November 10, 2016

A THIEVES’ PARADISE AND A BIRTHDAY.

Barcelona

On the last day of September, we went to Barcelona for a few days.  We were looking forward to it enormously, having not had any other kind of holiday this year.

There is a tendency to think that because we are now retired and live most of the time in France that we are permanently on holiday and we forget to take proper holidays as such.  It has been a very busy year, with visitors, repair work and garden projects, plus dealing with my dad’s illness early on, several trips across the channel by air or car, and getting used to life without Lulu.  We were truly ready for a change of scenery and a bit of a rest.

We arrived in Barcelona full of anticipation.  The weather was superb, perfect for sightseeing and Barcelona has plenty of that.  Unfortunately it also has plenty of thieves and pickpockets.

We enjoyed ourselves on day one, taking the open topped bus tour of the city to get an idea of how best to plan our time there.  In the evening we received bad news from my brother to say that my dad had been taken into hospital and was very poorly with an infection of some kind.  My brother was taking care of everything, visiting the hospital and liaising with doctors and so on.  He reassured me that he was coping and there was no need to try getting a flight back to the UK, which would have been nigh on impossible I suspect.

Having had his reassurance we enjoyed day two, visiting some of the places we had spotted from the bus the day before.

On day three we sat in our usual place for breakfast, outside at one of the popular restaurants on the main street.  It was quiet and there was nobody much around.  I used my mobile phone to talk to my dad’s lady friend to find out how they were both getting on and whilst I was distracted and my mind elsewhere, someone stole my handbag from the arm of the chair.  Right from under our noses.

Looking back, we realise who did it and how.  The person was dressed like a waiter so that he could push between tables and move things around without anyone thinking anything suspicious was happening.  In fact he could well have been one of the waiters or a person alerted by the restaurant staff to make his move.  There were other things I could mention that suggested a collusion with the restaurant staff, and with very few people about on the streets I find it hard to believe that we fell foul of a passing opportunist at 9.30 am.  Anyway, it was gone, a brand new red leather bag containing my wallet, camera and other bits and pieces that all are very personal and add up to quite a cost.

That’s why there are no other pictures of Barcelona in this post.  They were all in the camera that was stolen.  Nick took a few of course but I have no great desire to look at them.

We immediately cancelled my credit cards, desperately trying to remember what exactly was in the bag and the wallet, and by 10.30 am the police station was already full of hapless tourists, mostly women, who had been robbed of bags, wallets, cameras and mobile phones.  The police dealt with it in a bored, very matter of fact way, merely issuing a document listing what was stolen and from where.  Job done.  I imagine that they have little incentive to actively try to do anything about it as tourists only stay for a few days then are gone, replaced by another few plane loads of unwitting victims.  Barcelona is a thieves’ paradise.

For weeks I was angry and upset about it, thankful that my passport had been stowed in the hotel room and that I had already uploaded all my precious photos of Lulu onto my laptop before setting off, so as to have an empty card in the camera and lots of room for photos.  I have made an insurance claim, replaced the camera and the stolen credit cards, the UK ones arriving within days in the UK but the French one predictably taking several weeks and numerous fraught phone calls. 

In fact the thing I missed most was the camera, feeling quite lost without the ability to snap away at anything and everything wherever I went.  The new camera is fine, but it’s not pink like the old one.  The insurance claim has not been settled yet and in fact we don’t expect to get much money back, nothing like the value of what was stolen.

My dad was discharged from hospital after a week or so and is perfectly well again, another miracle at his age.  88 today as it happens and he’s spending the day with his lady friend, Sybil.

Jan 2016 - 1 028a

Happy Birthday, Dad!

14 comments:

  1. Bracelona's theives are mainly foreign junkies.

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    1. I can believe that. I also believe there doesn't seem to be the will to do anything about it, judging by what we saw and heard. Who needs tourists anyway? They only ever go the once so who cares if they never come back?

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  2. I'm so glad I've never had my handbag nicked. It seems like such a faff to sort everything out. Plus for years Simon didn't carry a cashcard, so we would have been well and truly stuffed, with no access to cash.

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    1. Susan, it truly was and still is a real pain.

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  3. I don't think you can single out Barcelona. All big cities, including Paris and probably London, have the same issues. Don't even talk about New York, Chicago, Washington, etc. etc. At least you weren't the victim of violent crime.

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    1. At least a dozen people I have spoken to have had a bad experience in Barcelona, or know someone who has.

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  4. Of all the places I have been to, Barcelona is the worst for petty theft and pickpocketing. I remember the first night in our hotel, talking with other guests, nearly all has fallen foul of some kind of petty theft somewhere or another in Barcleona. I remember standing on the steps of the Sagrada Familia watching the pickpockets work the crowd without a policeman in sight. There was also an attempt on my wife's purse whilst on the Metro, which thankfully failed. Barcelona a place worth visiting for Gaudi's architecture, a place to be avoided because of the thievery. Commiserations.

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  5. So sorry about your spoilt holiday, thankfully we were well warned before we went there but that is no help to you. Ken though is right, take care in all big cities we had friends who had everything stolen in Paris! Take care Diane

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  6. How frustrating
    I hadn't thought of retirement needing a holiday from time to time but this makes sense .

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  7. So sorry that your time in Barcelona was soured by bad guys. My husband insists on keeping his wallet in his back pants pocket, because he's always kept it there, only he doesn't really keep it because it's such an easy target for pickpockets. I have given up suggesting that he keep the &!?! wallet in a front pocket because he'd be more likely to notice suspicious activity. On the bright side, we've met some charming policemen and policewomen. And I now keep (separately) a list of the numbers on the backs of the cards that one calls to report, cancel, etc. And I have managed to train him to walk right past the gypsy ladies who have "found" a "gold" ring on the sidewalk.

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    1. The annoying thing is that we did everything right to avoid being robbed but took our eye off the ball for five minutes. Long enough when restaurant staff are on the lookout for easy targets we think.

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  8. Sorry to hear about yr experience which I came upon by chance. I was robbed once many yrs ago in Malta, ever since on holidays I have walked with my bag clamped to my side and in cafes etc I hold it between my knees, NEVER on the chairback. I put up with the slight discomfort for the added security and I've never been robbed again.

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  9. What a nightmare for you, Jean. You deserve better with the year you've had. We had a couple of long weekends in Barcelona without incident but it was a long time ago; counting ourselves lucky! Glad to hear your dad is better too.

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