Victim drivers in Spain

While driving a leased car in Spain in the fall of 2003, I encountered the following incidents that should serve as warnings to other readers.

Driving into Barcelona on a quiet Sunday afternoon, we began to encounter “windshield washers” at the stoplights. Trapped at the lights and not having any coins or cash readily available, we tried to stop them. This happened three times at different locations.

Minutes later in the very heart of the city, my rear tire went flat. You guessed it: they had spiked the sidewall. In the heavy traffic of the city center, I parked illegally (it was Sunday, thank goodness) and changed the tire, using the quite good French owner’s manual.

So what will I do next time? Keep cash handy to pay off the “highwaymen.” I hope other readers will be more prepared than I was.

Another situation with leased cars derives from the red license plates. They let everyone know your car is leased — and probably loaded with luggage. Because of this, it is imprudent to leave your car out of sight anywhere.

My car was broken into once on this trip; luckily, my luggage, etc., was in the hotel room at the time! A Belgian traveler we met at a country road coffee shop had his car emptied in the 10 minutes it took for his wife and him to have coffee.

I wish I knew the answer to this one. No luggage?

San Diego, CA