Punks and Apologies

We were excited for our long weekend in Barcelona. Mark and I researched what to see and do when we met up with family from the US in Spain. High on the list was the Picasso Museum, tapas and sangria, the Gaudi architecture, sangria and paella, the Mediterranean Sea, sangria and tapas, the Magic Fountain, paella and…well…Besides those anticipated highlights, I’d been told by two separate acquaintances of purse snatching in Barcelona–both had lost phones, money, credit cards, and passports–pickpockets have mastered their trades in the city. All advice pointed to keeping passports in the hotel safe and carry copies, wearing cross-body bags with all zippers zipped, putting wallets in front pockets while keeping your own hand in that pocket (minimizing room for an additional hand!). Beware, we were told, of busy intersections, distractions. and the biggest attractions.

Exploring with my dear cousin, Laura, and her husband was such a treat! We enjoyed each others’ company so much, and appreciated Craig’s fluent Spanish to help us along the tapas trail from the Picasso Museum to the Sagrada Familia. As our quartet approached the structure (still incomplete after 100 years!), we sang our “watch your pockets” chorus, checking the position of belongings, going into high alert mode. We walked around the funky, beautiful church, looking up and admiring both the modern and the gothic side, taking pictures, chatting about the history of Sagrada Familia and the architect who designed it.  As in many parts of the city, hawkers of trinkets spread their cheap (imported–not even handmade!) wares on a cloth on the sidewalk. As we talked, I noticed a young man setting up shop near us.

Moments later, I was snapped out of the conversation with a yelp (Mark called it a girly scream) as someone stomped on my foot, and I teetered as I was shoved, nearly losing my balance! My first instinct was to grab my purse and look around to alert my family–I was afraid this was an attempted theft. Yet, as I turned to speak, a policía passed in a blur, tackling the young man I saw running with his bundle of goods. We all looked at each other–our eyes huge–as Mark and Laura and Craig made sure I was in one piece. As the policía walked back toward us, holding the kiddo by the scruff of the neck, we tried to move out of the way to allow their passage. Instead, the officer walked right up to me, holding onto the boy, speaking to him in Spanish. Then the boy looked at me and spoke–I had no idea what the words were, but I knew he was saying he was sorry for hurting me. The surprise of that nearly rendered me speechless, as I muttered, “Thank you, I appreciate your apology.” As they walked away, Craig said the policeman said to the young man, “For 4 Euros you hurt this lady?”

I was not badly hurt–my foot remains a bit sore. At the time, a “bit” of sangria and tapas removed the pain and fear! We told and re-told the story, laughing, exaggerating, musing what consequences awaited the kid. The remnants of my surprise, however, are at the manner in which the police handled this situation. The conversation Craig relayed to us reminded me of a father speaking to his son, of a parent teaching a child to ask for forgiveness and to count the cost of his actions. The lesson for me is to remember who has forgiven me all and taught me to forgive in return. The example is deep, the practice endless–on both sides of forgiveness.

 

 

 

Dining Out, or the 200 Euro Fish

“Wow…wow…”  Mark says, every time he looks at a menu in a restaurant (whether here or in the States). He does not refer to the amazing menu, les risottos or pâtes, viandes ou piosson. No, my dear husband makes a commentary on the pricing of the menu–whether dollar or Euro–it seems he cannot hold his tongue regarding the cost of satisfying that same tongue with delicious cuisine.

In April, after we’d signed a lease contract for an apartment here in Luxembourg, Mark suggested we have a celebratory dinner. He made reservations at a restaurant on Place d’Armes at the still-too-early-for-Europe hour of 19.30 (7:30pm–military time is not for me)! Though the company paid for our meals while on this trip, Mark and I decided we would, from our own funds, pay for a special bottle of wine to accompany the meal, a bottle of Sancerre Blanc, which is definitely more pricey than the Barefoot or Dark Horse brand of wines we typically drink. We dressed up a bit and arrived at the restaurant at the appointed time. After the requisite “wow,” and pouring over the menu, we decided on a lovely fish soup as a starter. Wait staff attended us well, placing the napkin in our laps, allowing us choice of the bread they would then place on our plates, keeping our water glasses and wine glasses full. I made my request for Blue Stone Crab for dinner. The waitress looked at Mark as he said, “I’d like the Sea Bass,” which was listed on the menu for 12.90€. Mark had chosen the least expensive item on the menu. The waitress exclaimed, “oh, Monsieur, it is enough for two!” I saw my blue stone crab crawling away as Mark looked at me, eyebrows raised. I agreed to have fish as well.

The wait staff presented the uncooked, whole fish to us for our approval. We looked at each other, smiled, then nodded our agreement. Mark and I continued to delight in the attention of the staff, and the owner, as we relaxed in the restaurant. As if on schedule, the cooked, whole, salt-crusted fish is ceremoniously revealed to us, then filleted in our presence, and served. The sea bass was good, though I still had a yearning for crab! We lingered over the fish, then crème brûlée and café. It was a wonderful evening. When we eventually requested the check, Mark perused it, did a double-take, read it again, then called the wait staff over with a menu. It was explained to us that the Chilean Sea Bass we had ordered was indeed 12.90 Euro–per 100 g. The dead fish we’d been shown pre-meal weighed 1 kilo! I’m not incredibly proficient in math or the metric system, but I was astute enough to realize that fish had cost us 122.90 Euro–over one hundred fifty American dollars, not to mention the wine, starter, dessert and coffee.

Needless to say, we did not submit that meal to the expense account–we paid it all from our own pocket! Needless to say, we learned a lesson about reading the menu–look for the small print! Needless to say, we felt foolish, country bumpkin-ish. Since then? We’re not crabby.  We’re not perched on a high horse. We laugh, just for the halibut!