What To Avoid, Barcelona
The original title of this tip was 'Bullfights: Don't waste your time and money'. I did change it, as nowadays (and I'm glad of it) even if you really wanted to waste your time and money watching a poor beautiful animal being tortured to death, you can't do it in Barcelona anymore.
It is not true there were no local tradition of bullfighting, there were once 3 busy bullrings in town, about 100 years ago. But this so-called "art" was loosing popularity over the years. The residual bullfighting activity in Barcelona during the lasts years was mainly aimed to tourists and the few locals feeling nostalgic of past times. La Monumental, the only bullring that was still in function in Barcelona, only got full a couple of times a year, when a top matador performed in town. For many years the local atmosphere had nothing to do with what you can experience in the bullrings in Madrid or Andalusia.
Some years ago, the City Council of Barcelona abolished bullfights and any other show with abuse of animals in the city. However, this was a quite void declaration, as the City Council has no real authority on these matters, but the Generalitat (Regional Governement).
Later, on 2010, the Generalitat passed a law banning bullfighting in Catalonia. The ban took effect in 2012. Sadly for many of us who campaigned for this ban, it does not includes the "correbous" and other activities involving bulls in some parts of the region (too much money involved and probably fear to loose potential votes). At least the bulls in the Correbous are not killed during the show.
The last bullfight in La Monumental happened in 2011. Now its used for concerts, circus, etc. Another former bullring, Las Arenas, has been converted to a shopping mall (closed as bullring many years before, due to lack of customers).
So, as summary: if someone really wants to attend a bullfight (each to their own) definitely Barcelona was NOT the best place before, and it become impossible from 2012 on.
Even though we were only two blocks off the main center and section of the city-Las Ramblas, it appeared to have a sense of danger surrounding the area. Raval used to be the mecca for crime, drugs and prostitution. Supposedly the city "cleaned up" Raval area near the water edge in late 1990's. However, during the nights, I would not want to venture outside, and we were told to make sure the doors were locked tight, and the even the window air ventilation above the door, because they will come through that to get inside. Our door had two areas to lock, but it could have been broken into. W e were right off Av Parellel and 2 blocks from Columbus monument, which should have been a good feel; not.
The problem with Raval is there is a large number of youth from many countries, and young families; most of all seem to be unemployed. That leads to further problems and crime. Police and the city downplay it, though. I researched the facts before we booked the apartment, but only once you get there do you really know how a situation feels uncomfortable.
Per a police officer my girlfriend spoke to, deserted side streets are a popular haunt for gangs.
Stick to the main roads and busy areas.
Try not to get lost, OK?! And carry a map, even if you're trying to avoid looking like a tourist!
After all this typing, I doubt I've told you something you didn't already know!
Around the city I saw a fair number of homeless people milling around with little to do, but mill around. It appears the police tolerate the occupancy of sleeping in places that seem out of character for what is presented as a "romantic" city. This is one of those that has a bed laid out. There were also beggars, especially around the churches
There is nothing dangerous about climbing the stais to the top of the Sagrada Famila's tower - except if you are clastrophobic.
Ok, if you are over 30 or out of shape, dont go up either. To go to the top of the tower you need to climb over 400 steps in a spiral shaped stair case. There is one detail: you cant give up in the middle of the way.
The view up there is beautiful and you will definetly take some nice pictures but be aware that climbing the stair case is only for the adventurous.
Legionnaire's disease is caused by the legionella bacterium. Air conditioning systems are a potential breeding ground for the bacterium (others include grubby showers, cooling towers, and humidifiers).
Barcelona has had several outbreaks - lack of official inspection and poor maintenance of air conditioning plants are the main culprits.
On 28/9/2000 NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch newspaper, published a list of European hotels where at least 2 cases of legionella had been detected during the previous 5 years. The Information was provided by the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport [Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport.]
It is estimated that 12,000 European tourists were infected with legionella in the 5 years up to 2000 (most of the cases in Southern Europe), with some 240 tourist deaths a year.
The following list was obtained from an updated (27/8/2001) NRC Handelsblad report (see web site below). Accommodation marked in red is in Catalonia. Try to check current status (don't expect the local tourist board to tell you).
San Carlos, Rosas (2001).
Hotel Ramblamar, Rosas (2001).
Fariones Apartments and Hotel, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote (2000).
Rey Don Jaime, Santa Ponsa, Mallorca (2000).
Aparthotel Jardin del Sol, Santa Ponsa, Mallorca (2000).
Motel Picon del Conde, Monasterio de Rodilla (2000).
Bermudas Apartments, Benidorm (2000).
Hotel Playa Margarita in Salou (2000).
Hotel Pionerp, Santa Ponsa, Mallorca (2000).
La Brujula Hotel, Monasterio de Rodilla, Castille y Leon (2000).
Estrella Del Mar, Alcudia, Mallorca (2000).
Hotel Victoria, Rosas (2000).
Hotel Nautilus, Rosas (1999).
Hotel Fiesta Park, Benidorm (1998).
Presidente Hotel, Benidorm (1998).
Hotel Tropic Parc, Malgrat de Mar (1997).
Hotel Cambrills Princess, Salou (1997).
The Dutch authorities took the lead in publishing these lists. It is a pity that other countries are less willing to protect their nationals travelling abroad.
Don't eat at Oriental cafe on Las Ramblas!! I almost got into a fight with the asian waiter there. My partner & I had just shared a pizza & a couple of drinks and asked for the bill. Now let me say, the service, and the food, were nothing to write home about! The guy had been sitting there reading the newspaper while we were waiting ages to get served, and the pizza was pretty tasteless.
When my partner offered up her credit card to pay the bill, he asked "will the tips be cash or credit?". Now I had no intention of paying a tip! I was amazed he was rude enough to ask, especially since there was also a 15% service charge already added to the bill - so I said "cash".
After paying, he was hovering around waiting for us to place some money in the tips tray. We got up to leave & seeing there was no money in there, he started waiving the tray around & shouting "tips, tips, you pay tips", so I turned & said "mate, you have to work to earn your tips". As I turned away to leave, he grabbed my arm!! Unbelievable!! Well, that was too much for me, and felt I had to defend myself so I pushed him in the chest and told him to "f*@# off"!!
It was getting rather heated and my partner was telling me to walk away. As we walked across the street, he was yelling out "I kill you, I kill you"!!
So, anyway, it didn't leave a really good impression of Barcelona!! That said, it is a beautiful city. Just be careful where you walk at night and don't eat at Oriental on Las Ramblas!!!
I think it is not worse than any other place. As in any other place such as London, Paris, NY, Chicago: Don´t carry all your money, credit cards, passport, etc. in the same place. Watch out for anyone, and I mean anyone, young, old, well dressed, who runs into you. Have "small money" available in pockets, so if you want to buy a drink, or put money in a moving statue, you don´t have to pull large bills. It is a matter of commkon sense!
It is not difficult to visit the lower portions of Parc Guell and enjoy the unique buildings at the entrance, the grand staircase, the lizard fountain, the hall of 100 columns or even the vast terrace with its broken tile decorated benches.
But if one starts wandering about this large park to see many of the other unique and strange creations of Gaudi you should be forewarned—there are a LOT of steps you might have to negotiate. And many of the steps are made of native stone that is rough and uneven.
There is also a lot of up hill journeying necessary to see the whole park.
If you have respiratory or heart or leg problems, I don't think it would be wise to go adventuring past the main atttractions at the entrance to Guell Parc.
There are no bargains when it comes to buying electronics or small appliances in Barcelona. Beware of the small "importers" shops on the sidestreets. They will cheat you right and left. Check the merchandise before you leave the store, to make sure all the parts are inside and the appliance actually works - even if you have to open what looks like a hermetically sealed plastic bag.
My husband asked for a rechargeable shaver, but when we got back to the hotel, it turned out it wasn't. We returned it the next day and - bad mistake - bought a CD player which was offered for the same price. It was in a fancy closed box with a Sony label. We didn't open it because we wanted to give it as a present. It turned out that the earphones were broken, the player itself was cracked and the batteries were dead.
The following streets are next to each other left of the Ramblas, so just paint the streets red on your map (btw I live in III and have friends living in I)
From worse to bad:
I C/Hospital between C/Robador and Rambla del Raval.
II C/Sant Ramon
IV C/Sant Pau between C/Robador and Rambla del Raval
So if you want to visit Rambla del Raval, just get there from below (C/Sant Olegue), top,
or from the left using C/Sant Pau (or C/Hospital)
After so much hazzle reporting to a Spanish Authority -finding a translator (who is standing next to me on this photo) how it all happened so quickly. I ended up spending more than my budget, a New U.S. Passport here in Barcelona cost 96.00 U.S. AMERICAN DOLLARS.
Guard your U.S. Passports, Your Valuables! Your Airline Tickets, Your Train Tickets...pickpocketers are so rampant and so fast hardly felt anything move next to me when my passport was stolen.
Barcelona and Madrid have a pretty lousy reputation when it comes to petty theft and street crime. However, most trouble can easily be avoided, unprovoked violence is really rare, bar fights and random attacks seem to be much more common in northern Europe.
These areas in particular have a bad rep;
Raval , especially the southern part and at night, one of the few places were I have heard of violent robberies
Las Ramblas & Placa Reial , THE place for pickpockets
Around Paral.lel , this street has become increasingly seedy in recent years and is not of much interest to tourists anyway
The Beaches , If you leave your belongings for just one second you WILL lose them - especially true for Barceloneta
Estació Sants and Sagrada Familia ,
two other places to watch your bags and wallets
Outside of the old city centre Barcelona is as safe if not safer than most cities in Europe - Enjoy!
My Wife and I went to Barcelona March 2010. On the metro, before even arriving at our hotel, my Wife's purse was stolen from inside a zipped handbag inside another bag. The pickpockets are so skilled they stole the purse even though my Wife recognised the diversionary tactics (one of them waved a scarf while another stopped abruptly in front of us, pretending to be lost) and commented on them.
The second theft was at the PALACIO DEL FLAMENCO.
It's advertised as flamenco with dinner. The performance is on a high stage in a room that needs no amplification, yet it is amplified. There are rows of tables like a school refectory, which was cold and unwelcoming. There was a set meal for everyone (over-cooke paella), one glass of fourth-rate sangria that I couldn't drink, and a crema catalan that tasted powdery that I also couldn't eat (and I'm famous for eating anything). There was no choice, - we couldn't even order a second drink.
The alleged flamenco show started with recorded music! The dancing was poor. The stage itself was miked, so that the fast zapateado (tap dancing) was amplified to an uncomfortable point. There were two guitarists, three singers, a percussionist and a violinist. The singers were miked up. They didn't need to be, and any sense of intimacy there might have been was killed. I play flamenco guitar, so I could see that the guitarists were reasonably accomplished flamencos, yet the balance of the amplification system was so poor they could not be heard at all.
We felt we had been robbed again. It was very clear that if they had performed without amplification or recorded music (which, by the way was not flamenco, but Victorian music-hall music) it would have been nearer to authentic experience.
There was one male dancer, whose zapateado was quite good, but he began delivering very fast, dramatic sound very early. It was obvious they wanted to get straight to the drama by going straight into fast and loud, with no artistry. I am only part Spanish, and I don't live in Spain, but I felt ashamed (as well as angry) that a part of my heritage was being so shamelessly corrupted, for profit.
Not having a valid ticket for the Metro costs you a 40 Euro fine. That is a quite normal sum for several countries in Europe, I think. At least in Germany you got to pay the same.
But what made me really laugh was the fine for Smoking in the Metro: 30 Euro and 5 Cent!! ...so..why the 5 Cent? Shall this be just extra bothering?....