The bad, the good, and the maybe not so ugly. That's what is going to go down as the memory of Barcelona. It's been a real mixed bag, but in the end, I think we just have to take it all as it comes, because that's what travelling is all about. I might as well spill the beans early so as not to keep everyone in suspense, and explain as I go. As it turns out, one of he very first things greeting us in Barcelona was Kristine having her wallet picked out of her pocket without even knowing. The offsetting positive was that Alex and Manu came down for the weekend from Paris to hang out with us. :)
So, it was just pouring in Cadaques on Friday afternoon. There we were standing in the rain waiting for the bus to open up. The driver was inside the bus and he wouldn't even let us in! Can you imagine that, there we were getting soaked fully laden with all our bags. You can't put them down because they would get wet. We were soaked by the time we got into the bus. We sat behind a young couple from Chile who were now living in Barcelona who seemed to have been in Cadaques for the weekend. We got to talking and it turned out that they lived very near where we were going in the centre of Barcelona's Bari Gothic, and they would be able to guide us through the metro and then point us in the right direction at the exit of the metro. As usual, people always seem very nice where ever we go.
So we bought our metro tickets and of we went. At the parting point, we thanked them, and Kristine gave them both a hug and we were off to our hotel, which we found only 5 minutes later. We had to pay cash in advance, so I went for my wallet and I didn't have enough on me so I asked Kristine if she had any, and when she reached for her wallet, she realized almost instantly that it was gone! I'll dispense with all the mayhem that ensued for the next few minutes looking for the thing, and just say that for sure it was long gone. Up until know, Kristine had been keeping her wallet in an outer side pouch that's velcroed shut on her leg. But we figure that that was not good enough when we are walking along fully laden with the packs.
Funny thing was that we both sort of had a premonition. We had both read that Barcelona requires extra attention, and that we would have to prepare a little better. I put my money belt on before getting off the bus, and made sure that my wallet was in an inner pocket. Off we went following along with the couple we had met. The metro was crowded, so maybe it happened in there, but I think it was a confidence game by the couple and they lifted it when Kristine leaned in for the hug at the end of our trip. The reason I think that is that they took off really fast after saying goodbye to us, lest we discover he problem too quickly. That's the bad news.
The good news, if you want to call it that, is the fact that we were prepared enough to only have cash in the wallet and no cards and other important stuff, so while it is a pain in the ass (and this one hurt quite a bit because she had about 150 CDN on her which is more than usual), there would be no "follow up" required if you will. She certainly needed a bit of comforting, because it's kind of a violating thing, but in the end we were both really just angry that this sort of thing happens, and while we cannot be 100% sure how it happened, someone out there is a real bastard (or bastardette as the case may be). I'm going with the confidence game, as I have read that they are very sophisticated in this city. So be it. So add that to Hungary and we've been screwed out of a couple hundred and change so far. I hope it doesn't happen again!
On the very positive side, Alexandre and Manu from Paris came down to tour the city with us for the weekend, which was really fun, and took the edge off the wallet thing. It made it easier to forget about it and try to have a good time in Barcelona. The city is really packed, and we spent most of our time together enjoying Gaudi's strange architectural accomplishments which include parks, buildings, and the fabulous Sagrada Familia, and sampling the local tapas at a number of restaurants. Almost completely different from France, the Spanish are huge party goers, and dinner usually starts at around 10:30 pm. Then they just stay up all night drinking! You can really see how this city would be superb in the summer time when the beaches are warm enough for swimming, and it is almost always sunny. We had two beautiful days! Even now, it is blisteringly alive.
I have to say though, I am not a huge fan of the modernist trends that you find in Spanish art all over this city. I prefer the old gothic churches much more (of which there are many here). Gaudi's stuff, for example, is like a 3 way cross between Dr. Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, and Disneyland all in one. Too "wedding cake icing" for me. It's interesting, and different, but once you have seen a few, I think it gets boring. What was interesting is to see a full blown church like the Sagrada under construction. You start to understand why it takes hundreds of years to build the things. It will take at least another 2 hundred to finish it I think. It's going to be enormous if it ever gets done!
And so, as we downed another bottle of inexpensive but excellent red, along with a table full of tapas, we had to bid our farewell to Alex and Manu once again as they made their way to the airport. We made our way to the train station, off into the sunset, to make arrangements to head west, to the heart of the Spanish hinterland...