Last week I celebrated the 2nd anniversary of my company in Paris. The Thalys train ticket were a very welcome gift. Monday I went there in the morning and strolled around Paris in the early afternoon. Thursday evening I had to leave. Paris is my city, I feel at home there and all the time I’m there people ask me where to go, so apparently I look a little French too. In my eyes there’s no bigger compliment than being compared with a Parisienne, they always look so stylish! The Thalys train is fast and comfortable. In 3.15 hours you’re at Gare du Nord. And you can bring more stuff in the train, with all the shoppings I did I couldn’t have traveled by plane! After a comfortable sleep, I took off the train. And that’s where the bad trip began. My business partner found out his suitcase was broken. And not only broken, also ‘investigated’ by some clochard. While unpacking, he discovered there were actually missing stuff. And a present was ruptured! Can you imagine, some unknown touch your stuff, your dirty laundry looking for something valuable? I was flabbergasted. The next day, when I unpacked. I started missing things too. Where was my camera? (I know, stupid, never leave that in your suitcase and always take the memory card out or sync your pictures before you go back). But also a (used) Chanel lipstick, Ray-ban sunglasses, a scarf and 2 ‘readers’ to log in with my banking account were missing. The things that are missing are not that valuable, of course it’s a shame that I’ve lost some pictures. But the idea that somebody went through your stuff, drives me crazy. So instead of some after-Paris-trip feeling I spend all Friday morning on declarations and contacting my insurance company to claim this robbery. Not what I had in mind at all, ‘cause I had a pretty scheduled day.
After the biggest shock I started spreading my experience on Twitter and soon I found out the Thalys train is known for tricks like that. Somebody mentioned that there are stories that people just walk in the train (with an empty suitcase, or even no suitcase) and just pick one, take it and leave the train. They know how stupid people can be when packing their stuff. Normally I’m fully aware of that, especially when I’m flying, because after you’ve checked in your luggage you can’t access it anymore. Now I took something from my suitcase, but afterwards I barely paid attention to it. The train was busy, so I’ve putted my suitcase in the luggage rack and brought the shopping bags with me to put in the luggage compartment above my head. You don’t think that people have other intentions with your luggage. Well, lesson learned, this will never happen to me again. I won’t leave my luggage unwatched ever again, and if that means that others aren’t sitting comfortable anymore, I’ll explain them why.
The things they took, I really don’t understand. They left my Droam in the suitcase, the new Cos dresses I bought and even my other make-up was untouched. The camera was quite old, the sunglasses a little damaged and the scarf I got earlier in Paris, they probably used it to wrap in the stuff they took. And what the f*ck, a used lipstick? Only because the Chanel logo was on it (probably that’s why they took my readers too, as they where packed in a MontBlanc sleeve. I haven’t slept very well lately because I keep dreaming about unknown stealing my stuff or hide themselves in my suitcase. This robbery got me more then I’d expected.
Trick the tourist
Tourists are easy victims. Easy to recognize, not paying attention to their stuff because they got enchanted by the new environment. In Paris you have to be very carefully at the (train)stations, where the gipsy’s beg you for money with sad stories while others try to pickpocket you. Also in the metro and on the streets pickpockets are everywhere. In Barcelona, the Ramblas is known for their smooth criminals. In bad English they try to help you ‘because there is some bird on your back’. One of them spoiled something on your back, another offers you a tissue and to help you clean and when you hand him your jacket, they empty your pockets or even worse, the third takes your bag in the seconds that you are focused on the dirt instead of your stuff. Both in Montmartre (Paris) and Barcelona they have the tric with the balls. You have to bet underneath which mug the ball is. You think there are a lot of participants and you can earn big money. But all of the people standing around you, just want one thing. Fool you. You always loose your money, or one of the group tries to rob your stuff while you play. Besides all the trics, we leave our telephones, money and keys in our pockets or put it down on the table while having a drink. Be aware, when young kids all of a sudden show up and want to ask you questions or ask for your help. While they put the information on the table, they try to steel what you spread out. Be aware, watch and don’t show of your expensive telephone, camera etc. Funny thing is that Easytobook wrote a whole blog about tourist scams this week. Never thought it would happen to me as a frequent traveler, but it happens to everybody if you give them a change.
I hope this blog and the tips Easytobook gave, helps you to travel safe and not scammed! One last tip: leave everything you don’t need when strolling down the streets in your hotel. Also leave an extra credit card and identity paper over there, so you have some backup if you got trapped. It could ruin your whole trip and it takes quite some time to arrange insurances and stuff. All time you could have spent wandering around and discover your destination!