This morning, along with several thousand others hoping to get a clear shot or two in their cameras – no chance – I arrived at one of the highlights of the Gaudí tour, Parc Güell, in Barcelona’s northern suburbs. Waiting for all of us was the obligatory array of tat sellers, their generally worthless wares laid out on parts of sheeting at the side of just about every path in the park.
This, I thought until today, was one of those things that anyone visiting tourist spots in any large Spanish city has to put up with. But, as I tried to get a shot of the stone cairn at the north-west corner of the park, I discovered otherwise. Suddenly, the tat sellers were in an obvious panic, wrapping up their sheets and either stuffing them into rucksacks, or dumping them in the bushes.
What could be happening? Well, the cops could be happening, and presently two of them appeared, accompanied by a sniffer dog, so that was everything in the bushes removed for starters. This made for an enjoyable sideline to the visit, as I knew the police were now trawling the park.
Sure enough, soon afterwards in another part of the park, I saw yet more folks carrying what looked like sheets full of tat at a rapid pace, presumably away from the law. In every case, whoever was carrying the stuff looked very worried indeed. I suspect that, in Spain, this kind of offence involves getting a criminal record, or worse if the culprit already has one.
It improves the visitor experience no end. More room to move, less niggle and hassle, and the sight of panicked tat sellers running off sharpish.