Madrid Hotels Articles

June 9, 2010

Personal Safety in Spain

Picture this:

You’re finally on vacation! You have been planning this trip to Spain for over a year. You’re excited! The last thing on your mind is being a victim of a crime, right?

WRONG!

Unfortunately, we are living in a world where we MUST anticipate the unfortunate.

When you are in a foreign country, such as Spain, you must ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. Understandably, constantly being on guard is not such a fun way to spend a holiday, but in the long run, being safe is ALWAYS better than being sorry. Think about it this way: Who wants to remember their vacation for “losing” a favorite ring or a substantial amount of money?

Vacations SHOULD be FUN – and memorable for things other than being a victim of a crime.

Fortunately, there are ways to have fun and to be safe!

It’s important to remember that not everybody gets mugged while on vacation, but bad things sometimes do happen, so the following are some suggestions on how to handle yourself while visiting Spain:

A centrally-located hotel can be both a blessing and a curse. The good news, of course, is the fact that you are in the center of a major city, such as Madrid or Barcelona. All the famous sites and attractions are at arm’s reach! The bad news: Most of the shady characters mingle in tourist centers, and are ready to reach inside your pockets! These thieves usually work in groups. For example, one might distract you by “accidentally” stepping on your foot, and while he is “apologizing” his partner is swiftly going through your pockets. Another popular method to distract you is to a have a “dog” bite the back of your leg. As you turn around to see what is going on, the “doggy owner’s” buddy robs you. Also, beware of anyone who offers you a flower or a colorful handkerchief. Again, this con artist is attempting to trick you into not paying attention to your surroundings, and is prepared to swipe some of your money. Never lose track of where you are, and who is around you. Enjoy the sights! But also keep an eye out for trouble. Some of the more targeted cities (and areas) include the aforementioned Madrid (near the Prado Museum, Atocha Train Station, the Royal Palace, Puerta Del Sol and in Plaza Mayor), Barcelona (Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, Parc G├╝ell, near the Picasso Museum, and Plaza Real), Cordoba, and Granada.

Another thing to remember is to ALWAYS leave your valuables locked in the hotel’s safe. Do not carry too much cash, and limit yourself to only one credit card. Also, make several copies of important documents, such as your passport, and keep these copies stored at different locations: one in your suitcase, another in the safe, and yet another one at home. In the unfortunate event that you are mugged, your valuables, and most importantly your passport will be safe and sound. If you are carrying cash, make sure you keep it in a security pouch or a money belt underneath your clothes. Never keep money in a back pocket or in an easily-accessible purse. Do not leave your purse sitting on a table while you eat, or hanging from the back of your chair. Your purse should always be on your body. Otherwise, you become a prime target of a purse snatcher – be it on foot or on a motorcycle. And please avoid wearing too much jewelry! These thieves will not care if they tear your earrings off with your ear attached!

Whenever possible avoid public transportation and take a cab instead. Metros and buses are major fairgrounds for pickpockets. Where there is a crowd, there is a good chance that confusion may arise, and this makes for a perfect opportunity for a pickpocket to go to work.

Beware of anyone who behaves oddly around you. Sure you may appear paranoid, but wouldn’t you rather be paranoid than victimized? Pickpockets and muggers seek out the vulnerable. If you look like you are aware of your surroundings, nobody will attempt to mess with you!

These suggestions are not meant to scare anyone. You ARE supposed to have a good time while visiting Spain, but a little preparation and caution will go a long way, and you are bound to truly have a memorable vacation!

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