Ellie had been warned about Barcelona.
Classified by some as the pickpocket capital of the world, the city is renowned for theft, and tourists are often told to be on high alert.
So when Ellie decided to go out one Saturday night with friends, she left her license, passport and credit card in the hotel. She wore a zipped up, crossbody bag, like the dorky Australian abroad she was, carrying with her only a little bit of cash, and her phone.
Hours went by, and the three women had a great night in La Rambla, the party district.
But as they walked home, watching the sun rise, Ellie noticed her bag felt lighter. When she reached in, she discovered her phone was no longer there.
She decided not to panic. The phone was not only switched off, it had a passcode no one would be able to guess. She let out a groan, but by the time she woke up the next day at 10am, she had moved on.
Well, until she checked her iPad.
An email appeared from her phone company that read, “You’ve exceeded your credit limit,” urging her to call immediately.
Ellie – it’s important to note – is exceptionally level-headed.
She’s calm. She’s rational. And she’s a problem solver.
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Her plan was capped at $250, she remembered. It couldn’t be that bad. She then used her iPad to locate her iPhone, and discovered it was still switched off.
She took a deep breath.
Police. She should go to the police, she thought. But after a quick google search, Ellie discovered there was probably no point. Tourists were sometimes made to wait for eight or so hours to report their missing belongings. It was a Sunday morning, and every man and their dog would be lining up, getting the documents they needed to claim their lost or stolen belongings on travel insurance.
Ellie had a train to catch as they were off to Valencia for the Tomato Throwing Festival that afternoon. So off she went.
In Valencia, she met up with five friends, and they started drinking at their hotel, ready to go out that night. After a few hours, Ellie thought she might just check her phone bill online to see if there had been any charges.
“Oh my God,” she yelled.
“Oh my God,” she repeated.
Her friend asked, “What, what is it?” but Ellie didn’t yet have the words.