I spent some time in Barcelona this summer. It was my second time there. And I can tell you that Barcelona is a fantastic, wonderful place, but only if you don’t spend too much time in the heart of the city, where tourists flock. The most famous street in downtown Barcelona is Las Ramblas, and it’s flooded with street performers, locals, but also hoards of pickpockets and nutjobs. And it’s directly next to an extremely bad neighborhood called La Raval, a neighborhood where not a lot of actual Spanish people live.
I quickly learned that the best way to enjoy Barcelona is to stick to the residental neighborhoods. They have less nightlife than the busy areas, but are still as alive as you’d want them to be, and far more fascinating than the crowded tourist spots.
The point of my mentioning this is, Tyson Chandler himself recently learned that the tourist heart of Barcelona has problems. Here’s Chandler, via his NBA.com blog:
So after we left the restaurant, I took off, walking faster to get ahead of them and take pictures. I’m taking pictures and all of a sudden, I hear somebody start cursing at me. I’m looking through my camera lens at the time, so I can’t see anything but the pictures I’m taking. I come from up under, and this dude walks up to me, cursing me out.
I put my camera down and I’m like, “Am I not supposed to be taking pictures here?” He starts yelling in Spanish and I can’t understand him obviously. He looked homeless to me, and I’m saying, “Oh, I’m not supposed to be taking pictures here. I’m sorry.”
He’s just screaming at me and I put the camera away and walk away. But then he’s still going off and I see like 10 more homeless people up against the wall with dogs and stuff. It looked to me like the other 10 people were asking him what he was doing, but they were speaking Spanish, so I don’t know what they were saying.
The guy’s walking toward me and I’m putting my hand out like, “Stay back.” I walk backwards and start to turn around, but then, in the corner of my eye, I see him reach back to throw something. I kinda ducked and all these coins hit me.
He threw a bunch of coins at me.
At this point, I wanted to just go at it. This dude just hit me all over my back with coins, and he’s still screaming at me. But I told him, “Listen, you had better stay back.”
And I look at my wife and that’s the only thing that could calm me down. I see my pregnant wife and realize that I can’t have a situation go down like that. My teammates were in shock, because they saw what happened. I didn’t want anything else to happen so I tried to calm myself down. I started walking away from him and he kept his distance.
I personally know three girls (separate people who don’t know each other) who had their cameras stolen by pickpockets in Barcelona this summer.
I loved the place, as soon as I learned to hang out about a 20+ minute walk away from La Ramblas.