Last time I was in Rome, I personally watched Gypsies work over plenty of tourists walking by.
They use tricks such as making a cats cradle type rope with their hands and smiling and telling passersby to help them play the game. One person talks to you and the other proceeds to tie your hands up, take your stuff and run away...
I did see this, so please, have common sense and keep your hands to yourself...
The only upside was meeting lots of travelers in the downstairs bar as no one wanted to sleep in the disgusting rooms.
European Photo Gifts and Souveniers
I was mugged 1:00 March 9 right by Plaza del Sol, Madrid. It was more like attempted murder then a mugging. I walked out of a bar at approximately 1:00 on a Friday night and met a pretty girl in the plaza. "Hola, como estas?" I said. We chatted for a bit then I asked if she wanted to grab a drink somewhere. She said sure and she suggested a place right off the square. We walked up there, my instincts told me something was up, it was too easy. I have traveled Spain before, heard some storys from backpackers about robberys, but for some reason I was stupid and let me guard down. I am 6 feet, 210 pounds, with a mixed martial arts background. I got my ass kicked! I was paying attention to the girl- she said the bar is up here on the right. We turned the corner, I was chatting with the girl while we walked and this guy runs up behind me and grabs me across my chest with his right arm. The girl looks at him, gives him a look like shes scared for him and I look the guy in the eye over my shoulder and he is scared shitless. I grab his arm and say "HEY-cut the shit!". I was trying to make sense of what was going on. Then a guy comes running at me full speed from 10 oclock with his fists. I start to throw a punch at him, he backs off and a different guy came running at me from 12 oclock. I throw a punch at him(meanwhile the original guy is still holding me in a half headlock)-and a 4th guy runs up behind me from my right and grabs my arm as I punch. They got me on the ground- the guy on the right said to me in english "You are gonna die!". Last thing I remember I was throwing knees, elbows, punches from the ground.........next thing I know I awake from a deep sleep and I am on the sidewalk. They choked me out. I have no idea how long I was passed out. My wallet was gone, my camera with 2gs of photos was gone and they took my jacket. Luckily I still had my passport and moneybelt. They ripped my pants trying to get at it but could not. The next day my eyeball was cut and bleeding black stuff, I could not swallow, my neck hurt, my jaw and the right side of the back of my head. They beat on me when I was passed out and left me for dead in the streets- I think they might of thought they killed me. It was very brazen and in a public spot. I am usually a very savvy traveler but was so dumb here. As cautious of Madrid as I was, I spent 4 days there previously, knew the layout of the city and was coming off 2 amazing nights. My instincts told me something was up. I thought it might of been like the Budapest scam where you order a drink for a girl and the bill was $2000 euros but I did not expect her to set me up to be mugged.
The Madrid police were of zero help! I woke up on the sidewalk and ran to a policecar not even 50 meters away from where the assault occured. I told him what happened- he drove off. I ran up to a second police car, he wrote something on a paper. handed it to me, then drove off. I finally found a decent cop who drove me to the station and told me "I am sorry" about 50 times. Once at the station another officer would not fill out a police report unless I went to the hospital. I protested- he never did anything. Finally I said I will go find those punks and deal with it myself- I never found them. I was meeting friends in San Sebastian the next day and had no time to go to the US Embassy to report it. I have been calling the State Department daily and cannot get ahold of anyone. Very frustrating experience all around, I hope you can learn from my experience. I wish you all safe travels
I have stayed at both St Christophers and Wake Up! London hostels and found them satisfactory. They are definately not the Ritz Carlton but I had a good time at both. Great bars at each hostel opened late. Its hard to find a good bar opened late in London without a local guide or without going to a tourist trap. London is definately not one of my more liked citys but I digress. Wakeup had a great DJ too and is in a decent location.
As far as RyanAir- I love them but there are some caveats. Make sure your backpack is under 15kgs. Its 8 euro for each kg over- my pack was loaded with Hungarian wine and Polish vodka-it cost me 24 euros. Also check how far away the airport is away from the city. Girona is far from Barcelona and Frankfurt is very far away from Hahn airport. I have used Ryanair alot and the other airports I have flown to are close by.
quote:MADRID PLAZA DEL SOL WARNING
yes this area is really bad for pickpockets aswell
especially outside the two irish bars that are on calle de carretas or the next street over (slightly south east of sol)
a guy bumped into my brother at 2am in the deserted steet.
and my brother took maybe 2 seconds to say 'oi you've nicked my wallet'
i'd say looking back he grabbed the wallet threw it into a pile of binbags, where three guys where stood, He then cleverly walked around in a circle so we had our backs to the 3 others. who then picked up wallet and did one. All the while we are asking for the wallet back from the 1st guy. If we had man handled him, his 3 mates behind could have either joined in or ran
At the end of the day he lost Â£40, 20 euro's and a few credit cards (that where cancelled within 5 mins)
At least he didn't get stabbed..
Just think the next time you get mugged.
Is it worth it ?
YES its bloody well annoying but its better than bleeding to death
quote:Originally posted by wayfarers_all:
Robbery in Russia
Don't avoid small towns in Russia because of this post, but do avoid making the same mistakes I did. I was robbed in the small town of Rostov, about three hours north of Moscow, mainly because I ignored common sense and standard advice.
I was out with another American, and we noticed a group of Russian teenagers celebrating their high school graduation. We decided to join them and had a great time doing so. Unfortunately, this put us in an otherwise deserted park at about 2 a.m. It was around the solstice so it wasn't completely dark, but nobody else was about. It was obvious that we were Americans (no real way to hide that without much more fluency in Russian) and we weren't on our guard and let slip the names of the places we were staying. The majority of the people there were kids who were just out to drink and have a good time, but there were a few hoodlums in the mix as well. I was wearing a backpack and felt people trying to get into it and unzip it in the confusion. When they started to pick us up as if in a mosh pit at a rock concert, I knew it was probably a good idea to get out of there. The other American was staying at a closer hotel. Once he left it was about 10 minutes to where I was staying. I noticed three of the kids from the park following me. They got closer, and stupidly I stopped to let them pass. One of them came up, grabbed my jacket, and knocked my glasses off. In the confusion the others grabbed my glasses, jacket, and the backpack I was wearing.
Although I lost a few things, on the whole I was quite lucky. There was no violence, for starters, and my passport and all of my money were elsewhere on me. I think they thought my wallet was in my jacket. I had the good luck to be carrying my camera in my pocket instead of the backpack as well. My main losses were my glasses, my journal in my backpack, and a digital memory card with some photos. I told my tale to the desk clerk at the hotel, who explained that there's enough poverty in rural Russia (if I may generalize a bit) that you should really watch out.
This happened because I was out late, walking alone, and had previously announced where I was going and implicitly what valuables I was carrying to a large group of people. The fact that the majority of the Russians I met in the park were really cool to hang out with helped to mitigate the loss somewhat. The important lessons are to be discreet about where you're staying, carry extra glasses or contacts if you wear them, don't take lots of stuff with you if you go out drinking, don't carry anything important in your jacket, and report losses to the police. I neglected to do the latter and later found that my glasses could have been replaced for much less with a report of the theft. Above all, use common sense and don't let this scare you away from having interesting conversations with locals.
quote:Originally posted by Americanglobetrekker:
MADRID PLAZA DEL SOL WARNING...my instincts told me something was up, it was too easy.
Listening to those instincts is far more valuable than 210 lbs of MMA experience. Sounds like an otherwise fairly random incident that could've just as easily (or perhaps more easily) occurred in rural Michigan as the Plaza del Sol.
Still, you're right. Serves as a good lesson for those tempted to ignore their troubledometer for face time with some gal off the street. Happens to the best of us.
RE: Spain. I've also heard that Barcelona has a well-organized pick- pocket ring. Be careful of train stations in some French towns. Friends of ours were pick-pocketed at the Bordeaux train station while waiting in line at Paul's for a take away sandwich.
Same common sense applies to the long Metro hallways in Paris - or any major tourist sight where there's plenty of people around.
Young people come up to you claiming to be tourists around the nightlife areas. They are very nice and friendly and you have a drink and then they say we'll go to the clubs. I realized it was that scam where they stick you with an inflated bill at their club, so I bailed out before they took me to the club.
They got angry though, I offered them money for the drink at the bar, they wanted more, he grabbed my arm they were following me, they gave up after I threatened to yell out for the police.
They are very persuasive, so just ignore any Turkish-looking people claiming to be tourists..
Be careful in trains in Europe, this won't be the first or last time this happens...Little caution
quote:Originally posted by delara:
Bad Youth Hostels:
Wake Up! London - like its infamous sister in Sydney, this is the ultimate anti-backpacker hostel. After taking a little tour I found it to be dirty (no hot water, kitchen looked as if it had never been cleaned), unsafe (people being given keys to rooms they were not staying in) and the place to come to if you don't actually want to travel: i.e. expensive pub in the basement where you can hit on your fellow travellers until 3am, that is if you can see through the smoke. I found the staff to be rude and accusative and the management equally so. This is a definite no go!
I stayed at the Wake Up and know what you mean though I wouldn't be that harsh.
What got me is the floors, the floors go 5 (lobby),1,2,3,4, and 6 is the basement, hmmm.... who worked that out.
quote:Originally posted by Leif, God of Thunder:
Avoid RyanAir all together. There are a dozen hidden charges and surprise fees (this is how they recoup for selling seats for 99P). The staff are poorly trained and sour from being yelled at every day by irate travelers who got stung by the hidden fees. Their network is weak. In some cities they fly out of airports that are so out of the way and cost one so much to reach that one could have paid for a First Class regular plane ticket in the end for the same price, particularly after the hidden fees get factored in.
EasyJet is infinitely better. More destinations, less hassle, less sneaky charges, more chipper staff.
I second this, forget the Greyhound in the sky, also expect extra scrutiny from airport officials when flying on Ryan Air
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