Barcelona sex mayhem – stories from Sunday night

Now I don’t know how late Giles Tremlett filed this story about Barcelona. But the Guardian has it timestamped at 1938 Madrid time, which is certainly late enough to have come after a very hearty lunch indeed. One clue suggesting that this is the case comes in the form of the article’s shortness. Tremlett isn’t the most wordy of reporters but all the same…

Another oddity is Tremlett’s insistence that “Although Las Ramblas has always attracted prostitutes, they used to occupy a small area near the port”, which is, as a local travelling tinker muttered to me, “a complete load of bollocks”. I’m not sure when this golden age of non bollock grabbing Rambline strolling is supposed to have occurred but it was certainly not very recently. Barcelona has always been packed to the rafters with ladies and gentlemen of the night (and plenty of lady gentlemen too). Indeed, it’d be hard to walk down a single street in the city without passing some brothel or other (even if you don’t realise it).

What this whole story really represents is the latest development in a late-summer-nothing-to-publish episode, where El País shocked our sensibilities (and had us checking again and again) with some pictures of a long-haired tourist making the beast with one back with a prostitute round the back of an overpriced market. Noted local newspaper, 20 Minutos (oh, yes I did!) interviewed various pillars of the community the other day, asking them whether they thought that Les Rambles has a major problem with prostitution. General opinion: it’s a hell of a lot better now than it used to be.

My feelings: Mexican sombreros and €7 a beer are far more offensive and nearly as exploitative.

14 thoughts on “Barcelona sex mayhem – stories from Sunday night

  1. If you’re going to criticise Tremlett about exaggerating how bad the Ramblas has got, you shouldn’t do the same. I’ve never seen a beer for 8 euros on the Ramblas. Maybe in some astronomically expensive nightclub, or if it’s a litro, but apart from that, come on…

    1. @Damian – well, it’s not so much of an exaggeration. Last time I had a glass of beer on les Rambles (it was at the behest of a visiting English friend), they cost around €7 each. This wasn’t a mitjana – it was a large glass of tap beer. And that was 3 years ago. I added the extra €1 because I figured that the price has probably gone up that high. I’ll change it to €7 for the sake of dullness.

  2. I remember going to Les Rambles very often when I was a little boy. My mum used to take us to the Museu de Cera and to the Golondrinas once a month, and we would walk all the way down from Pl Catalunya and all the way back up.

    There has always been prostitutes but in the olden days, they would not come out so aggressively in the middle of the street to chase business. I don’t remember any sex worker harassing us when we were walking down with my parents. The difference is that now they are so aggressive, so forward that it is very intimidating; even if you go with your girlfriend or parents for a walk they still try to get your business. It is this aspect that is infinitely worst than 20 years ago.

  3. Interesting point. Someone recently forwarded me this comment on a Times article about the sleaziest streets in Europe:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/destinations/europe/article6820088.ece

    Ben Gilhooly wrote:
    I feeled compelled to write something. Having just come back from Barcelona I could not believe how blatant the prostitutes were on La Ramblas. After walking up to me whispering “I love you baby, I love you baby” they then proceeded to grab my crotch so hard it was actually painful. As if that weren’t enough I then had to fight off two more who seemed to be touching my pockets looking for wallets and phones to steal. Eventually I had to push them off and just run (at which point they run after you!) All this in broad day light and in front of the police – I couldn’t believe it, still was an experience all the same.

  4. “Jordi Hereu has also called on central government, or the regional government of Barcelona, to explicitly ban street prostitution.”

    I wonder what The Guardian means by REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF BARCELONA, the Ajuntament or the Diputació, or the Consell Comarcal? Surely they dont mean the Generalitat;-)

    On the subject of sex, I also remember going to La Rambla when I was little and the sex shops and prostitutes where really ON your face, especially by the side roads. It is definitely much better now than years ago. By the way, I also agree that Mexican sombreros and Spanish bulls and flip-flops and top less every where do certainly not help in attracting quality visitors. Perhaps 8 euros for a glass of beer will help to keep the streets cleaner and safer:-)

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