used taxis at the waiting stands we found on the streets. Other than the very obnoxious rose seller who made it difficult to enjoy the Trevi steps area, and some sad women (sometimes old, sometimes with a baby) crying with a cup outside of churches, begging (not at all agressive), we never had any trouble whatsoever. It's a big, crowded city, but I would take the same precautions here in the U.S.- including a money belt, etc. Actually, traveling to Europe has helped me travel smarter and safer at home!
USA Tue 04/11/2006
Wonderful Time in Rome!
Last month we traveled with a large group to Rome for one week, with a side trip to Pompeii. This was my first time overseas, and after reading messages on this board, I admit I was a bit apprehensive.
Well, I'm happy to report that we experienced no real problems. My story is very much like Rossle from Canada (see post below)... we remained aware of our surroundings, we watched eachother, and we used neck pouches, etc.
In addition to using neck pouches for money and passports, several women carried purses (over the shoulder or inside a coat), also without difficulty.
The closest thing to a "scam" I can report is the gypsy women and children that hang out in front of the Vatican. Indeed, we saw some interesting fake wounds, as reported by others -- as one lady approached, she removed her head scarf to reveal an impressive scalp "wound" worthy of a special effects reward! Creepy! :-)
The line to see the Vatican Museums was very long, and there was a nicely-dressed, young woman selling "special tours" -- the benefit of which would be to bypass the line. We said no, of course, thinking that she would take our money and run... but another lady from our group later reported that she took up the offer and had no problem. Oh well! Better safe than sorry, I guess! :-)
I'm not sure what to say about the taxis -- I don't know if any of us got ripped off or not. One evening, a small group of us took three separate taxis to and from the same location, each paying a different fare.... It wasn't a big deal, really -- the discrepancies weren't more than 10 euro -- but it did raise an eyebrow with me.
Also, base prices for taxis do exist and change frequently under the circumstances, and it doesn't do any good to dispute them... you'll just end up having to call another cab.... ;-)
On the last day, I heard a report that a couple of people from our group had been pickpocketed on a bus, but I can't confirm that.
Also, not a scam or anything, but something interesing we discovered -- toilet seats apparently don't exist in Pompeii -- be prepared to hover... ;-)
Laredo, Texas USA Mon 04/10/2006
Pickpockets in Paris
I had read the posts and warnings about the pickpockets but had to learn the hard way how good they are. Most of the posts are right on the money (no pun intended) - so pay attention to them. I was taken in by a gang 5 teenage boys while getting on the subway. I was tired from my first night 24 hours of travel. The major ingredient is surprise and distraction. A tall teenager struck me with his knee (my leg) very hard. When I turned to confront him they got my wallet from my buttoned back pocket. I didn't feel it but I quickly realized what was happening. I yelled out loudly and confronted them physically with my 17 year old at my side. They quickly backed down and handed over the wallet. I used the money belt after that. We had a wonderful time in France and recommend it to anyone with the above precautions.
Portsmouth, NH USA Fri 04/07/2006
You may not be paying up front for this "free" tour; however, the sponsors of the tour must be compensated either by commission of sales generated from the tour or Nuova Venier for their assistance in making necessary travel arrangements to the factory by boat. Nothing is "free" in Venice; it is our feeling that we were set up. The factory knew we were coming from a particular hotel where this "free" tour was offered and, of course, the sales staff latch onto consumers almost as soon as they walk in the door. Be aware of sweet talking sales people. They are quite clever at what they do.
Dave and Bonnie Boratko
Barkhamsted, CT USA Thu 04/06/2006
ATM US$-Euro exchange rate in Madrid
Not exactly a scam, but please take notice. Many ATM's in Madrid would offer you the choice of whether to bill your home bank account in Euro or US$. Some ATM's would say "no commission" (why would any ATM charge an exchange commission?). I noticed the exchange rates the ATM's quoted were consistently over $1.25US for 1 Euro (if you selected billing in US$). The official exchange rate was around $1.20. Don't fall for this one by knowing the correct exchange rate.
USA Tue 04/04/2006
Scam in Istanbul
The scam in Istanbul targeting single travelers is very real. I was at a cafe. I think the waiter spotted me as a potential target and called his buddies on his cell phone. Less than 15 min later, two men appeared at the table next to me, bought me a cup of tea, and insisted that I go with them to a no-name bar to hang out. Thanks to the warning here and other web sites, I recognized the scam and safely walked away from it.
New Jersey, USA Tue 04/04/2006
Wrong change at Vienna Cafe
At a well-known, very touristy, upscale coffee shop in Vienna, we had a check for about 14 euro. The stiff, robot-like waiter took our 20 euro bill and promptly disappeared. After we tracked him down and insisted on getting change, he threw 2 euros on our table and walked away. I will visit less touristy places from now on.
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 04/04/2006
The "slow count" short change scam could happen any where. The clerk at the Vienna train station palmed a 10 euro bill after he counted me the correct change.
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 04/04/2006
This could happen anywhere, but all of the European travel sites seem to focus on pickpockets.
A cab driver scammed us for fifty euros on the way to the hotel from the airport. He distracted us quickly after my wife put a fifty and a ten on the tray in the front seat, and replaced the fifty with a ten.
My wife thought she'd made the mistake, and gave him another fifty, then we tipped him!
According to the hotel staff cabbies know that travelers are vulnerable at the airport, they're tired and overwhelmed.
Count you money carefully, and hand it to the driver.
Otherwise Italy was great.
Durham, ME USA Mon 04/03/2006
While visiting grave sites at the Pere-Lachaise Cemetary in Paris, my girlfriend and I were "befriended" by a very knowledgable gentleman at Chopin's grave. He told us he worked there and seemed pleased that we spoke some French. He was quite friendly and said "I'll show you a shortcut to Jim Morrison's grave". Well, an hour later, and quite frankly after an excellent tour of not only the well-known graves but also little known facts, he led us outside of the cemetary to "Jim Morrison's favorite cafe". At this point we knew it wasn't free and we offered him 5Euros. He was obviously upset and asked for more "for his family". I said I was sorry and I wished he had been upfront about the cost. We could tell he was going to start a scene so we said "sorry" again and high-tailed it out of there. I'm really quite embarrassed about being hustled like this since I like to think I'm fairly travel-savvy (don't we all?), but I'd like to share it so someone else doesn't get hustled. After sharing my story with others I've learned of other "friendly tour" scams that have actually ended quite violently. I consider the 5Euros a very inexpensive education.
St. Louis, MO USA Sun 04/02/2006
I was due 2 Euro change from a taxi driver (after a small tip). He put a coin in my hand that I didn't recognize at all (maybe it was Lira?). When he saw me scrutinizing the coin he took it back and then gave me a 1 Euro coin. When I kept my hand out he finally gave me another 1 Euro coin and said "Ok grazie". We took many cabs in Rome and found them to be relatively inexpensive and the drivers, except for this one, very nice and friendly. I would recommend having small bills like 5's and 10's and 1 and 2 Euro coins with you so you can pay the fare without needing to receive change.
Please wear a money belt. Rick's belt was very comfortable and easy to use. Both my husband and I wore one at all times. My husband was targeted by a pickpocket at the Colosseum. He was walking about thirty feet ahead of the rest of the family. We watched as a well dressed gentleman (but with dirty and worn shoes) quickly fell into step next to him but without appearing to look at him. He was walking very close as if they were together. My husband was looking at the sites and didn't notice. We yelled to him to "watch out", and he turned and noticed the man next to him. The man kept walking next to my husband for a few more steps and then peeled off to sit down and wait for his next victim. It was nice not to have to worry about losing our valuables as they were tucked safely in our money belt.
The rose, tripod, and rubber duck (I have no idea what those were for and didn't want to ask) sellers were very aggressive around the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. We just avoided looking at them directly and said "no" very firmly. They seem to target women and children hoping to get them to take the item. They were more annoying than dangerous but they did make viewing the Trevi fountain less than pleasant. One seller with a duck wouldn't leave my daughter (15 y/o) alone even after I said "no" repeatedly. When my husband and father recommended that we get the police involved the seller said in very good, but sarcastic, english "yes, let's go get the police". Of course there were no police to be found and he left to bother someone else.
HONOLULU, HI USA Thu 03/30/2006
Pickpocketing scam in Prague
We had a pleasant stay in Prague, and learned quickly to get around on the Tram system. On our last night, though, we stopped after a concert for dessert along the #22 line at the river, and then waited for the tram to take us back to our hotel. Although the car was almost empty when it arrived, we found ourselves suddenly surrounded by "locals" as we got on the front door. The rather large men in front of us stopped right at the front of the car and refused to allow us to pass, crowding us all together like sardines. In a split-second, we realized this was a co-ordinated pickpocketing attempt. We had locked our valuables in the hotel safe, and since this was our last night, had very little cash - but even that was secure in our neck wallets, under sweaters and zipped jackets. Nonetheless, we began shouting at the group, changed position to protect ourselves as best we could, and got off at the very next stop. We lost nothing, but from now on, we'll be more careful about getting on through a less-crowded door, or even waiting for the next tram!
Chicago, IL USA Thu 03/30/2006
All Quiet in Rome
I just returned from Rome with my wife where we spent a wonderful, scam-free 10 days riding the buses, visiting all the major sights, strolling the streets around Termini Station at night etc. I wore my trusty money-belt and we both kept an eye on each other's back -- we encountered no difficulties whatsoever (unless you count the pushy rose-sellers, working the crowds at Trevi Fountain. I imagine things might be worse in the summer months when pickpockets and the like are able to use crowds to their advantage, but we didn't experience or observe anything criminal.
Personally, I chose to regard wearing a moneybelt and keeping a close eye on my backpack while in crowds as minor minimal precautions akin to putting on your safety belt while going for a drive: no one expects to get into a motor vehicle accident, but in the 1 in 10,000 chance that something happens, you'll be glad you did.
So don't too paranoid and enjoy Rome: it's very likely that the only way you'll be robbed in this city is by paying too much for that latte and a slice of pizza in the tourist-rap cafes around the more popular sights.
Saskatoon, SK CAN Sun 03/26/2006
Wear a moneybelt, UNDER YOUR CLOTHES,which ever kind you prefer (neck, waist). Be alert and do not underestimate the ability of the professional pickpocket. They can easily unzip you jacket, take your passport and be gone before you know it.
Charles M. Luther
USA Tue 02/28/2006
Fake Jacket Scam and Fake Fake Gladiators.
Well I have only read this after returning from Rome. On our way to the colesium we were stopped by the a smart guy in smart car claiming to be French/Italian and lost. He looked very well and was friendly. He said he was in Rome on business and as we directed him to where he wanted to go he handed over two jackets still in their wrapping he then asked for €15 for petrol as he was stuck and only had visa and we gave it to him. We walked away from that one very confused indeed, however, I would have paid €50 for the bodywarmer jacket he gave me because when on a tour of the Colesium I was only wearing a jumper and was frozen solid. That was until I put on my lovely red jacket and was really warm. Thanks to the scam man but we will know better for the future!!! Also avoid the Fake Fake Gladiators at the Forum, they can charge €10 per picture on your camera and get nasty about getting your money off you too, walk on by do not even look at them. The Gladiators at the Colesium were very friendly,good for a laugh and charge nothing at all.
Dublin , Ireland Mon 02/27/2006
Pickpockets in Milan train station
My wife, children and I had just boarded the train to Venice , Italy in the Milan station. The crowds poured into the train. I was two steps behind carrying luggage while my wife had our 7 year old by the hand and my 11 year old daughter walking beside her. My wife's daypack was on her back. Suddenly a commotion broke out in front of me- my wife was yelling at a young women who had had the misfortune of attempting to open my wife's daypack and was caught with her hand inside. My wife- all 5 ft 1 inch of her- yelled " thief" loudly in italian and began shoving the women into the train- as the women loudly proclaimed her innocence and attempted to back out of the train. Lesson learned- keep your day pack, purses etc securely in front of you with your hand on the zippers.Thieves target young families in distracting situations with many crowds and be alert. We thought we were but were almost a victim . Nothing was stolen as my wife had packed all of her items deeply within the two or three interior pockets of the day pack and valuables in our money belt. But it was an adventure and a good learning experience.
Chatham, NJ USA Thu 02/23/2006
Safe places to stow your passport
This really only applies if the weather is mild or cold, but I've found that the best way to carry my passport and important papers (and still have easy access to it) is in the pocket on the inside of my jacket. I've done this on two separate trips (one in May and one in January) and, since I wear my jacket all the time and keep it zipped up, there's no way that pickpockets can access the pocket and there's absolutely no danger of my dropping it. I generally do this on days where I'm travelling between cities (and will need to have train/plane tickets and my passport handy for officials).
Alternatively, on regular days, I like to zip my passport into the cover flap of my daybag (a mini messenger bag I wear diagonally across my front) where, even if a pickpocket was to slash the bottom of my bag, it wouldn't fall out. I keep a hand on the front of the bag when walking through crowds and, the rest of time, keep a firm grip on the strap and always make sure that it's in front of me. When I know I won't need my passport, I also lock it and the bulk of my money and my emergency credit cards into my suitcase, then lock the suitcase to something bolted down or too awkward to carry in my hotel room with a cable lock.
Credit cards, debit cards, large amounts of cash and important papers can also be carried in a money belt, though I've found that mine tends to unbuckle very easily and I'll end up with the straps hanging around my waist. Does anyone have a solution to this?
Overall, I'll just echo what everyone else has said - if you're careful and aware of your surroundings, you'll be fine. Have a great trip!
Canada Thu 02/16/2006
Rome Angels revealing the Demons
My tour guide from AngelTours in Rome told me this. The people who are begging are often italian not just eastern europeans. They use false limbs. You think they are standing close to you holding a child, under the clothing they are moving their hands towards your pockets. The next one is this, when you are standing in the vatican line, people come to tell you the vatican is closed, they are guides from tour companies trying to shrink the line. Not that we had to stand in the line anyhow but it is worth telling you all I think.
London, USA Wed 02/15/2006
The difference in bagel price is a sales tax difference. The vendor is charging the same price for the bagel. This has no relation to the table charge issue.
Virginia Beach, VA USA Fri 02/03/2006
Fee for a table
Just something to think about with all the talk about fees for tables in Europe - my favorite bagel place charges 98 cents if you want to sit down and eat your bagel, but only 96 cents if you get it to go......
Virginia USA Tue 01/31/2006
Blinking Eiffel Towers
My family and I spent a week in Paris this Christmas. As we were walking to the Eiffel Tower, an African guy came up to us and told us he'd sell us an Eiffel Tower souvenir for 10 euros. It was a cheap plastic piece of crap that blinks different colors. Anyway, we said no thanks and kept walking, but he followed us, calling out cheaper and cheaper prices. We finally bought it for 4 euros, just to get him to leave us alone. Guess what we saw at the nearest souvenir stand? The same exact light-up pieces of crap for 5 euros! Yes, we did save a euro, but if we had just bought it at the beginning, we would have paid double! Just don't buy anything from these people. PS If you miss your chance, don't worry. There are about 50,000 of these people under the Eiffel Tower.
San Francisco,, CA USA Thu 01/26/2006
Fee for a table
In the U.K., there are also different tax rates depending on whether you eat on the premises or take your food away. Food is generally tax-free, but if it is served and eaten on the premises, VAT of 17.5% is added. If you go to a sandwich place like Pret a Manger, they will ask if you are eating in or taking away. This will affect how your food is served (bag or plate) and also the price. At least the price displayed is the price you will pay. There is no tax added afterwards, which is bewildering to European visitors to the U.S.
Bristol, UK Thu 01/26/2006
Fee for a table
This is regarding the fee for a table indoor. I am a native of Belgium and last December while visiting my family, I discovered that several little restaurants downtown Brussels were charging a fee for eating inside instead of on the go. I was shocked and asked why the difference. It seems that they are 2 VAT taxes, if you buy a sandwich and take it with you the VAT tax is 17% if you eat it there, it is 20%. My brother who lives in France was also surprised as this is not a pratice there but it may catch on...
Portland, OR USA Thu 01/26/2006
Peruvian Travel Agents steal Thousands
My sister had made travel plans with Discovery Travel in Puno (Lake Titicaca area) which worked with Emanuel Reps in Lima to plan our Buenos Aires and Iguaçu trip from Lima. For three people, our flight and travel accommodations came to about $1,000 each. The agency asked for cash. They showed us our itinerary, we paid and got our receipt. The day of our trip they told us our package was canceled and we were stuck in Lima with no travel plans and $3000 US less! Almost 2 months have past and we have not be refunded the money. Beware of these travel agencies!
Puno and Lima, Peru, USA Wed 01/25/2006
paying for a table
Most places in Europe DO NOT add a fee for the table unless the table is outdoors. You should not pay for a table indoors. The exception is having a coffee in Spain, Rome, anywhere in Italy and who knows where else, where you aren't going to stay long, or they don't want you to. But to pay to eat a full meal indoors is a rip-off. I've lived in Germany for almost 4 years so I know this to be true!
USA Mon 01/23/2006
found a way to secure the zippers on a backpack (or any bag for that matter) I bought one of those keyholders that can be split in two (the kind that allows the parking attentant only one key) now you can lock two zippers together, and yet take them apart in seconds
walnut creek, ca USA Sun 01/22/2006
I liked this post, and actually am thinking of doing it when I go to Europe: Have Some Fun with Pick Pockets Before I travel to Europe, I buy a few cheap wallets at garage sales. I then make a few copies of an easily understood, single finger hand signal, & put one into each wallet. With all of my valuables in a neck pocket, I put the fun wallet in an easy to get at back pocket, & head out for the day. I've had two of them stolen, & would have loved to been around when they were opened!!! Steve Grand Rapids, MI USA 09/09/2005
NJ USA Fri 01/20/2006
Bird Dropping Scam
Bird droppings scam: People telling you there's "Bird Droppings" on your clothes and offer to help clean it.
Just say "I'm OK", and walk.
USA Thu 01/19/2006
Paying for a table
I've been going to Prague since before the days when English was widely spoken. I noticed this practice last year when a resturant near the castle fleeced a tour group of Canadians. It never was the practice until recently and it is not mentioned on the menu or anywhere else. It can be a very heavy mark up. Ask before you order. There are plenty of excellent, reasonably priced, places that wouldn't dream of adding this ridiculous charge to the bill. If Prague isn't careful it is going to fall off the tourist trail as fast as it came on to it. Also in Prague avoid the 'Becharovca' offers in restuarants and beirkellers. Its a very nice local green liqueur which pretty waitresses offer as it is 'on promotion'. Before you know it your glass is being topped up so fast you lose count, you lose track of time and you lose the ability to read a bill properly. It can be a very expensive promotion. I have always found that if you ask for slivovitch instead they realise that this is not your first time in Prague and you aren't a dummy.
Nottingham, UK Thu 01/19/2006
Paying for a table
Most places in Europe add to the bill for sitting at a table. This isn't a scam.
NYC, NY USA Wed 01/18/2006
English speaking travelers beware of pub/restaurants that add a "seating" or "table" charge on your tab. When asked why such a charge we were told it was for the table. Confused I reminded the waiter that I expected to be seated at a restaurant. We warned all other English speakers in the restaurant of this special "fee."
Silver Spring, MD USA Wed 01/18/2006
Italy Taxi Scam
I have traveled in Italy for a total of 6 months prior to this visit. I have been very aware of scams and have not had any trouble before. I even caught a pickpocket in my dad's pocket on a subway (he only stole a bag of vitamins). My husband and I returned home late at night from visiting his family staying at a hotel near the airport in Florence. We did not know the bus system well so they insisted that we take a Taxi. They called "Radio Taxi" which automatically costs more (they start charging from the time of the call). They man looked kind of sketchy, so I kept a close eye on the route. When we pulled up to our flat, he reached behind his seat and opened the door for me. I thought this was weird. I never had a taxi driver do this. I did not get out right away and he started tapping on the door like "get out". During this my husband gave the driver a 50 euro bill for a 28.28 charge. The driver then kept banging on the fee machine showing us the total of 28.28 and we kept saying just give us 20 euros back and keep the change. I did not see my husband give the taxi driver the money - he must have done this as he was averting my attention to the door. I look again at what he is banging about and he has a 10 euro in his hand. I think in my head that it was dark and my husband acidentally gave him a 10 thinking it was a 50. I should have known better because my husband is German and knows the bills (they are different sizes). He thinks he also made the mistake and we gave the driver 20 euro more. The driver was trying to get us out of the Taxi so if we caught him he would just drive away and come out on top no matter what. MY ADVICE - PAY WITH EXACT CHANGE COUNTING IT OUT AND STAY IN THE CAR SO THEY CAN'T DRIVE AWAY UNTIL YOU GET YOUR CHANGE!!!!!
Madison, WI USA Thu 01/12/2006
Feel like a bit of a mug for this but i was fairly intoxicated! While in Ibiza a couple of years ago i left a club early and walked back to my apartment. A group of 3 guys from the island came up to me clapping and smiling saying "ENGLISH! YEAA PARTY PARTY!!" i acknowledged the guy and he embraced me said "HAVE A GOOD HOLIDAY MATE" and that was that. Stupidly i had left about 60 euros in my back pocket. When i realised what had happened (he had taken it out) I ran after them and the guy turned round and smacked me one! Black eye for the rest of the holiday and looked like I was just another English yob. Just thought I'd share this.
London, UK Tue 01/10/2006
I just wanted to add another comment after reading a few posts about pickpockets, moneybelts and such. This summer I studied in Granada and afterwards traveled for a month totalling ten weeks in Europe. I had been on a Rick Steves trip before where I carried a moneybelt everywhere, this time, mostly due to the extreme heat in southern Spain, I hardly carried a moneybelt with me, even in the most extreme places like La Ramblas in Barcelona. I do not discourage carrying a moneybelt at all, I think they are a great way to keep essentials safe, but even more important in my opinion is looking confident and local. Knowing where you are going before you get there, avoid using maps in busy places or metro stations, dress like Europeans do and speaking at least a few words of the language you are surrounded by helps immensely.
My mother, who has natural bright red hair (I on the other hand look like I could be of almost any nationality) had the outside pockets of her bag rifled through while walking near Plaza de Sol in Madrid, and was almost scammed for ten Euro metro tickets in Paris because she looked like she didn't fit in. If you look aware and confident while traveling, you will be less likely to be hasseled.
USA Fri 01/06/2006