España

  Hola! For those who don’t know me, I like to travel…. I’m a little addicted, and for this adventure I decided to bring my little brother Andrew along for the ride. I figured he’s probably the only one crazy enough to tough this one out.

Running with the Bulls (Encierro) has been on my bucket list for quite a while now….I was tired of watching time pass by and figured I better put my legs to good use while I’m still young. I’m excited for the trip, bonding time with Andrew, exploring new cites/countries and meeting new smiling faces.

Flying out on Independence Day was a bit of a bummer. Fireworks remind me that I’m about to be another year older, but it really doesn’t matter because we are on our way to España!!
We arrived in Spain the morning of my birthday. Plane ride was good, food…pretty sure they robbed an elementary school cafeteria, bags arrived as scheduled, exchanged our US dollars to Euros, changed in the airport bathroom and then caught a bus into Barcelona. Arriving in Placa de Catalunya, we were ready to Explore!

After walking around admiring all of the detailed architecture, we took a break in front of Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral. We sat down beside a small tree on the corner of a busy intersection. I had failed to explain to Andrew how thieves work in Europe. They’re professionals and they’re fast! While I was checking out our map of the city I looked up to find my brother about 15 feet away chatting with a guy that needed “help.” He had supposedly dropped something into the drain and needed assistance getting it out.

So while I am explaining to Andrew that he didn’t really need help and either wants money or wants to rob us….I hear a voice on my right saying “Tu bulsa! Tu Bulsa!” I looked over to see a taxi driver pointing at the spot in between my feet where my purse used to be. Then he pointed across the intersection to the subway. Without thinking (don’t ever do this. It isn’t smart to leave your travel partner) I ran across the intersection dodging cars, ran down the stairs to the subway, jumped the gate, ran down the right side of the 1st train looking like a crazed lady, didn’t see anyone with my purse,went back to the main level and back down to the left side of the 2nd train, no luck….sweating and out of breathe, I ran to the security on the main level asking them for help, but they said that there is nothing that they could do.I walked over to Andrew who had come down into the subway and apologized for leaving him. We did a quick check through of our bags to make sure we still had the important things (Money, passports & Camera) I told him we still had each other and the necessities, so it was still a good day.

We hopped on the metro and headed to Barceloneta beach to relax after our eventful hour. The beach was crowded and full of life. Just what we were looking for. Half a mile down the shore line we saw people jumping off of a rock wall. Since we both like to keep our bodies in constant motion we headed straight for the wall.

After jumping off a few times, my leg felt like it was on fire. I looked down to find sea urchin barbs sticking out of it. We packed up and started heading to the lifeguard station. The lifeguard didn’t speak much english, but he cleaned me up and had me back on my feet in no time.

 We headed back towards the Estacio-Sants main train station where we had originally planned to ride on to Pamplona. I stopped at a tiny internet shop to write my friend in Madrid to let him know about the events in Barcelona and depending on how the rest of the trip goes we may be delayed getting to him. I logged onto my e-mail account and low and behold was an uplifting unexpected message from my friend that read “don’t leave Barcelona tonight. The police found my business card in you purse and called me to see if you can pick up your purse” I jumped for joy! Even though deep down I knew that anything of value was no longer inside of my purse, the simple fact that I was able to get it back was amazing. So we headed to the nearest police station. What we didn’t realize is there are two types of police that work in Barcelona….one is the Mossos d’Esquadra (civilian, non military) police force and the other are Policía Nacional. Their function relates particularly to issues that affect Spain as a country, and Spain’s relations with the rest of the world.

Needless to say several hours and 6 police stations later we finally arrived at the correct station that had my purse. They told me a family picked up my purse from an alley where they had seen the robber throw my purse…as expected there were only a few items left inside. By the time we arrived at the train station our train was long gone and there weren’t any more running until the next morning.

 Lucky for us we packed a tent!! We walked half a mile until we stumbled across an abandoned lot in the middle of the city. Keeping an eye out for a clear moment that people weren’t passing by, we climbed the 10 ft. wall and set up camp for the night. Listening to sirens screaming, dogs howling and people chatting as they passed by, I closed my eyes thankful that this eventful birthday was over and a new day was coming….

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