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Safety in Seville

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Just how concerned should we be about safety in Seville? We are world travelers, including trips to many Third world countries, but have read about muggings, people smashing your windows at stop lights to get things in your car, purse snatching, etc. We were planning 3 days/4 nights here. Should we reconsider and spend more time in Arcos or Vejer?

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    I am a local, but I'm exposed to tourist's safety issues as the Front Desk Manager of a central hotel here in Seville.I think you need to be aware of your surroundings just like in any major tourist city, but other than that, it is very safe here.
    Just watch your purse, camera and wallet and you'll be ok.
    Better yet, carry no purse, just a money belt or something like that.

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    We were in Seville for the Semana Santa and did not feel threatened in anyway or see any trouble. We were frequently offered sprigs of heather or something by gypsy ladies... Olga, do you know why they do this and if you accept this 'regalo' do you have to pay for it?

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    I had some of the same concerns last year when I started travelling in Spain. I've been to Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Salamanca, and haven't had any problems - but, except in Salamanca (smaller city), I never carried anything valuable with me, and I was very careful to watch my belongings. I also didn't meet anyone who was (or who knew anyone who had been) the victim of violence - although I did meet a number of people who had had their pockets picked/daypacks stolen, etc.

    So I agree with Olga's comments about the level of risk (it's not as dangerous as some people say, although petty theft is a problem) - although you also might seek some advice from people who have rented cars (there may be some additional precautions to take).

    One thing I also realized when I started to do some country research. (I travel a lot for work, including to some places where safety is a concern.) Those country reports you get from your Department of Foreign Affairs can sound scary - until you compare them with places you're familiar with (like your own country, or a large city in another country you have visited). It's also worthwhile looking at other countries' foreign affairs sites: eg compare the travel reports on the Canadian, US and UK foreign affairs website for a more complete picture.

    To give an example (and please don't interpret this as US- or UK-bashing, but it illustrates the point that you should compare the relative riskiness of countries, and use places you're familiar with to assist you in making comparisons). Here's the warning on the Canadian website about Florida:

    Attacks on tourists have decreased, but violent crime remains a serious concern. Criminals have demonstrated
    that they will use violence with little or no provocation. Many attacks have occurred in the Miami area, and other have taken place on rural roads and at interstate highway rest areas. Some rest areas have dusk to dawn security on site (which is indicated on the highway sign). Proceed cautiously when exiting from a freeway (including Interstate 95) into large urban centres, especially after dusk. Theft is increasing, particularly from trunks of parked cars in the North Miami Beach area, South Beach and at airports. Be alert, as criminals use a
    variety of techniques to steal personal belongings.

    This is what the Canadian website says about the UK:

    Violent crime has increased significantly. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and mugging has increased in urban centres, tourist sites, restaurants, buses, trains, and the London Underground. Vehicle theft occurs. Remain vigilant, ensure valuables and passports are secure, and avoid displays of affluence. Use only officially marked taxis.

    This is what the Canadian site says about Spain.

    Violent crime is rare. Although assaults against foreigners are infrequent and decreasing, reports of such attacks in connection with petty crime are a concern. Muggings by gangs using weapons or force have been reported occasionally, particularly in Madrid and Barcelona. In Madrid, these assaults have targeted Asian or Asian-looking tourists. Petty crime occurs, particularly during holidays and festivals. Pickpockets and purse snatchers working in pairs or groups are active in airports, train and bus stations, hotels, restaurants, Internet cafés, near museums and other tourist attractions, and on public transportation; one or more will distract the victim while the other snatches the purse or luggage. Avoid underpasses as they are frequented by drug traffickers and tramps, particularly at night. Visitors to Madrid, Barcelona, and other major urban centres or coastal resorts should ensure personal belongings are secure.

    They're similar (and in fact, the UK sounds scarier because violent crime apparently is increasing there, while it's decreasing in Spain and Florida).

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    Lola,
    The rosemary thing is for good luck, a traditional thing here. They do expect money for it and also if they try to tell your fortune in your hand. Some of them can be a little pushy, just like the eastern european beggarwomen wearing colourful dresses that abound lately in the downtown area.
    Just firmly say no and they leave you alone.
    About the car, just try to avoid leaving luggage in the trunk. If you are in transit and need to do it, try not to open the trunk so people will see it, and don't leave maps or travel stuff visible inside the car. Chances are nothing will happen to the car, but just in case...
    The truth is I usually rent cars and travel around Andalucia and although I am spanish, my husband looks very much like the quintessential young american tourist -shorts and tennis shoes- and we've never had any problems.

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    To add fuel to the fire...
    when we returned our rental car at the Sevilla airport, the people in front of us were told by the gal at the counter that the new thing in Sevilla is for "the bad guys" to slash the tires of your rental car, wait for you to return to it, offer to help you and steal all your stuff out of the trunk while you're distracted by the tire and the other fellas "helping".

    We JUST returned from Sevilla, and had NO problems there. Never felt uncomfortable or nervous. The lifestyle is such that even the oldest of residents are often walking dark little streets at 1:00 am, coming back from dinner. I felt like if the little old ladies were okay doing that, then I would likely be fine, too. Keep your wits about you as you would anywhere and hopefully you will be fine. Arcos is charming, but there is little to actually do there. Just an opinion.
    In case you're interested, we stayed at the well-regarded Las Casas de la Juderia and the Vincci la Rabida while in Sevilla and Los Olivos in Arcos, all of which I would recommend.

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    i agree with what everyone previous has said but would like to add my 2 cents as well :)
    i spent 3 weeks in seville sept 2001 and was around lots of foreigners from all over europe most of the time. the only problems i heard of were pickpockets. and generally because girls were careless with their purses. my advice would be if you carry a purse use one that can cross your chest instead of tuck under your arm and keep it positioned in front of your body. also i heard somewhere when renting a car to buy a local newspaper and leave it on a seat. but in seville you won't want or need a car.
    ilove seville and wouldn't cut my time there short. in fact am visiting a friend in madrid at end of month and making a side trip to seville we both loved it so much!

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    I have just returned from 3 weeks in Madrid and Andalucia and loved Sevilla.
    It was clean and we walked about everywhere, even late at night and did not feel the least threatened. We used the hotel safe and carried no valuables apart from a camera.

    We stayed at Hotel Alcantara in the Barrio Santa Cruz, which was reasonably priced and simply but tastefully furnished.

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