You might think the Vermouth pricing is daylight robbery but there are a number of truly illegal scams in Barcelona too.
Of course, whether it’s your wallet or your camera, every expat knows; spend long enough traipsing Las Ramblas and you’ll lose something. However, while we all recognise our jean pockets are fair game after a night of leche de pantera and Hemingway approved absinthe (and so take limited amounts of cash out with us at night), many of us fail to take the same precautions during the day.
“In the cool afternoon sun, after my third cafe con leche and a refreshing siesta, I think I’d notice someone shoving their hand into my pocket,” the logic goes. Unfortunately, as the following photo of Las Ramblas — Barcelona’s most iconic and well-trafficked pedestrian strip — reveals, that is not necessarily the case.
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As the above photo illustrates, most tourists walk down Las Ramblas distracted by their friends, their phone, or simply the iconic Barcelona vistas, doing their best to enjoy their holiday. The problem is, this leaves you open to a number of pickpocket scams, and by the time you realise your bumbag has been relieved of its contents, you will be left staring out at a never-ending crowd.
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And, as Lorna Thornber, writing for Traveller, attests, it’s not always easy to resist the culprits — even if they are fairly obvious to spot.
“I was accosted by an elderly woman dressed like a nun who thrust a fistful of flowers in my face and shouted ‘Para la fiesta! Para la fiesta!’. They were pretty flowers but didn’t look like they’d withstand a day of sightseeing and the younger woman who shadowed her gave me the creeps, so I politely declined,” she began.
“But she wouldn’t take no for an answer, grabbing hold of me and screaming ‘Para la fiesta!’ with as much vehemence as if I’d just refused a free bouquet for my mum on Mother’s Day. I eventually agreed to take one to get her off my back and it was then that she revealed the price: €1. Both women drew uncomfortably close as I rummaged in my bag for my wallet so I was relieved when I finally located a gold coin, handed it over and they disappeared back into the bushes.”
A stomach sinking feeling many of us are familiar with, it wasn’t until Lorna went to pay for a coffee at a cafe about an hour later that she realised she’d been conned out of significantly more than the euro she’d handed over: “Stupidly, I’d been carrying around all the cash I’d taken for the trip in my wallet and they’d grabbed the lot.”
Moral of the story, keep your friends close and your cash closer. Don’t take more money out than you are prepared to lose. And don’t open your wallet while surrounded by strangers.