Friday, March 5, 2010

Welcome to Barcelona

Welcome to Barcelona:

Barcelona, Spain is a beautiful city, It is clean, well laid out and friendly. Our cruise ship stopped here and we decided to explore the city on our own rather than taking one of the rather pricey “Ship Tours”. The shuttle bus from the boat dropped us close to the main street so a short walk found us immersed in Barcelona.

The main street is a broad street with a wide pedestrian area between traffic. In this wide area there are little kiosks selling tourist items, small restaurants and many human statues the area is famous for. It is a nice place to walk, with trees, benches and lots of interesting sites, and we wandered down here until we found the beautiful city market – more about markets in another Blog entry.

With only a short time in the city, we had decided that the one site we wanted to see was La Sagrada Familia, the famous incredible unfinished church built by the amazing Spanish architect Gaudi. It was a long walk, and since my father and his wife wished to see it too, we decided to try out the Barcelona underground. It looked like we could get there with only one transfer, so we set out.

The subway in Barcelona is the nicest I have ever used. I thought Tokyo's subway was well designed and easy to use, but this one is even better. It is clean, easy to use, fast and the cars are modern and impressive.

As the train pulled in, we got ready to enter the car. I stepped through the door, but ran right into two young women coming off the car. I moved to go around them, they moved the same way. Something wasn't right here, and I was instantly suspicious. As I stepped passed them, my hand went to my pocket with my wallet. GONE! I was well prepared wearing a pair of Tilley travel pants with a zippered front pocket which contained my wallet instead of the normal back pocket, but it was not there now.

Without even looking I whipped around, and grabbed the closest of the two girls. I got a good grip on her arm, and snapped “Give me back my wallet!” I could see the fear in her eyes, and I knew her arm was not comfortable. It was obvious she was not used to this situation and just wanted out of the train – she did not want to be in the car with me when the train left, so my wallet was instantly dropped on the floor and as I retrieved it she was gone.

I could see the surprise on the faces of the other passengers – it was obvious these Spanish pick-pockets were not usually caught and they were very pleased that this one did not get my wallet. I had many smiles and clapping. I expect that she will go one to continue this dodgy career, and I can't do much about that, but this was one pick-pocket that went home with a pretty good bruise on her arm to remember one Canadian tourist that didn't give us his money so easily. Back on the ship, I found that I was not the only victim of this aspect of Barcelona's welcome to visitors.

I enjoyed Barcelona, and Gaudi's church was amazing, but unfortunately, my pick-pocket adventure was how I will remember Barcelona.