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Old 4th February 2010, 11:50 AM   #1
la_canadiense
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Default barcelona for a night– how to stay safe?

Hiya! I'm heading to Spain in a week and I will have to spend a night in Barcelona alone as I have an early flight out. As an extremely trusting Canadian, going to a city with a rampant pickpocketing problem is a bit scary. Plus my spanish husband is convinced it's a super dangerous city despite never having been there . But I can't be in Barcelona and not see something! Can anyone tell me how concerned I really should be?

Here's my plan: I'll be there on a Friday night– arriving around 4pm on the train. I was thinking about staying right near the Passeig de Gracia station. Then I can catch the Aerobus from the Plaça de Catalunya from there in the morning (6.30am). I'd like to go for a walk around to see a bit of the city so I want to stay downtown (and I can't afford a proper hotel).

If anyone who knows Barcelona could let me know whether any of this is a bad idea I'd be very grateful. (This is the hostel I'm considering btw: http://www.equity-point.com/en/hoste...ric-point.html).

THANKS!
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Old 4th February 2010, 02:29 PM   #2
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Okay, first, yes there are pickpockets but they are not muggers. Avoid standing about watching the street entertainers on the Ramblas for instance especially vigorous betting on a three card game or similar. When you sit in a bar or restaurant dont put your bag on the floor or the crippled guy that bumps into you will whip it away with his stick - either way you wont know much about it!! Dont engage in conversation with an aparently friendly local on a steet corner while hes chatting he may have his hand in your bag.
Dont dress like a tourist goes without saying
Passeig de Gracia is in quite a pleasant well heeled area you could walk away from the centre (uphill) and marvel at the Coco Channel window which contains only the single handbag. La pedrera and Casa Batillo are there. Alternatively walk downhill to P Cataluna and keeping Corte ingles on your immediate left cross at the crossing and go straight on down Portal Del Angels. Down here off to the left in an alley you will finf Quatre Gats - Picasso and his cronies drank there - Menu del dia very nice.
In portal dels Angels the way forks to the left is the cathedral. Take the right fork and you will pass a perfumery and an icecream/wagffle place. as you round the corner take the left down a narrow street to plaza de pi. cross the plaza and keep the church to your left. follow the road round and you finish up on Las Ramblas
If yiu have time turn left to the sea passing Plaza Real on the left down Colon and Rambla de mar right at the end. If no time when emerging from Pi on to the ramblas turn right and that will bring you bach to cataluna n home.

As you walk up The Ramblas from the sea Raval is to your left and Bario Gotico to the right. There are lots of narrow dark winding streets in the Bario Gotico and it feels a bit iffy, in fact Raval is the Shadier of the two areas if anything.

I spend 12 weeks a year in BCN and feel much safer than I do in Manchester or Leeds, Mrs C lost har handbag last year in the way described above - advice would be to make sure you only have the stuff on you that you really need - tickets, passports and credit cards were back at base - the real pain is making a police report and stopp[ing any card, cancelling phones and making insurance claims

I will be back in BCN this summer for two weeks and I am Soooo looking forward to it

Have a great time - and RELAX!!!!

The petty thieves are opportunists andBCN is certainly no worse than any other big city,
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Old 4th February 2010, 03:05 PM   #3
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1. Don't use ATMs in the street- favourite sites for diversion robberies especially by kids.

2. Don't stop to admire a charming baby in the arms of a child- under the baby, his or her other hand is stealing your valuables..
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Old 4th February 2010, 08:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by la_canadiense View Post
I was thinking about staying right near the Passeig de Gracia station. Then I can catch the Aerobus from the Plaça de Catalunya from there in the morning (6.30am).
As you appear to be closer to Passeig de Gracia train station than Plaça de Catalunya, can I suggest you get the train to the airport? Departs 06:32 and it's a 26 minute ride. Barcelona Passeig de Gracia - Aeroport
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Old 4th February 2010, 09:59 PM   #5
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I would never consider Barcelona, as your husband thinks, any more super-dangerous as any other major city. However, you really should keep your wits about you. Because the thieves are very skillful, you are highly unlikely, I'd say, to come to any physical harm.

Sants station is a particular hotspot.

I second Gary's advice about leaving valuables at a base. Or, if that isn't an option, at least cards and cash etc. snugly on your person, and try not to keep everything together in one pocket, pouch etc. Unfortunately I speak from experience. Last summer my fiancee had a bag taken. We were waiting at Sants for a train to the airport, having a coffee, and someone managed to take her bag that she'd put beside her underneath the table and facing me. It was done with considerable skill (impressive in a way) because neither of us had noticed a thing.

Another popular tactic at Sants and other Metro stations, which I've experienced at least twice since, is for a very friendly person to approach you and ask for a Euro for the Metro, or some change. I would encourage you to resist the urge to be kind, as they or one of their colleagues have nice rummage in your bag while you are looking through your pocket change. Thankfully I had the foresight on these occasions not to carry anything highly valuable in my bag, but I was certain that buttons had been opened and they'd had a go!

Having said all this, it would never put me off what is an absolutely fantastic city. I've been three times within the last year and still not had enough! If you ask me, your only problem is that you are not spending long enough there!!
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Old 5th February 2010, 12:05 AM   #6
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Thanks so much for the tips everyone! gary– I'll get out my map and mark down where you've told me to go, that is really helpful thank you!

I realise violent crime isn't the problem, and I've lived big cities for the past 6 years. But in Toronto and Sydney I've never heard of a single pickpocketing incident and I'm a bit careless with my belongings because I trust everyone! It seems like nearly EVERYONE is robbed in Barcelona and as a super pale blonde very young-looking girl I feel I'll be a perfect target. I know my physical safety is most important, but I'm a poor grad student and I can't bear the thought of losing my valuables, even my lovely handbag, let alone my passport...

eldeano– I was going to take the Aerobus because it's quite close by still and the metro seems to be a pickpocketing hotspot, which worries me most when I'll have a giant suitcase or two with me. Also, avoiding stairs or even escalators with aforementioned suitcases is probably a good idea.

It's difficult to relax when I keep reading about more and more pickpocketing strategies, knowing that half the time I'm there I'll have these big suitcases (which I CANNOT lose) making me so vulnerable! Ahhhh!

thanks again everyone, I'll try to calm down now haha.
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Old 5th February 2010, 11:14 AM   #7
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If you have a lot of heavy luggage, then I'd suggest only having your metro ticket in a pocket easy to reach; everything else such as money, credit cards, passport etc., should be in a closed inside pocket...I'd also recommend for safety's sake to spread your money about a bit and if you have a lot then even to hide it under a bra, in your shoes (watch out you don't have too sweaty feet!), anywhere you don't normally "go" in public. Have a small amount of money for coffee, beers, tapas in a front pocket, maybe, so that every time you pay you aren't exposing a whole wodge of banknotes.

But you'll be fine, I'm sure. And sorry if this advice is obvious, I know it probably is!
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Old 5th February 2010, 02:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by la_canadiense View Post
eldeano– I was going to take the Aerobus because it's quite close by still and the metro seems to be a pickpocketing hotspot, which worries me most when I'll have a giant suitcase or two with me. Also, avoiding stairs or even escalators with aforementioned suitcases is probably a good idea.
Firstly, I meant the train, not the metro. The stations are in separate places - the train station being outside Casa Batlló, close to your hotel.

Secondly, I suspect there is a far reduced risk of pickpocketing at this time of year. I understand that pickpockets thrive on there being crowds and much hustle and bustle where they are less conspicuous. When it's relatively quieter they are far more obvious when they appear to be making a bee-line towards you.

Thirdly, all the above advice is sound. Carry little and keep any valuables as inaccessible as possible - I usually shove everything in trouser front pockets. I'd like to see someone try to extricate my cash from there without me noticing (or maybe not)!
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Old 6th February 2010, 05:03 AM   #9
la_canadiense
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eldeano View Post
Firstly, I meant the train, not the metro. The stations are in separate places - the train station being outside Casa Batlló, close to your hotel.

Secondly, I suspect there is a far reduced risk of pickpocketing at this time of year. I understand that pickpockets thrive on there being crowds and much hustle and bustle where they are less conspicuous. When it's relatively quieter they are far more obvious when they appear to be making a bee-line towards you.

Thirdly, all the above advice is sound. Carry little and keep any valuables as inaccessible as possible - I usually shove everything in trouser front pockets. I'd like to see someone try to extricate my cash from there without me noticing (or maybe not)!
Ahhh I see, for some reason I didn't realise the airport train went to Passeig de Gracia, I thought it stopped at Sants. In that case I'll probably check it out when I arrive and see what seems easiest. Thanks for clarifying!

Thanks for the tips everyone. I shall be incorporating them all into my Official Anti-Pickpocket Strategy (including locks for my suitcases, putting my handbag in my locked luggage and my passport in my boots, giving everyone the evil eye, etc). I'm determined not to let them get one single centimo!
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Old 6th February 2010, 06:19 AM   #10
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Have a handbag with a zip and hung it under the coat or carry it well under the arm. Never on your back, like you have in the photo.
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Old 2nd April 2010, 06:55 PM   #11
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hi,
A word of warning...pick-pockets are rife in Barcelona, and they are so skilled they could teach a degree course in the art of pick-pocketing! They can spot a tourist from a mile off and you won't even know you've been robbed until after.
Be careful with your bag, wallet, cards etc

You must try these foods and places:
- Jamón ibérico
- Chorizo
La Botifarreria de Santa María; Santa María 4. Outside the Santa Maria del Mar church.


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Old 2nd April 2010, 07:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
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hi,
A word of warning...pick-pockets are rife in Barcelona,



Another word of warning..... be wary of any risks that might occur from using Russian email addresses to contact owners of property in Barcelona.

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Old 2nd April 2010, 09:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Another word of warning..... be wary of any risks that might occur from using Russian email addresses to contact owners of property in Barcelona.
Lots of good advice here and as well forum mods are always on the alert.
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Old 12th April 2010, 09:50 AM   #14
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If possible get to see La Boqueria, Barcelona's food market and an awesome sight!

I think you have good advice about being safe. I had my handbag stolen in a cafe in the Ramblas many years ago. Unfortunately I lost all my winter work savings, car keys, passport and all documents.

Be sure and keep your handbag snugly held in your lap if you stop to eat. Good Luck! Barcelona really is a wonderful city.

Canarybird (Sharon) - another Canadiense, now 42 years living in Spain.
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Old 7th July 2010, 07:21 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eldeano View Post
As you appear to be closer to Passeig de Gracia train station than Plaça de Catalunya, can I suggest you get the train to the airport? Departs 06:32 and it's a 26 minute ride. Barcelona Passeig de Gracia - Aeroport
The Park Hotel just opposite the station is excellent, ask for room 724 it has the largest private roof terrace of any hotel in Barcelona at no extra charge. the area of Born is great. [email protected]. Also has free WiFi.
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Old 26th September 2010, 05:50 PM   #16
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When in Spain, act just like you would in any large city in your own country.

For me, I feel MUCH safer in any city in Spain than I do, for instance, in Los Angeles or San Francisco!
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Old 26th September 2010, 09:24 PM   #17
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Pockets, honey, pockets. Use the front ones for money and credit cards -- they're supposed to be harder to pick. I have never carried a purse in my life because I can't imagine needing to carry that much crap around with me all the time, and also because I'm very absent-minded -- I woull lay it down and never see it again.

But I've been in lots of different countries and never had any problems with theft -- not even when our hotel room was ransacked in Mexico -- because I simply had my cash in the pocket of a spare pair of shorts, at the bottom of a non-descript overnight bag, which was the sum total of my "luggage". (I also wasn't dumb enough to bring things like jewelry, social security cards, tons of money to a weekend at the beach, like some of my buddies who lost everything -- it's a short stay; you're not moving in! And this was before we had to have passports to get back into the US, so I hadn't brought one....whew!)
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