Always hopeful wrote:
My serious top tip of the day (apologies if this is already common knowledge):
Beware of getting robbed whilst driving through Spain. There's been a spate of tourists being singled out and robbed as they wait for assistance on motorway hard shoulders.
Apparently the thieves identify their prey in petrol stations and then damage the tourist's car tyre when they're not looking. The tourist then re-joins the motorway, followed by the thieves. After the tyre blows or deflates, the tourist has no choice but to pull onto the hard shoulder. The robbers then appear and offer to help. When the tourist gets out of the car, one of the robbers creates a distraction, whilst his accomplice helps himself to whatever takes his fancy from the car.
I saw this warning on TV quite recently, but have first(ish) hand experience of this as it happened to a work colleague of mine recently on a business trip to just outside Barcelona. She was driving a hire car, not a car with GB plates. Her phone, passport, cash & credit cars were all nicked. She then had to endure a few hours alone on the hard shoulder, with no means of calling anyone until someone else came to her aid. It really shook her up.
Afterwards, the police confirmed this as being a common problem in Spain.
Yep - don't leave the car with anything visible and valuable on the seats. And, in Madrid and Barcelona in particular watch out for muggers - including handbag snatchers working from motorbikes (not joking here...). And watch out at cash machines - I know four people who've been mugged in Barca over the years and the crisis there is so huge that crime, inevitably, is on the increase...
This 'warning' comes from a Hispanophile...