Monday, February 21, 2011

Alone and Homeless in the Med: Part 5

Hello, Readers, and thank you for tuning in to trumptettravels - the true accounts of my 11 year adventure on cruise ships as a crew member aboard Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Premier Cruises and the Holland America Line.

In my last posts I described how I ended up stranded in Barcelona (of my own will.) If you want to start from the beginning, click here: Crew Member Blog.

I left the restaurant and Barcelona was beginning to come to life at night. With the sun going down I started to have visions of laundered pressed bed sheets and a fluffy bathrobe.  I had spent the last night sleeping in the bushes and my back was sore.  I was probably due for a shower, too, but I figured, "Hey, it's Europe - I'll fit right in!"

Roaming down the back streets of the old town in Barcelona I passed the gothic cathedral, many quanit restaurants and shops, and many hotels.  With 2-3 hotels per block I figured I would have much better luck tonight than last night.  Door after door I went into the hotels (with "no vacancy" on the door) and pleaded for any tyoe of room.  I would've slept in the boiler room if that is all they had, but I was turned away at every hotel.  As I walked deeper and deeper into the old town the cacophony of the Ramblas faded into a thin herd of tourists and eventually only one or two couples walking on the cobbled streets.  I saw a hotel down a dark street and no "No Vacancy" sign on it.

Thinking in was in luck I headed down the street, walked inside and was told there were no rooms.  I asked if the concierge could help me and told him all of my problems.  He made a few phone calls and apologetically explained to me all about the F1 racing and how the hotels were completely full.  At that point a mild panic was setting in and I started to contemplate the Four Seasons or luxury hotels and blowing all my money on one nice night's sleep.

With the clerk unable to help me, I grabbed my backpack and my Nikon N60 (35mm) and left the hotel. I distinctly remember leaving that hotel because it was quiet.  REALLY quiet. and as I turned left, away form the Ramblas and into the more quiet section of the old town, I passed 5 Moroccans who were talking with each other leaning against a car.  I could tell they pretended not to look up or notice me which I thought was unusual.  For me, when anyone passes me at night I look up to see what kind of a person they are.  For them, I could tell they were specifically ignoring my passing.  With the Moroccans at my back I starting walking deeper into dark neighborhoods looking for a hotel.  I noticed the five guys talking behind me stopped.  I isn't hard to imagine what I heard next: the click clack of ten shoes on cobblestones.  I knew I was being followed.

What happened next happened in all of five seconds, but to me it felt like five minutes of slow motion.  It is funny when you are in danger, real danger, how the world seems to slow down and almost stop.  I took note of what I had on my person.  My camera, my last pay check (in cash of course), and some clothes in a tooth brush.  Racking my brain to come up with a weapon I was unable to.

Scanning the sidewalks and buildings I looked for a restaurant, shop, or a rock or weapon on the ground that I could defend myself with.  The gang had chosen a good spot - nothing was available.  I imagined even a lead pipe, a powerful weapon, against 5 thieves with knives and realized without a gun I was in trouble.

Faking a fly was bothing me I swatted at my head once and then again, turning my head slightly the second time.  Yup, they were following me.  They say flee a knife and charge a gun.  I was approaching a small perpendicular street and was on the edge of running for my life.  Acting like I was going straight and to the the right I was going to open the throttle and run as fast as I could to the left.

Funny how all of these details happened in about five seconds and still to this day they are crystal clear.  The street on the left was approaching and just as I was about to make a break for it a group of six British men round the corner, arm in arm laughing and clinking beer bottles.  I immediately turn and do a 180, falling in step with my new blokes.  I just start walking with them and just as I am about to pass the five Moroccans I look up to see all five of them walking straight ahead, but turning their heads and staring directly at me.  They looked like lions who just had their meal taken from them.  Not one was smiling.

I walked for a bit with the Brits back to the Ramblas and still was out of luck. It was still relatively early and I didn't have a place to sleep. Alone in Barcelona at night with every single hotel room completely booked - again!  The most dangerous part of the night had just passed, but you won't believe where I end up sleeping and who gives me a wake up call! If you'd like to know, "follow me" on Google or subsribe to my RSS Feed.  If you enjoyed this post, don't forget to push the "like" button or post a link so your friends can follow me, too.  As always, the blog is user supported by my readers clicking on sponsers posted in the blog.  It is free to do and helps support this blog.