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For those of you who have never been to Sundance Film Festival, you might have had the same picture that I had: Strolling into movie after movie, unlimited access to VIP parties, making out with celebs. Pretty much living like an A-lister.

So I donned my Ray-Bans and headed out to Park City, Utah….only to find out I was a little misguided.

Saturday: After Friday night’s welcome (I used my womanly ways to get myself and three of my male companions into a Stoli vodka party – Dudes, if you’re not on the list then always lead with a chick. Ladies, it helps to be slightly bitchy) I was ready to see movies. And here is where my fantasies of celebrity living came to a halt. Picture this: 200 people crammed like cattle into tiny waiting rooms for up to four hours per movie, hoping that enough people with advance tickets don’t show up so that you can get in. Odds of that happening on opening weekend? Not very good. I spent a good eight hours in lines and the only movies I saw were the ones I played in my head to pass the time (I know every line of Wet Hot American Summer by heart). By the time 6 p.m. rolled around I hated the name Robert Redford and didn’t feel like going out in his city.

Sunday: Trying to make the best of things I decided not to see movies until after the weekend. Instead, my group decided to go to Village at the Yard, a tent full of luxury-brand freebees. A day of drinking free vodka tonics and rummaging Sephora products? Yes, please!

Not so fast, Meagan…Being a newly employed member of society I don’t have any business cards, and when attending an event designed strictly for media professionals proof is necessary. Basically no cards, no entry.

I had just about given up on Sundance when I decided that I was going to get in somewhere. Anywhere. I jumped on a line snaking out of Harryo’s bar and lounge on Main Street. It was the line to get into the ESPN party for NFL playoffs and you had to be on the list. Now I couldn’t care less about football, but I HAD to get in. So I asked the guy in front of me if he was on the list and if I could be his plus one. And finally my luck had changed. I strolled in to Harryo’s, pink wristband firmly secured, and grabbed myself a complimentary Bud Lite. Bud Lite never tasted so much like Champagne.

I spent the afternoon shmoozing (a great Sundance past time) and eyeing Terrell Owens and Aaron Rogers (apparently they are big deals…). As I headed out on my way to my condo I heard a man say, “Those are nice,” referring to my black tights. I smiled and said thank you and it took me all of half a second to realize who it was.

“Excuse me, are you Ian Ziering?” (Being a HUGE 90210 fan I knew immediately that this was Steve Sanders.)

“Yes, I am.”

Now I was at Sundance. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Ian Ziering is a C-lister, at best. But after two whole days of nothing but denials, he may as well have been Brad Pitt.

I spent the next hour wrapped up in a one-on-one conversation with Ian (we’re on a first-name basis). I taught him some writing tricks, he showed me an acting exercise. I briefly asked him about 90210. Tacky, but I had to ask. (By the way, those were the best 10 years of his life.)

And Monday? I saw two movies and a third on Tuesday.

So was it the red-carpet trip I envisioned? Not really. But I did get to see my movies, I hit up a few VIP parties, and as for making out with celebs? I never kiss and tell.

I head off to Sundance Film Festival on Friday. Until I have a report from that five-day frenzy, here is a little something to get you started. I wrote this for my good friend Joe Pike’s blog. The scene: Spain in August of 2009…

In my short 22 years I have visited over 200 cities in 17 countries. I’m still working out my list of top five cities but I have it pinned down to New York, Dublin, Paris, Venice and No.5 is to be determined. I like to think of myself as the anti-tourist, and arrogantly so.

I laugh to myself when I hear tales of woe from people who make classic mistakes: being lured to the world’s largest ball of twine or buying that ring for grandma from the guy who swore it came right off the Pope’s hand. But hubris is a tricky friend and I certainly got what was coming to me on my most recent trip to Barcelona.

My passport was stolen.

Yep, that’s right. Magellan over here had her most important document swiped, leaving me panicked in a foreign city running around like a moron trying to get help from anyone and looking a lot like those people I mercilessly mock.

I was traveling with my family and while I was watching the car with my brother and stretching our legs someone rode up to us on a bike and started speaking in Spanish and French. We don’t speak either and I’m pretty sure this guy picked up on that as I was sporting my Minnesota Twins (Joe Mauer to be exact) t-shirt.

As he pedaled off it dawned on us that this guy was a clever decoy. We had been duped. His henchman opened the other side of the car and swiped my mother’s purse, in which were all three passports.

To be polite I’m going to censor the stream of expressions that spilled out of our mouths. Brother kicked off his Birkenstocks and took off barefoot after the thief. But it was too late. There would be no heroic end to this tale of woe.

And all I saw of Barcelona was the inside of the police station waiting room and interrogation room.

As for the locals, I met Phillip, the six-language-speaking, delightfully sarcastic tourism officer assisting the drunk, hysterical and impatient tourists who were also taken for a ride. I also became acquainted with some of the city’s finest as I looked at mug shots.

The Barcelona cuisine? Well, that chocolate bar and Fanta from the vending machine certainly exceeded my expectations.

After three hours we left the station with a police report. What was supposed to be a long, relaxing weekend turned into a disaster and we were out of there before 10 a.m. the next day. Sorry Barcelona, you didn’t make the top five cut but you definitely took me down a few much-needed notches.

It Could Happen to You

In all seriousness, if you should find yourself in a similar situation the first thing to do is file a police report. The US consulates cannot issue new passports without an official report. Second, locate the nearest Consulate General because only these can print new documents. Call them and get their hours of operation and any other information they require from you. For us, our passports could be reissued within a day but not all are the same so make sure you have all the info from the specific U.S consulate in the country you are visiting. And third, don’t freak out. People are much more inclined to help you if you aren’t in hysterics – and trust that it will all get taken care of.

You’ll get home. And a good tip is to travel with copies of your passport because this expedites the process at the consulate and many hotels require your passport number at check-in.

I used to mock ‘bloggers’.

I know, I know…blogging is all the rage. It’s the new age of journalism. Technology and all that jazz. But I really didn’t care much for people who published their diaries online. *For the record I’m generally unimpressed by internet technology. I still love AIM as opposed to gchat. I think Twitter is a plague (although I use it for work). And I liked Facebook better when it was only open to college students.*

And then I saw my friends fall, one by one, into the blogosphere. And I have to admit…their stuff was good. I have foodie friends (who doesn’t?), photography friends (again…plenty of those) and friends with messed up relationships (yeah…). Regardless, they didn’t make me want to throw up.

So, folks, I’m a travel writer. And this is my travelogue – a series of adventures, mishaps, surprises and delights. I hope you enjoy reading about my journeys as much as I enjoy taking them. Welcome to Trippin: A Travelogue.