Has Barcelona Gotten A Bad Rap?
As Sandy and I prepared for our 2013 Mediterranean cruise and planned
our shore excursions at each port of call, we considered matters of personal
security and what we would need to help protect ourselves from the expected
pickpockets and thieves. As our trip was to start out in Venice, Italy
and end in Barcelona, Spain, between those two points we would visit several
European tourist cities. Rome, Athens, Istanbul and a few others.
Some of the unusual architecture to be seen on the streets of Barcelona
Curiously, the worst horror stories we heard involved Barcelona. It seemed
that though we were given cautions on each city we visited, Barcelona
was always mentioned as a place rife with pickpockets and thieves. Truthfully,
I began to anticipate our visit to that city with some degree of trepidation.
How would we manage to survive two days of trying to tour the citys
tourist attractions without being robbed of everything but the clothes
on our backs? Perhaps even the clothes on our backs were not safe.
Barcelona is a great "walking city"
All down the length of Las Ramblas and other similar pedestrian friendly streets, sidewalk cafes are to be found in plenty
Ive always been one to practice what is sometimes called Situational
Awareness, that is, being alert to my surroundings and what and
who is in my vicinity. Ive never been the victim of a pickpocket
nor had anything stolen off of my person and I tend to believe that I
practice safe tourism but the tales we heard of experiences
people have had in Barcelona made me a little uneasy. If I practice good
common sense and dont do things to make myself an easy victim will
she and I be ok?
We spent two very enjoyable days sightseeing around Barcelona and I came
to believe that though any place can present safety challenges and there
is no such thing as a crime free tourist location, Barcelona has gotten
a bad rap and an unfair one at that. We saw no evidence of any street
criminal activity and we certainly had no problems of our own. Were there
any pickpockets around in the places we visited? I cant say yes
or no but being an observant scanner of surrounding activity, I saw nothing
to raise any alarm and certainly there was no known mischief going on
anywhere in our vicinity. We felt perfectly safe.
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Now, lest the reader conclude that we simply threw caution to the wind
as we walked about the streets, we did not. I maintained the same level
of cautious observation of our surroundings as I always do while in any
crowd anywhere. Owing to the horror stories, perhaps we exercised a bit
more caution in observing each others person and being more sensitive
to who and what is around me and we did feel thankful that we had put
some thought into the security question well before our trip began.
Renting bicycles is a popular means of seeing the city
One vulnerability any traveler will have is their wallet or purse. On
every shore excursion of this trip we did observe women casually and certainly
loosely hand holding the straps of a big purse hanging down their side.
How hard would it be for some kid on a skateboard to fly up beside her,
snatch the purse out of her unsuspecting hands and be gone in a flash?
There is such a thing as observing common sense. Pickpockets are noted
for their ability to slip a hand down into any pocket and be gone with
your wallet without you ever knowing that it is gone until you later look
for it and find it missing.
Additionally we had read of the modern high-tech method of stealing credit
card information without the card ever being removed from your pocket.
Scanning devices which can pick up via RF signals and read the data embedded
in the credit card strip, and that includes electronic data which may
be in passports. They can do this from as far as a couple of feet away
from you and dont have to make physical contact with your or your
Apparently pickpockets in many of these tourist cities are quite young,
teens and pre-teens, who do their best to blend into the tourist crowds,
even to the point of carrying around tourist maps and approaching potential
victims with questions regarding directions and other seemingly innocent
approaches. In none of the cities we visited including Barcelona, did
we see any of this. I have no doubt it occurs, but I have the suspicion
that (and perhaps Im wrong in this) the stories are somewhat overblown.
I make that statement not to give any false sense of security or to keep
readers from exercising good caution but to ease the fears which can end
up spoiling what should be an enjoyable touring experience.
The Hop On Hop Off tour bus is a great way to see the city and get an overview of areas you wish to explore more in detail on foot
When we researched and read this information we began the search for
good hidden wallets which contain RF shielding. These wallets or security
pouches are flat allowing them to fit comfortably around the waist
and under an overhanging shirt or blouse or even tucked invisibly inside
the front of trousers and slacks. We bought two Lewis
N. Clark Luggage Rfid Waist Stash Security Wallets. They have
two zipper openings to two separate compartments large enough for holding
a passport, credit cards, cash and other small items and hold them securely.
I wore mine tucked down inside the front of my trousers. Sandy wore hers
under her overhanging (not tucked in) blouses. The pouches are secured
around the waist with an elastic belt which is adjustable and it too can
be tucked down behind the waist band of pants.
Lewis N. Clark Luggage Rfid Waist Stash, Taupe, One Size
We found we could wear these all day long including a lot
of time on and off of tour buses and much walking around and actually
forget that theyre even there. Thats how well the hide away
and the fabric is perfectly comfortable. I carried nothing more in my
pants pocket but a small comb and a handkerchief. If a pickpocket goes
for those, its little loss to me. Not being completely comfortable
to wear an expensive watch, I kept mine inside the pouch as well. The
inclusion of the watch was not enough to add noticeable bulk or to change
the comfort level. Sandy kept a tube of lipstick and a small bottle of
hand sanitizer inside hers.
Keep your eyes open and glance around and take note of potential trouble
situations. Be very cautious when being approached by strangers asking
for directions or being exhibiting suspicious behavior. Dont accept
offers by strangers to take your picture with your camera. If wearing
a backpack, make sure the pockets are all zipped closed and that if it
has a strap across the front which attaches the two shoulder straps, make
sure that cross strap is attached. This will help reduce the chance the
pack can be pulled from your back. We have learned to carry our water
bottles inside the backpack rather than in the side outside pockets. Dont
carry a purse, or anything for that matter, loosely slung over your shoulder
and that includes your camera. In fact, for ladies, try to avoid carrying
a purse at all. The security pouches such as the Lewis N. Clark RFID Waist
stash featured above should be the only purse you carry while out in potentially
security risk places. Keep it hidden under a jacket, blouse, or tucked
down under the waistband of your pants.
Living statues are often seen on Las Ramblas
Look around you from time to time and if you notice anyone paying undue
attention or appearing to watch you, be cautious. The old saying of having
eyes in the back of your head is more than just meaningless advice. If
youre with others, take note of them from time to time and be alert
to strangers who may be appearing to come too close,.especially from behind.
Basically this means, look out for each other. Its a good idea to
keep one hand on your camera if it is hanging by a neck strap. If youre
carrying a bag containing just purchased souvenirs or other items, keep
the top closed as much as possible and hold on to it firmly and be aware
of your grip on it.
La Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudí is a famous Barcelona visitor destination
Barcelona is a beautiful city. We had two days to try to make the most
of seeing what we could see there. The Metro (underground or subway) system
is great for getting around to anywhere within the city and from our experience
it seems quite safe. At least on the line we rode. The Hop
On Hop Off sight-seeing bus system is an excellent way of touring
the city. Ride it and stay aboard the whole route if you like, or pick
those areas you want to explore more in detail and hop off to have a look
around. When youre ready to move on, the busses run every few minutes
so you can be on your way to the next highlight. Once youve bought
your ticket, youre good for the whole day (multi-day tickets are
also available) and you can hop on and hop off on any of the routes and
as many times as you like. Ill write more on this excellent way
to see the city in another post. The bottom line is, enjoy all that this
beautiful and historic city has to offer and dont let the fear of
petty thieves and pickpockets spoil your chance to do so. There is a lot
less to the horror tales of Barcelona than we had feared and for that,
we were truly thankful. Barcelona
Tours, Sightseeing and Things To Do.
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