Safety in Barcelona…

pacsafe

Okay, so I found these safety “anti-theft” bags by pacsafe at MEC in Toronto. They weren’t cheap but they do look to be good at deterring unwanted, touchy, feely, grabby thieves who want to take your money!! And although, I just display female secret pouches, there are just as many for men available on line or in the store.

MEC – Mountain Equipment Coop

pacsafe

inside backpack

Now you can see inside as to how secure this bag really is! Check out those locks! Now I know nothing is 100% but this looks very good to me. Just remember, not to put the bag down!!!

lock proof system

The lock system so that zippers stay closed. Ha, ha, ha…I like the pun on that one. In this case, we really do want the zippers to stay closed!

 

slashproof

For those South America travellers….a little extra steel packing material to ensure the utmost in safety.

Just remember, do not put the bag down or leave it unattended. Do not glance away for a second, do not get distracted by cute little small children tugging at your clothing, or a pack of young girls with shopping bags (that’s where they put your stuff after they have stolen it!). Thieves come in all sizes and ages and attractiveness. So don’t be fooled.

Because nobody can help you if you put the bag down on a chair or a bench or a table, even if its just for a second. Woosh! It could be gone.

Happy Travelling!

anit theft

 

 

 

Why Spanish?

IMG_4931

Every so often a curious friend or a friendly acquaintance asks me “Why learn Spanish?”. Now I must clarify that I live in downtown Toronto, Canada. And I’m always a little surprised at the question! For those of you who have been to Toronto know full well we are one of the most multicultural cities in the world!! And everyone here is speaking something other than English, everyone. But Spanish? Well, I can pass on this, Spanish is the number 2 most spoken language in the Western Hemisphere after English. (Mandarin outnumbers but it is not as widely spoken in Western Hemisphere, yet :).

In Canada, we learn French in our grammar school from the time we are little until a little later into our teens when we are then given a choice to continue or drop the language. French is good. I like French! French is sexy. French is challenging. I took French from the time I was in grade 3 in class and in (French club) all the way through High school and into University and French Immersion in Quebec for 3 years and then got my first job because of my French! I published my first writing piece in French and worked at a French/Quebec newspaper for a summer. Whew, a whole lotta French for me.

So Why now learn Spanish? Well, well…..let me tell you. After all those years of French little did I know that most of the Caribbean speaks Spanish (and some French) and a good portion of the United States speaks Spanish (as noted on all their signage) and Central America speaks Spanish, South America speaks Spanish and Spain speaks Spanish. Did I miss anyone? Possibly, if so forgive me as I’m not fact checking this post. But what is really in common with almost all of these glorious places is that they are HOT. Yes, I mean warm, “caliente”, physically hot!

So for a Canadian like me with a really solid French background, learning Spanish is very appealing. I dream of days of heat filled streets with the sun warming me to the core. Bare toes and some loose clothing and some snug clothing :). A hat. A carefree attitude. It’s so wonderful, I can dream.

Spanish is useful. Now that I know some Spanish I can listen to other people’s conversations on the subway to work. I hear their complaints about husbands, jobs, screaming at little kids, it’s like a whole new world of communication. I’ve been eavesdropping on my French friends and family for years! Every so often I would get an annoyed look “You know what I’m saying!” indignantly they would protest! Well, yes, of course. Ha, ha, ha. But now, Spanish is like a secret weapon! You can’t get it past me. And when I get in a Spanish taxi, I know how to “bluff”. I had a driver in Madrid completely fooled!!

So now you know! Spanish is used in all the hot, exotic countries and many that are cold (because places like Canada have great job opportunities) and French will always be French because they’ve got Paris.

But I am a new PR spokesperson for Barcelona, so watch out Paris! Spanish classes are overflowing in Toronto because we want the sun.

We want the sun. 🙂

Olives in Rhonda, Spain. Created by the sun.

IMG_4931

 

 

 

Pick-pocket proofing in Barcelona

sunflower

Hmmm..so I’ve been checking out the temporary hood in Barcelona (El Raval to be exact) [now that I’ve got the apartamento booked] and I’ve run into some warnings about petty crime. Pickpockets! Muggings! Snatching backpacks in broad daylight. Yikes! Apparently, my desired area is “gentrifying” and is described as a little “seedy”. This is what I get for googling.

The good thing about me is that I’m adventurous and rarely do I check reviews or google stuff to find out ahead of time what it will be like. But on the bad side,  when I do go surfing for external validation (Google) sometimes I don’t know how to handle the response.

I’m decided not to panic and to work with my new environment. You gotta roll with life. I can work with “seedy”. Its a battle of wills as to who can be more sly. I’ve decided to bring some hypothetical flowers. My “flowers” will be my defence mechanisms against the crime. Sunflowers! My favourite.

Must do:

  • Photograph passport and leave original locked in apartamento
  • Hide cash everywhere
  • Only carry small amounts
  • Find that secret “shoe” compartment (and wear cheap shoes)
  • No jewelry (not a problem for me, I’m a minimal jewelry wearer
  • Do not look like a tourist (no bright colours, Europeans like dark colours)
  • Practice that Spanish! “No, gracias”!
  • Confidence, practice looking street worthy
  • No backpacks in public
  • Shoulder strap purse with double zip pouch
  • No more selfie shots in crowded areas
  • Purse in lap in restaurants at all times never on the back of the chair

Pick Pocket Proof clothing (I found this site and there is clothing for women and men who need help to keep safe on their travels. Excellent! Highly recommend for fellows and ladies too!)

Besides, what’s a little crime to see one of the most intriguing cities in the world and this is my second trip to Spain and I did ok the first time in crime ridden Sevilla and stayed out late into the night with the lovely crowds of Sevillanos. Zara, here I come to buy some Spanish clothes and flow into the crowd.

I guess that means I’ve gotta dress it up a bit :).

Hasta luego!

 

 

Apartamentos in Barcelona

Where to stay? In a city that never sleeps and is well known for pickpockets.

  • Home: Toronto, Canada -getting out of town (even though Toronto is warm in summer)
  • Host: Barcelona, Spain -staying for the month of August 2017 (with a dip in Soller, Mallorca at the end)

I truly believe the way to go in Barcelona for an extended stay is to rent an apartamento. Its a fancy word for “flat” or “apartment”. Cheaper than a hotel and more like the locals. Lol! The magic word really is “affordable” or “muy barato”. So this is what I’ve done.  And well in advance!! I had my pick in February (febrero) for an apartamento in August (agosto) but now…..all sold out! And since I took it for 3 weeks, I had to make sure I wasn’t going to get caught without a place. Book well in advance for large parties!

Since I’m a newbie to Barcelona, I decided to take Rick Steve’s advice and go with MH Apartments. Here is the link. mhapartments I also highly recommend Airbnb. I’ve had good luck with them and HomeAway. But I’m sticking to my advised site because of the good recommendations.

It accommodates my party of 4 (potentially 6) we will see as we get closer. You can choose the location that best suits your needs and they specialize in larger groups.

And in the rooms, as I’ve found in other places in Spain they love to have two beds instead of a queen or king! So you gotta push them together or pull them apart! How’s that for flexibility!! Good for kids, and saves space.

I also think it’s because they don’t have big houses to fight in so when something goes wrong, they make it easy to put one party “in the doghouse”.

Note: all my language references are in standard Spanish and not Catalan…I’m just not that advanced yet and forgive me as I’ve just started this blog and haven’t figured out a Spanish spell check or accents yet. I will get there! I promise. Prometo!

Beds