Safety Tips for Traveling in Barcelona
Waking up in Barcelona and starting out the morning with a walk is a magical experience. At first the sun peeks through the clouds as it starts to make its grand entrance for the day to illuminate awe inspiring architecture of the city and then warms it with its Latin kiss. While having spent two weeks in Barcelona I walked around exploring the city each day until the shadows met me at night. Along the way I found intriguing bookshops and other places of curiosity. Alleys were particularly sexy as they reminded me of desperate lovers escaping to a secret spot in the night and losing all sense of discretion. A once practical reality can take a romantic turn when one visits Barcelona.
For the single female traveler, one will find that sexual harassment is not common. I witnessed women dressed in various styles, some conservative and some provocative, and based on my observations in their company, men treated them the same. They did not seem to react to a woman’s dress and did not appear sexually aggressive.
It is my understanding based on speaking to fellow travelers that I would meet and from reading the local paper that theft is the most prevalent crime in Barcelona. Any travel guide or hotel concierge will tell you which areas to avoid walking through at night because of incidents of theft. The area known as Las Ramblas is said to have an abundance of thieves and it is the area where most people have their money and possessions compromised.
Let’s face it ladies, knowledge is power!
I stayed in a guest house in the Barri de Gracia, which is lined with high end stores and posh restaurants. That is not to say that theft does not happen there. However, it does present an incentive for more of a police presence to be seen in the neighborhood. In areas like Las Ramblas there is hardly any police presence. Also, streets are smaller and older and buildings are closer together. This creates a situation where crowd control is out of control. In that instance it is easy for a group of thieves to surround you, while one of them cuts a hole in your bag in order to steal its contents.
Travel guides suggest that one carry a single credit card and limited amounts of cash and to use a money belt. I personally like to carry more money on me since I don’t want to be in a situation where I need it and do not have any. That is another aspect to safety that we as women must especially think about. You cannot travel in unfamiliar places and not have cash on you if you need a cab to get out of an unsavory neighborhood or any situation of that nature. Keeping in mind that not every city abroad accepts credit cards you have to leave your hotel room with enough money for the day just in case.
It’s good practice to ask your hotel concierge what the latest schemes are that con artists and thieves are using in your destination.
Therefore, I keep money in different areas on my person. I carry a rucksack that I keep 20 euro in but I will have my credit card in my shoe (they are shoes that tie up with laces) and I will keep the remainder of my money for the day in my front pocket. The rucksack is arranged where it hangs in front of my body. That way I can see if someone is trying to puncture a hole in the bag. Also, with my money being in my front pocket I will see or feel someone attempting to touch me. I am wary of people reaching around me. I simply move out of their way when I see them or feel like they are too close. Being claustrophobic works to my advantage because I usually avoid places with crowds and will choose to see a popular exhibit museum on a Monday rather than on a Saturday.
It’s good practice to ask your hotel concierge what the latest schemes are that con artists and thieves are using in your destination. I asked my concierge and was told to avoid people taking surveys on the street because while you are distracted reading a survey and asking questions someone else is next to you trying to pickpocket you.
It is also wise to read about a place that you intend to visit. Let’s face it ladies, knowledge is power! Before going to Barcelona I had read that the unemployment rate is at 18%. Once you are there in all of the tourist areas, it is hard to see that reality because tourism is thriving in Barcelona. However, in areas outside of the center city there are impoverished areas that are not a part of any tour guide so a visitor may have a false sense of security thinking that the entire city is thriving against the backdrop of beautiful architecture.
Once you educate yourself on safety concerns, speak to local professionals at your hotel about staying safe, and prepare a smart plan, the rest of your time in Barcelona should be nothing less than beautiful.
Homelessness is another issue–in May of this year Barcelona’s City Hall ordered the eviction of squatters that had lived in a warehouse abandoned by the city’s transport authority in the Sants District for 17 years and had been turned into a makeshift community. City officials had plans to build a park instead, which prompted riots by people living in the community. What is interesting is that Estacion Norte, where coach transportation originates from, is in the Sants District. If you arrive in Barcelona by coach, you will feel a different vibe there than other areas where tourists congregate. It’s important to know the neighborhood that you are stepping into once you step off of a coach.
One might feel that they are haunted by demons as they enter the majestic structure but with its construction that intentionally manipulates light, one can feel exorcised with inspiration.
Once you educate yourself on safety concerns, speak to local professionals at your hotel about staying safe, and prepare a smart plan, the rest of your time in Barcelona should be nothing less than beautiful. It is a city that not only has embraced art but it has come to symbolize art with architecture, gothic streets and many famous galleries.
Highlights include La Sagrada Familia, which is an enigmatic religious symphony, like that of a Gregorian chat, that is still in the process of being completed. One might feel that they are haunted by demons as they enter the majestic structure but with its construction that intentionally manipulates light, one can feel exorcised with inspiration. Parc Guell is another location filled with wonder with its gardens, city views and architecture.
During your stay, a Barcelona night must be topped off with a live musical performance. I saw a Flamenco guitar performance and it was so spellbinding that the music captured the essence of my soul. I have since departed Barcelona, however the Flamenco music lives on in my memory. Music is a Part of life–both the music we listen to and the music that we ourselves compose each day. Our activities, our passions, and our travels all create a soundtrack that is unique to us.
Photos by Lynare Robbins and Unsplash.