We had a last look at Leon and a picnic lunch in El Retiro gardens,Madrid. Then a quick belt across Spain in the Renfe Avant, the Spanish equivalent of the TGV to Barcelona, the city of Miro and Gaudi and Picasso. Barcelona is a lesson to the world in what modernism may have produced if it hadn`t sold out to commerce and utility. Everywhere there are inventive, wonderful buildings as useful as they are beautiful. Late in the evening we saw The Palau de la Música Catalana, and while we were still closing our jaws we were robbed.
Barcelona is famous for two things above all else; architecture and thievery, which are both done with intelligence and panache. We had done everything right: valuables back at the hotel, essential stuff next to the body, not much money on us. A young man hailed us and asked for directions. Being used to the cameraderie of the Camino I stood with him while he spread his map on a wall. Suddenly two guys in leather jackets approached and produced police identification. They searched the young guy then demanded to know why we were talking to him. Were we buying drugs? Were we illegally exchanging money? Could we please produce our passports and turn out our pockets? Passports and pocket contents were examined. They nodded, apologised, shook our hands and advised us to go back to the hotel as this was a dangerous neighbourhood. We did, only to find that my wallet had been emptied of cash - about 100 euro. We had been well and truly rumbled by a gang of three, who were onto a good little earner for 10 minutes work. At least they left me my credit cards. We would have been well and truly stuffed without them.
We left this morning on a painfully slow train through the sleazy industrial parts of Barcelona. At Montpellier we caught the train for here, the leafy city of Lyon where we will beware of young men bearing police identification until we can land safe and sound at Taize tomorrow afternoon.