Translation: thanks, but no thanks. There have been too many experiences to count that apply to this statement.
The only shoes I brought with me to Paris were a pair of sandals and a pair of hiking shoes. Considering the colder weather and sense of fashion here, I was keeping an eye out for an alternative. Easier said than done given the high prices of Paris. When I saw some shoes for 29 Euro, I tried them out but also figured they weren’t very well made.
Along with the very chemical odor coming from them, there were no half sizes available and I either would be squishing my toes or tripping over myself. I considered the latter, but the owner only had the shoe in black and the grey ones were what brought me into the store.
That didn’t stop her from practically shoving me out of the door with them.
‘Oh, black is better! You can wear with jeans or dress! Grey does not look good when it rains,’ she encouraged.
I considered, but the quality just wasn’t worth it. How do you say that to someone who is lingering over your shoulder telling your sister that she can shove something in the toe of the shoe to make it fit her tiny feet and repetitively asking ‘why not?’ when she decides against that option?
You don’t. We told her we were going to continue to look around and then literally ran out of the store, looking like shoplifters. I kept looking over my shoulder, half expecting her to chase us down and insist we buy them. After a few minutes we slowed our pace and laughed at our escape.
The only men who really approached me and my sister in Paris were those trying to sell us little Eiffel Tower figurines. That changed when we got to Rome. While walking to find breakfast we were woken up by a man who got right in our faces, whistled and then made kissing noises. Talk about invasion of personal space.
Later we were trying to figure out where to eat dinner, wandering around the streets. Often times a restaurant employee will stand on the sidewalk outside the establishment trying to attract customers. One man decided gasping and proclaiming, ‘I love you!’ would lure us in to eat. Wrong. We ate at a very tasty place down the street where the waiter had a better understanding of manners.
Besides the affectionate advances, there were also the sales people (if you care to call them that). Flinging flashy toys into the air, waving fake purses in your face and selling beer at ridiculous rates.
I’ve got to hand it to them, though, they’re magicians of sorts. When the temperature dropped in Rome, they sold scarves to drape around your shoulders.
Then, when the rain started falling a little later, suddenly the scarves became umbrellas. I had barely felt a drop before they were waving them in our faces.
Thankfully I learned from Ghana that a blank stare straight ahead or curt shake of the head is typically all it takes to send them running toward another unlucky tourist.