There have been times in my life where I claim to have “a bad feeling about a certain situation”. While that feeling proves to be true at some times, other times it is clearly my emotions getting the best of me. This time, however, my “bad feeling about a certain situation” became true.
I knew when we booked it that it was too good to be true. As soon as we had booked the apartment, we had found out from Amy and John that they wouldn’t be arriving until Friday. After looking back at our email exchanges, we realized that neither party had clearly articulated nor settled on any dates. Quite unfortunately, we had booked the apartment for six people for Thursday-Sunday, when only six people would be there Friday-Sunday. While it wasn’t the most encouraging beginning to our first trip outside of Germany, we nonetheless had high hopes for the weekend to come.
The apartment located near Las Ramblas on La Calle de Mata appeared a phenomenal place and a great price according to the website. Upon our arrival, however, there were many obstacles inhibiting such satisfaction. We arrived at the apartment at approximately 20:00 only to find that Francisco, the man renting the apartment, wasn’t present. Thankfully, we had the confirmation email at hand, which indicated very clearly that both parties knew what time our arrival to the apartment would be. So, we waited patiently but admittedly quite anxiously for Francisco to arrive. When he didn’t arrive after nearly forty minutes, we began to worry. We called his phone, but no avail. Naturally, I began praying, and just as I was doing so, an individual was entering the apartment complex. I knew that my Spanish would have to pull through if we wanted a place to stay that night. And it did, but barely. So, in a seemingly frantic state, I spoke quickly and brokenly:
“Losientopero,nosotrossomosextranjerosytenemosunareservaciónparaeste cuartoenesteapartamento. PerounhombrequesellamaFransisconoestáquiyentoncesnotenemosllave!!”
Which, in clear and concise English would translate as:
I’m sorry, but we are travelers and we have a reservation for a room in this apartment. However, a man by the name of Francisco isn’t here and as a result, we don’t have the key.
After gathering how upset and panicked we were all becoming, he looked at the reservation confirmation email we had printed out and called Francisco on his phone. The man spoke in abrasive Spanish to Francisco, telling him how he has left four Americans extremely distressed due to his inability to arrive on time and that he should get here as soon as possible. Me being the only one who was able to understand him, I was glad to report to the group that Francisco would be arriving in just fifteen minutes. We named this angel friend of ours, “Angelo”.
When Francisco arrives, he apologizes in a manipulative sort of way. After signing a few contracts, deciding on a check-out time, and discussing rules and regulations of the apartment, he asks for the 6oo euro in cash we owe him for the weekend. Surprised at his request, we seek the email confirmation to find that the credit card was indeed supposed to be charged, for the only money he had told us to bring was the 200-euro deposit that we would receive back upon checking out of the apartment. Regardless, we dish out 600 euro and remain in the apartment that night, completely broke. Tired and exhausted from a day of traveling, we decide to leave the trip to the ATM for the following day.
The next morning, Cate and I woke up early to make breakfast for the boys. After all, we all were in need of a pleasant morning after a seemingly unpleasant evening. After breakfast, we realized that we didn’t know the arrival time of Amy and John. We instantly became frustrated with ourselves once again due to the lack of communication between the six of us. Do they know the address? Are they coming straight to the apartment? Should we stay here all day until they get here? With various questions lying so heavily upon our hearts, I knew that the only thing we could really do was wait. We remained in the apartment for the majority of the afternoon until they arrived. When the door buzzed, I jumped with excitement and opened the door. To my surprise, the first person I saw was Angelo! How ironic, he had saved Amy and John as they too, frantically looked for the apartment. After learning that he looked at them and said “Are you with the four frantic American travelers?” we decided that Angelo really was the perfect name for him.
That evening we decided to take a walk down to the Mediterranean coast and enjoy some healing after a stressful twenty-four hours of traveling for all of us. After all, there’s nothing the beach and some sangria can’t fix!
After an afternoon of walking around and sightseeing, we headed back to the apartment to shower and socialize before experiencing Barcelona’s nightlife. We left the apartment at about 12:00 a.m., and it wasn’t twenty minutes after we left until we realized we only had one key. After some group brainstorming about where the other key could be, we remembered that the last time we saw it was in the keyhole on the inside of the apartment door. As we had expected, you cannot unlock a door with the key on the inside of the same door. We were determined to have a place to sleep that night, so prying the key into the hole seemed logical and productive, but our persistent efforts ended in a broken key. Perfect, now we were not only out a room, but we were out a key, too. We sat on the floor of the foyer of the apartment and tried to have as good an attitude as we could, given our situation. Alas, we decided that humor was the only way to remedy the situation. Cate, Amy, and I began creating sentences, each saying one word contributing to the sentence. And naturally, our first sentence began,
We call the manager of the apartment complex, who arrives in a fairly calm manner for a 12:30 a.m. phone call, and after his failed attempt at opening the door, he informs us that it will be 120 euro for a locksmith. Having no other choice but to follow through, we hang our heads in shame for our lack of responsibility. When the locksmith arrives, he takes out what looks to be a piece of paper, spends about thirty seconds moving it in and out between the door and the wall, and opens the door. We are paying 120 euro for that?! We were appalled, to say the least.
After we got inside, we decided that that was enough for one day, and we all went directly to bed. The next morning being Amy’s birthday, the boys woke up early to make some stuffed French toast for the girls. After a delightful breakfast, we headed down to the Mediterranean again, but this time, to swim.
It was beyond freeing to act like ten-year-olds again, playing in the water and laughing without a care in the world. It was just what we needed after a stressful night. The rest of the afternoon was spent renting bikes and riding them around Barcelona, letting the sea breeze run through our sandy, salty hair.
After a shower and some freshening up, we went downtown Barsa to celebrate Amy’s birthday with Sangria and a dance club.
After exhausting our time at the dance club, we left at about 2:30 a.m. to a stormy and windy walk back to the apartment. So there we were, three wet, American girls walking alone from a club in Barcelona at 2:30 a.m. We were soon to learn that this wasn’t the best idea.
At first, we were enjoying the stormy walk along the beach, but soon realized our safety was questionable. So, we decided to ditch the beach and walk along a road, only to find that our safety would be even more jeopardized. We were walking cautiously down the street as we saw two males on the corner, who began walking toward us. Trying to remain calm and think optimistically, we cross to the opposite side of the street, only to find that they did the same. After realizing how dangerous of a situation we were getting ourselves into, we decided to turn around and speed up some, but not too much so as not to inform them of our anxiety (for that would make us even more vulnerable). When they started speeding up, we began feeling frantic and helpless. We knew that they were no longer causally approaching us, but coming after us. So, I grab Amy’s hand and say, “Say a prayer with me”. After asking for God’s peace and calamity, we turned around to find them to have disappeared. We looked again behind us again, just in case our eyes had deceived themselves, but our prayer was answered: they truly were nowhere in sight. After our hearts settled a bit, we decided to run into a bar where I asked someone, once again my now practiced frantic Spanish, if he would be so kind as to call a taxi for us. I don’t think anyone could have looked at us and not succumbed to that request that night. We were soaked in what were once cute dresses, head to toe, with dripping mascara, squeaky shoes, and tears. That man was yet another angel that surely God had sent our way. Arriving back to the apartment at approximately 3:30 a.m., we rang the doorbell to find a stressed but relieved boyfriend and Andrew, happy to have us back. We all had to leave the apartment at 6:00 a.m. to catch a flight to Milan, so the two and a half hours of sleep ahead of us were crucial.
The RyanAir flight from Barcelona to Milan, Italy (strange, I know, but it was the cheapest way to go) was the most nerve-wracking flight I have ever experienced. The airline lacks a consumer focus in countless ways and obviously had no intention of putting their customers at ease. From the angry woman checking the size of the carry-ons to the extremely unhappy flight attendants to the intense turbulence, I was beginning to experience a state of passionate anxiety. In fact, my anxiety became so profound that I admit I had my first anxiety attack mid-air to Milan. Never experiencing something like this in my life, I held on tightly to my boyfriend’s hand on the right and Cate’s hand on the left as both of them rubbed my hand and reassured me that they each had experienced worse turbulence before. After twenty minutes, they began to calm my restless heart and broken spirit. I had never lost control of my emotions like that in my life, but felt blessed that I was able to recover. When RyanAir landed, a trumpet sounded over the intercom as if to say “RyanAir landed yet another aircraft–it’s a miracle!” Let’s just say I have never been happier to ride for seven hours on a train.
After a (barely) successful flight, I was relieved at the thought that the anxiety of the trip was coming to a close. Of course, that thought was fleeting as Andrew realized he left his wallet on the bus that we took from Milan Airport to the Milan Bus Station. After miraculously figuring out how he was going to retrieve it, he sent us on our way to the train we had reservations for and reassured us that he would be catching the later one. Confident in his ability to travel, we went ahead and got on the train. After finding that our reserved seats were occupied. They then pointed out that the reservation was for Saturday, not Sunday. Astonished at the fact that yet another thing had gone wrong, we began to lose faith in the likelihood of us returning to Reutlingen that night. After much confusion and yelling of the Italian conductors, another angel was soon to come our way.
A man who was sitting with his wife and three kids handed us his reservations for dinner on the train. Relieved but emotional at the presence of his generosity, we could do nothing but place our hand over our hearts and repeat “thank you so much” over and over. Finally, our hearts could be at rest.
After an extremely stressful weekend, and stress that continued even into today, I knew that I needed to turn to God’s word for some reconciliation. I find myself in peace as I was led to my faith journal in which I wrote this summer:
Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening. Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.
So, I’m faithful in the trips to come.