Trip Start Jun 28, 2008
Trip End Aug 11, 2008

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  ,
Saturday, July 5, 2008

Our Barcelona trip began with a little frustration when we were trying to book our train tickets.  Renfe is the Spanish rail company and we have come to find that they are NOT easy to work with at all!  The majority of their employees don't speak English, and as an American student using a Eurail pass to travel, the only way you will be able to book the tickets that you want is to physically go to the train station and wait in line for 2-3 hours to seak with someone.  Unfortunately, we didn't make this discovery until Friday afternoon while speaking to a Renfe agent over the phone.  The agent then informed us that the Renfe employees "strike" on Friday's so we would have to go to the train station 1-2 hrs before our train left the next morning in order to buy our tickets.  (Apparently the employees only strike on Fridays.....whatever!) 

Our train was at 6:30 a.m. so we were up at 4:15 on our way to the train station.....needless to say, this was not a great start to our weekend because we were all exhausted!  After much frustration and confusion, and sprinting through the station and onto the platform, we made it on the 6:30 a.m. train and enjoyed a very comfortable and fast train ride.  The train from Madrid to Barcelona was high speed, and was very nice.  The train traveled at speeds upward of 280 KM/hr......not sure how fast that is, but it seemed pretty fast :)  The entire trip took only 3 hours. 

When we arrived in Barcelona we found a nice little restaurant just off the beach and ordered a massive pan of paella, which turned out to be really good!  After lunch we settled into our hotel and changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the beach at the Olympic Village.  Barcelona has a pretty good Metro system, and our hotel was only 3 stops away from the beach. 

The weather in Barcelona was gorgeous!  The temps were in the mid to high 80's, but it was VERY humid and windy (obviously because we were on the water).  When we arrived at the beach we realized once again how different Europe is from the US.....ALL the women were topless, and most of the children were completely naked.  When I say ALL, I mean ALL the women.....even the 80 year old was definitely an interesting experience!  The water was pretty cold so we didn't do any swimming in the Meditteranean, and the sand was very rocky and was painful to walk on without your flip flops.  There were people walking around selling beer, water, and soda, and there were also women walking around and sellling massages for 5 Euro.  I was tempted to buy a massage because my feet were aching due to all of the walking we had been doing, but I decided against it. 

After we bagged some rays at the beach we headed to Plaza de Catalunya to do some shopping.  This is an area of the city where the streets are lined with stores, and there were MOBS of people shopping.  I tried to take a picture to show just how many people were in the Plaza, but the picture doesn't sufficiently convey the size of the crowds. 

On our way to Catalunya on the Metro we had a VERY interesting experience, one that I will NEVER forget.....o the Metro we were making a transfer to the line that took us to Catalunya at a stop that was very busy with many people getting on and off the train.  The purse that I have been carrying while over here is a messenger style purse that is worn across my body with a zip pocket and a front and back pocket that does not have any sort of zip or button closure.  My friend Chaunecy and I were getting on the train along with a throng of people, and people started pushing as if they were in a hurry to get on the train.  I felt a woman next to me pushing me onto the train, and as I looked over at her I looked down at my purse and her hand was IN my purse trying to pick pocket me!!!!!  I IMMEDIATELY slapped her hand out of my purse and SCREAMED at her a few choice words that I won't repeat here because I was absolutely FURIOUS that this woman thought that she could pick pocket me!!  At the same time that this happened to me, Chaunecy also discovered that a pregnant woman was also trying to pick pocket her!  The two women were clearly working together, and obviously bumrushed us in order to get close to our purses.  When I screamed at the lady she got mad at ME like I had done something wrong, and our guy friend Rudy who was traveling with us started yelling at her and informed everyone on the train that she was a pick pocket.  I am SO lucky that Cliff informed/taught me about spatial and situational awareness, otherwise I probably would have not caught the pick pocket in progress and she would've gotten my camera, passport, credit cards and ALL my money!
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