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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Urban Life & Travel Talk 
Thread started 20 Apr 2013 (Saturday) 16:09
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Barcelona Tips

 
Andriy
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Apr 20, 2013 16:09 |  #1

Anybody visited Barcelona, Spain lately?
I am travelling there in ten days and thought I'd pack my 40D + 28mm f/1.8 + 80mm f/1.8 + Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 EX.
Well, http://photo.net/spain​/barcelona (external link) warns that the city reeks of thieves and concludes: "...don't carry extra lenses. One camera. One lens. In your hands at all times".
I have also heard a TV crew complain about having their equipment stolen while filming in Barcelona.
Second opinion anybody? Is it really that bad? Worse than most big cities in Europe? Should I take it seriously and think along the lines of a single zoom with more reach, like my 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC macro (non-OS)?
(I know, I know! It was between the upgrade and paying for my trip to Barcelona :) ).




  
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cisobe
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Apr 21, 2013 02:58 |  #2

I went back in 2008, and I had my 40D, 10-22, 17-55, and 24-105, and my backup Rebel XT. It really depends when you go, where you go in town, and how crowded it is. Just be aware of your surroundings. I had all my gear in a crumpled 7million dollar home. I minimized my lens changes, and kept my bag in front of me at all times.

I found that my 17-55mm 2.8 is was the most use full focal length, but it really depends on your shooting style...


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Andriy
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Apr 21, 2013 05:15 |  #3

Thank you, cisobe!
So was your 17-55 wide enough to capture those wonderful Gaudi buildings?
Would you mind sharing your experience as to the "where and when"? Would it help to prefer early mornings? Did you carry all your gear on you the whole time?




  
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Lbsimon
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Apr 21, 2013 12:02 |  #4

Yes, Barcelona is one of the worst cities in Europe as far as the pickpockets are concerned. But it does not mean your are going to be a victim. Just be aware of your surroundings, don't let somebody crowd you, don't let somebody "accidentally" spill coffee on you and try to help you clean it up. There are people at subway stations trying to "help" you figure out how to buy a subway ticket - just avoid them. Nothing extraordinary.

When I was there the last time, I only had a P&S with me, I got back to SLRs a couple of years later. But unlike other cities in Europe, this one has wide spaces, plenary of room around, so you will do fine with 17mm at the wide end. The only exception could be the Sagrada Familia, but does not matter where you stand, it is blocked by buildings anyway. Barcelona is the only city where I would not take an UWA with me. Your 17-70 will do just fine.

When there, don't miss day trips to Monserrat (it is something spectacular), Girona - a medieval Jewish town without Jews, Tarragona. If you are into art, one of the best Salvador Dali museum in the world is in Figueres. You can do it on the same trip with Girona. You will not need a car for those trips, just use short train rides.


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Andriy
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Apr 21, 2013 14:47 |  #5

Thank you very much, Lbsimon! This is exactly what I needed to know. I will be sure to remember your tips, both on pickpockets, equipment and the sites!
I guess I should be fine with the 17-70, plus a 28 f/1.8 in my (front) pocket for low-light. That combination should also be light enough to allow me to make the most of my three short days in Barcelona. Sadly, I may not be able to visit all of the outlying locations, but I sure will try.
Thanks again!




  
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FuzzSummit
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Apr 21, 2013 14:54 |  #6

Andriy wrote in post #15849416 (external link)
Well, http://photo.net/spain​/barcelona (external link) warns that the city reeks of thieves and concludes: "...don't carry extra lenses. One camera. One lens. In your hands at all times".

That website seems a bit hysterical and over-the-top regarding safety. I was in Barcelona this past February. Granted, it wasn't high tourist (and corresponding pickpocket) season, but I didn't find it any different from any other large city.

I carried my 5D2 + 4 lenses (in a Dakine backpack); had my camera around my neck the whole time + changed lenses at lot and didn't have any trouble. Took the Metro everywhere, walked around the Old City until 11pm or later. No issues. Again, as I mentioned, this was in February, so not high tourist season and therefore the thieves may not have been out in force -- the tourist places were still very crowded. In fact, at the La Rambla Metro station, I forgot my Visa debit card in the ticket machine. We'd already gone into the station and realized it after a couple of minutes. Ran back out but the card was gone. However, two young ladies, seeing us looking for it, caught up to us and returned it (they'd found it in the machine).

I posted some of my shots in this thread here: https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1285799

A few thoughts:

If you go to Parc Guell, be sure to explore the rest of the park -- the summit provides nice views of the city.

For La Sagrada Familia, you can buy tickets in advance online (you can show your ticket receipt on your smartphone for entry) and skip the lines. The north-east side of La Sagrada has a park with a little pond. From the far side of the pond you can get clear views of the church with the reflection on the pond -- it was the best clear view of the whole structure that I could find easily:

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8228/8514571579_4e877925ed_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/fuzzsummit/8514​571579/  (external link)
La Sagrada Familia (external link) by FuzzSummit (external link), on Flickr

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Andriy
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Apr 21, 2013 15:57 |  #7

Thank you very much, FuzzSummit! Now I think I get the right feeling of what to expect... complete with a great set of shots and some helpful directions too!!
I can see how much of Barcelona I will probably miss as I'm going there for a mere three days.
I hope early May is not the high season yet so thieves stay out of my way... for heir own sake! :D




  
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advaitin
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Apr 26, 2013 05:44 |  #8

Mainly be aware of snatch and run. If your camera bag is securely on your body--always--you have little to worry about. But set it on the ground or by your chair while eating and someone may run by snatching it up. I saw a Japanese lady thrown to the ground at Plaza Reale by the Kabul cafe because her purse was looped over her chair back and she was sitting with her back on the strap. A young thief grabbed the purse, pulling the whole chair over and fled up an alley before anyone could react.


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Andriy
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Apr 27, 2013 06:18 |  #9

Thank you very much for practical advice, advaitin! I'll be sure to keep my camera bag on my body at all times. I'm taking a small, light one anyway, a Lowepro Nova 170 AW.




  
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Rob-P
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Apr 30, 2013 14:45 |  #10

FWIW.

I have been to Barcelona, and Madrid as a tourist with camera kit many times. Both fabulous cities. But like anywhere (even your home town) Be aware of your surroundings, watch people, get a friend to watch your back.
I know it sounds mean and paranoid, but your kit cost money, hard earned no doubt. Take photos and memories home, not police receipts/reports, or God forbid hospital bills.

Watch yourself in crowds, or crushes. Anyone spills something on you, coffee, ice cream, and then comes over all solicitous and helps to 'wipe it off', BELT them and run!

I had an intersting experience in Madrid off the Plaza Mayor on a street market.
Lots of crowds, I was watching a street performer, with my camera in the backpack.

This nice man came up next to me and started fondling my leg! (Read pocket) Wifey was most amused, even more so when I said in my best Scottish accent at the top of my voice (I have a good one)

HOY! Whit are you daen in ma pockets sonny?

Every one turned to look at the mad tourist (me), and the nice man stopped fondling my leg (pocket) and left sharpish, tee hee.

I was lucky, it was daylight, he could just as easy have been rough with me, or stuck me with a knife.Just be careful, it may be a holiday, but don't leave your brain behind as well.

Hoots.




  
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Eli90
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Jun 03, 2013 08:46 |  #11

I was there last June and had been warned about this kind of thing. Apparently there's a thing where someone comes up to you and tries to brush something off your shoulder and while you look at that someone else grabs your bag.
I had no trouble in the week i was there. I had a bag that I wore across my body and held onto it at all times. It's agreat place to find your way around, it's set out like a grid so even for someone like me with no sense of direction it was ok :) I got a open top tour bus on my first day to get my bearings, I do this whenever I visit a big city to work out wher i am and see if there's somewhere I want to go back to. You can buy a tciekt that lest you get on and off so it's a good way of seeing a place, you see more than travelling by the underground, although i did this too with no problem. Just walk around and remember to look up. There are some amazing buildings and rooves and balconies, not just the Gaudi houses. The parc Guell is worth a visit but as early or as late as possible.




  
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mikepj
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Jul 17, 2013 06:55 |  #12

Barcelona is a beautiful city, but you definitely need to be mindful of your belongings. My wife and I were there in 2009 and almost had one of our bags stolen. We travel a lot, and are usually pretty careful, but not quite careful enough one early evening on the metro. In our case, the thieves worked as a pair. We were boarding the metro and one thief stood in front of my wife to slow her down, while the other one snatched a bag she was carrying. I bolted after the kid, and ended up catching him to get our stuff back. We went to the police station to file a report, and learned there that this type of crime is pretty common.

After that we were much more diligent about what we were carrying and how we were carrying it. I would recommend taking some carabiners and attaching your bag to your belt loops. That will give one more attachment point that thieves will have to overcome and it's not much of an inconvenience to you.

You find this kind of thing in any big city, so I don't mean to single out Barcelona as a place to avoid. There really are a lot of amazing sights to see there. Have a great time.


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