This is Barceloneta beach, the closest beach to downtown. The hill way in the distance is the one where the Olympic stadium is located. And you may notice a cable car line extending up it, from the tower on the left, if you look closely.
We spent an hour or so on this beach. Kellie wanted to “feel the Mediterranean,” I wanted to, also, and I actually fell asleep for a little while. Don’t worry, I had my wide-brimmed hat covering my whole face! To anyone who wishes to experience a Barcelona beach in the future…do not go to this one! It’s just for tourists, we learned. Within the first 30 minutes, we were interrupted at least 20 times by Thai ladies offering massages and Indian/ Middle Eastern (?) men selling scarves. And the occasion man selling pieces of coconut. I wished I was wearing a shirt that said “No I don’t want to buy any! Leave me alone!” on it. Of course when we the few police officers show up, in their bright neon reflective vests which are visible a half-mile away, one of the “vendors” gave a signal and they all started running off the beach in the opposite direction. And when the police left a few minutes later, back they came.
Also, Barcelona is known as a pick-pocketing capital. In fact it is rated #1 on Tripadvisor’s list (anecdotally) of most dangerous cities for pickpocketing and theft. This is widely known; it’s in all the travel guides and even on PSAs in the city. The local businesspeople actually include as part of their conversations,”make sure you keep your bag in front of you with your hand on it…no wallets in your back pocket…” I appreciate they they don’t try to hide this problem, but even though many seasoned travellers and locals say that the city is no more dangerous than any other big city…and that you just have to be smart and stay alert, it takes a lot of energy to always be looking around you, holding on to your bag, and making sure that you don’t mindlessly set your bag down even for a second. There’s a really insecure feeling, that you are always surrounded by thieves, every one around you….and they are just waiting for you to slip up for one second. I call BS on all those “experts” who say it’s not that bad. But it is hard to prevent, I guess, because the historic area has such narrow, short streets and passageways.
In contrast to some people on Tripadvisor who say they’ve been to Barcelona X times and have never seen any of this supposed crime, I will just say that first, our tour guide recognized a group of subway pickpockets (actually recognized the individuals) and steered us away. Then, seconds after we had a delicious lunch at the CAT BAR, and the woman reminded us to be careful, we stepped back into the street as an older woman was mugged and thrown/pulled to the ground about 50 feet away. She was OK, and I don’t know for sure that anything was taken because we didn’t see the start of it, but Kellie apparently noticed that she was standing in a vulnerable position near an alley as it happened.
If you go you might consider not taking any bags with you when you explore. I always had my wallet in a zipped pocket, my camera bag covered by my arm, and my loose camera with the strap around my neck and my hand gripping the lens. Too much to worry about!
So this post covers days three and four. Day three was dedicated to another free tour of Gaudi’s work [Gaudi was an architect from Catalonia, who belonged to the Modernisme (Art Nouveau) movement and was famous for his unique style and highly individualistic designs.- wikipedia.com] along with visiting more of his work which wasn’t in the tour. Of course there were also meals, other sites, and watching a soccer game in a British pub while Kellie and Wendy went to a Flamenco show. But I don’t have photos of those.
Our final day involved…just sort of wandering around, revisiting a site here and there, but overall really struggling with trying to decide what else we wanted to see, but hadn’t. That included the beach, the mugging…a huge cat statue. In retrospect I would have enjoyed a day trip much more, but we slept late and were probably concerned that we might be stuck out of town and realize there wasn’t a train ride back. With a flight the next morning, I didn’t want to take that option. So, I regret how I used day four. Maybe next time I can return for some day trips. Lots of pictures – enjoy!