Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Zakkenroller = Pickpockets!

Beware of Pickpockets!! 

It is very easy to be taken advantage of while in big cities by many different types of pickpockets. 

1). Seemingly Innocent Petition holders-
We encountered these young girls all over Paris! What they do is ask if you speak English- If they have a clipboard in their hand, say no and walk away quickly. If you do say you speak English, prepare to hear about some charity that they are gathering signatures for, and they will assure you it's free...until you sign it and they hound you for at least 5 Euros. Be cautious for when you say no though, because they will be persistent, and even group up on you. While we were walking near the Louvre, a group of six swarmed us! Make sure to watch your purse and pockets, because when they were asking us to sign, they reached into our pockets!

2). String Men-
These are usually men in their 20-30s. The ones I have encountered have a few different types of tokens, but always the same tactic. They will offer you their token (string bracelet, figurine, rose, bird seed) for free, if you accept it they will follow you around begging for money until you give them some. But still be cautious, because even if you say no thank you, they will try to put it on you somehow and claim that was you accepting and still ask for money relentlessly! 

3). Your typical pick pocket-
These are the ones you can't describe, because you never notice them- until your stuff is gone! The best advice for these is to be smart. Usually, they are just trying to scope out where you keep your wallet, how much money you have, or if you have credit cards so they can easily distract you and grab your stuff. After all, they are called "pickpockets" for a reason right? If you are in a crowded area, always keep a hand on your purse. If you are somewhere were you can get distracted, by for example taking a picture, don't leave your purse wide open or laying somewhere. If you are staying in a hostel with lots of people, bring a lock, so you can keep your stuff in a secure locker. 

There are countless ways to be scammed out of your money, especially in large cities in foreign countries. Basically the best tip I can give is to try to blend in! People who are usually targeted in these scams are unaware tourists. Also, do not be afraid to be rude. Usually if you show you aren't scared to speak up, they won't mess with you, since you could easily cause a scene and possibly them getting in trouble. After all of my times abroad, I have just started to firmly say no, and they will go right on to the next person. If you hesitate or slow down any, they will not stop bothering you, and possibly have some of their posse join to pressure you! 

As my dad always says, keep your wits about you! 

Friday, November 8, 2013


Baxter! You are my Little Gentleman- I will take you to Foggy London Town! 

     You have no idea how many times I sang that while in London! But to get the more important stuff, here are some tip about the beautiful city of London! 

     London has a very high cost of living, so it can put a dent in your wallet! If you want the full British experience while saving some pounds, find a Weatherspoons Pub. If you are there over a weekend, make sure to go on Sunday; They have a special where you can get a Sunday Roast complete with all the trimmings for 8 pounds! That means your choice of roast (chicken, beef, pork or vegetarian), with fried potatoes, veggies, Yorkshire pudding, gravy and a drink. I could hardly finish it all! 

     Another restaurant famous in England is Nando's Chicken! Nando’s chicken is affordable and an authentic British restaurant. They serve chicken from a quarter to a whole, marinated in their specialty sauces. And when you are missing fountain drinks and ice, look no further! Nando's has free refills and unlimited sauces to try on your chicken and chips (aka fries)!
     Last but certainly not least, make sure you get some fish n' chips! But be careful, they are addictive! A typical meal will cost you around 10 pounds in London; but the meal includes a huge fillet of fried Cod or Haddock and a generous portion of fries! Don't forget to cover it in salt and vinegar, and you will be eating like the locals!

     For transportation, I suggest buying an oyster card! It is re-loadable and has a set ceiling cost, meaning it will only charge you up to a certain amount even if you ride the metro all day long! The card is usable for any mode of public transport in London. You can pick one up at any train or metro stop! And when you leave you can sell it back and get 5 pounds back! This way you can travel quickly to highlights you want to see, like Buckingham Palace or Big Ben, and not be restricted by time limits or just one view because of a bus tour! 

     For a night on the town, look for student specials at pubs and clubs. There are over 300 clubs in London, so there are student nights every night, except for Saturdays. Shoreditch in the east of London, and Camden in the northwest are known to have cheaper costs than the heart of London! Never pay more than 5 pounds for entry as a student; Look for signs around town advertising for student specials, or just ask a local!

     So don't forget your student ID and an umbrella, and you will be ready for an affordable and unforgettable time in London!

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