Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Of pick pockets on vacation

Courtesy of NanU and her travel blogging of late as well as Mark's memories. I am reminded of my trip backpacking through Europe when I graduated from college, and the pick pockets I encountered along the way. Before I begin, I must admit this was 1989, and I have since packed away my journal, and can' quite get the order in which these occurred, but they all did occur during the summer of '89 while I traipsed across the Continent.

The overnight train from Nice to Madrid:
I was sleeping in a compartment when I was unceremoniously kicked out by a family who wanted the compartment for themselves, and had sleeper reservations. So I sat near the door, in a walkway and slept with my back resting on my fanny pack, and backpack. This is about the time that the quick releases came out on fanny packs, but I'd opted to stick with my standard buckle (like a belt). I woke to someone trying to release the quick release which didn't exist. When I opened my eyes, a man's face was inches from mine. He tweaked my nose, winked and walked away. I was left wondering if I had dreamt it, but soon realized what was really going on. Then I jumped up and started waking everyone in the surrounding area. All of the backpackers with fanny packs had been relieved of their fanny packs, money, passports, airline tickets, you name it. By the time anyone figured it out, we'd stopped and the pick pockets were long gone.

Roma - Round 1:
I'd heard of the pickpockets of Rome before leaving on my trip, and so was hyper aware of those around me. When I visited the Coliseum, I bought a bread and cheese and sat myself a bit uphill from the action to witness all of the children working the huge tourist crowd. It was mesmerizing, and a good reminder to watch myself. I was stunned that these couples would pull out their wallets to give money to the beggars, only to never have the chance to get the wallet back to its place in a pocket, purse or fanny pack. Often the couples would not even realize what had happened, and wander off to the next destination.

Roma - Round 2:
During the second sweep of Rome (a few weeks later), I met a foursome of men from Northern Ireland, who'd been stripped of all cash, passports, airline and train tickets, Euro rail and Youth Hostel passes while chasing down and being run into by the beggar kids in the streets. They were biding time until their families could bail them out, but they were also in pretty good humor considering the circumstances.

I just consider myself very fortunate to have made it home safely, and not have been robbed.
Note - all images from google image search, none are mine.

1 comment:

Bagman and Butler said...

We may have started a blogload of thievery stories and memories. I love the train picture, incidentally. And what gall the pickpockets have.