Here are some pictures and writing that I did not publish initially while I was in Europe:
I woke up nice and early the day of my departure from Rotterdam. From my last report, there were a ton of mosquitoes in the room, but I didn't kill all of them. I felt somewhat safe since, a) I was thinking they might be the peaceful ones, b) they were all hanging out on the ceiling on the other side of the room. Any mosquitoes that crosses the line into my side, met their untimely death by a smack of a free map... they were not even worthy of a paid map. I consider myself an animal lover but I f-ing hate mosquitoes!!!
Fast forward to next moving, I made a dash for the train station as soon as I was mobile! I was counting my lucky stars for escaping all the mosquitoes since I would normally be there preferred meal under most circumstances. Later on in the morning, I started noticing all the bumps and I was cursing those mosquitoes and wishing for their demise.
With Rotterdam on the train tracks behind mind, and the high speed train poised to take off from the tracks, I was looking forward to what my destination, Paris, may bring for me. There was a minor change in my accommodation since I was a freshly minted Airbnb user! The path to this elite club of travelers couldn't came at a better time as I battled loud snores and killer mosquitoes in the last couple of hostels. I was eager to see the differences, hopefully all positive.
I rolled into Paris with no concrete plans, but first stop was my Airbnb sleepover location. The process was really easy. My host was super nice and easy going and the place was as advertised. I got a key with a fuzzy fur ball attached to it. It all seemed a little TOO easy, but I was quickly becoming a convert. First outing took me to what many would consider to be synonymous with Paris isself, the Eiffel Tower. I spent hours roaming around the area to take in the sights, and even more so, observing the scams going on around me. I was facinated by all the crooks running about and taking advantaged of all the tourists.
Most people know to never play the 3-Card Monte or its variation anywhere. I briefly came across a travel show on TV talking about it, but I didn't really pay any attention to the details other than you will never win. As I stood on the bridge in front of the tower, many 3-card Monte games were happening. I parked myself near by and just watched. There were always at least one lookout guy. The game is constant because when you first see the game being played, EVERYONE but you is in on the scam. All the money you see exchanging hands were all for show. Initially I thought maybe 1 or 2 people out of the 8 people were real players, but once the lookout gave them the signal to move, all of them ran away as a group. Their acting skills were superb. One instance, they ran away right in front of their victim leaving him with a dumbfounded expression of disblief. Some of the "confederate" or the other pretend players actually work to socialize and coach their victims to the "rules" of the game such as stepping on the cup that they believed contained the ball. Once you step on the cup, you will hand your money over and then they will show you what's underneath which is almost certainly nothing. They generally start playing amongst all the scammers, and they are looking for those people who were watching nearby. One of the fake players would lose on a call, and the dealer would then turn and ask the nearby observer to chime in and even handing them money to entice them to play. They had it down to a scamming science. Crime teamwork does pay!
I also paid a visit to the Arc de Triomphe. I saw the Arc from afar last time and I was looking forward to getting up close and personal this time. Security was tight at every tourist attraction. If you want to visit anywhere, they will search your bags before letting you through. I managed to climb to the top of the Arc and spent about 30 mins there while enjoying the view from above; however, an evacuation order was given. They used one of those loud bullhorn portable PA to tell everyone to GTFO. I happily obliged for my own safety, BUT some tourists actually started asking about when they would reopen and still tried to go up top. That's some next level sightseeing.