Aug 20th, 2006, 02:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
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We are a group of four women planning to visit Madrid and Barcelona in September. People have been warning us that both cities are dangerous. Any comments? Also, what is appropriate attire for sightseeing during the day? Since the temperatures are still quite high, are Bermuda shorts and capris acceptable? Thanks for any help you can give.
HAR32JU34 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 02:36 PM
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What do you mean by "dangerous?" I was in Madrid by myself in 2002 and felt perfectly safe (40 yr old female.)However, just as I was getting on the train for Toledo, someone behind me mentioned to her companions that she saw a pocket being picked. There are pickpockets and street con games, but I never felt physically threatened. The streets were empty during the day and jam packed at night.

I had a blast!
GBbabe is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 02:40 PM
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Our latest high school grad just returned from backpacking Italy with friends. She did not experience any problems but she did see some pick pocketing going on. As she says, you have to be aware of what's going on around you at all times. And avoid night travel if you can. Enjoy yourself - just pay attention to your surroundings. Your group will have a great time!
SpeedBuggy is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 03:12 PM
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I love both Madrid and Barcelona. I'd go there in a heartbeat.

But, I have to admit that based on my experience from others that I've heard, petty street crimes are more blatant in these cities thatn any other major tourist cities in Europe.
bill_boy is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 03:51 PM
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I live in Barcelona and just got back from a few days in Madrid. Both have their dangerous neighborhoods (in BCN it is the Raval, which is very intimidating at night), and petty crime such as pickpocketing (which can happen in a variety of ways, sometimes quietly and secretly, other times rather abruptly and overtly) are all over the place, but violent crimes are just not that common.

Wear what you want and enjoy your time. You are in no more danger here than in any other large European city.
laclaire is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 04:17 PM
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I wonder what these people mean when they say Madrid is dangerous? I haven't been to Barcelona, but I was in Madrid last year or so, and it didn't seem any different than any other major city. I had no problem, and was alone and took the metro around for sightseeing.

Nobody cares what you wear around during the day for sightseeing.
Christina is online now  
Aug 20th, 2006, 04:56 PM
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The "crime" I've personally experienced in Barcelona consisted of being pickpocketed on the Metro.
Dukey is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 05:11 PM
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I had heard the same things before traveling to Spain this summer and was a little worried about pickpocketing and other possible crime. I loved both Barcelona and Madrid and would like to go back. All the local women I saw were carrying purses. There was a very lively and safe feel to both cities. I do not discount the stories I have heard and I would be aware and take precautions, but I would not let that stop me from visiting these two great cities.
Nikki is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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My husband had his pocket picked in the train station at the Plaza d'Espagne in Barcelona.

When I was walking with my husband down an alley in the Barri Gotico in Barcelona, a young man sneaked up behind me and grabbed the rather large nylon sack/bag I was holding in one hand. I so startled, I simply hung onto it, and then I screamed at the top of my lungs, at which point he let go and ran away.

Since that time I have not carried a purse anywhere I travel. I keep my unimporant items in an ordinary plastic shopping bag. I keep money and a credit card in a small zippered coin purse that straps over my wrist and has a ring loop that slides over my middle finger. It's called a Yazzy Sport bag.

In Madrid, my husband and I were walking near the Prado, on our way to Retiro Park, when we were approached by a young man carrying a map who asked us to help him find the Prado. We were trying to show him, using his map, when we were suddenly approached by a much older man who flashed a "Polizia" badge and demanded to see our passports. We began to explain that our passports were in our hotel safe, when I suddenly realized it was a scam. I firmly grabbed my husband's arm, announced it was a scam, and headed straight for a nearby group of construction workers. The two guys disappeared.

Because of my negative experiences, I tend to view Barcelona and Madrid as more risky than other places. I would ask your hotel desk to circle on a map any neighborhoods that are not advisable. I would avoid wearing jewelry, and if you stay out late drinking or wind up tipsy, get a cab.

nessundorma is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 08:22 PM
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I don't feel that either Madrid or Barcelona is dangerous, but there does seem to be a good deal of petty crime. It's not just careless or naive people whose pockets are picked either. I thought that we were careful almost to the point of paranoia when we were in Spain, but we were robbed anyway.

My sister and I were having dinner in an outdoor restaurant in Barcelona when a young man, who we assumed was a waiter, approached and asked if our food was good, then left very quickly--at which time my sister discovered that her purse was gone.

Fortunately she had given me her credit card and passport to put in my money belt, so all she lost was her digital camera. Too bad, as the replacement camera she bought in Seville next day cost $700 and really didn't take as good pictures as her original camera.

I suggest that you wear a money belt under your clothes and perhaps keep a few bills in your pocket.

As to clothes, I agree that Bermuda shorts and capris are fine.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 09:09 PM
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I've been to Madrid and Barcelona a few times and this is my honest opinion. There are some sketchy looking and acting guys who hang around the Atocha Train station. I use a cane when I have to walk alot of distance and I just kept swinging it around when I saw these characters. In Barcelona there is an area in the Bari Gotic that seemed very East Village and had some weird and obviously wired guys eyeing us. Again I don't think they are violent, they just would like your stuff and if you show you are no pushover you and your belongings are probably safe. Just be aware and if you don't carry a cane, just adopt the same attitude as if you did. Or then again, maybe I have just been lucky
zwho is offline  
Aug 20th, 2006, 09:44 PM
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All large cities have their bad areas and crime regardless if it's petty or worse. I've never been to either Madrid or Barcelona, and hope I visit someday, but for some reason I know a couple of people who were pickpocketed in Barcelona and I read continually about others who have had pickpocketing experiences in these two places. So I think the percentage for petty crime is much higher than in other European cities. Of course, it may never happen to some fortunate people who visit. But I don't get why some who have had no bad experiences dismiss the claims of firsttime visitors that these cities are dangerous. I think to them 'dangerous' means dangerous in the sense of being high in petty crime. And that's a fact.
francophile03 is offline  
Aug 21st, 2006, 12:06 AM
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I've visited Barcelona and Madrid on my own several times (Barcelona twice, Madrid about 7-8 times) and felt safe, although I was conscious of the relatively high level of non-violent petty crime (pickpocketing, bag snatching in restaurants, etc). Based on stories reported to me by my classmates at Spanish language schools and by my colleagues who work in Madrid, there is a fairly high incidence of this kind of crime and it's fairly widespread in these cities, but violent crime is much less common.

In Madrid and Barcelona, I lock up my credit cards, passport and tickets in the hotel safe most of the time. I carry enough cash for a day or two, and that's it. If I plan on doing some shopping and sometimes in the evening when I go out to dinner, I will take one credit card and my passport with me (many shops will insist on seeing your passport if you want to use a credit card).

In Barcelona, I would recommend that you stay in the Eixample District, which is quite central but just to the north of the old city and the jam-packed, touristy part of Las Ramblas (where there is also a somewhat higher concentraction of pick-pocketing etc - as thieves are attracted to crowds of tourists). The Eixample District is a little more upscale, less crowded and mixed residential/commercial - with lots of cafes and restaurants open late in the evening. Architecturally, it is also quite stunning - full of Gaudi's strange and beautiful buildings. Good shopping, too, and good metro connections. I've stayed at the 3* Hotel Astoria several times; it was about 110 euros a night. It's part of the Derby Hotels group and there are several other hotels in the chain.

As for attire, capris are fine, but residents rarely, if ever, wear shorts in cities like Barcelona and Madrid. If you don't mind looking like a tourist, then don't worry about the fact that you're wearing shorts - otherwise, just stick to capris.

Don't forget to save some money to shop for shoes at Camper. Also, Zara has great prices in Spain.
Kate_W is offline  

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