Guest post exclusively for Robbed in Barcelona by Frank W.
I was looking forward to moving to Barcelona. As a freelance translator, I’ve moved around a lot and lived for much of the past ten years in Central and South America (in cities whose reputation is more dangerous than Barcelona). I think of myself as a seasoned traveller, try to be careful without being paranoid.
Before coming to Barcelona I’d rented somewhere temporary to get a feel for the city and check out where I might want to live. Through a nice, very helpful agent, I thought I’d found somewhere. On the day I was due to move, I arrived at my new flat just after midday (in Raval) about five minutes before the agent and the dueña. I was waiting outside the door with various suitcases and a rucksack slung over my shoulder. It was a quiet, residential street, barely a cat and three people wandering around, so – stupidly – I was less alert than I might have been were I on the Ramblas or in Barceloneta.
The snatch took barely a second or two – someone stopped and asked me for directions. I only turned to him for about six seconds but that was all the time it took for his partner to unbuckle the rucksack and vanish. I didn’t even see him make his escape.
Depressingly, being a freelance, the rucksack was the one thing I could ill afford to lose, it had my laptop, backup discs, books, papers, etc… The estate agent, who showed up seconds later, was as helpful as she could be; helped me comb the streets, took me to the police station and waited with me for a bit, the police were polite, and sympathetic but told me I had no hope of recovering anything.
What most astonished me – other than the shock of losing so much in such a short space – was how organised the theft was. I had been standing on the street for less than five minutes, but someone had to have noticed me (not difficult) and then find his/her partner to carry out the robbery. All this is about 7 minutes, in broad daylight, and though there were not many people on the Carrer de la Lluna, there were enough people passing such that it’s very likely someone saw something, but those around claimed to have seen nothing, just shrugged and kept walking.
I decided not to take the flat (thereby also losing 6 weeks rent) and have spent the rest of my time in Zona Alta. Barcelona can be a wonderful city, it’s sprawling and beautiful and most of the Barcelonins I have meet have been warm, charming and personable, but everyone I have told my story to back home has immediately “Oh, yeah my sister/my friend/my daughter was robbed in Barcelona.” Not much of a reputation, and it seems to be spreading fast.