Guestpost by Suzanne M.
This is my story of how I was mugged and mistreated in Barcelona.
I was with two female friends walking back to my hotel after dinner on our second day in town. I wanted to take a taxi but my friend said she was sure the neighborhood was safe. Big mistake.
We were in Raval, near the modern art museum, when three guys jumped out of a doorway. I had a shoulder bag and at first I thought some drunken man was trying to dance with me, as I was being twirled around. I don’t think I could have done anything, even if I’d realized what was happening.
They managed to get the bag off me, almost choking me in the process. Then they shoved me with tremendous force. I landed on the cobblestones, with the back of my head taking the brunt of the force. There were kids with a car on their way out dancing and they stopped and called an ambulance and gave me a towel from the car, as I was bleeding heavily. The police came but when they discovered that an ambulance had been called, they just told me to move my body to the side of the street, and they left.
The ambulance attendant kept saying, “I hate this town. So many people get hurt.” At the hospital, a doctor came and did the elementary tests: “How many fingers am I holding up?” etc. I asked the doctor when they would do a CAT scan… he said, “Oh, you don’t need one, you’re alright.” I asked when they would stitch up my head…. he said, “The bleeding will stop eventually, you can leave now.”
My head bled all through the night until the morning.
The people at the hotel (H10) were very nice. They said they felt responsible, they said someone should have told me it was never safe to walk in Barcelona. I stayed in my room the next day. I was very traumatized and I just wanted to fly home (Italy). Luckily, I’d left my passport locked-up at the hotel. All I wanted to do was leave. I got a flight and as soon as I got back, friends took me to the hospital for a CAT scan
I had concussion, and the doctor told me I was very lucky because I should never have been allowed to fly. He said it was clear they’d kicked me out of hospital so it wouldn’t appear on record that they’d had an admission to the emergency room for someone injured in a robbery. It was as if I’d never been there — there was no record.
I’ve warned people ever since about Barcelona. A year after my experience, my 74-year-old male neighbour was dragged down La Ramblas because a thief had grabbed his camera bag, which was around his neck and it didn’t come off. His wife ran after them, screaming, and finally the strap broke and the thief ran off with the bag. She said the street was filled with people who just stood and watched.
I had to go back to Barcelona a year later. I took a taxi to the hotel where my two days of meetings were and I never went outside. I will never go to Barcelona again, and I try to warn others not to go. It took almost a year before I stopped reliving the experience in my sleep as nightmares.