Saturday, 14 May 2016

Ripped off

One of the food vendors that was not open yesterday was the Paella place behind our grandstand. Today, they were cooking at 10 AM, so we bought tickets to grab food later.
The chefs hard at work 
Chicken browning 
4 pans on the go

We saw F1 practice and qualifying, and qualifying for the Porsche support race.
Hittin' a corner tight 
A Porsche Supercup car
At lunch, we got to eat our paella.
Awesome. 3 chicken thighs per serving
This was SUCH a good deal; it cost just €12.50, and was a HUGE amount of food. What was NOT a good deal was the paella "menu": paella plus a Coke plus a small tub of ice cream for €29. Coke is $4, meaning the ice cream cost €13.50 -- except you could buy the ice cream for €3. So the "menu" is a real rip-off, and we were glad we didn't buy it.

While out at lunch, I took the opportunity to explore the Turn 4-5-6-7-8-9 complex. It sounds like a big space but is compact for track visitors.

Turn 4 is a broad sweeping turn that not much will happen on. It's surrounded by lovely grass and trees.
The turn entrance 
The turn exit
The turn 7-8 complex is probably the most popular spot with the General Admission folks. They also get views to the entrance to turn 9.
Looking down to 7-8 
Looking up to 9
Based on crowds, turn 6 is "meh". It's hardly a turn, but it holds the bridge to what looks like a "private island" of seating.
Turn 6. Fewer people 
The access to the island
We went back to our seats and caught F1 qualifying. We then had ~45 min before the GP2 race, so decided to return to this space to go shopping. It was busy.
The normal shopping crowd
My travelling companion Mike bought a shirt in that crowd. He stepped away, put it in his backpack, along with his wallets. He zipped up his backpack. We walked back to our seats, about 10 min away. And when we got to our seats, just in time for the GP2 race, Mike found...

...his wallets had been stolen.

A few hundred euros, credit cards, some ID, and other stuff had been removed from a zippered pouch in his backpack -- that had been clipped closed with a carabiner.

Step 1: call Mike's wife in Barcelona and get the credit cards cancelled.

Step 2: Report to the track that a robbery had occurred.

Step 3: Go to just-off-track police station to fill in police report. Fortunately, this was only about 200 m from our stands.

All this took almost an hour.

Having missed the GP2 race, we decided to go home. We waited at our gate for 45 min for a shuttle bus that never came. So we walked 35 min across the track to the transit hub, where we paid €2.15 for a Sagales bus to take us the 2 km to the train station -- except it didn't go to the train station (yesterday's bus took us to the train station, and the Sagales officials said today's bus went to the station, too). It took us to downtown Montmelo, half a kilometre from the train station. We waited 15 min for that bus to avoid a 20 min walk (of under 2 km) to the train station. The Sagales guys are so good at ripping you off.

This wouldn't bother me so much except that Mike is injured and can't walk long distances that well. So it matters that a bus to the train station actually goes to the station, and not only 75% of the way there. It matters that a shuttle bus that exists to carry you around the track to avoid a 3 km walk actually runs when they say it will.

Tomorrow, it gets real. At it's busiest, the grandstands were ~60% full today. Maybe 120,000 people -- 40% more than today -- will be there tomorrow. The transit better work.

And nobody better steal anything.


Mike got an entertaining, broken English e-mail the next morning from the Police. His wallet was found, and we went to the off-track station to get it. There was no cash at all, but all the other contents -- drivers license, credit cards, Nexus card, et al -- were there. It was found by a parking attendant discarded in a track parking lot. 

Cash is just cash. Knowing the cards were all there and intact was good peace of mind, and a few that were tough to replace were home safe and sound.

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