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Old 03-14-2015, 11:54 PM   #21
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If you're a classic rock fan, look up Jim Morrison's grave in Paris.

I was fortunate to tag along with DW on a business trip to Paris a couple years ago. I used the Rick Steve's travel book for Paris and it included many walking tours. My highlight of the trip was an all-day Normandy D-Day Beaches tour. Caught the early train out to Carentan and hit both US-sector beaches plus Pointe du Hoc. A-mazing!

Another highlight was being able to experience the "lost ring" scam. This was on my way to the Military History museum & Napoleon's tomb. I'd read about it & others and it was fun to watch it develop, knowing all along how it'd resolve. Thanks to the Russian I took in H.S. I always have a great out that befuddles most scammers, door-to-door magazine subscription sellers, and pollsters alike: "Nyet, ya ne ponimayou tebya!" (No, I don't understand you!)
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Old 03-15-2015, 06:18 AM   #22
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I do/will carry a purse, I travel with my iPad mini and like to have it with me most of the time. I don't carry any money or cards or IDs in it. In the past I've carried a bulkier shoulder purse tucked under my arm that can also hold a jacket, scarf, umbrella, etc. it has one zipper on top that tucks under the arm and no outside pockets. I don't put it down.

We carry our IDs and most of our cards and cash in undergarment wallets. Anything in our outside pockets - just stuff needed for the day - is attached with lanyards.
I think what I'm trying to describe here is a called a tote bag, except that it zips closed. Apparently carrying a nice version of that kind of bag is common among Parisiian women. I don't think my old "Amsterdam" bag is going to cut it.

I will be wearing scarves too. I usually do in Europe.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:16 AM   #23
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I think what I'm trying to describe here is a called a tote bag, except that it zips closed. Apparently carrying a nice version of that kind of bag is common among Parisiian women. I don't think my old "Amsterdam" bag is going to cut it.

I will be wearing scarves too. I usually do in Europe.
I've heard of backpacks being stolen along with purses. I think the thieves target the classic American woman's purse because of the habit of women to carry their entire lives in it. The male equivalent is the wallet in the back pocket. The pickpockets know where the most likely profitable grab is going to be.

Americans stick out in Europe and there's no way we can disguise it without buying new wardrobes and avoiding tourist sites.

DW and I were on a river cruise and 3 out of about 60 couple were pickpocketed before the cruise left port. I have no clue how many were hit before their 3 days in Paris were up.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:21 AM   #24
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I've never had issues with pickpockets -- I'd like to think that's because I'm so alert :-> but it's probably due to looking like a bum or student.

We also use the hidden money belt and then a separate wallet with just cash for the day. Our backpacks/bags have a feature where the zippers can be clipped shut to make it harder for someone to open it without you noticing -- one can also use twist ties for this purpose.

At restaurants/trains etc, I never lose contact with my bag. I have the straps wrapped around my leg so I will notice if someone tries to take it or i sit with the bag on my lap. Haven't had to wear the backpack on my front (I'd try to avoid someplace that crowded).

At my old mega-corp (well known SV company) they told people not to travel with company logos showing as that would make you a target. Kinda stupid since they gave things like branded backpacks.
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Old 03-15-2015, 09:04 AM   #25
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I carry a little bi fold wallet with a chain, secure it in my purse, then tuck it in a purse pocket. Someone can cut my purse but the wallet won't fall out. If I don't want to carry a purse I hook the chain to a belt loop and tuck it in my pocket.ImageUploadedByEarly Retirement Forum1426428277.246890.jpg

I think the most useful tip I read and used was to take a bicycle cable and lock. We used it to secure our luggage to the railings on trains so we wouldn't have to worry about dozing off. We also used in to lock our belongings in the armoires (we wrapped the cable thru the door handles and padlocked it tight) in the older hotel rooms. Our hotel room was broken into in Geneva and they got absolutely nothing because we locked the armoire.


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Old 03-15-2015, 09:39 AM   #26
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I've heard of backpacks being stolen along with purses. I think the thieves target the classic American woman's purse because of the habit of women to carry their entire lives in it. The male equivalent is the wallet in the back pocket. The pickpockets know where the most likely profitable grab is going to be.

Americans stick out in Europe and there's no way we can disguise it without buying new wardrobes and avoiding tourist sites.

DW and I were on a river cruise and 3 out of about 60 couple were pickpocketed before the cruise left port. I have no clue how many were hit before their 3 days in Paris were up.
Those are good warnings.

Sure. I know we'll stand out as tourists. We take our precautions.

We have a collapsible daypack that we sometimes use to carry jackets, umbrellas, a guidebook. I guess this and my shoulder bag will be our decoys.

And I also carry a camera bag.

We noticed in Germany and Austria no one ever guessed we were American. We got some weird guesses. Australian? Irish? We don't dress like "normal" Americans even here at home.
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Old 03-15-2015, 09:42 AM   #27
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I carry a little bi fold wallet with a chain, secure it in my purse, then tuck it in a purse pocket. Someone can cut my purse but the wallet won't fall out. If I don't want to carry a purse I hook the chain to a belt loop and tuck it in my pocket.Attachment 21298

I think the most useful tip I read and used was to take a bicycle cable and lock. We used it to secure our luggage to the railings on trains so we wouldn't have to worry about dozing off. We also used in to lock our belongings in the armoires (we wrapped the cable thru the door handles and padlocked it tight) in the older hotel rooms. Our hotel room was broken into in Geneva and they got absolutely nothing because we locked the armoire.


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We have lanyards on everything. And we do take a sleek metal cable and lock in case we need it, although we haven't yet tried locking the armoire with it!
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Old 03-15-2015, 09:56 AM   #28
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We have lanyards on everything. And we do take a sleek metal cable and lock in case we need it, although we haven't yet tried locking the armoire with it!
We have a helluva job getting hand grenades through customs...but once we explain that they'll only be used for booby-trapping our luggage........
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:00 AM   #29
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3) Visit the Paris Catacombs. It is both humbling and fascinating. Six million souls, all alike in death. The Resistance hid out there during WWII. The entrance is at Place d'Enfert-Rocherau. Catacombs of Paris

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Old 03-15-2015, 10:12 AM   #30
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We have a helluva job getting hand grenades through customs...but once we explain that they'll only be used for booby-trapping our luggage........
LOL!
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:14 AM   #31
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I'm still a little nervous about being approached by the fake police. Apparently also an issue in Amsterdam.
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:43 AM   #32
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DW and I had an absolutely great time in Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice) a couple of years ago. We had no problem with local thieves. Maybe it's our NYC-childhood upbringing, or just good ol' fashioned luck.
But we did take precautions: we always walk with a brisk "confidential air" pace, and we did our best to stay vigilant and simply eye the crowd ahead of us. I carried minimal cash and one credit card. DW carried a different card ......and we had a third card back in our hotel room safe.
It never happened, but we would not have let anyone approach us, ask for directions, etc.
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Old 03-15-2015, 11:30 AM   #33
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Yeah you can binge on museums with the Paris Visit museum pass. You have to try to hit as many museums as possible in a set number of consecutive days. But the line skipping is worth it. It's especially important at popular venues like the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Orangerie, etc.

Some passes come with combo metro tickets but those tend to be more expensive. Might be better to get a separate metro pass or a carnet of 10 tickets at a lower price. Metro system is great as all businesses list their location in relation to the nearest metro station.

However, you can see more by walking and taking buses, which use the same tickets and passes. Only tricky thing about buses is that it's harder to tell where they go. So nowadays, you can get an app which will use your location and you enter the destination and it will show you options to get there, including on buses. But you need data for your phone.

I binged on museums the first couple of times I went to Paris and other European cities. Even sat down to read the little placards explaining some of the works, artists and so forth. But now, if I go to museums, it's more to appreciate the architecture. They've poured millions into restoring these places and many have historic import like the Louvre being a palace of several hundred years old.

First time I went, in the '90s, there were few galleries which were air conditioned. On hot summer days, they opened the windows which overlooked the Seine. This was before the IM Pei pyramid. Now you have the beautiful courts with the statues and then the whole square with the pyramid heading out to the Tuileries. There's a cafe with a balcony that overlooks the pyramid and the stately buildings.

Orsay used to be my favorite, for the openness and the renovation they did. The Rodin museum and Invalides are also worth seeing. In fact, if getting a museum pass, it's a good idea to first go to a museum which isn't as crowded to buy the pass so that you can use the line skipping in more crowded venues. Invalides is a good place to get the pass, or at least, it used to be. It stores the remains of Napoleon and the gold dome shows the splendor of Parisian architecture.

As for parks, Jardin de Luxembourg is great in the summer. Of course Champ de Mars with view of the Eiffel Tower is great too.

In Rome, most of the places mentioned are great. The squares or piazzas are also big draws. Spanish Steps and the Piazza d'Espagna is a nice area. For day trips, Villa d'Este is nice.
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Old 03-15-2015, 11:34 AM   #34
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A lot of people wear their backpacks in front. In the metro, you'll often be standing right up against other people in packed trains.

But some of the scams you hear about are like someone in front of you appearing to fall down as people exit the train and someone from behind bumps into you, which is when they take something.

Pickpocketing is a bigger problem in Italy and Spain, where there are motorcycle thieves.
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Old 03-15-2015, 12:01 PM   #35
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I pretty much keep everything in front of me whenever stopped - like on train, escalator, waiting for train, ticket counter, hotel lobby. DH does the same. We avoid/walk away/ignore anyone approaching us.
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Old 03-16-2015, 10:45 PM   #36
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A team of pickpockets once fell at the foot of an escalator in front of us in Paris. Everyone coming down the escalator were falling as they were picking pockets. Now we:
1. Don't carry any billfolds--just one ATM card and little cash not in our pockets.
2. Wife walks close behind me in tight places, and she's not carrying any $ or cards.
3. Americans are too nice and cordial to those that get close to them. I'm now a complete a$$hole to anyone that gets within 4' of us. At 6'3" and 230 lbs., pickpockets don't mess with me.
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Old 03-17-2015, 05:51 AM   #37
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Americans stick out in Europe and there's no way we can disguise it without buying new wardrobes and avoiding tourist sites.
We lived in Paris for several years and still spend a month or so each year.

It's the brand-new white sneakers and T shirt with logos that are the giveaways. Black sneaks and a collared shirt; we'll think you're a German tourist!

Pickpockets are the most skillful we've seen; even DW got hit despite all her awareness. Watch out for the "look, I just found this ring on the sidewalk" scam.

With only 3-4 days, we suggest avoiding the Louvre (too long to wait and too big to see much) unless you just want to see the Mona Lisa. Try the Musee D'Orsay; a few hours and you're done; buy and print tickets online.

Every hour on the hour after dark, the Eiffel Tower has a great light show that lasts 10 minutes. Free!

Ste Chapelle is nice on a sunny day and not very crowded, just a block from Notre Dame.
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Old 03-17-2015, 07:17 AM   #38
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Another vote for Sainte Chapelle. Our daughter (now 14) had been to Paris three times by the time she was 7. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember any of those trips.

Now that we are retired, I plan to spend lots of time in Europe...months, if possible.
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Old 03-17-2015, 08:22 AM   #39
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We lived in Paris for several years and still spend a month or so each year.

It's the brand-new white sneakers and T shirt with logos that are the giveaways. Black sneaks and a collared shirt; we'll think you're a German tourist!

Pickpockets are the most skillful we've seen; even DW got hit despite all her awareness. Watch out for the "look, I just found this ring on the sidewalk" scam.

With only 3-4 days, we suggest avoiding the Louvre (too long to wait and too big to see much) unless you just want to see the Mona Lisa. Try the Musee D'Orsay; a few hours and you're done; buy and print tickets online.

Every hour on the hour after dark, the Eiffel Tower has a great light show that lasts 10 minutes. Free!

Ste Chapelle is nice on a sunny day and not very crowded, just a block from Notre Dame.
Maybe because we don't wear t-shirts or white athletic shoes or white socks or fanny packs or shorts or even jeans. They know we're tourists, but don't catch that we're American.

Wow, sounds like we have to avoid anyone talking to us in public areas!

I'm looking forward to the light show. We should be able to see the tower from our hotel.
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:07 AM   #40
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AAA sells a purse with metal clips that lock every zipper and a metal cable in the strap. I wore it crossed over my shoulder, never hanging off of my shoulder all through the worst pickpocket areas in Europe (Athens, Rome, Barcelona) and had no problems. I also kept my hand on the purse at all times. We left most of our money and our passports locked in the safe on the cruise ship. Carried our cruise pass, one credit card between 4 of us, and some Euros. We also photocopied the photo page from our passports and kept that in the underclothing wallets that DS and DH had. No one even tried to pick our pockets or steal the purse.

I love the decoy wallet idea. Now I know what to do with expired gift cards! Awesome!
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