I’m just back from a three-month-long exchange programme (STEP) from ESC Toulouse in France. And I was fortunate enough to roam most of Europe, barring the eastern fringe. So what if it was more like city-hopping and living like the nomads – there’re great many stories to tell! So presenting for your reading pleasure, “The Dummy’s Guide to Getting Ripped-Off in Europe!” (*)
- Lose your baggage. Lose your baggage with currency in it. Lose your baggage with currency and irreplaceable EURail pass. Lose your baggage with currency, irreplaceable EURail pass and laptop. Lose our baggage with currency, irreplaceable EURail pass, laptop AND passport. Possibly even spend the night in jail as you were drunk, drugged and crossing the border when this happened.
- Get your loaded EURO Travel Card stolen from the front pack of your jacket that you were wearing in the night train; discovering this early in the morning, but not reporting the theft to either the bank or the police only to have the entire card cleaned off by the thief by the time you report it in the night – because hey, sightseeing comes first!
- Give a 100 Euro note to the waitress as tip. Because she was hot. And you have no concept of spreading out your expenses over the entire duration of the trip.
- Give four 50 cent coins to the well-dressed lady request “change” for 2 Euro, when all she was really doing was begging. And realizing what just happened after she has made-off with your “change” and the original 2 Euro. Repeat twice.
- Nice suited businessman driving a decent mid-sized car asking you for directions. You have a map. You show him the way. Said businessman is happy, decides to give you a tee-shirt as a present. “Hey, whatever man! You are awesome!” Business man is an Italian fashion designed based out of Paris, on a business trip to Rome. Small talk about how Italian fashion is hot back home. He decides that you need more presents – gives you a nice leather jacket that supposedly costs 1000 Euro. Even warns you not to sell it. Because it is a present, after all. And now that you have so many presents, he gently asks if you would like to give him some hard cash to buy some gasoline, as he gambled all his money away last night at the casino! I mean, he’s practically giving you 1000 Euro merchandise for only a 100 Euro. Alright, you don’t have that much? Well, maybe 50 Euro? No? Damn you tourists! Give me my presents back!
- Travel by train to a country where the EURail pass is not valid. Despite knowing this in advance. Pay the hefty fine. Maybe buy a ticket on-board after paying the fine. Or just bribe the ticket controller!
- Buy a lot of souvenirs in the best looking shop that says it is running a 50% off sale. Only to discover later that the store next door is selling the same souvenir at half the price – before the discount!
- Pay 100 Euro donation for the development of street children to a random guy on the street carrying a pad and a faded letter identifying him as the competent authority for collecting said donation. Or maybe for the cause of the blind and the deaf. Or maybe for AIDS awareness? What? You have no heart? This for a good cause!
- Give your passport to the friendly policeman on the deserted street without checking for any ID. Then give 400 Euro to said “policeman” to get your passport back!
- Book train tickets and make hostel reservations, but don’t travel. Alright, book non-refundable train tickets and one-night charges for cancellation hostel reservation, but don’t travel.
And many many more! When you send me one million Euro for the unabridged full version book. 90% discount on orders received within one minute of your reading this post. Come on, pay up. I know you want to!
(*) = Many of these stories are real. Of course, I was fortunate enough that none of them happened to me. Well except for the very last one. Don’t ask!