Barcelona- safety

Old Jan 19th, 2005, 08:57 AM
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Barcelona- safety

After hearing about the crime with incidents involving pick-pocketing and various scams, am wondering if Barcelona is safe for a couple days with family. Also, what about the ETA?
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Old Jan 19th, 2005, 04:25 PM
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ETA originates in the Basque country, so it is unlikely that their activities will disrupt your stay in Barcelona. Keep your eyes open, stay alert, and you will have no problems. My wife was pickpocketed in the subway in the following manner. We were on an escalator, standing side-by-side. Someone was in front of her fiddling with his watch band. Someone was behind. At the top of the escalator the front man "accidentally" dropped his watch and tried to "retrieve" it. My wife got stuck behind him, got panicky, and the man behind got into her purse in the confusion. He only got a glass case which he returned as having been "dropped," I think because he realized that I knew what was happening and they did want to us scream for the cops. So if you make sure that the klutz of the family has someone behind him/her on escalators, such incidents are not likely to happen.
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Old Jan 19th, 2005, 04:39 PM
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ETA sometimes targets cities like Barcelona, although it is more active in the North. The risk is relatively low, though.

I also think that the risk of violent crime against tourists (eg mugging) is relatively low. I never felt uncomfortable on my own in Barcelona. However, the risk of being ripped off (eg pick-pocketing, scams etc) is quite high, especially in areas that are frequented by tourists (e.g. Las Ramblas). I was very careful about my belongings: I locked my valuables in the room safe and only walked around with my credit card for short periods of time when I had a specific purchase or shopping trip in mind. I didn't have any problems with employee theft etc in the three and four star hotels I stayed in. So, travel around in the city only with what you can afford to lose, be very vigilant at ATMs, in crowded places, when giving your credit card to someone (eg a waiter) to process your transaction, etc.

You might also want to consider staying in the Eixample District, which is adjacent to Las Ramblas and many the more popular tourist areas but removed enough from the throngs that there are fewer scam artists. The streets are wide, the area is upscale and lively (mix of commercial and residential), the architecture is stunning and there are nice restaurants, shops etc. It's still very central, but you'll probably feel more relaxed there. I stayed at a 3* Derby Hotel there (the Hotel Astoria) and there are a few others in the neighbourhood. I liked it a lot and would stay there again.

Take common sense precautions and you'll be fine.
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Old Jan 19th, 2005, 04:41 PM
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As Michael stated, just stay alert as to where you are and what's going on around you, but generally you will have very few, if any problems if you stay clear of certain areas of the city. Don't carry more then what you need so you can keep at least one hand free.

Regarding ETA. ETA is from the Basque Country, but based on their history, they try to avoid most tourist areas and under most circumstances will try to warn the authorities if they have placed a bomb, but things happen and some innocent people have been hurt. You also have to be aware that most of the bombings and other acts of terrorism ETA has been involved with have been outside of the Basque Country, including such places as Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona, but with the recent bombing in Madrid (3/11/04), they have cut back on their activities. There are only a handful of ETA members thought to be running around loose as the police in both Spain and France have conducted several roundups during the last year, but as with pick-pockets, just keep alert to as to whatís going on and donít worry. You should be more worried about crossing the street then of terrorist.
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Old Jan 19th, 2005, 05:03 PM
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More chance getting killed in car crash on way to airport than in any ETA attack in Barcelona. This is Catalan country not Basque - Basques attack the Spanish areas like Madrid not Barcelona, whose Catalan folk many harbor same separatist wish. Anyway your real threat in Barcelona is getting mugged - i'm in the travel business and i've had several clients tell me they were mugged, even on populous places like the Ramblas. Plus plenty more scams like those described above. One of rare cities in Europe where threat is more than pickpockets, but of strongarm robberies. My sister-in-law was mugged, dragged into the gutter in Madrid at 7am on a Sunday morning when someone wanted her day bag - thinking it had valuables in it. She tried to get it off her to give it to him but couldn't and he wrestled her for it - nearby shopkeepers preparing to open stood by without aiding. Barcelona and madrid, two of the worst cities in Europe for theft. You probably won't be bothered but the chance, in my experience, is very real.
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Old Jan 19th, 2005, 05:48 PM
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One more thought: if you are traveling as a family (two or more), you are less likely to be attacked by a mugger; they usually prefer persons who are alone.
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Old Jan 20th, 2005, 08:10 PM
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Thank you for the comments and the info. The crime seems to be quite prevalent (from what I've read and heard)in Barcelona and Spain as a whole. That's too bad about the two (separate) incidences cited here in the replies- hope it's alright now. If anyone can comment on Segovia and Altea in regards to safety and security, I'd appreciate that, also.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 03:00 AM
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If travelling by car beware that rental cars can be identified, and it is common to have your tyre slashed by someone on a scooter who will then offer to help change it while an accomplice tries to get into the car to steal any bags or anything.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 03:02 AM
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" After hearing about the crime with incidents involving pick-pocketing and various scams, am wondering if Barcelona is safe for a couple days with family. Also, what about the ETA?"

Define safe. Then maybe someone could actually answer your question.

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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 03:40 AM
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I was there in Decemeber and felt safe. Pickpockets and petty theft are points of concern in most large European cities, it seems like. The only run-ins with crime I experienced happened during 2 separate visits to a supermarket. One time someone tried to shop-lift and was caught, and the other time I saw someone running away from there with a policeman hot in pursuit.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 04:56 AM
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Pickpockets on the Metro and what ABOUT the ETA????????
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 07:43 AM
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To PalQ:
Maybe you don't know that the biggest bombing of ETA was in Barcelona. ETA killed in a supermarket in Barcelona nearly 30 people, and injured hundred of people who were buying in the supermarket.
To xGigi:
Don't worry about ETA, you have to be very bad luck to be near a bomb. I think ETA have never killed a tourist.
Segovia and Altea are completly safe and secure, Segovia it's a very little city, very calm, and Altea it's a beautiful town.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 09:26 AM
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for PalQ or anyone else:

I will be cycle touring in Barcelona in early May. I will probably stay at the (official) hostel and realize I need to be careful there while showering, etc.

I have a handlebar bag which contains my camera and I usually carry this with me all the time. I have heard of thieves using knives to cut straps and grab and run, so I am concerned about this happening in Barcelona and Madrid, where I might also go. Is it enough to make sure that the bag is in front of you (vs. at your back) and be conscious of your surroundings, or should I re-consider this? I tend to move quickly and be aware of what is happening around me, so am not the usual type of mark who is lost in daydreams.

I have a neck pouch and will probably keep passport, money and documents in there based on what I have read, but losing my camera and handlebar bag would be a real problem for my trip.

thanks, Charles
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 11:34 AM
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Hi,
I am a tour guide and have worked in Barcelona for years with American tourists in particular students (who tend to be a bit more spaced on the whole!) With regards the handbag, if you look as if you are aware - ie holding the bag close to you under your arm or with your hand over the zip etc then you should be fine. The places to be extra vigilant are the metro - especially when boarding and getting down. There are often groups of gypsy children who crowd on at the last moment and you wouldn't feel a thing.
THe Ramblas also has a lot of opportunists that range from proper scams to very light fingers. If you stop to watch a magician or street entertainer then just be aware that there might well be people hovering around.
Violent crime is rare but it DOES happen in the backstreets more than the central thoroughfares. Use common sense and never carry more money than you need and you should be fine - Barcelona gets a very bad rap for petty crime but it is the same way in most large Spanish cities, especially where there are lots of tourists. The trick is to keep in well lit and popular streets and stay very aware of your immediate surroundings.
Enjoy Barcelona as it is a great city and don't let these things put you off!
Segovia is great too : ) Very little crime but there are a few reknowned gypsy ladies who sell "lace" (???) and have been known to steal a penny or two
HTH
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 11:50 AM
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HTH / Buzboy -

Thanks for the info. I will carry all cash and cards/passport in a neck pouch, but take lots of slides when I travel (~ 500/week) and like to keep my bar bag with me all the time, as it also has sunglasses and anthing else I might need - tour central. I always move quickly and am constantly scanning the area around me, so I'll hope that I don't look like a good target.

Charles
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Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 02:15 PM
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I lived in Barcelona for four months this past fall and never had a problem with pick-pocketing. I think that the incidents to happen but not as much as we are led to believe by the numerous horror stories. I made it a point to be very careful by carrying a small purse with a short strap that fit tight under my arm and I never once had a problem. If you are careful and aware of your surroundings you will be fine.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 02:21 PM
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My dear, I was in Barcelona for five nights over the summer. I carried a bag, and took photographs in public, i.e. I could quite easily be seen to be non-native to those parts. I wasn't even so much as approached by anyone untoward.

As for ETA, short of knowing someone in the intelligence services dealing with Spanish security, who can possibly answer that? Sometimes you must take risks, and in this case it's a minute one.
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