Sunday, 27 September 2015

Watch out at Tourist Hot Spots


It shouldn't surprise me that in touristy places there is a big chance that you are gonna get ripped off badly, or at least the locals will give it a red hot try. Australia's tourist Mecca, the Goldie is quite a bit like that, especially if you head into Surfer's Paradise.

No there aren't touts on the beaches trying to sell you a foot massage and a drink made from dubious ingredients as happens in Bali, and neither are there prices for locals and prices for idiot visitors as there are in South Korea. But there is definitely not always good value for money and if I was looking to buy a T shirt or a sex aid, Surfers Paradise would not be on my list of places to go.

So last night I was off up town to the theatre and popped up out of the tube at Piccadilly Circus. Yes there are places in London as recognisable but not too many more so. As ever I was early so thought I might like a little soft serve ice cream to fill in time. There was some rather slimy looking bloke in an ice cream van parked right by the tube exit. Seeing it didn't fill me with the same sort of thrill as hearing that tuneless music from the Mr Whippy truck when I was a kid, when all the kids in the street would hassle the parentals for a few pennies for a cone, - not one of those cones, we didn't have a clue about any of that until many years later. I loved those sloppy ice creams! So it wasn't as thrilling but I fronted up anyway. There was a family ahead of me who didn't speak much English so there was a lot of pointing and smiling and kids eating up sugar. Then the fella told Dad how much he owed and Dad had to get the wife to dig into their reserves to find enough cash. That should have been a warning to me, but no, I wanted an ice cream.

So I smiled and greeted the guy in good friendly English, hoping he might NOT try to take the piss. I had spied in a little corner, a hand written note which included some prices, and whilst 3 quid ($6) for a soft serve seemed pretty steep, I thought, ' Bugger it, I'm in Piccadilly Circus, let's have some sugar.' There were 3 prices - 1,3 and 5 pounds. I thought the middle one would satisfy my craving. So I ordered a 3 quid softy, and he grabbed a big cone and muttered something about a fiver. Now pretending not to speak English should have rung alarm bells, but instead, I just shook my head and told him again I wanted a 3er. He dropped the cone like it was diseased and grabbed perhaps the smallest cone I have ever seen and squirted in just the tiniest bit of splodge, he went to hand it to me, which obviously is a sign that you have accepted the deal.

I put my hand up using the universal STOP signal. I looked at him and said, '3 quid for that? Are you kidding me? That's the smallest ice cream I have ever seen.' In his very best English he then proceeded to tell me that it was very expensive to run the ice cream machine and the goods are priced accordingly. I told him I wasn't going to pay him and walked away, sadly sans cone. As I was walking away, I saw him dump the meagre bit of splodge back into the machine.

Then Chris and I found a delightful little pub and popped in for a cheeky bevvie before the show. There was a deal on cocktails for a fiver so Chris had a mojito, but I fancied a wine. Drinks were delivered and I suppose we should have guessed that there was something up, cos the delivery was made much aplomb. I was presented with a medicinal amount of white wine and Chris' glass was mostly filled with ice.

The bill came to I think about 14 pounds, even though the wine was priced at 4.5 and the mojito just 5. An argument  was had but the bill was paid and all up it left a very sour taste in my mouth. 

I know these places don't give a rat's arse about repeat business, but the rip off factor just gets right up my nose.