Would appreciate any tips from people who have traveled in Spain.
What kind of tips? I took this tour in June and enjoyed it very much. What type of questions do you have?
Anything you feel like volunteering - like was the tour well-pace? was there anything that really bothered you?
We were in Granada in June and went to the Alhambra Palace. Our tour there was 3 hours inside, and it had an incredible number of steps to climb, etc. Even though I'm physically fit, so many older travelers would have difficulties seeing the place. I assume that's on your list of things to do, and I hope you're able to experience the place.
Learn some Spanish. You may be surprised how little English is spoken compared to other Western European countries. Be adventurous with food, it is really good. Stay on to see Córdoba-the Mezquita was a highlight of our visit, not on the tour. We stayed an extra night in Sevilla and did it as a day trip, quick train ride. Be careful in Barcelona-they are having a surge in crime and pickpocketing is common. If you go tasting olive oil before you buy any and have it shipped check on Amazon. We bought it that way, no shipping charges or worries. The saffron place sells the real stuff and at a good price, so buy a little if you cook.
I also saw the heightened alert (from the state dept.?) for Barcelona mentioned in another forum post. Curious about this. I was in Europe last year and took to heart the warnings about pickpockets, but did not encounter any problems by safekeeping my money. Now, I too will be on the Best of Spain tour in October and will be by myself in Barcelona for two days before the R.S. tour starts. I feel some concern, how is this warning different than past warnings? Anything more I can do as a solo traveler to feel more comfortable?
See this post from a reliable source: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/barcelona-has-changed
Alan- I just so happened to finish reading that post from Carlos. Well, it didn't allay my concerns any, especially being an over 50 woman (even though I am in shape for my age). Since I'll be there towards the end of October, maybe it won't be as bad as he saw it in August??( Carlos mentioned visiting Nov-early spring as being more preferable.) I added 2 extra days in Barcelona to my R.S. tour at considerable expense to me. I hope I don't regret it. It's disheartening. I already am cautious when traveling solo. I really don't want to be overly fearful. His comments about the dirt and trash in the city is a pity. I thought Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice were quite clean for large, heavily touristed cities. We shall see.
I am a 67-year-old solo female traveler who spent a couple of nights in Barcelona in May to see two specific modernista sites and enjoy walking around the city I loved during a much longer stop in 2016.
This year's visit was too short to draw reliable conclusions, but the one change I noticed was the larger number of tourists outside La Sagrada Familia. I didn't see anything that looked like a safety concern, nor did I particularly notice trash; I thought there seemed to be more street trash in Glasgow and London, but I'm sure that depends on what part of town you're in and what time of day it is.
I would recommend that you not venture into the Raval area. I remember commenting here after my 2016 visit that I thought folks from smaller cities might not be comfortable there. It did have a gritty feel even three years ago. I didn't feel nervous in the area when I walked through it two or three times, but I wouldn't consider it an attractive neighborhood to stay in, and I'm a big-city person.
Barcelona is known for having, comparatively, a lot of talented pickpockets, so protecting your valuables is the main thing. The extremely late meal hours mean there will be lots of locals out on the street at midnight, not just a bunch of possibly-inebriated barhoppers.
Hi kaydee, I didn't want to cause too much panic in some of my previous posts, but unfortunately the truth is Barcelona is currently suffering from some significant problems, stemming from the city government's mismanagement these past 2-3 years. One of those problems is an increase in violent crime, not just the pickpockting Barcelona was always known for, but now mugging and assaults of unsuspecting tourists.
It's also unfortunate, but not surprising, that this rise in violence is mainly centered in the Ciutat Vella district, as the old town that is the epicenter of tourism in Barcelona. With El Raval and Sant Pere neighborhoods being the most risky areas, I would not venture there after dark, even some areas of the Barrio Gotico. Definitely keep as low profile as you can, no large day-bags or flashy jewelry/watches. Once you get out of the old town area, like the Eixample and Gracia neighborhoods, you can be a bit more relaxed, these places are still fairly safe.
The good news: because of pressure from the local and foreign press, the city government has finally recognised there is a security crisis in the city and have stepped up police patrols and recruitment, 300 extra regional police will also be sent to the city by September, hopefully this can alleviate the problem somewhat by October, but no one can be sure.
For further reading:
We went to several cities in Spain, except Barcelona in 2017. We went the last week in September and ended approximately Oct. 15. The weather was wonderful at that time - warm & sunny but not too hot.
For shoes, I ended up wearing my Keen black Rose Sandals which were perfect for all types of walking and stairs, uneven walkways, etc.
We did the RS tour last year in Sept. We had absolutely no issues in Barcelona, Madrid or any other places. In Barcelona we were out late in the evenings for some celebration parades going on. I see more negative reports in the media this year. I think you will find your tour guy and tour partners will be very helpful, just speak up and don’t be afraid to ask if you can tag a long.
Read up on RS website on security issues. Use a money belt for passport, hotel list,, extra cash. Never lay a phone down and use a small crossbody purchase for daytime cash and incidentals. Watch the RS day pack video. Most of all relax and enjoy i particularly enjoyed the small towns out side the big cities.
I was in Barcelona for a long weekend at the end of March this year. I'm a single retired woman and had no issues, though I did have a good-sized dog with me for the better part of one day, though not the day I spent on and around La Rambla (great moderisme art and architecture).
My tips - get to Barcelona as many days as you can before the tour. There is so much to see and do. Spend as much time as you can after the tour. Sevilla needs more time, Cordoba is a must-see and Jerez and Cadiz have their sights and experiences as well.