I Spent Two Weeks on the Most Pickpocketed Street in the World
Did I lose anything?
When my friend first gave me buddy passes for WestJet this year, I wasn’t sure where I would use them. I waited until after my trip to Spain to see if it was worth returning or going somewhere else — like Australia. After a wonderful month in Málaga, I was 100% sure I wanted to return to Spain before the end of the year.
WestJet only has direct flights to Barcelona. So, the original plan was to spend a night in Barcelona and then high-tail it to Málaga until it was time to fly back home. However, as you know, the AI revolution put a serious dent in my finances. So, I decided staying put in Barcelona would be much cheaper.
I knew nothing of Barcelona when I booked the trip and initially just chose the cheapest Airbnb. That led to a disaster that sent me hunting for another hotel just days before leaving. While searching for places to stay, “Gothic Quarter” caught my attention on the map.
What is the Gothic Quarter?
Known as El Gòtic in Catalan, the Gothic Quarter is an area of Barcelona that lives up to its name. It has several old buildings created in the Gothic style. From cobblestone streets to Roman fortresses and towering cathedrals, you might expect Count Dracula to emerge from the shadows at any second.
I stayed at a Hostal on Las Ramblas.
The stunning architecture in the area attracts tourists from around the world. These unsuspecting tourists, in turn, attract pickpockets. They have become so rampant in the area that Las Ramblas has earned a reputation as the most pick-pocketed street in the world.
From the second I arrived at my hostal, the cab driver warned me to keep an eye on my things. After checking into the hostal, the owners also warned me to be mindful. Everyone I met gave me the same warnings over and over again.
One person told me:
Everyone I know who has visited that area has been pickpocketed. Those people are really sly. You probably won’t even notice your things are gone for a while.
By the way, if you’re wondering why on earth I’m spelling hostel wrong, I’m not. Hostals in Hispanic countries are small, low-cost accommodations run by local families. I had a separate room and bathroom like a hotel but with only basic amenities.
Perfect for a short-term stay!
What was it like to vacation on the world’s most pickpocketed street?
The constant warnings definitely made me more careful about what I took out of my room and why. I also paid keen attention to how I carried things about with me and how easily accessible they were or were not.
Ultimately, I ended up ending my vacation in Las Ramblas last Wednesday with all my belongings. The pickpockets didn’t successfully take anything, and prepping for them didn’t negatively impact my trip at all.
I was out until ungodly hours of the morning, walking the streets with my camera. I went to the beach. Took my tablet to the local café so I could read. Wandered about aimlessly with my phone, trying not to get lost.
So, how did I manage to return with everything?
I’m sure a good part of it is luck. The second is experience. I am, after all, a Jamaican woman currently living alone in Mexico. I’m used to being alert and keeping an eye on my things. Still, I was much more alert in Las Ramblas than in the Caribbean or Latin America.
If you’re a paid subscriber, next week, you’ll receive my tips for having a pickpocket-free vacation in Barcelona and elsewhere. I’ll also share photos of the amazing Gothic buildings that were walking distance away from my hostal. I hope you’ll be as impressed by them as I was.
See you then!
Alexis Chateau | Free Ramen is a reader-supported publication. Consider becoming a free or paid subscriber to support my travels and help me pay for grad school.