Sunday, November 20, 2011

Picking up a visa in Paris

Eric's visa came in to the Swiss embassy in Paris, so that was as good an excuse as any for a visit.  And really, it wasn't an excuse, because without the visa you can't get a permit, and without a permit there's a number of things you can't do (i.e. get a cell phone plan, etc).    We stayed at the Novotel in Les Halles, a very central location just about 7 minutes walk from Notre Dame (triple that time for walking with the kids, though).  The kids loved the breakfast buffet - and what's more fun than a breakfast buffet for a kid?  With croissants, all kinds of breakfast cereal, hot chocolate, fruit salad, and all kinds of other yummies.

We spent a lot of time in the playgrounds!   Our favorite was the one at Jardin de Luxemboug, where you actually had to pay to enter (2.5 Euros each for the kids. 1.5 for the adults).  They loved this spinning carousel there.

While we were in the tourist areas, scammers were all over the place.  While walking along the Seine, somebody tried the gold ring scam on us (bend over, pretend to find a gold ring, offer to sell it to you at a discounted price because they're in the country illegally and can't sell it themselves, of course the ring turns out to not be gold).  They were pretty easily put off by us just walking on and ignoring them - they must not have been real pros.  Kenny was very impressed by the whole thing after we explained what had happened.  It may be the first time that he's ever seen a real, honest-to-goodness "bad guy".  He went on and on about how it was just like stealing.

I wonder why the police don't crack down on this kind of activity.  I've read online that since most of the perpetrators are minors, they can't arrest them, but surely there's something they can do?  Even just to have a sign in English warning about scams at some of the tourist hot spots would be something.  I did see one man taken in by another scam, the deaf-mute one (a teenage girl indicates with signs that she's deaf, asks you to sign her petition, then at the bottom of the petition is something like "Minimum donation - 10 Euros").  It's usually kindly, good-natured people who get taken in by these scams - the ones who don't want to just ignore people that might need help, or tell them to buzz off.  And once you've done anything other than completely ignore them or rudely put them off, they know you're a potential soft touch and just won't let go.

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