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Is this the best scam topic.

Sorry for dragging this back up, but every time I read this it has me in stitches https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tourist-scams/sitting-ducks-pay-177-for-lunch-at-trattoria-da-romano-burano-italy . The headline is what gets me then when you read it, the OP makes it sound like out of nowhere a fat bill is slapped on the table in front of him. Or is it just me that imagined the OP sat there typing this out with steam coming out of his ears.

Posted by Chris F
Basel, Switzerland
5820 posts

Yes I remember that one, it was a good one. Kathy's comment at the end is pertinent:

I see a fair amount of responders cheerfully poking fun at themselves for their own missteps so any objections may be less about phogenson's negative experience than how it was voiced? It's fine to share frustration over things that didn't go so well so others can learn from them. At the same time, I'm sure our friends across the pond get a little tired of all the nattering around scams and ripoffs in their countries, and any number of simple misunderstandings so often suspected and/or labeled as such?

This emphasises that you must learn a few minimal phrases to survive in any country. "etto" was one of the first words I learned the first time I went to Italy. In street markets things were sometimes priced "£500 / etto". Though it was a bit of a shock that '£' was used for Italian Lira, £500 (British pounds) exceeded my whole holiday budget!

In other countries prices are often "/ 100g" (per 100 grams). In the UK pre-metrication it was often "75p / qtr" (per quarter pound). That was an abbreviation foreigners just had to know.

Posted by Roberto da Firenze
San Francisco Bay Area (USA)
10430 posts

I don't see why one should be surprised if the symbol £ (with 2 lines however) was used for the Italian Lira, instead of L. or Lit.
The word "Lira" comes from Latin "Libra" (scales) which in its turn comes from the Greek Litra, a unit of weight. Libbra is also an unit of weight equivalent to about 1/3 of a kg, and is the Italian word used to translate the English word pound. The British currency (Pound Sterling) is translated into Lira Sterlina in Italian.
Etto is short for Ettogramma or hectogram, or 100g, from the Greek word for 100. An ettolitro, or hectoliter (100lt) is a common unit of measure for wine production. I've never bought a 100 lt bottle of Chianti, but wine industry statistics often come in hectoliters or, at the country level, million hectoliters. Italy produces approximately 50 million hectoliters of wine a year, almost one hectoliter per person.
http://www.oiv.int/public/medias/2256/en-communique-de-presse-octobre-2015.pdf

Posted by Bob
Bristol, UK
449 posts

To expand on Chris's post, what I was reminded by the lady behind the cheese counter at a supermarket is that the plural of "etto" is "etti".

Posted by Nigel
Northamptonshire, England
18531 posts

It isn't a scam one but looking back I have to land for a moment or two on hula hoop girl....

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
6907 posts

Oh, Nigel, don't you wish we knew whatever became of the bizarre Hula Hoop girl?

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
11854 posts

I think we should let the Hula Hoop girl rest in peace. My fave was the one this morning, since deleted. The city of Bolonga is full of scammers, as the OP got two traffic tickets in a month. The other posters finally clued me in that the OP was talking about Bologna.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
9349 posts

Ah, yes, the hula hoop lady! There will (hopefully) never be another like her!

Posted by jayhamps OP
Liverpool UK
412 posts

That Bolonga one was funny i looked at it and until I seen Italy I was trying to figure out where this place was. Obviously the OP realised he was wrong and deleted the post.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
3032 posts

I was wondering where the "bolonga" one went to...I wanted to see some more of the comments...sigh...

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
11854 posts

Now if we can just get one from someone getting gassed in Bolonga, it'd be over the top.

Posted by Agnes
Washington DC Region, USA
4332 posts

Obviously the OP realised he was wrong and deleted the post.

No, more like the Webmaster deleted him...he was obviously a troll. He clearly stated he intended to rant on every forum he could find. I'm curious how someone found his Google mapped itinerary online.

I vote with the gassing in Tuscan villas as the funniest scam topic. The scam usually has the following elements and pops up every year or so: luxury Tuscan villa, french doors, drills, suspicious/shady villa management, no security system (yet), very precise gassing of multiple family members yet no one wakes up to hear any intruders, cops who corroborate the gassing hypothesis, copious amounts of alcohol at prior dinner, and large amounts of cash or jewelry stolen. And of course they swear that this really happened to them.

Can someone explain the Hula Hoop lady? That must be an oldie but a goodie...

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
6907 posts

I will,start with what I remember about Tina, I think her name was.

She was a dancer and hula hooper of some sort in the USA and had met and had a brief friendship with a young German who had attended one of her performances. He returned to Germany and she followed him, thinking apparently that he would welcome her. He didn't, sadly. She then, if I am remembering correctly, (her posts went on forever) stayed in Europe for a while doing her hula hoop thing to support herself. I think she also did some fire dancing. Maybe Nigel or someone can take it from here.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
3939 posts

I must admit, I get a bit annoyed with the people who get caught fare-dodging because they didn't bother to find out how to use a transport system, and then accuse the ticket inspectors of deliberately targeting tourists and report it as a "scam".

Posted by jayhamps OP
Liverpool UK
412 posts

There are many of those. The gassing ones are hilarious the last one I remember stated in the morning when they awoke they found the dining table with all of their empty wallets and purses like the thieves had sat around and selected what to steal ( with gas masks on of course). Poor hula hoop girl i wonder where she is now

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
11854 posts

The Bolonga post was by trikolad. An apparently similar thread by Ohad M was deleted by Tripadvisor staff this morning at 7:05, for being "inappropriate", after attracting 32 replies. But he did spell Bologna correctly on that one.

Edit - But the replies are still on Tripadvisor. And he earlier posted questions about a 14 day road trip, beginning and ending at Milan Malpensa, through Switzerland, La Spezia and Venice. Here is his route.
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1rPE5jdBMl-cCdwsWyiPpQYwkaTY&ll=45.25740170870019%2C10.048835000000054&z=7
He got the same treatment on that forum.

Posted by Nigel
Northamptonshire, England
18531 posts

HOOPS 1

A bit of a statement here, for our trusty readers and for our beloved Webmaster.

As a bit of an ancient contributor here, and having been around a bit, although not nearly as much as some, I realize that the next few posts from me are probably slightly in contravention of Community Guidelines by monopolizing the conversation for a few moments. But hoping that both those who asked for more information on one of our more "interesting and thought provoking" guests will be interested and rewarded by what follows, and hoping for indulgence in the search for brevity by our Webmaster (because the thread I am extracting from approaches 200 posts, or did until a few contributors were banned for misbehaviour and their posts were removed, so I am actually shortening collective reading time) ...

So I propose to paint a story outlining the story of the Hula Hoop girl by excerpting various posts from a thread from mid-2011 called https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/why-not-answer-the-question about 2/3 of the way through.

On the other hand if this isn't your meat please skip the ones with HOOPS at the top.

The thread that I am excerpting from is as a result of people asking about her, a couple of years after the original. The original thread is not available through the Rick Steves search facility, but somebody - if they wanted to spend the time - may be able to find it through use of the Way-Back Machine (yes it is a real Thing). The website mentioned in HOOPS 2 is still live but appears to have not been updated since 2015.

By the way, the thread I'm excerpting was a really interesting "Town Meeting" type thread. Old timers here might want to scan through and see how many old stalwarts who used to post are now missing or post very infrequently. Post counts are current not 2011 figures. You might recognise some names....

So, on to the story...

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
07/01/11 02:04 PM
2310 posts

Not to beat a dead horse (wrong metaphor?), but I'm still lurking here trying to find out more about the Hula Hoop Lady in Switzerland. Can anyone enlighten the handful of us who are still curious?

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Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
07/01/11 02:08 PM
5070 posts

I'm with Dick. I too missed the hula hoop girl. Inquiring minds just want to know... Pam

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Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
07/01/11 02:49 PM
811 posts

(...) but it seems the Hula Hoop Lady has peaked the interest of some... I was just sitting here trying to recall the details of the story and it occurred to me I can't remember many. But this woman/girl had met a Swiss (?) man and decided to uproot her life in the USA and move overseas to be with him. They had not known each other for very long, but she felt certain he was "The One" and this was a life move worth taking. She was a bit of a free spirit, I guess you could say, although she was a bit free of her senses, too. Her grand plan involved teaching dancing classes once she settled in a bit, and pesky details such as work visas, or extended visas of any kind, were not going to slow down her dreams. Paperwork be damned, she was after true love, after all, and wasn't going to let a little thing like laws stand in her way. Anyhow, she managed to get over there but before to long, surprise, surprise, he dumped her and she posted here that she was alone in Switzerland with essentially nothing but her hula hoops. A round of "I told you so" may have ensued on the thread, and from there it deteriorated and eventually she left the forum in a huff. I think the last we knew of her she had found someone's couch she was sleeping on? She did have a blog, but I'm not sure if anyone still has the information. To others who remember her, am I remembering this correctly?


TBC

Posted by Nigel
Northamptonshire, England
18531 posts

HOOPS 2

continued

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
07/01/11 02:52 PM
811 posts

Was this her website? I just did a search on this site for Celtic Dancer... http://www.celtdancer.com/ Edited to add: it would appear she is a "Life Strategist" now, in addition to "Hooping for Whales."

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Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
07/01/11 03:02 PM
4305 posts

Angela, I think I can speak for most of us and say...We Love You! Hooping for Whales... edit: H for W - dang, you beat me to it ;-)

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Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
07/01/11 03:40 PM
9313 posts

Angela: Good work!

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Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
07/01/11 04:17 PM
6130 posts

I guess I am one of Ansbach James' "Canadian Broads" (see his post above) and I greet you James on this July 1, Canada Day! I will try to post more often. Angela, thank you for the Celtic Dancer information. The way I remember her story is that she met the Swiss guy in Hawaii, they had a little flirtation, he went back to Zurich and then one day soon after she landed on his ever-so-proper Zurich door step, unannounced and uninvited. He apparently had his enthusiasm for her well under control by that time and did not welcome her into his flat so there she was, burdened with hula hoops and dashed expectations and hoping someone, anyone, would rescue her. It was amusing and sad at the same time, but the underlying theme was that this was the story of her life and would continue to be so.

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Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
07/01/11 05:36 PM
811 posts

Thank you, Norma, for providing more details, as I couldn't quite remember all the particulars. And Kent, I hope my lack of total recall doesn't affect my bid for a position on the Helpline Subcommittee of Random and Useless Facts.

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Posted by Ken
Vernon, BC, Canada
07/01/11 05:54 PM
27471 posts

@ Angela, I'd also like to add a "well done" for finding the information on the Hula Hoop lady. In addition to being a Life Strategist, it appears she was of Polish origin and as a result now has her Polish Citizenship and EU Passport. Despite her original plans with the Swiss "boyfriend" not working out, her overall life strategy seems to be in good shape as she's now living in Europe. This has certainly been an interesting and spirited discussion!

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Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
07/01/11 06:56 PM
635 posts

Again Angela, great work, I remember that website, nice to see the lady is actually keeping it up. I remember her story too, what always stood out to me was what Norma mentioned, she showed up in Switzerland unannounced, she didn't have much if any money when she arrived hence her posting on this site for guidance and help, he was kind enough not to just send her on her way he let her stay with him until she got her bearings on her next move, but I don't think they interacted with each other if I remember right, that is where all the plans on staying in Europe came out, she was posting quite often while there. Reading her blog is interesting, getting her Polish passport, my favorite line is "free healthcare", one may not have to actually pay for services rendered, but it's not free, someone is paying for it, it's called taxes.

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Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
07/01/11 08:09 PM
9313 posts

"And Kent, I hope my lack of total recall doesn't affect my bid for a position on the Helpline Subcommittee of Random and Useless Facts." By virtue of your having found the Hula Hoop Lady, you are hereby appointed Chairperson of that Subcommittee.

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Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
07/01/11 10:44 PM
811 posts

I am deeply honored, and promise to uphold my new post to the best of my ability. If you ever need minutia(e), look no further.


TBC

Posted by Nigel
Northamptonshire, England
18531 posts

HOOPS 3

continued

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
07/02/11 06:01 AM
11945 posts

I see that the legend of the Hula-Hoop lady has resurrected. It may sound unbelievable, but I can vouch for the accounts above, that's pretty much how it unfolded on this website. What struck me most was that when she presented her completely unrealistic plan, she immediately lashed out at those on this website (myself included) who pointed out such inconvenient truths as the Schengen Agreement and Switzerland's extremely stringent immigration laws. Her response came across as very "Axis II", for those with any familiarity with psychology... We should not forget her, however, because her case illustrates two very important points. One, although many people on this website have different opinions, when nearly everyone with real knowledge (ie, not Steve, or whatever pseudonym he's using to sneak back on this site) says your plan is a bad idea, it probably is. Two, if we had "just answered" her original question, we would have been advising her how to break the law or exploit a system designed to benefit genuine political refugees. So, thank you Hula-Hoop lady. You have created an enduring legend, and a great fable on how not to travel.

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Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
07/02/11 06:16 AM
2021 posts

(In honor of Peter Falk) Just one more thing. Ed, we're not just answering questions here. This cobbled together community is having an ongoing conversation. So just now we've gone off on a silly but amusing tangent about hula hoops.

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Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
07/02/11 06:43 AM
1357 posts

Thank you, thank you, Karen, for my first laugh of the day. I don't know how on earth I missed the hula hoop lady, but I'm so glad I've been introduced to her. God bless the hula hoop lady. And, Tom, she's DEFINITELY an Axis II kinda girl.


So there you go..

Posted by Agnes
Washington DC Region, USA
4332 posts

Ok, after a peek at her website, I got the gist of Hula Hoop Lady. She definitely marches to the beat of her own drum (which is healthy, but to a degree).

This is a real gem from her "coaching" line of work... she apparently can "help you clarify what clarity would look like". Oh boy. Sign me up :-)

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
6907 posts

Well, that was a fun trip down memory lane. I am shocked, however, at how much I misremembered. Sorry about that. In more ways than one.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
6711 posts

Yes, she is an interesting human being. I had personal contact with her, per emails. She just would not listen to anyone. She had a video of herself that she was trying to use to get jobs. It was awful, and she simply would not listen as to why. The fact that she filmed herself with traffic all around and the horrid back ground noise it makes wasn't even accepted as a reason it was bad. She makes a big deal on her CV about being an usher for Cirque d' Soleil. (an usher!) like this is some cool job skill.

She is a free spirit and if she is getting people to pay her money for life coaching sessions, it just proves that fools abound in this world.

She did live in Poland for a while, then in France, but I think she is back in the US now, fire dancing for Green Peace and the Sea Shepard, etc.

I feel sorry for her, but perhaps she has found her niche in life.

Posted by aquamarinesteph
362 posts

I must thank all of you for sharing the memories of Hula Hoop Woman. I now wish I'd found this forum AGES ago...

Posted by jayhamps OP
Liverpool UK
412 posts

Thanks Nigel for digging that out. Hula Hoop lady sounds like she has some issues I imagine her to be staying in Hostels in her 50's still trying to convince herself she is still 22 and just a free spirit, whilst the rest of us have to deal with the daily grind.

Posted by jayhamps OP
Liverpool UK
412 posts

What I like about this Forum is nobody is nasty to OP's for stupid questions, we are just very sarcastic and dry, which unfortunately some people don't like.

Posted by contrarian
9 posts

I would like to know how one gets hula hoops into even checked luggage on a plane. Or did she buy a fresh supply on arrival in Zurich? Just where would one buy hula hoops in Zurich? (Skiis, maybe. Snowboards, maybe. Hula hoops, well, perhaps at a specialist fitness studio...)

No, I have no plans to support myself hula dancing in Switzerland. It's just, well, those things are usually at least 3 feet in diameter. And I get distracted by details...

Posted by Rachel
Washington
649 posts

Yes, but Ms. Jo, ushering involved sweeping popcorn AND laundry.

I'm thinking of adding the popcorn part to my own resume.