By: Mike Argyle
If you’ve never been to Europe, the two pieces of advice that will get you through unscathed are as follows:
1. Do not give money to anyone on the street.
2. Always keep your possessions in your firm grasp.
Whether or not you abide by these or agree with them at all, many of the problems that could hurt your trip (and this is true virtually anywhere, not just in Europe) will be reduced if you just follow these two things. Cold hearted? Maybe, but that allowed me to emerge with no issues.
I was spending a week in Barcelona with a friend of mine and we had all our accommodations booked for the entire time, save the first night where we decided to just explore the city and we would forego sleep. Great idea, right?
It started off promising, We wandered around the streets, ate some food, grabbed a few beers and high-fived a giant Jack from A Nightmare Before Christmas, before stumbling on a Celtic concert being held in the square. Awesome! Add in a butt load of beer and early vacation optimism and we were ready for the rest of the night. Dawn would be a breeze.
My friend then decided he was in need of some substance of the illegal nature and sought a proprietor of said substance. I was all for buying beer on the street after hours, despite it also being a problem, but anything else I was fine without it, but that’s just me. He managed to find someone who sold kind of what he wanted, but then asked instead for something else. The salesman, kind as he was, said in broken English that he would go and find some. And so we waited. And waited. Finally when it seemed like it wasn’t in the cards – oh joy – the humble salesman returned with it. My friend though, decided he didn’t want it. Ugh.
We were then followed by some of his companions, intent on peddling their wares, despite our bilingual protestations to the contrary. Finally, they left. This is when I turned to my friend and told him I didn’t feel like getting shanked or arrested on my first night in Spain and it probably wouldn’t look good on his student visa either. Call me a downer, I just don’t roll that way.
It was at this time, 2am, that we realized a place to sleep would’ve been optimal and we were morons for wanting to wander around all night. Continuing with our trend of moronishness, we relocated to a park bench to rest. My buddy was dating a girl at the time who said she would stay up and read because she wasn’t tired and watch our bags while we rested. We agreed and went to sleep for an hour.
We were woken up by her, who said her bag had been stolen. Not in a struggle or anything that we could’ve stopped, but rather by someone who came up behind the bench and took it. My buddy and I were sleeping on our bags – because we are smart – but hers was by her feet. By then, it was 4am and we decided to walk around. It was made all the easier by us being one bag lighter. So hooray for thieves!
We made it to the beach just in time to watch the sun rise – amazing. But just before that, a kindly young fellow, shivering despite the over 25 degree pre-dawn temperature, asked if we had any hash. We apologized and informed him we did not, and he went on his way. I guess we should’ve procured some earlier, but then again I am selfish. Upon making our way back to the train station to get the rest of our luggage, we saw our dear fellow passed out and still shivering on a bench.
What a magical city!