Barcelona - Part 1

“Don’t bring a handbag or any nice jewellery!” My Mother said in her very serious voice. “Apparently They SLASH your handbag with knives and they don’t even CARE if they cut you!” she reinforced.
My Mother is very dramatic so I took this with a pinch of salt.  I rolled my eyes at her and gave her further stories little credence.
Hence, when I got on the plane to Barcelona, I did, indeed, have my handbag.
Upon arrival in Barcelona, a city I had been eagerly awaiting to visit, my Mother and I decided that we’d make our way to the hotel via train and metro.  I was rather amused as I walked through the airport to see a man with a placard, waiting for a person to collect from a flight.  The sign read “ Johnathon Stevens, “Tossa”  Poor Johnathon, I hope that made him smile too.
For 40 minutes we waited for the train to take us to the next step of the journey.  On we piled to a full and cramped carriage, where even the aisles were rammed with luggage and travellers.  
“Watch your bag” said my Mother whilst trying to make sense of the map of Barcelona, her glasses on the end of her nose, as she tried to pronounce Spanish station stops.
All of a sudden a man produced a microphone and an accompanying sidekick with an accordion.  The train came alive with clapping and singing as the party train made its way along.  When the men had finished their singalong, one of them made his way down the obstacle course of an aisle to collect money for the show.
“Watch your bag” I said to my Mother as she fished for change.
When we disembarked from the train an hour later we headed for the metro.  Up steps and down steps we marched endlessly in search of our line, our battered suitcases humming along behind us and our bags clasped tightly to our sides.
Now, on this train, which was also full, sat 3 very pretty girls.  One was slightly older, maybe in her 30’s and reminded me a little of Boy George.  A few stops on, she suddenly stood up and yanked the two other girls from their seats with brute force.  One of the young girls went in the wrong direction so Boy George, grabbed her by the hair and pushed her off the train.  We all looked on aghast, mouths open but compelled to watch as she pushed the two girls against the wall.  I wondered whether we should intervene but looked on as she began to frisk the women forcefully.  Now when I say frisk, I don’t mean the gentle ‘feel up’ you get when going through airport security. OH NO.  She ripped off their belts, pulled up their tops, undid their jeans and rammed her hands down their pants.  I had to do a double take and check round to see if it was being filmed as some sort of porn show.  It was then that I noticed how many men had their legs crossed.
Unfortunately the show was curtailed by the train moving on and we will never know what happened next.
“Drugs?”  I suggested to my Mother as we chugged on.
“Pickpockets” she said “Watch your bag”
We arrived at our next stop and had to make our way to line 4 for the final part of our destination.  Line 4, though sign posted, was like trying to get to Brigadoon.  
“Are you sure this line actually exists?” I grumbled as I climbed down yet another flight of steps.  On we trudged, weary and hot.  As I made it to the top of yet another flight of steps, panting and sweating and near giving up the fight for life, I turned to see a well dressed man, walking backwards up the steps,  holding one end of my Mothers case as she gripped the other.  Upon reaching the top, he gently put it down, smiled and went on his way.
“I thought he was going to steal my case!” she exclaimed “But how nice of him to help me”
We sat waiting for the next metro and I pointed out to my Mother that we’d been travelling on trains now for 2 hours 15 minutes.  
“That’s longer than the bloody flight from England”  I said
“Yes, but look at the adventure we’ve had”  she enthused.  She had a point.
We eventually arrived at Bogatel where our hotel was situated.  I have to say that the word didn’t inspire me to be hopeful and whilst walking through the graffitied streets, along rows of what looked like crack dens, I began to feel a little edgy.
“Watch your bag” my Mother said. “There’s people in hoody’s”
We found the hotel but it didn’t have an entrance.  Marvelous.  We found a little black, graffitied door with a buzzer and my Mother decided to press it relentlessly until someone came to her aid.
“MOTHER! STOP!  That is NOT going to be the bloody entrance to a 4 star hotel!”  
Eventually a tired and somewhat dishevelled chef opened the door. He told us we were on the wrong street and at the back of the hotel.
We walked round to the front and entered  a beautiful hotel that was a sight for sore eyes and feet.  We approached reception, gave our names and my Mother went to get her credit card to pay.
She unzipped her bag and said “My purse has gone.  I’ve been pick-pocketed”
To be continued.....