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Dangerous Madrid?
Old 11-24-2008   #1
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Dangerous Madrid?

I am thinking of taking a mini vacation in Madrid. But i heard a lot of things saying it's kinda dangerous there, for tourists (such as robberies, fake cops and so on). ...

obviously i will be carrying my cameras, and I don't want to lose them. I am thinking of leaving my M and taking the G1 with me in case anything happens.... Any advices and suggestion?? Compare to NYC, I was able to hold my M on hand all the time on the street (during the day).

Also, is there a good photo lab in Madrid that I can use? I don't think i can get my film hand checked in Spain so i'd better just have them developed (c41/e6) there.

Thanks.
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Old 11-24-2008   #2
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Spain, and quite a few other European countries, is full of pickpockets and bag snatchers especially around crowded places and tourist attractions. Just hold on tight to your stuff. If youre careless you'll surely lose your stuff, if youre careful it's highly unlikely. Very little violent crime or armed robbery; generally it's grab and run. And they run fast. And they know where they're going. They pretty much just vanish.
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Old 11-24-2008   #3
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Hi, I spent 9 days alone in Madrid without any problem. Thing is not to carry back pack. use a sling bag and have a look.. Know what is going on.. the pick-pockets knows you know your stuff right from your face rather than a silly blur tourist who only cares about sight-seeing. They are usually the victims. I have noticed some teens on the street, they look at me from top to toe.. surely up to no good i thought, instead of walking on I gave them eye contact and they looked elsewhere... Madrid is a beautiful place with nice people. There are so many police on petrol at every street esp on weekends. Generally its a very safe place.

as for photo labs.. I only came across 1. Its down the street of puerta de sol, the same street which you will see burger king, modern chain hotel puerta de sol.. walk down the street (opp direction of puerta de sol (central square)... the shop is on your left. Im not sure about the price of items in madrid.. but I deperately need a cf card reader which they were selling for 20euros (very expensive for a brandless one).

hope this helps
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Old 11-24-2008   #4
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Madrid is beautiful and the people are very friendly. You'll be totally safe there. I took a Domke F-2 and two M bodies and three lenses and came back with everything. Just be careful where there are crowds, places like the Rastro at weekends. There are pick-pockets about. I would love to go back...
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Old 11-24-2008   #5
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It's been a couple of years since I was there, but I felt very safe, especially in the city center where there are always lots of people. I don't know where you're from, but store hours are odd by American standards, so finding a lab open when you expect it might be hard.

There have been threads on X-ray machines, and based on what I read in them I would not worry about that, but I tend to stick to slower film.
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Old 11-24-2008   #6
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is it nice in December?
i guess a tamrac bag is too obvious?

And thank you all for your replies and help!!
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Old 11-24-2008   #7
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These kind of beliefs kind of upset me and I don't understand how this happens. Yes, like any big city, you might get your bag snatched or wallet stolen. But this happens only to careless people.
I lived in Madrid for 5 years and never even perceived it as "dangerous Madrid" but as "wonderful Madrid". Lot of socializing, fun and open hearted people, so please, go there thinking you will have a great time, do not go if you were going in to the Bronx, this is simply not true.
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Old 11-24-2008   #8
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I live in Spain .Spain is a very safe country. but there's always take certain precautions with the bags, the cameras .... especially on the terraces of the bars .... the centers of large cities there are always thieves in search of careless or confused tourists, who are easy victims. Madrid receives millions of tourists. We should not be afraid, but to walk on certain locations and hours have determined your risk around the world. photo lab FOTOCASION street Ribera de curtidores 22 best photography shop in Madrid . you do not have to be worried and bon voyage.

Last edited by Paco : 11-24-2008 at 23:28.
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Old 11-24-2008   #9
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Well, I lost my backpack there with my train tickets, clothes, gloves and camera Atocha trains station. It was stolen when I put it on the floor as I was distracted by my kid.

Sadly Madrid, like other European cities, has lots of illegal foreigners from Africa (they swim over from Algeria or Morrocco?) but some come from as far away as China. You'll see them on the streets selling DVD's and fake goods, etc.

And because of the integration of the European community, once they are in an EU country, they no longer have to produce passports at border checkpoints, so it's easy for them to spread out through the EU.

Hence I saw the same kinds of illegal immigrants when I was in France.

Bottom line-- hold on tight to your belongings, don't get distracted by people who drop things in front of you, etc.



Quote:
Originally Posted by DxPhoto View Post
I am thinking of taking a mini vacation in Madrid. But i heard a lot of things saying it's kinda dangerous there, for tourists (such as robberies, fake cops and so on). ...

obviously i will be carrying my cameras, and I don't want to lose them. I am thinking of leaving my M and taking the G1 with me in case anything happens.... Any advices and suggestion?? Compare to NYC, I was able to hold my M on hand all the time on the street (during the day).

Also, is there a good photo lab in Madrid that I can use? I don't think i can get my film hand checked in Spain so i'd better just have them developed (c41/e6) there.

Thanks.
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Old 11-25-2008   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waileong View Post
Hence I saw the same kinds of illegal immigrants when I was in France.
You should join up with the local immigration police, being able to identify illegal immigrants on sight and all..

Otherwise good advice all around. Enjoy yourself but look after your gear.

My two cents:

Wear pants, somehow people in shorts and sandals stick out.

You can thread your bag straps with piano wire to avoid someone cutting it with a knife if you're worried, but you may not get on the plane without taking it out if its picked up by the x-ray machine.
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Old 11-25-2008   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gertf View Post
Wear pants, somehow people in shorts and sandals stick out.
ah ah ah good one, you meant Americans right ?
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Old 11-25-2008   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waileong View Post
Sadly Madrid, like other European cities, has lots of illegal foreigners from Africa (they swim over from Algeria or Morrocco?)
You cannot swim from north Africa to Europe, and anyway most of these economic migrants work in low paid agricultural jobs such as tomato farms.


Quote:
Originally Posted by waileong View Post
...but some come from as far away as China. You'll see them on the streets selling DVD's and fake goods, etc.
There is a well-established Chinese community in Iberia. I know many Chinese people personally and cannot agree with your assessment. They sell good quality stuff at low prices, and work very hard indeed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by waileong View Post
And because of the integration of the European community, once they are in an EU country, they no longer have to produce passports at border checkpoints, so it's easy for them to spread out through the EU.
Just like people can travel across the USA you mean?


Quote:
Originally Posted by waileong View Post
Hence I saw the same kinds of illegal immigrants when I was in France.
Many of the people you may have seen there are French citizens from overseas 'departments'.


I feel safe if I don't dress like a tourist, don't gaze about over much, and do carry a local newspaper.
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Old 11-25-2008   #13
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I was standing next to my friend when he got his wallet snatched in the Paris subway a few years ago and lost 2000 Euros. There were 6 of them and they put of a "show" to distract him. It was impressive.
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Old 11-25-2008   #14
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Quote:
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I was standing next to my friend when he got his wallet snatched in the Paris subway a few years ago and lost 2000 Euros. There were 6 of them and they put of a "show" to distract him. It was impressive.
Did your friend get a kind of Darwin award ? Sincerly, taking 2000 euros in a subway was not a very wise move, especially since credit cards and checks are accepted in almost 100% of places.
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Old 11-25-2008   #15
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Did your friend get a kind of Darwin award ? Sincerly, taking 2000 euros in a subway was not a very wise move, especially since credit cards and checks are accepted in almost 100% of places.
I told him not to carry so much cash. I guess in some situations it is ok to blame the victim.
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Old 11-25-2008   #16
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I was standing next to my friend when he got his wallet snatched in the Paris subway a few years ago and lost 2000 Euros. There were 6 of them and they put of a "show" to distract him. It was impressive.
Yeah, I witnessed this several times in France and Italy. The "entertainment" was provided by people who I thought were native European. The little shows got annoying after seeing it a few times.

Those africans who swam over just seemed to mind their business selling stuff.
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Old 11-25-2008   #17
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Those africans who swam over just seemed to mind their business selling stuff.
Do you think these Chinese people swim also?

And carry counterfeit DVD's with them?
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Old 11-26-2008   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rayt View Post
I was standing next to my friend when he got his wallet snatched in the Paris subway a few years ago and lost 2000 Euros. There were 6 of them and they put of a "show" to distract him. It was impressive.

sorry, but your friend was hangin' around outside playing the tourist with 2000 euros in his wallet???
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Old 11-25-2008   #19
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Hi.
I've live in Madrid since I was born, and I'm 31. I've travelled to a lot of places around the world, and I can say that Madrid is no different to any other european city. I've been to Paris, Amsterdam, all around Germany, Hungary, Prague, etc, and I haven't felt more secure there than in Madrid.

Having said that, you have to take care about what you carry and NEVER lose contact with it. If you leave it for 2 seconds in the floor in a tourism place like Plaza Mayor or Puerta del Sol, you're going to get robbed. Just carry and unbranded little bag, sling type, and you'll be ok. As it's been said, 90% of the robbers in Madrid are foreigners, most of them coming for eastern europe, Rumania, mainly. They almost never assault, but get your things and run away. Don't trust foreign little children neither. Eastern europe gangs use them to rob, so beware.

About what you've heard about fake cops. Well, don't know where you've heard it, but I can say it's completely false. The police is very useful and helpful, even more with tourists.

Plaza Mayor is a great place to go in Christmas. Ecen better on Sundays. Lots people, strange performers... fantastic for photographing. If you see someone there with a black M6 on Sunday morning, maybe you find a fellow RFF member.

Enjoy your trip. You'll love it. Don't be scare and don't let any unfounded fear ruin your vacation.

Edited to add:
About photo labs, I can recommend Fotocasion as someone recommended. It's mainly a shop, but I think they send film outside for developing.

Another lab is Dinasa. They're a top pro lab. Some of the photographs you can see in Reina Sofia Museum (I don't know if thoses photographs are still exhibited; they belong to the Museum Collection) have been printed there. Top notch work. This isn't a 1-hour lab though.

Last edited by javimm : 11-25-2008 at 00:43. Reason: Add info about labs
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Old 01-04-2009   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javimm View Post
...
As it's been said, 90% of the robbers in Madrid are foreigners, most of them coming for eastern europe, Rumania, mainly. They almost never assault, but get your things and run away. Don't trust foreign little children neither. Eastern europe gangs use them to rob, so beware.
....
I was reading this topic especially to find assertion like the one above.
For me, as a Romanian, is very sad when I read that. It is simply not true. 99,99% of the robbers are gypsies. They come from INDIA!!! Not Romania. They spent some time in Romania, and now they are European gypsies. Think about this: those robbers go from Spain to America to rob and steal. They become Robbers from Spain? Is this how it is working.

And to hear something funny, in Rajasthan (where the gypsy people are coming from- north west of India), they all believe that gypsy people are in fact Spanish. From Spain. Isn't this funny? Truth being said, their appearance is much, much more closer to Spanish than Romanian, which have lighter colored skin and hair.

And to make things clear, the reason for wrinting all this here is very strong for me. Because this type of information makes it difficult for me to pursue my passion. A lot of people from ebay or from here, had suspitions about me when I wanted to buy something. Of course, he is from Romania, better avoid him. I am not posing as a victim but this is true. For me it was much more difficult to buy a camera. And impossible to sell one. I got stuck with over 24 cameras for this reason.

And to be on topic, Madrid is very safe from my point of view. I traveled a lot and I found Spain on the safe side, but like anywhere else you have to pay attention to your stuff.
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Old 11-25-2008   #21
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Sure, there are sneak thieves everywhere there are tourists -- I lost a camera bag in Delhi 25 years ago, in part of an elaborate scheme that involved turning off the lights in a railway carriage and 'helping' us in -- but as everyone else says, once you're aware of that sort of thing, the risks diminish very greatly indeed.

My favourite 'fear of travelling' story was someone who asked, "Are English pubs safe?"

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Old 11-25-2008   #22
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Seriously, to find dangerous Madrid you should be used to live in the desert or in some Amish community...

...and... immigrants swimming from Africa? I know who to bid on in the next Olympics... ;-)
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Old 11-25-2008   #23
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Seriously, to find dangerous Madrid you should be used to live in the desert or in some Amish community...

...and... immigrants swimming from Africa? I know who to bid on in the next Olympics... ;-)
Sometimes the boats sink and the asylum seekers have to swim. Some countries encourage their sinking more than others apparently.
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Old 11-25-2008   #24
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...and the asylum seekers have to swim.
How did your 'illegal immigrants' morph into 'asylum seekers'?

Are the people who cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into the USA 'asylum seekers' too?

The vast majority in both cases are economic migrants. People from poorer countries who come to look for work, and send money back to their families.

Recently I went to pick up money from a local Western Union office, and the clerk could not understand that I was collecting money instead of sending money. That's all he ever does, send money.
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Old 11-25-2008   #25
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Recently I went to pick up money from a local Western Union office, and the clerk could not understand that I was collecting money instead of sending money. That's all he ever does, send money.
Going a bit off topic but interesting discussion nonetheless.

My wife is half Tongan, and most of her Tongan family sends money home to their parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, or whomever else they may choose to support. These remittances make up 27% of the country's GDP!

I find it interesting that countries that were 'founded' by immigrants, such as Australia and the US, now keep others out that are coming in search of a job that will help them support their families back home. And they're automatically labelled illegal immigrants or illegal asylum seekers.. tsk tsk

My favourite label is still 'illegal refugee'. Behold the irony..

Some remittance statistics:

The World Bank reported that inward remittances totaled $276 billion in 2006, double the $131 billion in 2000 and the $102 billion in 1995. Some $206 billion in remittances flowed to developing countries.

India received the most remittances in 2006, $26.9 billion; followed by Mexico, $24.7 billion; China, $22.5 billion; Philippines, $14.9 billion; and France, $12.6 billion. As a share of GDP, remittances were 32 percent of Moldova's GDP in 2005; 27 percent of Tonga's GDP; 26 percent of Guyana's GDP; and 23 percent of Haiti's GDP.

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Old 11-25-2008   #26
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No problem at all, I was in Madrid very close to Grand Via and Puerto del Sol. Shot e100 and e200 as well as APX100 and 400.
I got away unbruised and the film developed well when back home.

Only hassles, I had to take out the cotton from my Zippo lighter, take out the film of my camera and remove my belt when I boarded in Bremen and again in Paris where I changed my plane.
Not so on the way back

Oh, when you walk through the street with all the hookers at night, don't mind putting your camera away, they just don't care. At least for Contax Gs
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Old 11-25-2008   #27
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Slightly off topic, how are European airports regarding hand checking film? We're going to London (both Heathrow and Stansted)/Salzburg/Bangkok/phuket over Christmas, anyone have experience with airports there?

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Old 11-25-2008   #28
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Slightly off topic, how are European airports regarding hand checking film? We're going to London (both Heathrow and Stansted)/Salzburg/Bangkok/phuket over Christmas, anyone have experience with airports there?

Gert
They don't! At least Bremen <-> London, Bremen <-> Paris and Hamburg <-> Viena, that's where I travel often.

I haven't used anything over ISO400 in a long time, but 4 years ago my Delta 3200 went through X-Ray scanners in Bremen, Frankfurt, Varadero and back trough Varadero and Munich without any problems.
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Old 11-25-2008   #29
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Thanks Socke, I'll probably just bring ISO400 film in that case. I can always push it if necessary.

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Old 11-25-2008   #30
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Hi!!Another "madrileño" here!!!

Do not worry too much about safety during your holidays. Madrid is as dangerous/safe as any other european city. Just use your common sense and take care of your wallet/belongings in the subway, bus, bars and other crowded places. Even at night you should not worry... even more, enjoy the active night-life in the city centre!!

I 100% subscribe previous positive comments and especially that from ClaremontPhoto about inmigrants.

As for developing your film, there are several places all around downtown (C41, 1hr/24hr minilabs). Fnac, El Corte Ingles and some small photography shops near the Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Callao areas could do the job fine.

Enjoy your holidays and feel free to contact me if you want to share some beer/coffee or need some indications.

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Old 11-25-2008   #31
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As for developing your film, there are several places all around downtown (C41, 1hr/24hr minilabs). Fnac, El Corte Ingles and some small photography shops near the Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Callao areas could do the job fine.
I've never had film developed in Madrid, but can vouch for Fnac and El Corte Ingles from going to other cities. They are both high quality stores which you'll find in the shopping districts and they will do good work.

Fnac is into media. As well as developing your film there will likely be a photo exhibition, DVD's for sale, televisions, books, and a juice bar.

El Corte Ingles is a chain of Spanish department stores.

Whichever, just tell 'em Zé and Jon sent you.
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Old 11-25-2008   #32
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How will Britain ever host the 2012 Olympic Games if migrant workers don't go there now to build the facilities?
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Old 11-25-2008   #33
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How will Britain ever host the 2012 Olympic Games if migrant workers don't go there now to build the facilities?
following the economy’s “downturn” finding building workers isn’t a problem, British ones to boot, all the others are off home in search of a better lifestyle
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Old 11-25-2008   #34
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We still have politicians that want to restrict migration from non-white countries. One in particular is very concerned over 'diseases brought to Australia by African migrants'.

It's nice to see the world has moved on from the racist attitudes of the past..

To the OP, all the best for your trip to Madrid! I'm sure you'll be fine and you won't have any problems. I'd be more worried of drunk Pommies on booze tours than pickpockets
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Old 11-25-2008   #35
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Sparrow/Stewart:


A good friend of mine, Antonio, is a skilled artisan. A year ago he told me he was about to retire. Later, we chatted about the 2012 Olympics and he changed his mind and has gone there to work, not only for the build but also for the remodeling after the games.

He'll work 50 weeks a year, and spend two weeks a year with his family in Portugal.

I know he's living in a room in a boarding house shared with another worker, and he's saving every single penny he makes to buy his daughter a house in about 2014.

There are not enough skilled and motivated workers in Britain to do what Antonio is doing.

It's a win win situation.
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Old 11-25-2008   #36
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Regarding hand checking of film at european airports:

I have taken my medium format rig to Spain and Italy recently a few times. If you dont speak the language you have NO chance. I put my film in a lead lined bag and it goes through in my cary on luggage. At Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stanstead I have requested hand checking. Once, was fine, they gave it a cursory look. Once they unwrapped 100 rolls of 120 film and swabbed the lot for traces of explosive. Once they flatly refused and xrayed it out of the bag. Once I didnt say anything, it went through the xray in the bag and was un-noticed. Once I tried the same thing, but they noticed the bag, then hand searched the contents briefly.

At all non english speaking airports I dont say a thing, and let the bag pass through with its contents intact. Its been spotted twice and hand checked.

In summary. If you are taking iso 400 or slower film then you can happily pass through a few machines, just get it processed asap. If you have anything fast.. buy a lead lined bag. NEVER declare it for hand checking especially if you dont speak the local language. Just let it get scanned in the bag. Chances are they wont spot it.

Put 1 roll of 3200 in the bag. If picked up, you can plug this out first and say "look, fast film, not xray safe" and hope you have a knowledgabe security officer. Of course all the above depends on the day, the world threat at the time, what the guard had for breakfast, when their next break is, if you look like a muslim terrorist or drug traffiker etc


As for camera safety in Spain. I have never had a problem. To most casual criminals a film camera is an antiquated worthless piece of junk. You wallet will be of far more interest. I would recomend some black electrical tape over the Leica red dot to make it look a bit bland. Keep your bag to your side, not behind you and zipped etc. Put the camera at the bottom of the bag and some junk ie rolls of film, maps, guide book etc on top. If you are really evil.. get a ball of blue tack about 2" in diameter. Put some pins in the blue tack, head first sot make a ball of needles. Put this in your camera bag.. Prying hands may be distracted by this.. you, knowing its there can be more careful removing your gear.
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Old 11-25-2008   #37
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Sparrow/Stewart:


A good friend of mine, Antonio, is a skilled artisan. A year ago he told me he was about to retire. Later, we chatted about the 2012 Olympics and he changed his mind and has gone there to work, not only for the build but also for the remodeling after the games.

He'll work 50 weeks a year, and spend two weeks a year with his family in Portugal.

I know he's living in a room in a boarding house shared with another worker, and he's saving every single penny he makes to buy his daughter a house in about 2014.

There are not enough skilled and motivated workers in Britain to do what Antonio is doing.

It's a win win situation.
Jon; the Olympics is about the only thing that’s certain to be built over here at the moment, I agree about the work thing, an Albanian friend of mine has gone from refugee to home owning farther of two by dint of hard work.

But then I suppose Balkan politics could focus someone’s mind on life’s priorities
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Old 11-25-2008   #38
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Living in a really dangerous city, and nevertheless always carrying expensive cameras all around, these threads leave me a little dizzy. Madrid is a heaven of safety compared to where I live... but only common sense and awareness of your surroundings will make you and your cameras safe. A bag left in the floor, no matter for how little time, is asking for it to be taken, be it in New York, Buenos Aires, London or Prague. BTW, as someone mentioned, your camera is of very little interest, and the thief will propably be very dissapointed when he opens the bag.
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Old 11-25-2008   #39
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I just won an 'iPod' from a slot machine.

Except it's only a replica iPod. It's really a taser with the stun sent through the ear pods.

Now that would scare a thief if s/he found it first near the top of your bag...


BUT you don't need such measures. I live here and I can spot tourists from way off. Dress local, move local, eat and drink local. Blend in. Like said upthread wearing shorts and sandals is a giveaway, so is going into a cheap back street bar and asking for a Campari.
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Old 11-25-2008   #40
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wearing shorts and sandals is a giveaway, so is going into a cheap back street bar and asking for a Campari.
That's a new one on me. I'm rather partial to a campari and soda - I had no idea I'd immediately betray my origins by doing so.
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