Beneath the Eiffel Tower

When you go to Paris, you visit the Eiffel Tower. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity. It’s hard to imagine returning home and having this conversation:

You: So, did you see the Eiffel Tower, the Iron Lady?

Me: Well, um, no.

You: What?! Why not? Did you know that the Eiffel Tower stands 324 meters tall including the antenna (that’s 1063 feet!), and it weighs 7,300 tons, and that until 1930 it was the tallest structure in the world?

Me: Actually, no, I didn’t know all that.

You: And did you know over 200 million people have visited the Tower, and that you can see for about 42 miles from the top?

Me: Nope, didn’t really know that either.

You: I’m just dumbfounded. I can’t believe you went to Paris and didn’t go there. You’re such a loser.

Me: Yeah, I guess so.

See, I didn’t want to have that conversation, so Herr Schneider and I did, in fact, go to the Eiffel Tower.

(I decided to refer to my traveling companion as Herr Schneider. Carrie, over at The Write Transition, refers to her guy as Mr. Rubin, Renee at Life in the Boomer Lane has a better half known as “now husband” and a nice woman over at Blogdramedy calls her man The Mister, so I needed a unique name for my person without giving up too much information about him. Herr Schneider does not like his personal information blasted all over the internet, necessarily, so I need to protect him. Since his “people” came over on the boat (generations ago but still) and both sides hail from different areas of Germany, it is right and fitting to use “Herr”, I think.)

Anyway, Herr Schneider and I went to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower and this is what we saw:

Then we got up our courage, waited in line for an hour, and held our breaths (it was a hot day) on a very crowded and claustrophobic elevator and were lifted to the “third” floor which is a hell of a ways up there. This is what we saw:

Upon our return to earth, we were hot and thirsty, and Herr went to buy a bottle of water, while I looked for a place to sit. Herr took his wallet out of his front pocket (NO! He wasn’t wearing that front butt money belt thing he bought), removed ten Euros and returned the wallet to his front pocket.

Guess what happened next? Right. Wallet turns up missing. Seems a guy in the next line had seen where the money was and relieved Herr Schneider of it, along with a driver’s license, miscellaneous credit cards, a debit card, and probably an AARP card.

There we were, a long, long way from our hotel, with ten Euros. I had nothing on me because Herr Schneider is my Sugar Daddy. I carried no purse, since those things are likely to get ripped off. Har, har! But a scan-proof wallet carried in a front pocket is surely safe! Well, it would appear, not so much.

Herr Schneider became visibly upset, and I quickly realized that it was my turn to be The Strong One. So as he sat there, head in hands, I tried to console him, tried to think what to do.

We went to the Eiffel Tower police and they informed us that they had no computer (what?) and that we needed to walk for twenty minutes to an actual police station. We started walking, and an hour later (why does everyone underestimate the time it will take when walking?) we reached the address of the police station but couldn’t immediately find it because it was located underground. Okay, whatever.

One person spoke English, sort of. See, those French lessons I had didn’t take too well. All I could do was ask where certain streets were, and then I couldn’t understand the answer anyway. Ou es la Rue de Fabert?

We filled out a police report, looked at some mug shots, couldn’t identify our villain and prepared to take off walking towards the hotel. I wish I’d had the foresight to take pictures in the police station, but I was too upset and thought I’d never laugh again. Not true. It was a fun, dismal place and the people were nice. We got ripped off, say we. Yeah, yeah, say they. Not unusual here in old Par-ee.

Back to the problem at hand, how to get back to the hotel. We are now tired and cranky and being very careful not to say accusatory things to each other, such as determining who was at fault. Mine, for leaving the scene and looking for a place to sit, or his, for not choosing to wear his front butt money belt. You be the judge.

The police lady (Herr Schneider pronounced her ”hot”), gave us instructions on how to get back using the subway. We had not heretofore attempted the Paris subway. Herr was unwilling, I took charge. We enter the station and encounter a surly “Information” person behind bullet-proof glass. We’re from out of town! How do we buy a ticket? Machine. She points. No words come from her mouth.

A nice Russian woman helped me get the tickets and showed me where to stick them in to get access to the train area. The Russian woman spoke little English. I spoke no Russian. Neither of us spoke French much. Somehow we managed to communicate. I am dragging Herr Schneider along, as he mumbles how we could end up God Knows Where with a few Euros and no credit or debit cards.

Bottom line, I got us back to the hotel! We spent a few hours on the phone canceling credit and debit cards. We discovered, happily, that I had a debit card and a credit card that hadn’t been compromised. We decided it was a bad thing that we lost a whole bunch of Euros but that’s all. Our pickpocket had attempted cash advances on each of the cards and they had all been sucked into the ATM machine. Stupid Mr. Pickpocket. What made you think you could guess those PIN numbers?

We decided everything would be all right and that it would at least make a good story. I said I would blog about it, for sure.

Then we went out for a beer.

21 thoughts on “Beneath the Eiffel Tower

  1. So sorry you had to go through that. What a horrible experience. Well, at least it gives you something to talk about for years to come. I’m glad the guy didn’t net anything from your credit cards.

    When I was an Au Pair girl (long, long ago) in Paris, they had where you could save money on the Eiffel Tower ticket by walking to the second level and then catching an elevator to the top (not sure if you can still do this). As a young woman, I said, why not? It was a long hike up, but I managed okay. Unfortunately, I trailed behind a father and son who apparently did not believe in deodarant.

    Thanks so much for the mention. I appreciate it!

    • It was fairly horrible but could have been worse. While in the police station a young couple came in with a baby. The same thing had happened to them and in ADDITION the babystarted to scream and was inconsolable. So they had it worse!

      I think you can still walk up the stairs to the second floor, but I’m pretty sure you have to pay anyway. And of course, you have to pay to ride the stinky elevator to the third floor. Lots of people appeared to be sans deodorant that day.

  2. Just LOVED the article. Sorry it happened but it did make for a wonderful story. You are an outstanding writer and Herr Schneider is lucky to have you as his tour guide!

  3. Thanks, Deanie! It wasn’t funny at the time, but is now (sort of). Too bad we tourists have to worry about that stuff. Herr Schneider says it isn’t a matter of “if” we get ripped off, it’s “how much”. After the incident, we became model tourists and wore those money belt things.

  4. Was supposed to be Happy Moments…too bad a jerk ruined it for you two. We also thought the French were cras when Deanie and I were there. We spent three days in Paris and that was our only beef. The sights were outstanding

    • Tim, we spent three days there too. Enough time to have it happen. I guess it’s the same in the other big touristy cities as well, but we went on to Rome and having learned that valuable lesson, had no more problems. Yes, the Paris sights are outstanding, and we aren’t going to let one bad episode spoil it.

  5. I love Paris and Parisians.

    It is really too bad that you got pick pocketed it just ruins your experience when this happens. It is really bad in Paris (a friend had her wallet picked out of her purse on her first day in the lobby of her hotel) but it is probably like this in most large tourist areas. I keep after my husband and he imagines that I think everyone is a thief.

    We are going to Rome this fall and I hear that it is even a bigger problem. My cousin went this summer and she said 2 out of 8 people that sat at her dinning table were robbed, and they were only there for part of the day!

    You have created a good story and a warning for others…at least something good has come out of it.

    • After our incident in Paris, we were a lot more careful. We went to Rome for a week and had no problems, although I hear the Colesseum is particularly known for pickpockets. Wherever there is no charge for admission, there you will find them. So even churches, the Vatican in particular, can be dangerous. Beware, take as little with you as you can and leave the cards/passports/valuables in the safe in your hotel room. And use the front butt money holder. They can’t get at those if they are well hidden under your clothes.

      Thanks for commenting and enjoy Rome. We loved it there. Much good food (and wine).

      • Thanks for the tips. I have never been the victim of a pickpocket but I am going to purchase one of those front butt money holders. It was good to hear that you had a great time in Rome. It sometimes takes an incident like the one you had to realize that it can happen to anyone.

  6. Bad! Bad! Bad! I travel a lot. Don’t want you to feel bad BUT my son and I always ‘divide and hide’ our cash and cards. Your long walk was bad enough but hope you didn’t need to pee while out of money. Using some of the toilets there costs more than a cup of coffee.

    • That is exactly what we did after our unfortunate incident. What is that saying about the horse and the barn door? But at least we were enlightened and spared further problems. We noticed a lot of strange rest room accomodations while we were in Paris and Rome.

  7. So glad to hear that your thief was foiled and you were able to enjoy the rest of your trip. Those money belts are one of the best ideas since sliced bread ( sorry for the tired metaphor.

    I have a feeling that you now have the same affection for Europe that we do. However, I’m sure you’ll never hear Eiffel Tower again without feelings of disgust, but at least yoi still have those beautiful photos of Paris. We actually walked all the way up. It was a Sunday morning and not crowded (hard to believe I know.)

    • It’s true, I’ll be thinking of it whenever I hear about the Eiffel Tower but still, I have had some amusing times just relating the story.

      And, oh, BTW, you have every right to say “I told you so” because you did, in fact, tell us to wear those belts.

  8. Pingback: Lessons Learned From Blogger’s Books « The Write Transition

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