Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Frommer's Barcelona Day by Day

Welcome to Week 2 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. If you’re a new reader to my site, my theme for the month is “keeper books,” the books I can’t live without. Today’s selection is Frommer’s Barcelona, Day by Day, 21 Smart Ways to See the City. It’s one of my newer books—I haven’t even owned it a full twelve months. The reason it’s a keeper is that I used it last year on my trip to Barcelona, and I had so much fun I’m definitely going back! 

The book is small but loaded, much like the handbag I used to schlep the book over every square centimeter of Barcelona during my two-week summer vacation. And in many ways, that handbag was just as important as the book, maybe more so. Before I tell you why, I first want to apologize to the Barcelona tourist board for what may be perceived as a negative report, but it was their very own site that alerted me to the fact that Barcelona is swarming with pick-pockets. Yuk. At first I didn’t want to believe it—I’ve been in big cities, thank you, I can look after myself. Then I read the warnings again on numerous travel blogs, on my chosen hotel’s website, and finally in Frommer’s Barcelona Day by Day. Travelers beware: thieves abound.

I was worried. I’ve never been a paranoid traveler and I wasn't about to start. All the same, I decided I had to have the safest bag ever made to foil those pesky purse-snatchers. I wanted it to be stylish, small-ish, and something that didn’t scream “American tourist on the loose!” 

My solution was to go to a weapons site. Yes. Pacifist, timid me started scanning websites with names like “Gun-Toting Mamas” and “Guns-to-Go.” It was an education, mainly because it drew my attention to the reality that many women are a) armed and b) have good reason to be. Police officers, security guards, private detectives, women who live in dangerous American cities—all need to protect themselves and others, like it or not. And thanks to these resourceful sites, I found the perfect purse: tan leather, lots and lots of zippered pockets for things like passports and make-up, a slash-proof handle (very important), and a secret gun compartment (!). Once I removed the Velcro holster from the compartment, it was the exact size to hold Frommer’s Barcelona along with my travel journal and pencil case. Talk about turning swords to plowshares. 

Best of all, I could wear the bag cross-body, the recommended way those scary blog warnings insisted I do. They were right—on my last night in the city, while being seated at a very fancy and beautiful restaurant, a young woman was robbed. It broke my heart to see her sobbing helplessly while her family tried to comfort her as they called banks and embassies to block her credit cards and personal information. 

It was an eye-opener to realize the world isn’t as safe as it was in the past when I’d breezily ride the London tube home alone at midnight after attending a concert or play. It also got old to constantly clutch my cross-body weaponless-weapon bag like a cherished infant every minute of the day and night, but that’s the world we live in. It won’t stop me returning to Barcelona, or anywhere else for that matter. Besides, I have a secret weapon of my own: the purse itself. Filled with my pens, books, journals, camera, wallet, water, the thing weighs a ton. I’m sure it could knock out a grown man cold. The travel journal really is mightier than the sword. 

P.S. If you'd like to read my post about my wonderful and happy trip to beautiful Barcelona, just click here. Thanks for visiting.


Dani J Caile said...

Oooh, long time since I was in Barcelona...fantastic city! Great little post :-)

Lexa Cain said...

Barcelona is full of pickpockets? Say what? I lived in New York City for 10 years and was only pickpocketted once. Even living in Cairo for years, I never had a problem. I'm surprised about Barcelona. :O

Valerie Storey said...

Thanks Dani and Lexa--I loved my time in Barcelona and can't wait for a return visit. I think the reason for pick-pockets having so much fun is because there are so many tourists packed like sardines everywhere, and they're all looking skyward at the beautiful architecture! It's my understanding that violent crime is nearly non-existent and the problem really just centers on people leaving bags and jackets on restaurant chairs, or being very careless. I was vigilant, LOL! Consequently I had one of my best vacations ever.