Barcelona, Part 1…Security scare!!!..OMG!!!…

Please stop back tomorrow for the remaining photos of our visit to Barcelona including our visit to Segrada Familia.

The Port of Barcelona.

Before we describe our visit to the bustling historic city of Barcelona, Spain, let’s get the scary story out of the way. Thus, this is the end of the story described in the beginning.

The bridge over the bay by the pier.
On this back-to-back cruise, we were given priority sticky badges to wear when we return to the ship, to avoid the lines with new passengers boarding. On our last back-to-back on Carnival, this process was literally seamless, taking only minutes to board as we were graciously pushed through the lines.
The long dock we observed from the Garden Café early this morning.

As a precaution today, Tom wore two pairs of pants. The inside pair was cargo shorts with multiple pockets closing with Velcro. Over those shorts, he wore a pair of jogging pants with an elastic waistband. 

An animated “headless” man, hoping money will be tossed into his container.

The purpose of the abundant attire was to protect those items from pickpockets for which we have been well-warned by many travelers. It would have required the pickpockets taking Tom’s pants off to get to the stuff. 

An artist’s rendition of the colors of Barcelona.

Ironically, as we departed the ship we noticed most passengers carrying backpacks, purses, wallets with straps and various other bags and containers, all fodder for pickpockets. Barcelona has a reputation for a high risk of being pick pocketed, in many cases rather aggressively. We were prepared. No such incident occurred.

A vendor shop along the boulevard attracting tourists.

Returning as back-to-back passengers, Norwegian Epic’s process was cumbersome and annoying. Returning from Barcelona after the hectic rush of traffic, zillions of tourists in a mad frenzy to see the myriad sites, we were anxious to get back on the ship.

At the entry point, we were steered into a lengthy line with hundreds of passengers of all ages, rolling their carry on luggage and talking while paying little attention to the movement of the line. 

Tom is not the most patient person on the planet, easily annoyed by lines.  Hopefully, as our travels continue, he’ll become more patient. He’s trying. In no time at all, he gets over it and the grumbling ceases. I tend to ignore his fussing. 

This afternoon, around 2:00 pm when we returned to the ship, his patience was wearing thin as 30 minutes or more crawled by as we waited in the long line. Finally, we reached the security checkpoint.

I was a little anxious as we approached security, since while in Barcelona, we stopped at a “Pharmacia” to purchase more contact lens solution. I’d already gone through the small $12.50 bottle we’d purchased on the Carnival Liberty. The Epic’s little shop doesn’t carry contact lens solution. Quite odd, actually.

Security checkpoints do not allow bringing any obvious liquids aboard the ships as prohibited when flying. Along a shelf, I noticed numerous partially used bottles of various liquids, soda, water, iced tea and lemonade. 

Oh, oh. Were they going to confiscate my contact lens solution? (When we originally boarded the Epic on April 20th, we learned this lesson when we had to forfeit our liter bottle filled with Crystal Lite Ice Tea).

As we approached the security area during the mad rush, we decided to share a white plastic bin with the items from our pockets: the camera, one RFID passport holder containing both of our passports, Tom’s plastic pocket comb, my metal tube of  lipstick, a holder for our cabin key cards, a small amount of Euros we’d purchased when we got off the ship and Tom’s jacket. That’s all we had on us.

Pushing the items through the scanner we each walked through the metal detector, one by one, without incident. As we reached the end of the table,  preparing to grab our stuff as our white plastic bin came through, suddenly a bevy of Spanish security guards surrounded us. 

A breath caught in my throat. Tom and I glanced at each other, panic in our eyes. What was wrong? The seated security guard pointed to an item on his scanner, shouting, “What is this?”

Tom and I both crooked our necks to see an item on the screen neither of us recognized. I suggested it was my camera, my heart beating in my throat. Tom was baffled. Obvious confusion was in his eyes. 

The guards surrounding us started taking the items out of the bin, one by one, to discover a closed 4″ BLACK HANDLED BUCK KNIFE!!!!

This was the type of knife in our bin, but with a 4-4.5 inch blade.

Shocked, I looked at Tom wondering if he had brought such a knife, dismissing it instantly, knowing he’d never be so foolish. At exactly the same moment we both protested, panic in our voices,”This is not ours.” It wasn’t ours. 

Someone had placed the knife in our white plastic bin! How were we going to get out of this pickle? Were we going to jail? Oh, good grief! Were they trying to get us to pay some exorbitant fine? Why? Why? Why, had this happened?

We both protested loudly, desperately trying to communicate with the Spanish speaking guards. We kept saying, over and again, “No, no, no.  This is not our knife! We have no knife with us! We are returning passengers to the ship. Take the knife! It is not ours!!!”

The guard talked in muffled tones among themselves. The seated guard looks up at us and says, “Go, go, go.  Not your knife!”

Baffled by the experience, hearts still pounding, we couldn’t walk away quickly enough. As we raced through the walkways toward the ship, we barely spoke, still reeling over the incident.

How did that knife get there? Tom suspects that it was a standard test put upon the security guards by the upper echelon to see if the guards would, in fact, “catch” the knife on their scanner as it came through. I’m not so sure. I suspect that another passenger realizing they had the knife on them, wanting to avoid being arrested, tossed it into our bin.

We’ll never know.  Lesson learned? One of us holds onto the bin as it goes into the scanner while the other waits on the other side for it to come through.  Anyone have any suggestions? Please, do tell.

My contact lens solution went through without incident.

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