Friday, 12 February 2010

Week 20

I tried to pay an English cheque into my Spanish bank account today, and was rewarded with an insight into the efficiency, intelligence and hard work that goes into the modern banking system.

“You can pay it in, but it’s a really bad idea” explained the nice lady in the bank. “It will take a minimum of 45 days, and there will be a charge of 30 Euros. Also the exchange rate will not be good.” So I sent it back to the UK, where it will go into my British account, so that I can take it out of a Spanish cash machine, to pay it into my Spanish account.

Once, when I was sitting on a train somewhere in south London, I had an idea that any rail or bus ticket should be refunded if the passenger could have completed their journey more quickly on foot. In that case, the 5.5-mile journey from Penge to London Bridge took two hours – I could have walked it in one and a quarter hours, so all my train fare bought me was a wasted three-quarters of an hour, and I should have got my money back. On the other hand, for people who get into a beetroot-faced paroxysm when their flight is delayed, this policy would help them to realise that for a journey of 1,000 miles, an hour’s delay is completely acceptable.

Looking at the map, I am certain I could make the journey from Barcelona to my bank in London on foot in less than 45 days. Given the 30 Euros, plus the extra 15 or so they’d sting me for in the exchange rate, I could feed myself, too. I’d have to take a tent and some good boots, but then the banks have some infrastructure of their own in place. Massive buildings, laws that are made in their favour, everyone else’s taxes, and that sort of thing.

So maybe I’ll do that: put on my walking shoes and set off on an adventure, to show the monstrous titans of finance just how rubbish they are in comparison to a good sturdy pair of man-legs. Anyone care to send me a cheque?

Our clothes dryer and winch-thing. We often winch each other down into the street.

When friends from home come to visit, you want to show them the best of Barcelona; the beaches, the restaurants, the boutiques, Gaudi's architecture, that kind of thing. Getting mugged is definitely not on the agenda.

Last weekend my friend, Eleanor, came to stay and on Saturday night we headed to El Born, which is a well-to-do area with some nice bars. As we walked along a well-lit, busy street, two men appeared from the shadows and tried to grab our belongings. It's not the first time this has happened to me in Barcelona so I think that some kind of fighting instinct kicked in because I wouldn't let go of my handbag. There ensued a lot of shouting and a tussle which involved me grappling on the ground with the thief. This is so undignified, I thought as I fell towards the concrete. 

I eventually lost the fight because – well, he was a good deal stronger than me. With no handbag, this meant no keys to my flat. This was bad news because Will was back home in Devon for the weekend so we had no way of getting back in. Several phone calls, texts, glasses of wine, and vodkas and tonics later, we couldn't get through to my landlord and we had to concede that we'd be staying in a hotel that night.

Eleanor and I traipsed wearily from hotel to hotel only to be met with funny looks and shaking heads from the night men telling us there was no room at the inn. We eventually found two free bunk beds in a dorm at a youth hostel a stone's throw from my flat. This was actually quite fun because at the age of 30, neither of us had been in a hostel for many years. 

"It's the crisis," said my landlord sadly as he met us the next morning with some spare keys. Whatever the reason, I am now on a mission not to be mugged again for the remainder of our stay in Barcelona. Some have suggested carrying pepper spray, others think a vicious-looking dog would do the trick. But I think I'll defeat the robbers with a style statement: I see that the bum bag is making a comeback this season so I'll invest in one of those.
The Parc de L'Espanya Industrial


  1. Sorry you got mugged Christina, it really sucks.
    I lived in BCN for 12 months recently and nothing like this happened to me. But I lived in the posh Eixample..

  2. WOW Will that is just ridiculous!
    Christina... i bet you put on a good fight :( i hope it didn't cost you too your posts! xxx

  3. QUAINE! I miss you, and your funny words just reinforce it xxx