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35” How to Protect Yourself from Pickpockets in Paris
This is join us in France episode 154. Bonjour, I’m Annie, and today I bring you a conversation with Elyse on How to protect yourself from pickpockets in Paris. We give specific steps anybody can take that will make it less likely that you will be the victim of a pickpocket, but also also steps to mitigate the repercussions if you do get robbed. Let’s not fool ourselves, pickpockets and magicians and they use the same misdirection techniques as magicians. A lot of them are really good at what they do! So if it’s happened to you, don’t feel bad, just do everything you can so it doesn’t happen again.
1’23 Learn How to Mitigate the Risks
The only way to make sure nothing bad ever happens is to stay home and do nothing, but we’re not going to do that are we? So, listen to this episode and get some inspiration on how to protect yourself from pickpockets in Paris and go on your next trip full of confidence!
1’45 Upcoming Paris Tour
Our next Paris tour is scheduled for Oct 1 through Oct 7th 2017; we would love to have you join us in France, not only through the podcast but also in real life. The Inaugural tour was a great success so we want to do it again. If you put down your deposit during the month of June, you get a 100Є off the total price of the October tour. Check out Addicted to France for details.
For show notes on this episode go to joinusinfrance.com/154.
2’26 Review of the Inaugural Tour
Stick around at the end of my conversation with Elyse to hear Dave Walsh share some thoughts about the Inaugural Tour. I keep sharing feedback about the tours because am very proud of the type of tours Elyse and I are offering. We go beyond what other companies offer and we do it at a great price, so for me, yes, it’s worth talking about. And I hope you’re not sick of hearing about it yet!
2’55 Actionable Tips so You Keep Your Belongings
And now, on with our specific instructions on how to protect yourself from pickpockets in Paris and anywhere in Europe, really. Towards the end of the episode I also give the details of what happened to me and my wonderful expensive camera. I thought it was theft at first, but it wasn’t.
3’14 Start of the Conversation
– This is join us in France episode 154! Hello, bonjour, I am Annie.
– And I’m Elyse
– And today we are talking about safety in general for travelers.
– Obviously, we are going to talk about France, but this applies to a lots of other places. And we will be talking about safety in terms of things you can do something about. Obviously, if you get run over by a truck, you cannot prepare for that.
– Hopefully it won’t happen!
– What I mean is, we are not going to give you tips about things that are not predictable at all.
– But there are some things that we know happen. Like getting pickpocketed for example.
– Losing things also happens.
– Forgetting things.
– And the truth is, the reason why I wanted to do this now Elyse is that Rick Steves was pick-pocketed in Paris just a few days ago.
– And so, we know that it can happen to anybody.
– Yes, it can happen to anybody at all. And I am sure that he did not do anything wrong, and if it happened to you, don’t worry about it. This can happen to anybody! But there are some things you can do to mitigate the effects of something like this happening.
4’40 Remove As Much As You Can from Your Wallet
– In the case of men especially; men tend to have a wallet in which they keep a lot of stuff. And I would say, if you want to take your wallet with you, that’s okay, but remove as much as possible from it as you can.
– Yes, I think there are two things: one, I think you should remove however much as possible. And that’s also true as a woman if you have a purse. I think you should carry a minimum amount of stuff with you. However, the big no-no is do not put it in your back pocket.
– Or even a front pocket!
– Do not put it in anything that you cannot close with a button or a zipper or that you cannot cover with your hand or with your arm.
– If it’s not zipped, don’t put it there.
– You know, in the summer time now, especially in Europe, a lot of guys wear these long Bermuda shorts, cargo pants. And they often have two pockets in the front that button closed. And you have your arm there. For women it’s different, because we all carry bags, and we have to talk about the kinds of bags.
– If it’s zipped or has a button, then okay. But you know, the people will do this, they are very good. They are good at distracting you, so it can happen very quickly. So I would say that you need to remove anything that’s not important from your wallet or your purse. So, take one credit card with you.
– Keep one in your hotel room, or wherever it is that you are staying.
– If you have 10 credit cards, only one at a time goes out with you. And a little bit of cash goes out with you, that’s fine. But do not take your US driver’s license or your Canadian driver’s license. Your driver’s license will do you zero good in France. Do not have it on you!
– Your passport, you don’t need it.
– Exactly. A passport is a big hassle to replace if it gets stolen. What I do is that I take photocopies of my ID that I have on me. If I get stopped, and it has happened to be driving, I show the police officer the photocopies and I tell them: look, it’s so hard to replace these things, I just go around with my photocopies and I will produce the originals at the Gendarmerie within 24 hours. It is not a problem, I am not trying to pull a fast one on you, but I am afraid of getting robbed or losing this stuff.
7’36 Carry a Photocopy of Your Passport for ID
– Before you come to France, there are some things you should photocopy. Your passport is one. And you should do two copies of your passport.
– You should have a copy of your passport on you all the time, and the other one should be somewhere in your suitcase where your passport is not. Just in case! The same is true with credit cards.
– Credit cards you need to copy back and front, and or take a picture of it with your phone, but having a paper copy is better I think just in case you lose your phone or your phone gets stolen, because then you don’t have your photos anymore either. The reason why you need the photocopies of your credit cards is that if you get pickpocketed you go to your photocopies and you can easily cancel the card that got stolen. It says right on the credit card the number you need to call to cancel the card. It just takes a phone call.
8’27 Do Not Bring Your Check Book
– And having had this happen to one of my clients a number of years ago, do not under any circumstances bring American checks to France or any European country! Not one check! Because any check can lead a hacker into your account; and you will have to close absolutely everything! So, no American checks are usable in Europe anywhere, they would not do you any good. Do not take them with you, leave them at home!
– So far, we have a list of things you need to leave at home, or at least in the hotel safe. Leave behind any checks that you may have in your wallet or purse, your driver’s license also needs to stay behind, you don’t need your work ID in your wallet either! Your work possibly gave you a magnetic pass so you can get into the building. You don’t need it in France! Don’t bring it!
– So before you leave your home to come to France, look at your purse or your wallet very carefully, and remove anything that you will not need. It’s a good idea to have more than one credit card, just in case. But leave one in the safe at the hotel.
– Most people who have done some traveling I think know this, but, you need to notify your bank and tell them what country you will be in. If you don’t do that, they might think the card was stolen and they might stop the card.
10’05 Credit Cards That Don’t Require a Pin Are Risky
– So, the things thieves are after are obviously your cash. If you have a US credit card and it does not have a chip, they can make a few purchases because they can just sign for those purchases. Nobody ever checks signatures in Europe because we don’t have credit card purchases with signature. In Europe, we are used to everybody using a pin.
– It is a fact that we are lucky that the credit cards that we have here (in France) cannot be used if you don’t have the pin number. But American credit cards are so vulnerable, they are terrible, they really are.
– So make sure you know how to contact your bank in case you need to cancel your card.
10’35 Make Sure You Have All Your Medications
– There is another case of emergency too. For people traveling, especially people of a certain age, we all take some medicine. Make sure that you have enough, and a little bit more than enough, for the days that you are traveling. And don’t carry the whole thing with you, just bring a pillbox with enough for that day only. In case your bag gets stolen, you don’t want to lose all of your medicine because American prescriptions cannot used in Europe.
– You should also have a list of all the medications that you take, either take photocopy of your prescription or write down the names of everything that you take. Because if you run out or you have a problem, any French pharmacist can look up the equivalent. You might need to go see a doctor to get that prescription in France, but they can help you figure out. So it is important to know the list of medications that you do take.
– And do come prepared so you have enough, unless there is an emergency.
– And it’s good to have that list of medications that you take on you, because again, if you get hit by a bus…
– Or, one day you don’t feel well, and you need to have an idea what is happening, you need to have an idea of what medications you are taking.
– So, that’s your homework. Make some photocopies, and put everything in zip pockets or bags. Zip it up!
12’36 Get a Bag You Can Carry Cross-Body
– And for women, you need a bag that goes crisscross and over your shoulder that has zip pockets. And my thing is, and this is because of having my bag stolen twice because of living in France. Not even as a tourist, just living here. I never keep everything in the same pocket. I separate things into different pockets. I haven’t had my whole bag stolen, I’ve had things taken out of my bag. And now what I do, is that I keep things separated. It’s a little bit crazy because sometimes I can’t figure out my own system! But at least, I figured that if somebody gets their fingers in before I realize it’s, at least they don’t get everything before I realize it. And that makes a big difference somehow.
– So, let’s think it through. What’s the most expensive the thing that pickpocket could take from you?
– Uuuuhm, your phone! Those phones all cost of thousand dollars by now!
– Well, your phone, if it’s stolen, it’s stolen! You can’t make a photocopy of your phone.
– Yes, but he mindful or where you put it.
– Call me paranoid, but I have this thing that I put around my neck, where I put my phone around my neck. And I don’t do this all the time but I do it sometimes. I have a tendency to put things down and then I don’t remember where I put it. And also because if it’s around my neck, it’s not going to go away. So, women, you might consider, if you think you’re in a place where there might be pickpockets, and in Paris that would be Sacré Coeur, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, it could be anywhere, but these are places where we know pickpockets hang out.
– Champs Elysées is really bad.
– La cour du Louvre. We know that pickpockets work congregate there because they have customers everywhere!
– Those are places where if you are going, you need to be particularly on guard. So, put your phone in your bra or something!
– I just make sure that I buy a purse that has several zip compartments and I put things in different compartments.
15’16 Many Americans Are Not Used to Watching Out for Pickpockets
– But, you know, coming from America, and this happened to me many times when I was still living in the US and visiting family in France, I would come to France after being a French person who had lived in America for 10 years or 15 years or whatever the case was. And you’re not on guard all the time.
– I am not! Not at home in Toulouse!
– In Toulouse we don’t have a lot of tourism, so we don’t have a lot of pickpockets either.
– In Toulouse I often walk around with my phone in my hand or in my purse and I don’t think about it. In Paris yes, I do think about it.
– But the thing is, when my sister saw how I was behaving when visiting France from the US, for instance I would put my purse down in the shopping cart and then turn around and choose some yogurt or whatever. She would tell me to never ever ever do that! You’re asking for anybody to pick it up and walk off. How would anybody know what just happened? Just have it attached to your body at all times. This is important, especially for phones. They have to be in your hand or if it’s in your front pocket at least your hand on it. You have to know where it is at all times.
– I know it’s a pain in the wazoo because you’re not used to that kind of gymnastics when you’re at home, but just to be really prepared. And when you are jet-lagged and you are on a vacation, I know you’re supposed to be sleeping in and all that, but you probably aren’t. Honestly, especially when you go to Paris, it is like, go go go. Who visit this, go visit that. And then he gets tired and your defenses get lowered, and with the jetlagged on top of that, you are more vulnerable.
– I know it is not comfortable to think of oneself as vulnerable, but you really are as a visitor. And anybody who visits any country is at risk. I don’t think it’s any worse in France than anywhere else.
– No, it is not worse. There are other countries and other cities that are really worse than Paris. But the other thing is if you don’t come from a major metropolis, you don’t often have the reflexes of living in a big city. It’s a big advantage I think to have these reflexes. I grew up in New York city. And I have had my bags stolen a couple of times, but once I had left my bag wide open at the store and somebody put their hand in it. But I think you have a developed sense of being careful. It doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to you again. But if you come from a more rural area, or a laid-back suburban area, you just don’t realize how vulnerable you can be.
18’22 Phone or Passport, Which Is Worse?
– And, in France, if something bad is going to happen, it’s probably that you’re going to get something stolen or that you will get pick pocketed. And as far as I’m concerned the worst thing that can happen to a visitor is to get the phone stolen.
– But the one that’s more of a pain is the passport which is why you should keep it in your room and not walk around with it. Because that’s crazy if you have to replace it. It is awful.
– And it is so easily done! You get something out of her pocket and two other things fall out! Especially if you wear loose clothing which I happen to like and right now it’s really hot, summer is starting and it is super hot. Most of us are going to be wearing a loose clothing because it is more comfortable. But guess what, it also makes it easier to number one lose something because something might fall out of your pocket. You pull something out of her pocket and something else falls out and you might not notice it. Loose clothing also makes it easier to get pick-pocketed.
19’20 Annie’s “Stolen” Camera Story
– Now, for photographers. This terrible yet wonderful thing happened to me on the Inaugural Tour. And I am pretty sure that it was an terribly my fault. I carry around a camera: an expensive camera and an expensive lens. So I had been really careful the whole time. I have this backpack where I have my camera. But because it was raining, my backpack isn’t big enough to carry my camera on my lens, my raincoat, and everything else. So I have gotten into the habit of having either my camera on my shoulder or my raincoat. And the whole week I did it this way: if I have my raincoat on my arm then my camera must be in the bag.
– Well, the last day of the tour I took the bus by myself, to go pick up a rental car. And at one point in the bus ride, I was sitting in the back of the bus, the bus driver turned around and said blah blah blah blah blah, I didn’t know what he said. He was speaking French, and I am French, but I didn’t hear what he said because I was sitting in the back of the bus. So I get up, I grabbed my bag, I grabbed my coat, and I go to the front of the bus and I ask what did you just say he tells me and I think okay no problem, and since several people had just exited the bus as a result of what the bus driver had just said (he had rerouted because of some manifestation, he couldn’t take the normal route), and so lots of people got off at that point. But the bus was still going to the same end point which was Gare Saint-Lazare where I was going to pick up the car so no problem. So I sat right behind the bus driver with my camera bag and my raincoat.
– I go to the car rental place, and I get my car rental and am driving around Paris to go meet up the group, and I saw something interesting and I think “I have to take a picture of that!” and I was at a red light, and I reach for my camera and it’s not there. And my blood froze. And I was thinking oh my God my God my God! I was hyperventilating and I just went crazy. And of course I drove back to the car rental place, in the meantime I had gotten on the phone with the car rental company, I have talked to somebody there and they had said that the hadn’t seen a camera. I was sure I had left it on the counter. That’s what I thought I had done. And when I went back thankfully I didn’t lose my cool I believed that they were being honest and I really hadn’t seen my camera. I thought what you gonna do? I was crying inside but I thought it was nothing they could do or I could do.
– So I go to the police station, there is a police station inside of the Gare Saint-Lazare, and I do my theft report. And at the police station they asked me to produce all the serial numbers both for the camera and the lens. And thankfully my husband was at home so he looked up the serial numbers on the boxes. I would’ve never thought to take a photocopy of the serial number for my camera! Honestly that’s not something that I thougtht I needed. Anyways so I file an official report.
– And the cop said you really need to call “les objets trouvés” aka the lost and found both for the RATP (the bus company) and for the train station. I had told him that I had come on the bus. He said, you never know.
– This was happening on Saturday night. And when I tried to call nobody was answering, until Monday everything was closed.
– And she was extremely upset.
– Yes, I was extremely upset. I was that crazy woman walking around the train station crying. I could not believe what had just happened. I had been so careful the whole time!
– So then I have a to fly back, I flew home to Toulouse. And I’m like… Well anyway, I felt terrible.
– On Monday morning, as instructed by the cop, I called the lost and found for the RATP. And the woman says “we have to camera.” And I couldn’t believe it! But she starts giving me the reference number for the lost object, and then we get cut off. So I called back, I was going crazy, but eventually I got through this. And my daughter happen to go to Paris the next day and so she picked it up and brought it back.
24’28 Tips for Photographers
– But let me tell you what I have done in the meantime because I never want this to happen to me again.
– The problem when you carry a heavy camera, and most of you do not carry a heavy camera. But if you do, you have to have it hands free. It has to be that you never have to put it down anywhere! If you think “oh, I’ll just put it back in the bag.” No you won’t. Not every time. You just won’t! I know people, whether it’s on your shoulder and it’s at the end of a long day, you put it down somewhere.
– So there are camera systems and straps there made for that. Now I have a belt and thing that the camera snaps into. It looks like I have the camera on a holster, the kind of thing where you carry a gun.
– It’s Annie got her gun!
– Yes, it’s like I have a clutch on the side. I changed the way I carry my camera completely. I am never putting the camera down. I have since used this new system when I was taking photos in Toulouse. It is so wonderful to have the weight of the camera around my hip instead of around my neck. Because around your neck it is heavy! After a long day, you put it down.
– So, if you are coming to France with expensive camera equipment, for the love of all that is holy have a system so you don’t put the camera down.
– I will put a link to the exact product that I bought. Compared to the price of the camera it’s nothing, it was €100 or something.
– Yes and people should also think to write down the serial numbers of expensive equipment that they bring. And make a photocopy of that as well.
– Yes, if you are bringing expensive equipment, you should probably do that.
26’31 Filing a Police Report
– In the case of a stolen wallet, what French people have to do is go to the police and file a report. Right? But for Americans, that’s useless. Of French police report is going to be a whole ream of papers, and believe me it’s a stack of 30 pieces of paper. And it is just French legalese. It is meaningless to Americans. And so what most Americans need is the phone numbers so that they can cancel their credit cards, etc.
– But if it’s an expensive camera, in that case, if you want to use some sort of insurance that you have back home for your camera, in that case you have to have a police report even if it’s in French legalese. Otherwise lots of people would claim that their camera got stolen while overseas and that they want a new one.
– So if you have expensive camera equipment or something like that, get it insured. Thankfully mine was insured. I didn’t get to test how good the insurance was, but if it is expensive it should be insured.
– You were really lucky!
– I was SO LUCKY! We had this expression in French. Do you know the expression is for being super lucky?
– “Avoir le cul brodé”
– No, I didn’t know that.
– Do you want to explain what it means?
– Well, I’m not sure, having an embroidered ass? I’m not sure how that makes you lucky?!
– Well, “avoir le cul brodé” is to be really, really lucky.
– I guess, maybe it means wearing expensive underwear? Maybe it comes from that?
– I guess I’m going to have to look that up. I don’t know why having embroidered on your ass makes you lucky.
– So that’s my story. And I will never again have a camera around my neck or on my shoulder and tell myself that I will put it back in the bag because now I know for fact that I won’t every time.
28’51 Most Visitors Do Not Fall Victim to a Pickpocket
– Honestly, the chances of you getting pick pocketed are not that high. I mean, Paris is full of visitors, and for most of them nothing ever happens.
– I think it’s good to have all these precautions and not be scared to walk around because the truth is, it is a kind of lottery somebody getting pickpocketed or not. You just do not know. And as you are saying, most of the people who do this are so good and so professional that you don’t even know that it’s happening when it is happening. It’s a little bit of karma and a little bit of being in the right or wrong place at the wrong moment. And you can help it along by doing all these things.
– And I will put a list, I know we’ve mentioned a lot of things, but output is extinct to list of pre-trip things to do, and just do those things. It will take you 15 minutes. It won’t take you that long! And when something like this happens it makes you feel violated.
– Yes, it makes you feel very badly and it could ruin the trip for you.
– But it is just stuff, nobody got hurt.
– But the paperwork is hard to deal with.
– And some things are really hard to replace. Like all the photos that I have taken, if I had really lost them, I would have been devastated. But the thing is, again, because I was trying to be cautious, I didn’t bring a laptop.
– But you wouldn’t have carried your laptop around with you anyway?
– No but at night I would have copied my photos to the laptop. But the thing I should have done is swap the memory card, change memory cards every night. But if you do that and you take a lot of photos like I do, then the numbering is not necessarily in the right order afterwards.
– A Lisa shaking her head like why you care?
– Yes, I shouldn’t care!
– What I am thinking is, you know on car now, on high-end cars, there is voice recognition to unlock your car? And there’s also fingerprint recognition. So if you have the key in your purse or on your body, if you go next to the car and you touch, and you use your finger on the door, it actually opens.
– Wow! Cool!
– And somebody out there was really creative, will invent something like that that works for bags. So that if somebody that’s a foreigner puts their fingers in your bag, some kind of siren goes off!
– They’ll be so great! There you are, walking around, and somebody you don’t know put their finger in your bag and the siren goes off!
– Somebody do this and send us a prototype!
32’11 Pickpockets Are Well Practiced
– These pickpockets, these guys, they are like magicians. Magicians, they can do things right in front of you, and you don’t know it. That’s because they have practiced this. They are very well practiced, and they presented in a way that it works. Most of those guys are not that good, but some of them are the David Copperfield of pickpockets and they can steal Rick Steve’s stuff or my stuff (even though in my case it was my own fault).
– Well, you have to think that you were lucky and that you had a very honest bus driver.
– And I thought that because of my back button focusing for basketball, I thought that whoever took the camera tried to take a photo and it was all blurry because they didn’t know how to focus the camera so they thought the scammer is a piece of… But no, the person didn’t even try to take a photo!
– Yes this was just a nice honest person.
– And you know what? My whole life I have returned so many things! Not on this trip, but on my last trip to Paris I went to the women’s bathroom and somebody had left their giant enormous new Samsung phone on the little trash can next to the toilet. And so I thought what do I do? I wasn’t going to keep it because they don’t do that, but what do I turn it into so I’m sure that it doesn’t get stolen there. I didn’t want to turn it into whoever. So I went to the front desk and I talked to three people at the same time. I figured there are three people, it’s not likely that one of them will steal it. So I told him look I found this phone in the bathroom and I give it to them and they said thank you when I left. I’ve done this so many times!
– My nephew once came back from the playground, he was little, and he said “tatie, tatie, j’ai trouvé ce telephone”. And I made it give it back. He cried, he was mad at me. But I made it give it back. I looked it up, I found a number for “maman” which is mommy, and I called mommy and I said hey I got this phone your kid left it behind. And mommy picked it up. I’ve done this my whole life, so it was just karma I guess.
– But still, I got so, so lucky!
– All right Elyse, let’s stop talking about unpleasant things. But it’s good to be prepared!
– And I know you were totally traumatized but I am glad it ended well.
– Yes, it ended well and I am so lucky.
– Au revoir everybody!
35’ Thank You Patreon Supporters!
– My thanks to the new listener who signed up to support the show on Patreon this week: Joanne Maher, thank you for adding your name to the growing list of patrons. And thank you to the 59 patrons who support the show month after month, I want you to know how much I appreciate your continued support. I am looking forward to 60 patrons, hopefully soon, I like nice round numbers To support the show on Patreon, go to patreon.com/joinus And to support the show in some other way go to joinusinfrance.com/support.
–Thanks for reviewing the show on iTunes MPKWest from the United States. S/He says A Must for Travelers to France, wonderful, entertaining and informative! I am glad to hear you like it, thanks for taking the time to write a review!
–I also want to thank all the people who get in touch with me to offer to record an episode with me about their experience in France. I couldn’t do the show without all of you sharing your knowledge. If that’s something you’d like to do, connect with me either on the Join Us in France Closed Group on Facebook or email email@example.com or leave me a voice mail 801-806-1015, that’s a US number folks.
37’ Review of the Inaugural Tour
– When I recorded the episodes on Wine Education with Dave Walsh, that was yesterday actually, after I stopped the recording, he wanted to give some feedback about the Inaugural Tour, but he didn’t tell me that, he just started talking. That’s because his wife was on the tour a month ago, and it took me a couple of seconds to realize that’s what he wanted to share and so I pressed record again because that’s important stuff, but I miss the first sentence or two, but what he said makes sense anyway. The wine education episodes will be released over the summer, they are very informative and very good, but after this episode you’ll just hear Dave Gibson to a feedback and he had some very nice things to say, thank you Dave.
38’ Why Dave Booked the Inaugural Tour for His Wife
– Dave Walsh: So when I heard that you were thinking about during the tour, this is just a fun opportunity, that’s why I contacted you before you got the Addicted to France site up. And while I was waiting for you to get the website set up, I was looking at other tours, and I thought maybe I would center on some of the tour. But then I realized that no, this is not going to be as good. Sue has got to do what she wants to do. And there were a couple of episodes where you… One was the Orangerie episode, and then another episode that I absolutely had no interest in two but I listen to anyway on a bike ride, is the one about the architect, that collaborated or maybe he didn’t. He was the famous architect during second world war. Do you know which episode you mentioning?
– Yes, that was the one on Le Corbusier.
– It was the one where you and Elise were arguing back and forth and I was laughing while was on his bike ride. And I came home and I said to Sue you know, these two just crack me up. I am learning something up about something that I would’ve never thought about, they are arguing like crazy, and I thought: you know if any and Elyse do this tour and it doesn’t get the people and it doesn’t work out, then they might never offer another tour.
– That’s when I decided to pull the trigger.
– And to say that Sue had the time of her life, I mean honestly, she is still grinning, I mean now.
– That’s great!
– Over a month later, right?
– And she was such a delight to have with us, because she had a lot of spunk and a lot of interest, and she was just excited about everything. It was fantastic!
– But she also talked about the different folks were on the tour, the two ladies from Michigan, she said I want to be like them. I mean these two that on the plane and they did this and they get that all on their own, and then afterwards they were going to Brussels or where they were going.
– Yes, they were go go go! I was a little worried when I met them because I wondered, can they keep up? And yes! They could! They were amazing.
– So, Sue had an absolute ball. I think you know that, but I think, your tool with Elyse it couldn’t have been as good if she had been one of 25 people walking with an umbrella or a sign or something.
– Yes, it’s not the same.
– It was not going to provide the same. And then, the last thing is your right, about the podcast, the people feel like they know you even though you don’t really know them.
– And I had a sense of your character and Elyse’s character before I even booked the tour, right?
– And I said to Sue the other day, and he feels like the type of person you’d want to have over for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. And she said you’re absolutely right, that’s absolutely with character is like.
– Yes, because you would not have been attracted to us if we didn’t have compatible personalities, let’s put it that way. Normally when you go on a tour, you have no idea. I mean, a lot of people love Rick Steves, but he doesn’t do any of his tours himself.
– Right? And so he hires people, I suspect that’s the case, but, you show up and there’s a new person. Maybe there’s chemistry and maybe there isn’t. And of course, you can get married to them, but you are going to spend a week with them, you might as well spend a week with somebody you will enjoy.
– Well, Sue really enjoyed all the people on the group, there were like 10 folks. And she just said that there wasn’t one person where she thought oh I don’t want to sit next to that person at dinner.
– Hello, everybody was great.
– It’s absolutely hated on all the things that I wanted. The only thing that she said now that she’s been on the tour, she said I think they could actually charge more for this tour. She actually said that. She said what you guys actually packed in and what you did, you could charge a little bit more.
– And the other thing that Sue said when she was giving me feedback is that you provided enough flexibility when it comes to accommodation and food that I think it’s smart for you and Elise to not get into the “were going to get into the hotel game”.
– Oh yes, no.
– That would not work.
– Everybody wants something different, single bed, double bed, I mean, I think that was smart.
– And there were people that were happy with simple, I mean they could sleep on a bench and he couldn’t care less. And there are people want something more plush and cannot just decide for people. Most of these towards actually make most of their money on the hotels. This is because they book the hotels far in advance and then they get a substantial discount for prepaying a year in advance. We don’t want to do that because there has to be a lot of flexibility. Staying in the same area makes sense, but not more than that because otherwise it becomes one of those mass tourism things that we don’t want to do.
– And I think it was very smart what you did. Here is the meeting point, this is where and when we meet, you book your accommodation. You do whatever you want. We start at this time, we and at this time, and everything in between this is what’s covered, and then you don’t feel like your mothering these people along.
– No, because they are adults. I mean, they are in a foreign country but they are still adults and they know how to make your own choices.
– Anyway, Annie, it’s been wonderful chatting to you.
– Thank you very much.
– Yes, we will meet sometime and we will drink a bottle of Tavel rosé.
– Excellent! I’ll put it in my suitcase and will bring it over, next time I come to California!