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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sans Heat but not sans Adventures

I returned recently from three days in Paris to celebrate a major birthday. (I'm not supposed to admit to which one as my older sister gets irritated when I blithely reveal my age to one and all. So I'll refrain from actually stating I've turned 50.)

Despite the relentless, bitterly cold wind, Paris was as always quite magical. Although I'm without question a country girl, I do enjoy my urban forays, and the knowledge that Paris is a mere 90-minute train ride is delightful. For some it's a daily commute, comparable to my Manhattan commute 10 years ago.

This was only my second trip to Paris thus far, the first having been November 2006. (Connecting trains and planes don't count.) And, as I said, it was magical. At least up until the point where I discovered my wallet had been stolen out of my backpack.

Admittedly, I hadn't had the best of luck overall on this trip cash-wise.

Unfortunately, I'd neglected to bring sufficient cash.

Fortunately, I do have a cash/ATM card.

Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to bring that, too.

Fortunately, my companions agreed to give me cash and let me pay a few bills with my Visa card. And, fortunately, the theft occurred on the last day, an hour or two after I'd paid the hotel bill using my credit card.

Unfortunately, my friends had just given me cash before the wallet was stolen--120 euros in total. And, unfortunately, the wallet also contained my driver's license and carte grise which is essentially car registration and title of ownership, which you're required to carry at all times.

Fortunately, I had the fraud telephone number to cancel my Visa programmed into my cellphone.

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough money on the pay-as-you-go cellphone to make the call and charging it up meant using the Visa I was about to cancel. Probably not a problem but I was wary nonetheless.

Fortunately, my friend had purchased our train tickets and still had mine in her possession so I was able to get home. And fortunately, in addition to being able to procure a replacement credit card and driver's license within days of returning home, a letter arrived from the Parisian Prefecture of Police saying someone had found the wallet and turned it in...sans cash, of course.

Unfortunately, the letter demanded I return to Paris to collect it. And that I was required to pay them 10 euros for the privilege of claiming my stolen property. (That made me choke and splutter a bit.)

Fortunately, my friend and I went down to the local gendarmerie where I'd first filed my theft report (so I could drive without documents) and the gendarme there was wonderful, calling the Prefecture and ensuring I could just send them a check and have them mail me the wallet instead. Well, I hope that's the end of it. I still have to mail the letter to Paris.

Despite all that, Paris has lost none of its magic for me!

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