This is an old scam. A man stands beside a tape recorder playing music. There are some small dolls that jig up and down to the music. When he stops the music they stop dancing. The trick : there is some invisible fishing line attached to the back of the tape recorder, the tape recorder is rigged to move this line up a down and make the dolls dance.
There's a guy who I kept seeing near the Hard Rock Cafe on Cataluya Square (at the top of the Ramblas), he was doing this scam every day, while the police stood around in a group just 50 yards away.
One day while I was waiting for a coach I watched the con man scamming an old guy. I went up and explained it was a con and tried to show the old guy the fishing line.
The con man was very aggressive, he pushed me away and then gripped flesh on my stomach and squeezed. I still have the bruises. It was the only way he could hurt me and not be seen doing it. He said in a strong Russian accent that he would cut out my lung. (Only 1 lung?). Followed by a stream of further threats and abuse.
I walked back to wait for my coach, but he packed up his stuff and came after me. Lots more threats about cutting off my head etc followed. Also he kept insisting I go with him, so he could show me what he would do to me. I declined and said we should go and have a chat with the police. He went and got his friend, another Russian, who was a bit calmer. Eventually they left.
All the time I was being threatened the con man kept looking around, in case the police came. That and the people around who were watching probably saved me from getting beaten up.
Thinking back, what I did was pretty foolhardy. Next time I'll just ignore or tell the police about the scam, not that they seem bothered.
Ps if you are in area look out for the con man, he's about 6ft (1.83m), aged about 25, short dark hair, looks like he is in the gym a lot, wears t-shirts.
La Rambla is very risky place. Lots of cheaters, beggars and pickpockets are roaming freely, in crowded place without any body protesting and there is no police watch.
The worst and the most common is the three boxes and little piece of paper stuff, it is so common in La rambla, after every 40 steps, you would see this happen. They act in a group, with role of everybody fixed and if you stopped, be sure to lose money. There is no protest from any of the people or shopkeepers there. They call third world countries as bad - Asia and Africa, but sorry to say this is the worst experience. At least, the 3rd world countries have beggars, but not open cheaters and that too in crowded places, because in India people protest and help tourists. Here its not the case. Spain act fast if you want to have tourists coming back.
There were not a lot around the city that I saws, but amazingly this one was right on the RAmblas, where most tourists stroll to get an impression of the "niceties" of the area. NOT. Prostitution used to be a big industry in the city, but is said to have waned now?
Besides a number of Indian youth peddling junk trinkets, especially around Park Guell, there are also eery looking Africans that will no doubt give you a hard time if you do not buy something. They are desperate, but just why they are let into the country is beyond me, legal, or illegal.
ARPI La Rambla 40,Barcelona, SPAIN
I recently had the unfortunate circumstance of frequenting your premises to purchase a memory card for my Nikon Coolpix 7600 camera.
I have to say, the person who served me, I assume the proprietor, was rude and aggressive to the point of ignorant.
This person has no knowledge of memory cards and their compatibility with cameras, he also has no professionalism or care for his customers.
Having sold me a Panasonic 6 gigabyte HC memory card which would not work in my camera, his response was ‘IT IS NOT MY PROBLEM - IT IS YOUR PROBLEM - IT IS YOUR CAMERA.
A visit to a further outlet, confirmed the card should have been an AC memory card of no more than 2 gigabyte.
Obviously, his purpose is to make profit, from visitors to Barcelona with the knowledge they will soon be gone.
On our walk to Sagrada Familia church we were stopped by one man, who wanted to ask where is Sagrada Familia even having a map himself. I pointed the way, told it is already not far and easy to find. Accidentally he changed his mind and asked where is Gracia train station, trying to ask me come closer to him. It looked a bit illogical to us why he needed the different places in contrary sides.
What is more, we saw another black man, standing not so far and keeping an eye to the one we met. I decided not to take further consideration and told we have to go.
Before coming to Barcelona I read about fake situations as well, and the one was about a man who tries to speak with you and to invite you more closely, and the other one, who comes later as a civil police officer (with fake license) and tells to show you documents, as you are speaking with suspected person (drug dealer, so on). So, later they know how to take you wallet or any documents... Of course, it is just my presumption.
Beware of beggar women. While we were eating our lunch two women approached us holding toddlers (about 5 minutes apart) and begged for money. I gave some change I had lying on the table to the first one but I have since heard that they pick pocket you. Luckily for me my bag was between my feet so no one could get at it but just be wary.
We saw many groups of people trying to bribe passing tourists with the game of the three boxes and the coin. Do not listen to these people, because they are cheating (and often those who you see playing and wiining are together with the cheaters)
Las Ramblas is a popular tourist destination. Likewise, people in search of easy money through less than scrupulous means also hang out here to look out for the unsuspecting tourist. It is easy for them to spot the tourist from the local especially if you are not Caucasian.
Avoid the dark skinned Africans. They are probably illegal immigrants from north Africa and need money to sustain themselves. They work in pairs and are very nimble-fingered.
You must also avoid gypsies. These gypsy women are easily recognised by their headscarves and shabby dressing. They usually have one or two children in trawl. Their usual ruse is to distract your attention by showing you some embroidery and while your attention is diverted, the child dips into your pocket!
I normally put my cash and credit cards in a concealed money belt and put small change of around 20 - 30 euros in my jeans pocket.
A lot of 'Gypsy' beggars hanging around pestering for a few coins, don't give them any as soon as they see any money more appear and your wallet may go walkabout.
Saw 2 young girls 11 or 12 being held by cafe staff until Police came, as they tried to pickpocket a tourist whilst selling flowers.
never trust a young child in Barcelona with a singl sheeted newspaper.
My friends mum got mugged while we were on holiday. We sat down at a nice place to have a drink. I was clutching onto my baga nd things, we all were and soon as my friends mum tok her pruse out carefully we were surrounded by young boys with newspapers flashing them all about our faces and then stole her purse. My mum ran after them and the police manged to catch 2 of them, and my friens mum caught another, although there was about 5 young boys, they claimed there was only 3 of them.
Unfortunately my friends mum didn't get her purse back and money etc, and the police told us that it was not a mugging or theft because the boys did not touch us physically to get the purse which is rediculous, whcih means, you cna go upto anyone sitting down, throw some newspaper at them and then take whatever is on the table.
So watch out for young children with newspapers and women, almsot look gypsy-like with a baby and a newspaper, snooping around.
Be VERY careful.
If you are walking down The Rambla and you turn into the left narrow streets you´ll be in the Gothic neightborhood.
There are many magreebian young guys and other 'street guys' there trying to sell hash or steal people. Be careful, specially at night.
Don´t show your carera, money, etc.
Same thing if you turn right going down The Rambla, it´s El Rabal neightborhood a.k.a El Barrio Chino.