Is it still safe to travel to Barcelona?



Is it still safe to travel to Barcelona?

A friend of mine told me the other day, that his friend from Austria canceled his trip to Barcelona again. He didn’t really have an excuse, so my friend guessed that this might have been because of safety reasons and he was quite sad about that. Right after last summers terrorist attack on Les Rambles where 14 people died and more than 100 were injured, that would have been understandable, but now?

I was confused, and started to google the latest coverage in English publishing media regarding #Catalonia

Catalonia is in the news lately, unfortunately not the best ones. But travellers shouldn’t have doubts about spending their holidays here.

 

No need to worry, it’s safe to travel to Barcelona!

I’ve been living here for more than 13 years now and still feel absolutely safe! I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t still go hiking in the Pyrenees, have a glass of sparkling wine or cava in the Penedès wine region or chill out at one of the lovely beaches on the Costa Brava or Costa Dorada – quite the opposite is this case!

No doubt: The conflict about the independence doesn’t give inspiration to travel here and certainly is shocking on a personal and political level. But in everyday’s life, it’s hardly noticed.

 

This is also the case dealing with friends or fellows: Doesn’t matter which of my several WhatsApp groups (there is quite a bunch of different groups 😉 the Independence Issue is a NO GO TOPIC . Nobody is forcing me to adapt his point of view, it’s a private issue.

I would even state that people are quite tired of talking about it these days. At least, that’s my personal impression when I listen to other people speaking about it, for example during my hikes. Maybe it’s because everyone respecting the personal point of view of others or simply because they’re frustrated about the numb situation. The beautiful landscape distracts us from our worries, and that’s what’s important at that moment, I guess.

 

Political issues remain outside

Probably those of you who have vistited Barcelona recently, can confirm that you don’t notice anything different. And: this controversial dispute is not new! It started years ago!

On 29th of March in 2012, during a demonstration against Labor reforms of the Spanish government: I noticed already then the flags of the people in favor of independence.

 

Catalan independence flag infront of Gaudi’s LA PEDRERA, Barcelona, at the Diada celebration on 11th of September 2012

You can recognize the flags of the independence supporters by the blue triangle with a white star in the middle of the normally yellow and red striped Catalan flag, so called Senyera.

 

Catalans are peaceful people!

On October 1st of 2017, the National Police, the Guardia Civil, prevented Catalans from voting – and that’s said in a very soft manner! The truth is that in certain areas, they used violence to harm the voting process. Everywhere else voting happened quietly and peacefully.

I myself came along with a Catalan friend that same day at 6 am to the popular quater Gracia. I was impressed by the patience of the people who waited in a queue hours under the falling rain…

… after that, I entered the green metro line L3 at metro station Fontana:

 

Personally, I’ve never experienced Catalans fighting on the street between each other or shouting out loud their political opinion. At least, not outside the demonstrations. Grafitis although are widely spread:

Translation from Catalan: We are a Republic – We are brothers

 

Demonstrations are normally peaceful. The last big demonstration during the general strike a few days after police violence on 1st of October in 2017, brought over 700.000 people on to the streets of Barcelona and other Catalan cities like Girona, Lleída or Tarragona.

Violence? Not at all! Neither on one side or on the other regarding #Independence

 

What’s going on there, and how will this end up?

To answer this question, you could write books! And nobody knows at the moment how this will end up. There are so many reports and dividing stories, undoubtedly a huge issue!

I don’t want to give a wide range of the political landscape – that would be way too much. I just want to pick out some facts to give you a quick overview of today’s situation:

  • The main question these days is not so much if Catalonia should be an independent state. It’s more about a call for a right to vote, just like the Scottish citizens did in 2014 and might do again soon.

 

  • After the prohibited referendum of October 1st , the Catalan government hesitated to declare independence as a result of the referendum since they wanted to negotiate first with Madrid. But on October 27th , they finally did it, the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, the UDI, which is DUI in Catalan.
  • Few days before, on 21st of October, the Spanish government took control over the local one and stated new elections on 21st of December. At the same time, some ministers, the vice president of the local government and two leaders of the independent movement got arrested.
  • After more than five month, four of them are still in prison while the former prime minister Puigdemont and four other ministers of his government reside still in Belgium. Another politician of the independence movement, Anna Gabriel, flew to Switzerland.
  • Winner of the advanced elections on #21D were, with a slight majority, the supporters of independence. They wanted to have Puigdemont as president again which was legally not possible since he’s not living in the country. Activist Jordi Sanchez also dropped candidacy because he is in jail.
  • So far, Catalonia has no government, although the elections have been held at the end of last year (Well, Germany has some experience with this lately as well, if you look at #BTW17 and #Regierungsbildung, hashtags of last elections there).
  • The demand for the release of political prisoners is currently in the foreground. Doesn’t matter where you go, in Barcelona or in the middle of a tiny village, you’ll see yellow bows as a statement of solidarity.

 

 

What should I consider on my next Trip to Catalonia?

Nothing!!!

Because, I say it again:

I personally don’t see any reason, not to go to Barcelona, Girona  or in general to Catalonia. I’d even invite you to come!

There may be even a discount – just ask for it!

 

The German Foreign Office only states a General Security Alert which is also ongoing for other members of the European Union. https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/spaniensicherheit/210534 :

“Das Anschlagsrisiko in Spanien ist mit dem in anderen EU-Mitgliedstaaten vergleichbar. Reisende sollten sich weiterhin umsichtig verhalten und die Medienberichterstattung aufmerksam verfolgen.”

Which means:

The risk of attack in Spain is comparable to that in other EU Member States. Travelers should remain prudent and closely follow media coverage.

Personally, I think it’s more important to watch your purse than the news! There’s no need to get nervous if a demonstration is announced. If there is one, and if you’re coming with a car, just check if the freeway AP7 is open, so as not to end up in a huge traffic jam.

If there does happen to be a demonstration in Barcelona while you’re traveling, you might avoid going to big avenues and plazas like Plaça Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia, Gran Vía or Plaça Espanya. Not because of safety reasons, but because of the huge crowds of people.

 

What is your experience? What’s your opinion regarding traveling to Barcelona or Catalonia?

I look forward to hearing your comments!

 

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