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I went on a monthlong tour of Europe in 2005, visiting London, Paris, Rome, and Barcelone each for one week. Barcelona was the only city where I made a point to leave early. It does have its finer points -- the Marina and beaches were worth visiting -- but the heart of the city, Ramblas, had a very tense, uneasy feeling about it. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew that the city did not have a homey or vacationy feeling about it. In the evenings, it became apparent very quickly that this area draws a big drunk and wild crowd. Now, I love drinking and partying myself, but this was not a fun, happy crowd -- it was the sort of crowd that brought around lots of crime, drugs, and violence. I wish I could say that the Cultural scene would save my trip, but that was disappointing too. I was not moved by any one particular structure, and I am easily moved. If you find yourself there already, I recommend taking a bus tour of the city, stopping at the interesting spots, and heading to…
Be warned if you're travelling in Barcelone during August - I arrived in late August expecting to easily get into one of the many hostels - it took 5 hours on the telephone before we found one.....SO BOOK!
Barcelone was really just a big city. It has some really amazing sites and a very pretty beach but it isn't a beautiful coastal city like those in France at all. The streets do not feel safe and the men were absolutely awful. From what I heard traveling it has a lot to do with blonde hair, but when in Las Ramblas and the surrounding area strangers and especially the shop owners harrassed me. They would literally not leave me alone and would follow me out of the stores trying to make me say I would date them and they would offer me huge discounts but not my friend. It was so bad we ended up leaving the area and going back to the hostel.
Please watch your bags and personal belongings. We were warned but my friend set her bag down at an internet cafe, right next to her foot, and it was stolen within a couple minutes. I've heard dozens of theft stories from other Barcelone visitors. Please never put your things down and be aware! Have fun... oh yeah, and Dino's Gelato is amazing!
While I enjoyed my stay in Barcelone, I would not rate it as a great city. I agree about the "criminal" feel to the city -- lots of cons trying to rip you off there. We visited in early May, and it seemed that there were hardly any natives at all! Granted, I am a tourist as well, but the city didn't seem to hold an authentic feel like a lot of other places I visited. I felt like I had to watch my back at all times while walking around day or night.
It's an amazing city, one of the most interesting I've ever been to. It's not nearly as bad as people say -- especially La Rambla. Our apartment was on a side street right off La Rambla and we had no problems at all. Of course if you go there looking for a nice, peaceful evening, that's not gonna happen, and I wouldn't wander the side streets alone late at night, but all in all I didn't feel in danger at any point. Barcelone reminded me a lot of Rome -- there's just too much to see in a short time span, and it gives the appearance of being dangerous when it really isn't. I'll be going back.


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