I noticed the three men in shorts and T-shirts larking about on the platform, but didn’t think much of it. It was about 11 pm and I thought they might have been enjoying themselves in one of the nearby bars around Urquinaona.
When the train arrived, my wife and son got on ahead of me. As I tried to enter the carriage, one of the three men edged in front of me, dropping his sunglasses on the floor by the doors. I stood there and waited for him to pick them up. He started fumbling around, so I stepped to the side. As I did, he moved across, making it difficult for me to get on the train.
Then he got up up and I moved into the carriage. The next thing, a second man motioned to me to move further down, and then a third man tugged at the neck of my shirt and pointed to a space by one of the windows. Feeling slightly disorientated, I obediently shuffled along, wondering what was happening.
Just before the doors closed the three men jumped off. Instinctively I patted the pocket on my shorts where my wallet was. ‘They’ve nicked my wallet!’ I said to my wife.
I had become another victim of the gangs who prowl busy Metro stations and crowded streets in the centre of Barcelona seeking tourists to target. My initial feeling of shock at what had happened was quickly replaced by one of anger.
I have always considered myself very street wise when in a foreign city. I do my best to be low key and not seem like a tourist. But on this occasion I fell for a common distraction technique.
When we reached our hotel, I immediately phoned my bank and cancelled my debit card. The only other items in my wallet were my Oyster card and Sainsbury’s and Tesco club cards. The crime carried out by the gang had netted them 60 euros and a £10 note.
Two days before this, as I was travelling on a bus with my wife and son to the centre of the city to meet some friends in a restaurant in a street off Las Ramblas, a friend texted to ask what had happened in Barcelona. He had read reports of a serious incident involving a van.
Had we caught the bus half an hour earlier and not gone to the cafe opposite the hotel for a snack we too might have been among victims of that horrific terrorist attack which left 14 people dead and dozens more injured.
I was robbed, but that is trivial when compared to what happened in Las Ramblas. I was lucky. Others were not