Be Aware!, Barcelona
If you hate the smell of cigarette smoke, Barcelona may not be for you. Everyone smokes - especially the women! You see people puffing away wherever you go, and the souvenir stores sell ashtrays in every shape and form. None of the restaurants and cafes we went to limited smokers in any way. Everything is one big smoke-filled haze.
January 2006 update: Aha! My theory has now been proven. People in Spain DO smoke more per capita than anywhere else in Europe (apart from Greece). In fact, Spain is "credited" with inventing cigarettes 500 years ago. According to an article in the newspaper, Spaniards have been hooked on smoking since Christopher Columbus brought tobacco back from the Americas. It was claimed to have all sorts of medicinal properties at the time. In the early 1500s, the residents of Seville began to collect old cigar butts and roll them up in paper - making Europe's first cigarettes. Surveys have shown that the average Spaniard smokes 2,300 cigarettes a year, which is 850 more than other Europeans.
As of January 1, new laws have gone into effect which ban smoking in bars and restaurants. The weird part is that these restrictions only apply to establishments larger than 100 sq.m.
las ramblas near liceu/placa real etc - visited in october our apartment had balconies overlooking las ramblas and we noticed the following 3 nights running
ladies of the night stand on street corners and targeted only those men who looked like they were on a lads hol/stag do nicely dressed and often slightly worse for wear.
a group of 3 or 4 women approch the men as they are walking on las ramblas one or two of them start talking to the men getting up close the other 2 go round the back of the men jump on their backs asking for piggy backs or pretend to feel the mens behinds.
In fact they have their hands in your trouser/shirt pockets - it happens so quick once theyve robbed someone, one of the ladies runs down a side street, the other ladies continue to distract the man before letting their prey walk away.
By the time they realised what had happened (and us) the lady with the wallet/money was well gone, the other women deny all knowledge and possibly som fellas wouldnt have realised what had happened till morning.
Beware ALWAYS stood somewhere in the background is one or a group of men watching the ladies - we presumed these were pimps or protection for them and they werent a nice set of people at all. They shouted abuse at us because we had realised what they were doing.
i have been so many times in Barcelona and i have never felt unsafe. The city is safe, there's enough police in the city at night and of course, pick-pockets are everywhere, so dont be naive: watch your money especially in busses in metro's. And ok, Barri Xines is a place to watch out, but its not that you get shot there...The only thing we noticed the last two times we were in Barcelana was some 'primitive' criminal behaviour on and around the placa catalunya and the placa reial. There are some negative types that have some 'new' ways of trying to steal your money, wallet or other things. But you have to be very naïve to get in their traps. Without wanting to be a racist or discriminating any kind of people, it's mostly people from North-west African country's who are involved in the scene. (i dont want to stimatize as i said, It's just what we at that moment have experienced and whe dont want to GENERALIZE! )So we were sitting there with some fellows and this (they always operate in a group) man comes to us, and starts socializing. He, being friendly and even passing over a bottle, only has one thing he wants: attrackting attention so that his companions can get your things. As i said, one must be very naive not to foresee this. But, i ve heard many backpackers who have fallen into this charming trap. Another variant: there's something in the bottle. It would have been great if these men just enjoyed the party without having scheming plans in their minds. But, on the other hand, being only into 'primitive' - somehow funny - acts of crime, they are also harmless! F.e hangin around at the placa Real they want to sell you some grass in an intruisive way by a sort of sneaky whispering 'chocolate?' Being from the Netherlands, of course one ought to know what that means. I didnt...so, a little dissapointed in the fact that he didnt had any mars, bounty or SNICKERS to offer i totlally freaked out, but yet i didnt end up death..so you see, its not that dangerous in Barcelona!
"I played an awesome game on La Rambla today, some bloke with matchboxes challenged me to guess which one had the ball beneath it... It was easy, I won €50!"
An unlikely scenario, in fact, more like damn impossible. These are con-artists are there a numerous notices on La Rambla reinforcing this, just in case your common sense goes walkies. I witnessed several people loose €50 at a time, and strangely, never won it back!
Idiots... and I don't mean the matchbox-men!
Be careful in Maremagnum "resort"... there are always troubles and even fight among customers and security discos staff.
I dont suggest this place to enjoy at night
located down to the ramblas it was designed for 1992 BCN olympic games but every year has get worse than the previous and quarrels are so frequent... indeed this is the place where mostly tourist young people use to go and therefore pickpockets and maghrebian people ( not so much friendly) acompany them !!
If there is any souvenir store located on LAS RAMBLAS you must avoid this Souvenirs Cristy No.38. In several occasions he, the owner actually shortchanged my friends by nearly ten euros, till last week, we first passed by the police and explained to them what we had last week and our experienced. So, two of the police stayed out of their sight, without the owner knowing that police where just around the corner, so, my friend bought a prepaid telephone card which cost 6Euros, my friend handed the owner a 20Euro bill and the owner swiftly swings a 10Euro bill (picking it up from his cashier machine) making us believe that he only received 10Euros, and he insisted that there was no 20 Euros handed to him. So, because our friends could not defend themselves in Spanish this Pakistan keep screaming at us, cursing us out of the store giving us only 4 Euros changed. So, came the two police man and we got back 14Euros change, left this Souvenir store and will never return to this "Theif". We strongly advise to do your shopping elsewhere as we don´t like you to experience and upset your whole day with this Cristy souvenir store. Tourists enjoys bringing back home a bit or a touch of Barcelona t-shirts, or some nick-naks, but not to the point of getting cheated...like we did.
This souvenirs Cristy store is located on Ramblas corner Plaça de Teatre. Right infront or across this store is the internet shop called "Easyeverything and next to the internet shop is Subway Store.
It´s bad enough that we warn everyone tourists and everyone how rampant the pickpocketing is all over Barcelona City, but contrary to that it´s quite pathetic as Barcelona happens to be so beautiful with rich culture.
Barcelona has a big problem with dog's "souvenirs" that cover every park and street, so the city adopted that slogan, you can read on my picture below. By the way I can't realize why there are so many "sheets" on the streets if in 5 days in Barcelona, I've seen just 3 or 4 dogs!!
The slogan could be funny as I found it but seriously it explains very well this problem that ruin the atmosphere of this magic city...
Beware of the chains of American Coffee Shop which are springing up around Barcelona. They are targetted by theives and bag snatchers.
I had my shoulder bag stolen from next to me in S***bucks on Passeig de Gracia, opposite La Pedrera!! There were warning signs up at the counter, but the theif managed it all the same :(
Bag thieves know that American and British tourists feel safer going to familiar branded stores so will target them to get your camera/money etc. The Coffee Shop on Passeig de Gracia is immediately next to a subway for the metro, so theives can disappear quickly and be hard to follow!
When I went to search for my bag, I found another two empty handbags in litter bins on Plaça de Catalunya!! It underlines how common thieving is.
Take care around the the Picasso museum and all its surrounding little streets and lanewawys. Just the other day i witnessed 2 ´thugs´attack a woman, wrestle her to the ground and steal her handbag. Not a pretty sight. Apparently, rumours are circulating that this is part of a government scheme in an attemp to lower land prices in the area. Police presence is minimal around here. Really do be careful, dont be stupid, obviously.
Tourists are often see as easy prey for the unscrupulous. The souvenir industry provides plenty of examples, especially in Barcelona. Many northern Europeans seem to think that Mexican-style hats are traditional in Catalonia. This is curious because one never sees Catalans or Spaniards wearing them. If you do see someone sporting one you can bet that he (or she) is a tourist of the first water. Similarly, Flamenco is about as typically Catalan as a ham sandwich at a Bar Mitzvah.
Some of the cons are a bit more subtle- Tapa bars for example. Contrary to what most tourist think, tapas are not typical of Catalonia. In fact, if you want real tapas , you’ll have to go to Southern Spain or the Basque country. In those areas, generous portions (often free of charge) are set before customers to accompany their drinks. If the tapas are charged for, the price is usually a token one. In Catalonia, by contrast, local caterers and bar owners see tapas as a quick way of fleecing tourists. The quality of the food is often pretty indifferent, the portions minute, and the prices wholly unreasonable. You’ll probably find yourself paying as much for two or three tapas as you would have for a proper meal. Particular care should be taken with tapas containing mayonnaise. A combination of poor display and conservation practices, general lack of hygiene in food preparation, and virtually non-existent official inspection of catering establishments means Salmonella is a real threat. Dozens of cases are reported every year, including a few deaths.
If you do decide to shell out on tapas in Barcelona, make sure you see the price list first - the local waiters have a nasty knack of hacer el despistado (making mistakes on purpose) when it comes to adding up the bill. Better still, if you are in a group, make sure someone keeps tally. Japanese tourists are a favourite target because they are so polite and unassertive.
i got done by a pickpocket at the top of an escalator at vallcarca station. two guys worked on me. one guy dropped a lighter at the top of the escalator and pretended to be drunk and couldn't seem to pick it up. the other guy pretended to be all impatient, shoving me into the guy at the top of the escalator, por favor, por favor... in the process, he must have pinched my wallet. i noticed it rather quickly, but unfortunately not quick enough to catch them. so anytime in barcelona where you've been stopped for an extended period of time between people you don't know, be careful and check your pockets immediately! better yet keep your wallet in a zipped pocket like i did (with my new one) later on. careful at vallcarca, too. the thieves know that the big youth hostel is there so they wait for young travellers with big packs to pull this trick.
Just be aware of the fact, that when Gaudi took over the construction of "La Segrada Familia", he estimated 200 years of construction work for it to be completed. Well, that was 90 years ago.................
So for the next 110 years you will have to live with scaffolding, machines everywhere and ongoing construction!
When visiting the fabulous Palau Guell we were told, that due to renovations of the entire building it will be closed for two years from October 2004 on!
Until then you can get a free tour of just the stables and the roof. You might have to wait a while, because they only take groups of about 20 people at a time - it sure is worth waiting, though!
brace yourself for the pet stalls on Las Ramblas. that was honestly the only negative of my trip to Barcelona. It really upset me to see baby ducks squished together in a cage in the hot sun, baby chipmunks for sale, cages overflowing with tiny bunnies, etc... 2 baby emu in a cage that was hardly big enough for them to stand in.
It brought tears to my eyes to see those poor babies, I had to walk away because I felt so helpless. I still get depressed thinking of it.
Barcelona, like many other major cities in the world has it's fair share of beggers, pick pockets and opportunist thieves. If you take the usual care you should be alright as far as being robbed goes. Don't stray into areas that don't look safe, don't flash great wads of money and don't leave expensive items on show for all to see, it's as simple as that!
As far as beggers go, then only you can decide what is and is not a worthy cause! I was approached by lot's of gypsy type looking ladies with babies in their arms looking for money.
It's a concience thing and how you deal with it is up to you, but I really would not encourage it as it only breeds more of the same.