A year ago I was packing to go to London for the first time. How times have changed. None of us could have imagined how a virus would take over the world and affect our lives in so many significant ways. The worst affected are those who have died from Covid-19 and their families who mourn them. Countless lives have been affected, jobs lost, and dreams left unfulfilled.
Travel for me is a luxury, not a necessity, in the larger scheme of life. But the memories of past travels keep me going, keep me hopeful. I thought I’d share a few photos and a snippet from the my first twenty-four hours in London last fall. Enjoy.
Thrilled to visit London for a week, Richard and I arrived mid September and checked into our hotel in Kensington. To offset the jet lag, we promptly boarded a Hop-on Hop-Off bus for our first glimpse of the city.
Enjoying the sights, we eventually got off near Piccadilly Circus and found a charming restaurant with authentic Italian ambience and delicious food. Yes, London has wonderful food and choices of all types of restaurants, contrary to rumors from years ago.
After lunch we walked around the corner, and I shot a few photos before heading down the stairs into the Tube station. It was just a few stops to before we got off off near St. James Park. We walked through this beautiful park until we arrived at Buckingham Palace.
What a great time we were having. About an hour later, we took a taxi back to the hotel, which by then, was ready for us to check in.
When we went to pay the taxi driver, imagine my dismay (perhaps panic is a better word) when I looked in my purse for my wallet and it was missing. I carried a crossover zipped purse and like an idiot, did not separate a thing. Instead, everything was in my passport wallet….Passport, driver’s license, cash in pounds, and credit cards. I made the classic rookie mistake, even though I consider myself a seasoned international traveler. I immediately thought I may have left the wallet at the restaurant, but after the kind taxi driver called them for me, I learned that it was not there. The taxi driver informed us that I was the unfortunate victim of a pickpocket, and that it was a common situation in London. He told us to inform the concierge, who would help me make a police report. Luckily, Richard had a credit card and his passport, as well as some cash, but I was screwed.
Once inside the hotel, the friendly concierge expressed his condolences and validated what the taxi driver told us. Pickpockets are an all-too-common occurrence in London, especially in crowded areas. Although I never felt a thing, I believe the pickpocket absconded with my wallet while I was distracted taking photos in front of the Piccadilly Circus underground station.
Apparently that is a hot spot for for pickpockets and they work in gangs. Just as the taxi driver suggested, the concierge helped me file a police report. I also needed to make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy, and he did it for me too, online. The appointment was for 9:30 a.m. the next morning. Suffice it to say that is another story for another day, but eventually I left the Embassy with a temporary passport which would enable me to travel legally and get back into the United States after this trip. Of course the entire process of cancelling credit cards had to happen then, taking up precious time, but it was a necessity.
I hate to think what would have happened had I been traveling solo. A word to the wise. Always separate important documents, money, identification, and other credentials into different places before you leave on the trip. I feel so stupid I didn’t do this when I knew better. Anyway it made for a good story, and we had a phenomenal trip.
Enjoy some photos from London.
What do you think? Have you had any situations like this while traveling? I’d love to hear about them. Please leave a comment. Thanks so much.
Check out my Instagram page for more travel photos.
Terrible. I mean just terrible but an excellent warning. Hope this is the first and the last time you have this assault happen to you.
Thanks Bonnie…yeah, not the best travel story but I learned a lot from it.
Sorry to hear about your pickpocket episode Margie. I carry my ‘thin’ wallet in my front pants pocket, never in back, and only have one credit card and cash. Passport / drivers license / another credit card back at hotel. If I’m going to be out for a few hours, not shopping which I rarely do, I’ll carry cash in the front pocket. No wallet. Sometimes walking along busy streets, you can see suspicious eyes spotting tourists. And they work in teams sometimes in major tourist spots.
Thank you so much, Jack. You are the smart one, and believe me, next time, I will do the same. I just got lazy this time. Thanks and keep writing.
I was robbed in the Rome metro. It was extremely crowded, I had too much stuff, but I felt it. Someone held my shoulders and grabbed my smaller purse out of a larger bag I was gripping under my arm, then disappeared in the crowd as the doors closed. My wallet and credit cards were gone but I had my passport and a few travelers checks I had been carrying around for years. I was leaving in a couple of days and could get by. Going to the police station was a waste of time, but I went through the motions. They didn’t think taking my telephone number was necessary… just in case it was found. They smiled and shook their heads as I wrote it down for them. You try to be careful and you have to always be thankful when you aren’t hurt.
I have heard so many stories from others and I don’t feel I’m the only one, but I did learn a valuable lesson. You are right. these are professionals and they operate in every large city. It’s a crime of opportunity. I do feel grateful I was not injured and learned a good lesson. Lucky for me I was in London, where a U.S. embassy exists. Had I been in a small town in the middle of nowhere, it would have been much more complicated.
Lori S W
Luckily in all my travels, I only had one incident of something being stolen from me and interestingly it was not during any of my overseas trips, but right here in the USA; It happened at the airport in Atlanta, Georgia.
I was between flights, unfamiliar with this airport trying to catch the right plane people mover train to the right concourse, from one terminal to the other when two Hara Krishnas walked up to me, handing me some pamphlet and trying to engage me in conversation. In my distraction and attempt to get rid of them, somehow one of them stole my beautiful sweater coat that had great sentimental value to me because it had been knitted my Italian aunt. It’s a very frustrating and paralyzing experience.
Thanks for sharing, Lori. It’s always sad when you lose something of sentimental value that money can’t replace. I guess any area where large crowds are, can be an opportunity for a thief. I was also told they travel in groups, and actually watched a YouTuve vide later about how they pull it off so smoothly.