The first thing to shout about is – I survived my first day in Barcelona… from being pickpocketed!
I nearly got pickpocketed in La Rambla when a group of Eastern European ladies surrounded me, trying to be friend with me. I knew something was fishy so I quickly said “NO” loudly and push passed them. No wonder Barcelona tops TripAdvisor.com list of World’s Worst Pickpocket Destinations for 2 years running.
Barcelona Pickpockets – Survival Tips
Here’s the top 8 Do’s and Dont’s to avoid the world famous Barcelona Pick-Pockets:
1. Do not stop and respond when dubious people asked you for help. I mean we are the tourists… we should be the one asking for help. Not them!
2. Do not eat at McDonald’s or KFC or those famous fast food restaurants. Tourists tend to dine there because that’s what they are familiar with. My wife’s colleague lost his laptop and passport when he dined there. Someone asked him for help and the next moment his bag went disappeared. He was with another colleague and both were shocked that the act was done in such a finesse that none of them saw it coming!
3. Do not take out your camera when you are travelling from your hotel to Metro to the place of interest. Only when you reach the place of interest, look for Tourist Information Center or see any police presence around, then you bring out the camera from your bag. Sounds paranoid? But better be safe than sorry! You do not want to look like a tourist and invite the pickpockets to track you down the moment you step into the Metro Station.
4. When you are in the metro maze, try asking for directions from some of those shops inside the stations. Act as if you are browsing the products and when the shopkeeper is free, you may ask them for direction. In this way, you deceive the locals as if you are buying things in the shop. Never ask a passersby for direction – a dead giveaway to indicate you are lost and some evil persons may take advantage and try to be helpful to you.
5. Once you know the direction, walk as if you have some place in mind. Stop looking at the map! So many tourists in La Ramblas Barcelona do that and I see hustlers approaching them when they did that.
6. When boarding or alighting the train, you need to press the button to open the train door. If you are taking the train for the first time and are unsure where is the button, walk behind other commuters and let them do the job while you learn.
7. Go to crowded places like Carrefour, Museums to retrieve important stuff like money from your bag. I purposely bought a Pacsafe backpack for this trip. It is very secured but sometimes can be troublesome when I need to take my stuff out quickly. Anyway, go into some crowded place like a shop while you pretend browsing the products, you take out your stuff. Do not do it in public!
8. When you see Chinese in Metro and you reckon that they are not tourists, quickly go up and ask them for directions. There are some Chinese stay in Barcelona and I happened to meet a helpful lady who gave me directions and urged me to be really watchful of the pickpockets in Barcelona.