Sunday, June 3, 2012

Scam City A Must See

It's pretty wonderful that Toronto is not included in the new travel series ominously titled Scam City.
Because the 10-part hour series from Montreal's Handel Productions looks at all the ways tourists can get ripped off in some of the great travel destinations of the world.
The host is Irish guide Conor Woodman who gets himself into some pretty terrifying situations aided by a tiny camera peeping forth from one of the button holes on his shirt.
After you watch the first episode which is on Prague you'll perhaps be forgiven for leaving this beautiful city off your next European jaunt.
Scam City ventures to Rio, Marrakech, Rome, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Istanbul, New Delhi, Bangkok and Las Vegas.
In Prague the trick artists seem to be everywhere.
It all starts with Woodman getting ripped off at the currency exchange booth.
But highest on the list are the taxi companies who will size up and tourist and then charge three or four times the legal limit for a ride.
Since the fall of communism Prague has been a destination point for hookers and drug dealers and we meet some of these heavies in uncomfortable situations.
Woodman gets short changed at a street eatery which seems par for the course. A prostitute takes his friend for every cent he's carrying by brazenly brushing up to him.
In a very seedy bar Woodman finds chatting up a call girl costs 500 euros. Refusal to pay up could result in a bloodied nose. In this altercation the cops turn up and then leave just as quickly as they came.
Another taxi driver cautions not to get drivers upset as all carry guns and knives.
Woodman even interviews the head of one tax concern who realistically concedes that it's a jungle out there and he can do nothing to contain his often violent staff.
As Woodman summarizes: "Prague is full of history, romance...and trouble."
In between the dangerous situations are quick shots of an incredibly beautiful city --river views, gorgeous mediaeval architecture.
But remind me never to go there.
So what about Canadian cities?
Apparently we just too goody goody to even merit mention. Neither Montreal nor Toronto is going to be included in the second batch of exposes either.
So what if we're dull I say. At least we're relatively safe.

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