Our Best Adventure So Far

A friend from university lives in Paris, so he and his wife were kind enough to pick us up at our hotel shortly after we arrived and dragged our weary corpses around the Marais for a few hours.  During dinner, they warned us about the clever Gold Ring Scam.

They said the gypsy beggars approach tourists, pretending to have found a gold ring. They ask if it belongs to the tourist and of course the tourist will say no. The gypsy then offers the ring to the tourist anyway, saying kind-hearted things like they have no use for it anyway and it would look so nice on them, etc. They only want a small donation for food in exchange.

XUP Jr. and I are doing our best to blend in and not look too much like tourists — we´re wearing lots of black and the requisite scarf and we walk really fast like all the locals (I know, I know –very cool). Nevertheless, there are times when we must consult our maps or guidebook to get our bearings. And, sure enough, whenever those come out someone swoops down in front of us and finds a gold ring on the ground right at our feet.

After a few of these amazing finds yesterday, I wondered what would happen if I were to claim that the ring was actually mine. So, in the afternoon as we were strolling down the Left Bank, a little punch-drunk from having climbed the Eiffel Tower, we pulled out the guidebook to see which bridge would be best to cross to get to where we were going next.

Immediately, a swarthy young lady finds a gold ring right in front of us and asks me if it is mine. I check my finger and say, “Why yes! Thank you so much!” I put it on and start walking away. She, of course runs after me, asking for money for the ring. I ask why I should give her money for my own ring and keep walking.

Then she starts yelling at me and punching me in the arm and grabbing at my sleeve to get the ring back. Then we hear shouts from half a block behind us. Turns out she works with a posse.  From what I can gather, they are frowing on her getting physical with me. So, I give her the ring back and she goes back to her gang.

We keep walking and suddenly XUP Jr. notices that the posse is heading our way rather quickly.

“Time to hoof it my child,” I say and we take off. The gang of gypsies also pick up the pace. We reach our bridge and that seems to be some sort of territorial border for them and they don’t follow.

We survive to tell the tale.

Okay, I know it was mean of me to mess with the gypsy. To make up for it I left a substantial donation in the bin by the hobo village — a makeshift collection of semi-permanent dwellings hobbled together against the wall of the Seine. (photos to follow when we get back).

Paris, by the way is everything they’ve all said it was and so much more.


PS: Postcards, for those of you who had requested them are all written and stamped and will be popped into the mail today. And Cedarflame: There was no bird poop on the Eiffel Tower for me to scrape off for you since they just re-painted it. However, I did pick up some of the paint scrapings from when they prepped the railings and will forward those instead, okay?


35 responses to “Our Best Adventure So Far

  1. wow, getting into a dust up with a gang of gypsies while in Paris. I doubt anything I have done in my life would top that.
    I applaud your desire to test the scam. I would have been curious also, and when I was reading your post I was thinking, what would the gypsie do if you said, “Yes, that is my ring, thank you.”and then walked away. I expect the places they carry on in this manner are no so well traveled by police, right?
    Now what you need is your own gang of tourists to back you up each time you keep the ring. At the end of your visit you could take your ring collection to a pawn shop, or gold buyer and exchange them for cash to cover the cost of your vacation. (did you notice the karat value of the gold?)

  2. I had one of those gypsies do the gold ring thing with me too, only I had not been warned about it. I just shrugged and said no it was not mine and kept moving. I knew it had to be a scam of some sort but I wasn’t sure what it was. Once they did it to me, I started noticing them trying it on other people and watched. That was enough for me! I would not have wanted a confrontation!

    What I want to know was how long did you wait in line for the Tour Eiffel and how long did it take before you were at the top?

  3. What a great story! A little crazy XUP, you are living on the wild side in Paris. I keep thinking that you did exactly what I would have told my teenaged daughter NOT to do, in front of your teenaged daughter!

  4. regarding BetsyMae comment:

    I was thinking something similar, BUT, we were not there so we don’t know what the atmosphere was like. While any situation may look innocent and non threatening, it could be very dangerous . . . I am certain XUP was listening to her gut feeling and acted accordingly after considerable contemplation.

  5. Great story, XUP! In all my travels, I’ve only ever had one run-in with gypsies, and that was in Milan, Italy, where a group of women and children tried to steal our suitcases. They even had big sheets of cardboard to try to shield their thievery from passers-by. Fortunately, the girlfriend I was travelling with was quite tall and strong, and she just started shouting and swinging her case. She whacked a few of them, and they scattered. No posse came after us, though. (Maybe the posse was still in Paris?)

  6. Dude! Newsguy Bob is right! You have to find a friendly gypsy to remove whatever horrific curse that has been placed upon you!
    You may grow a third eye!
    Or have unquenchable urges for les Big Mac!
    Or, even worse, vote Conservative!
    Find one! Now!

  7. Violetsky- Absolutely everything is delicious. The bread especially is to die for.

    Linsey – I dropped it in something that I think said post box today. It could have been a fancy French garbage…we’ll soon find out.

    Sean -We’ve been very low key otherwise

    OCDriver – I will remember to bring my gang from the hotel next time. We all flew in together.They’re all teachers, so very tough

    Smothermother – We won’t tempt fate any further, don’t worry

    MM – I had a very Parisien moment today on the metro when a nice man started playing Edith Piaf tunes on the accordian. Very emotional ride.

    Zoom – I’m not sure I’d want anything that was in her pocket, but I’ll bear it in mind

    Julia – the line for the elevator stretched to Versailles, I think, but the line to walk up wasn’t too bad — maybe 10 minutes and another 5 to get our bags searched and scanned and to get ourselves scanned. The walk we did in 2 parts. We stopped on the 1st floor for a drink and some photos and then carried on to the 2nd floor. That’s as far as you can walk.

    Betsy – No sense in mollycoddling them, right?

    Jazz – Ya, I’ll let you in on all the little secrets –like don’t try to have supper before 7:30.

    Dr. Monkey – Now you tell me

    LGS – People sent me their addresses and asked.

    Missy – No. Don’t tell me

    Pinklea – Nobody much likes them around here either. I met Linda today and your name came up by the way

    Bob – Scheiss, I never thought of that. Pray for me.

    Trashy – I’ll do my best,. The horror

  8. Years ago, when I was visiting Greece with my high school history class, I noticed lots of gypsies travelling in the boats that would take us to the various islands. The gypsy children would knock on peoples doors late at night hoping someone would open up and then..I’m assuming steal their stuff. So needless to say, we kept our door closed and locked for the night. You have to be careful with them as they will pick your pocket when you’re not looking and run various scams, like the ones you mentioned.

    They are not well loved or respected in Europe because of their criminal activities, but if they weren’t persecuted in the first place for being ‘different’, then they probably wouldn’t have to resort to such behaviour.

  9. I’m with Kim. Best story ever!!! I felt like I was running along beside you… Though I don’t know if I’d have had the nerve to try that.

  10. No harm will come to XUP (and XUPjr.). I’ve alerted the Gypsies not to mess with her. (Yes, I have that kind of power …)

  11. FYI……I’m sending a meeting request to book the entire morning of your return just to hear the stories. I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. wow, that’s quite a Roma tale. ballsy thing to do. glad you didn’t get jumped.

    watch out too for the guys who make woven thread bracelets too who will try to grab your wrist and tie it on for size and then pester you for some outrageous number of euros.

    try to get the Berthillon ice cream on the island side of Notre Dame cathedral. marvelous stuff.

  13. I met Chris here in Paris and she is just as lovely as you might have thought from her blog postings. Her daughter is lovely too. They are having the best weather ever this week although rain is predicted for this weekend.

  14. Cedar – Thanks. That means a lot to me

    Pauline – Gypsies seem to have been persecuted since the beginning of time.

    Kim – Ya, the living to tell the tale part is my favourte part too

    Alison – Meh, it was a nice sunny day and we were strolling along the LEFT BANK

    Woodsy- I knew I could count on you

    Finola – See my comment to Alison. The really brave stuff has been navigating the Metro. I’m quite proud of myself over that one

    Salayna – Make it the whole first week. Get in some hospitality

    Pearl – We’ve met the bracelet guys too. You’d think they’d come up with some new scams by now

    Charlene- No way? You bought one?

    SAW – I sort of felt sorry for her when she was getting yelled at by her posse

    Linda – And Linda is every bit as lovely as her blog suggests, too.

  15. Meanie – Not at all. She thought it was hilarious. As long as no one she knows is around I can do whatever I want.

  16. Great to hear about your adventures! You are SO bold to have claimed the ring. . . I *imagine* I might have done the same – just to see what would happen!
    Welcome back to O – it really is a boring city isn’t it? I often, on a bad day, muse over the circumstances that led us here and wonder how we went so terribly wrong. I used to claim we stayed because of the kids but Darling Youngest Son is about to head west to make his fortune and Darling Eldest Son has wings that he unfurls as often as the bureaucracy permits SO WHY ARE WE HERE? But as I say, that is only on the worst days!
    I couldn’t agree with you more about the service in stores- the Independants being even worse than Loblaws in my experience. Recently I had to wait for a cashier at a Loblaws to finish his text message on the Blackberry before he could start to ring me out – he texted again while my bill printed. . .

  17. I don’t think it was mean of you to test drive that move, just to see what would happen. I can’t believe they ran after you, that’s hard core.

  18. Jay – I think I’m leaving this city in the next year or so if at all possible, so I don’t blame you for pondering the same thing

    Leah – Only now am I hearing stories of how nasty the gypsies can really be. I probably shouldn’t have done that.