Barcelona's Barri Gothic - Safe?

Dec 6th, 2011, 01:26 PM
  #41  
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Thanks - we'll also be bringing minimal credit cards in RFD blocking wallets. May I ask what is & where you purchase a slash proof purse? I'm still on the fence about changing hotels - had all but booked the room. Also figured as metro NYC'ers (hubby grew up in the city) we can handle cities. But the "sightlines" comment posted by zeppole above has continued to leave me with questions and feeling that a move to a few blocks north might be wise. Hate to give in to fear, but also hate to get into trouble because we're overconfident. RFD blocking wallet doesn't prevent a frightening confrontation.
burnhamski is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 01:59 PM
  #42  
 
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I have visited Barcelona six times in the last five years ( last time alone) .
I carry the same purse I do in my home town and wear the same watch ( expensive).
My husband does not carry a wallet. We leave our passports and, all but one ,CC in the hotel

We have done the same from Paris to Rome and from NY to Sidney.
Never had a problem.
danon is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 02:00 PM
  #43  
ita
 
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I looked at the slash proof purses. The sales person dissuaded me from buying one. First of all they are very heavy and I think she told me there was a safety issue. I can't remember, but maybe you can get hurt if someone tries to grab it. Check into it.

Also I think Eixample is the perfect place to stay for a first trip. We stayed in an apartment, but we walked past an interesting hotel in the area. It was called Roommate Emma. I looked it up on the web and it wasn't too much. Check it out.
ita is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 06:23 PM
  #44  
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There seem to still be two distinct thoughts: BG is no more dangerous than any other big city, and we have visited, roamed BG with some caution but had a great visit / we're experienced travelers & been all over but this is not necessarily a safe area to be, especially at night.

Good thing I didn't make a reservation yet - I'd have changed it 6 times. Anybody actually know of either the Hotel Barcelona Catedral (in BG, near the catedral - duh!)or Hotel Jazz (a couple blocks west of Plaza Catalunya)?
burnhamski is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 10:55 PM
  #45  
 
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There are ALOT of hotels (and restaurants) in this area! most of them very nice hotels - also there are quite a few main (busy) streets - you can easily avoid the twisty, narrow streets of the area if they do not feel safe to you. But again, the natives are night people - we were wandering around at midnight and it was not deserted. IMO the Barcelona problem is not nearly so much late night street crime, (at least in the BG area) as the metro pickpockets operating in the day. They got me, but I've been back since then and hope to return this spring - and I will stay again in BG, maybe even at Hotel Barcelona Cathedral - it looks very nice!
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Dec 7th, 2011, 05:27 AM
  #46  
 
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Burnhamski,

My preferred part of Barcelona is the Poble Nou, which is actually kind of an off-beat choice but convenient to the sights you mention. But the only two places I would personally rule out are Barri Gotic and Las Ramblas.

A lot of people dismiss the thievery problems in Barcelona because they've personally never had a problem. But not only did I personally have problems twice (canceling out their experience), there is a lot of evidence that Barcelona and some other parts of Spain create problems for tourists that go beyond the usual "big city" precautions. One is the presence of a large number of determined professional pickpockets who target tourists. Another problem is the animosity felt toward large numbers of northern Europeans using Barcelona as a party/vice town, which makes police indifferent to some of what occurs. The last is incidences of theft that go beyond pickpocketing to include physical threat or actual injury.

A lot of Mediterranean port cities have a pickpocketing/scamming problem that targets tourists' wallets and purses. Only a few are places where tourists are sometimes menaced into handing over their money.

All that said, travelers coming from America are much less likely to encounter violent robbery in Barcelona than they are in their own towns. My sole reason for posting in your thread is not to diss Barcelona or paint a wholly negative portrait of traveling there. It's only to make sure you have all the information you need to have a happy trip without incident.
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Dec 7th, 2011, 07:39 AM
  #47  
 
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I have been in Barcelona many times without incident BUT the last time I was there I encountered 2 problems;-
The police patrols seemed to be predictable and of course the criminals take advantage. There was always a big police presence in Plaza Real but walking just a few yards down Calle de Vidre, on the way to Las Caracoles restaurant in Calle de Los Escudellers, a youth pushed me against a wall, I shouted POLICIA at the top of my voice and he went before he could rob me. Next time I will go the long way round, out into the Ramblas and down to the main entrance to the Calle de Los Escudellers. Main pedestrian routes, even narrow ones, are OK but don't be tempted to take short cuts in between them.

There is also a problem with the metro in Barcelona. Gangs of pick pockets travel with impunity, I was hustled by a group of four. I had my hand on my wallet as soon as they started so I did not loose my credit cards but somehow the cash was gone. It was not subtle but it was fast. I will now always take a taxi in Barcelona. It will not stop me visiting this wonderful city. Spain in general has problems of huge unemployment and both legal and illegal immigrants.
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Dec 7th, 2011, 08:16 AM
  #48  
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after reading these posts, do you understand why we didn't use the metro? Why spoil your holiday by taking chances? We were vigilant. We encountered a young couple who had lost 300E being pickpocketed on the metro. He did have his wallet in his back pocket, which is ridiculous. He recovered his wallet and credit cards a short distance away.
ita is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 08:45 AM
  #49  
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As always, very good info here, and a variety of experiences. I am certainly reconsidering the plan to take public transit everywhere, and will take additional precautions with what valuables we carry. Sadly, the hotel on the smaller quiet street in BG is looking less desirable than one in a more open location.
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Dec 7th, 2011, 11:14 AM
  #50  
 
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My husband and I stayed in Barcelona in September 2011 and had a fabulous time. We stayed at Hotel Ciutat Vella on Tallers 66 off the upper end of Las Ramblas. Close to Las Ramblas and Plaza Catalunya. It was a wonderful hotel with free water bottles, friendly desk staff and a rooftop hot tub. The street is a bit noisy at night, but that's normal for Spain. We used our Ipod to play ambiance white noise to drown out the street noise at night. We wandered the side streets quite a bit and never felt threatened and always ate away from the tourist spots. As far as pickpockets, my husband wore a money belt and I bought an anti-theft bag from ebags.com, never had any issues. One of the best Fodor's tips was a painter's market on Sundays at Placa Sant Josep Oriol. We bought a great painting of Las Ramblas and talked with the artist and his wife for quite a while. Enjoy your trip!
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Dec 7th, 2011, 12:04 PM
  #51  
 
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" Calle de Vidre, on the way to Las Caracoles restaurant in Calle de Los Escudellers",...

In Oct, I stayed just at that corner..
Not that I liked the location, but the area was so well lit and so crowded at night, I was comfortable coming to the apt
(I was alone , so I did not stay out much after 11 P.M.)
Normally , I would not choose to hang around that area at night, but the apt. came free....

As for public transit, if one fears metro , buses are a great alternative. I have used both and commuter trains without incident.
danon is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 02:46 PM
  #52  
 
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After a good dozen trips to Barcelona I can say:
- BCN got a pickpocket problem, though I never experienced one myself
- BCN is one of Europe's all year top tourist destinations which makes it an attractive home base for pickpockets
- the presence of police in BCN is probably 20 times more visible than in my home town Munich or Berlin (so you can't say they neglect the issue)
- I would rather cross BCN's Barri Gotic at 3am in the morning than walk in Brussels from the Grand Place to Gare du Midi at 9pm
- it may be a cultural thing, as (excuse the stereotyping) IME many Americans are simply not used to roam on foot at night thru old cities and may feel intimitaded sooner than those who are used to it. At 9 or 10 at night you will have kids playing in the streets..
- I rarely if ever got back to the apartment before 2am - and never felt scared any place I went.
- When I saw somewhat shabby people in the lower Gothic Quarter (between Ferran and the harbor) it never raised anxiety. And walked those narrow streets dozens of times at any time of day or night. I got asked if I wanted to buy drugs or sex, but nothing ever escalated into an awkward situation. Maybe it helps when you can speak the language and can overhear that two "dangerous characters" are just discussing a football match and not how to best kill you in the next alley.
It's a bit like roaming through NYC in the wee hours and run into a few "characters" here and there or on the subway. But at least I never ran into hostile people like zeppole did in her unpleasant encounter.
- There IS ONE thing you should be aware of, and that is pickpockets at prominent tourist spots like the Ramblas or Sagrada Familia -- in bright day light. So don't take all your stuff with you or be extra vigilant.
- I never had one weird incident in the metro, not at 2pm nor at 2am. But as danon said, the city buses are not only an alternative for your peace of mind, but more often even more convenient.
- the real "no go areas" (at night) of BCN are so far away from the city center that you literally cannot walk there by accident.
- BCN is a bit of Hate it or Love it city. It's my favorite place to be, and I can never understand that anyone could feel uncomfortable in that great city -- but I know that others had bad experiences or just won't "click" with the city. It's definetely not "everybody's darling".
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Dec 7th, 2011, 06:24 PM
  #53  
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I'm laughing to myself because I have never, ever been indecisive about a hotel choice before! I'm more confused than ever, because people have had such varied experiences, but all valid (thanks for some very good & specific points cowboy 1968).

Seems to be consensus only on the fact that the pickpocket danger is everywhere we want to visit as first-timers in BCN, and we understand that & accept it & will do our best not to be big targets (thanks for the ebags.com tip, ErinFun). I also now have a pretty good sense that we should stay out of lower BG (below Ferran) at night. Public transit seems to still be a toss-up. Those that have used the metro & not been targets love it; those who have had experience with pickpockets/purse snatching advocate above ground. We'll figure that out once we arrive. Hotel location seems to still draw diverse opinions. Eixample may be a beautiful and safer area, but not as appealing to me as the BG for location & atmosphere. For every reported problem there, another person has posted that they had a great time. Plaza Catalunya area would be 2nd choice.

Does anyone actually know the location of the Hotel Barcelona Catedral (c/ dels Capellans 4· 08002 Barcelona - restaurant there is "4 Cappellans") & if so, can you comment on whether it's on a "bad" street (small, dark, bad sight lines)? Or is the walk from there to the Jaume metro stop a "bad" walk?
burnhamski is offline  
Dec 7th, 2011, 10:46 PM
  #54  
 
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Yes, I know that location and would not consider it in any way "dangerous".
The walk to metro Jaume is not a bad walk. You will see thousands of people walking around in that area each hour.

Jaume I metro line 4 has no real benefit for exploring the "usual suspects" of Barcelona sights, though.

The buses from nearby Via Laeitana take you to the harbor and Barceloneta.
From Pl. Catalunya you can go by direct buses to the sights on Mountjuic, all way up to Park Güell, and (possibly also) to Sagrada Familia.
Or is there any place you have already in mind which would require a metro ride?
Besides Sagrada Familia, which will require a change to line 5 at Verdaguer, I would not know one tourist destination for which line 4 had any use.
To the famous "Gaudi quadrangle" with the well-known buildings you just walk to Pl. Catalunya and up Pg de Gracia. It's just a 10 min walk along one of Barcelona's busiest shopping streets.
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Dec 8th, 2011, 06:34 AM
  #55  
 
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what Cowboy said.

You are visiting in June.... there will be a zillion people milling around at all hours.
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Dec 8th, 2011, 07:52 AM
  #56  
 
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burnhamski,

Despite my experiences of street theifs in Barcelons, I contined to use the Metro. I just didn't carry a purse and my husband didn't take his hand off the wallet in his pocket, which he had pretty much emptied before hand. To the extent I needed to carry stuff around (maps, hairbrush, etc), I carried an ordinary plastic bag from a local drug store. When I wanted to buy metro tickets, I took out the money well-advance of being anywhere near the train station, and if I got change from my purchase, I just carried it in my hand until I could safely stow it, or gave to a busker.

I don't take pictures when I travel, so can't advise there.

As for police presence, the streets of Naples Italy are filled with police. It's a good job! It just include much paying attention to street thievery.

I have to disagree with Cowboy about Americans being unused to wandering around European cities at night. (I live in Italy). They may not do it at home in America, but repeat visitors to Europe from America take great pleasure in walking around Europe's cities at night and enjoying their safety. So it is sometimes the most experienced travelers to Barcelona, the ones who feel most comfortable in a European city, who get surprised by the level of determined theft when they finally reach the highly-touristed areas of Barcelona. Besides, a fair number of reports of theft in Barcelona happen in daylight hours.

Also, I never saw dangerous looking people in Barcelona. Many of Barcelona's pro thieves dress very nicely, nice enough to hang around fancy hotel lobbies or tapas bars, and use the elevators or restarooms, without arousing any suspicion.

The problem is most easily avoided by simply not carrying anything on you that it would ruin your trip to lose. When you are hauling your luggage plus passport and house keys, take a taxi. When you are out and about sightseeing, keep carrying valuables to the barest minimum of necessity, and keep it a very secure place, protected by your own hands or folded arms when you are passing through the metro or other zones (Sagrada Familia) with a reputation for pickpocket density.
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Dec 8th, 2011, 09:37 AM
  #57  
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Thanks for the additional info / reassurance on safety, especially given when we will be traveling. Sounds like if we're reasonably aware (we are), take precautions about what we carry & how we carry it (we do), we should be reasonably safe, even in the BG area I'd selected. I don't want to give the impression that we are complete neophytes who have not traveled outside the US and not taken public transport, or walked city streets at night. I don't want to plan my trip in fear, but also don't want to be foolish & fail to consider safety concerns expressed here.

Thanks for the metro info, cowboy1968. I looked quickly @ the BCN metro map & did notice that the yellow line @ Jaume didn't see to go anywhere direct other than maybe waterfront area (a short walk anyway). The other hotel was near the Universitat station, which looked like it offered better access (red & purple). I'm not sure we'll use the metro a lot anyway - husband is more comfy with taxis than underground (despite growing up in NYC). It's a factor to consider, but not the only reason to choose one hotel location over another. And as you suggested, zeppole, we plan to do transport with luggage to/from airport or train station by taxi. Thank you (again) for your thoughtful suggestions!
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Dec 8th, 2011, 12:20 PM
  #58  
 
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"
I have to disagree with Cowboy about Americans being unused to wandering around European cities at night. (I live in Italy). They may not do it at home in America, but repeat visitors to Europe from America take great pleasure in walking around Europe's cities at night and enjoying their safety. "

I hope the happy tourists avoid wondering at night in some areas of Rome and Milan.
Not to mention pick pockets on buses and metro in Rome and Milan train station.
danon is offline  
Dec 8th, 2011, 05:50 PM
  #59  
 
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Here's a link to some tapas ideas:

http://likelivingthere.blogspot.com/...n-el-born.html
Alan_CT is offline  
Dec 9th, 2011, 06:20 PM
  #60  
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Thanks, Alan-CT. Looks great! Taller is one that friends just recommended as well(they were in BCN post-cruise in Oct).
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