Monday, October 18, 2010

Bienvenidos a Barcelona; Adios a Barcelona

Barcelona is all that people said it was - friendly people, warm hospitality, amazing architecture, great design everywhere - but no kidding about the pickpockets.

My first day in Barcelona, which was also my birthday, by the way, my wallet was stolen from my purse by a pair of some super wily pickpockets.  For the most part I made sure that my bag was zipped closed and slung across my body, but I had to take my wallet out to pay for my lunch and the place I chose was ridiculously crowded right next to the Boqueria, a major tourist attraction and, therefore, a prime breeding ground for industrious thieves.  So I put my wallet back in my bag, but didn't zip it and proceeded to put all the helpings on my falafel from the fixings bar, which is when the wallet was taken. At least the falafel was delicious.

Thankfully, I noticed my wallet was missing almost immediately and high-tailed it back to the shop thinking I had dropped it. Nope. So I made my way to the local police station and stood in line with all the other unfortunate victims. 

(One poor guy was on the tail end of a two month adventure all over Spain and had over 1500 pictures and, of course, had not had a chance to download any of the pictures and videos. He lost his camera. He said that he was sitting in a park and just watching the people. His camera was by his side, but he didn't have his hand on it. Someone came up to speak to him and the next thing he knew, his camera was gone. He wasn't so keen on Barcelona after that. )

Everyone was most sympathetic when they realized what an interesting birthday present I had received, but not optimistic about recovering my wallet. I then made my way back on foot to my hotel. Good thing that the distance was only 2 miles and full of interesting scenery. Bad thing was that I had absolutely no money - all my credit cards and cash was in the wallet. Stupid, I know, but I had never had any problems before in all my travels. So being penniless was a bit of a bummer. And so was dealing with canceling all the cards and thinking about how I was going to have to replace my driver's license, work ID, etc.

Miraculously, and I do not use that word lightly, I received an email later that night from a hotel in the Ramblas area notifying me that someone had found my wallet on the street and that I should claim it at the police station. Well, I was too pooped to walk back that same day, but returned the following day.

Everything was in the wallet. All my credit cards, miscellaneous cards, etc. Even my receipts. The only things missing were my cash and transit card. Pretty cool and extremely satisfying. I like to think that the thieves realized what a rotten trick they had played me on my birthday and had pity.  However, I still had no money. Fortunately I had done some minimal grocery shopping prior to being penniless and so had some food to tide me over until a replacement credit card could arrive on my last day in Barcelona. Consequently, my plans for fabulous shopping and eating were derailed, but in the large scheme of things that is all right. The thieves forced me to be mindful about keeping a tight budget and I feel as if I still had a full experience.

What a way to spend a birthday though.

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