What are you like at reading maps ?
Thats the central area of Barcelona that is (above), looks very American style doesn’t it, on a grid plan with one road going diagonally across all of the blocks, they very usefully called that road Avinguda Diagonal.
As well as being on a simple grid plan the streets and avenues of Barcelona are well signposted with street names on every block corner, you can’t really get lost, really, it would take some special sort of idiot to get lost in that sort of simple street plan wouldn’t it ?
I travelled to Barcelona in July 2005 with three such idiots.
We were going to a rugby match in Perpignan just over the border in France but flew into Barcelona on an extremely cheap deal with Jet2.com, back in those halcyon days when you could get flights for pocket money, I think we paid £15 for our flight into Barcelona and the flight out was 1p or some other ridiculous amount, so we stayed in Barcelona for the first night.
The hotel was on Carrer D’Arago, you can see it about halfway up on that street plan, just off the Diagonal, just off the map to the bottom left is La Rambla, the touristy bar and restaurant area so beloved of pickpockets and so thats where we went for beer and other sustenances and then at midnight we found ourselves in a bar on Placa de Tetuan, you can see it above right at the bottom middle, a round circle, got it?
Now figure out how you’d get from there to Carrer D’Arago.
Its not hard is it, even when drunk its not hard.
Two and a half hours later the four of us were still wandering those streets trying to find the hotel, by 2.30am we had tramped every single one of those blocks shown in that small area of Barcelona above, some had been tramped more than once and it transpired that we had walked right past the front door of the hotel several times at least, to put it in a nutshell we didn’t even walk all of the blocks on that map above, just a few of them, over and over for two and a half hours in the dark getting increasingly weary and more sober.
It got to the point where we were arguing about what the hotel was called, strung out by 100 yards down the street we were shouting at each other random hotel names in the hope that it might be one of them, Rob, the one who had booked the whole weekend kept insisting that it was called Euro-Something and in the event he was correct but we just didn’t believe him at this point because there was no hotel called Euro-Something on these streets, and yet we knew we were in the right area for every ten minutes we’d find ourselves back on the Diagonal again and we’d stand there muttering “We’re back on the Diagonal again” before turning 180 degrees and saying in a loud confident voice “Its over there, definitely”.
My choice of footwear was unfortunate and I have never again worn a pair of leather loafers with no socks on, the amount of skin removed from my heels that night could have clothed a small African nation and my pace slowed to, erm, slow, and then to old peoples walking pace, and then to almost stopped, and the curses grew louder at every step.
At 2am Gareth started threatening to call for a taxi, we scoffed at this idea for all of us knew that we were only mere minutes away from the hotel, if only we could find the bloody thing and/or all agree on what it was called.
Then at 2.30am after an hour or so of whining like a baby from 100 yards further down the street from us he finally stopped a taxi and shouted for us all to come and give him some assistance in explaining to the driver where we wanted to go when none of us actually knew for sure where it was that we wanted to go.
We were stood some fifty yards away from him as he waved us all to the taxi and were arguing that we had no money to spend on fripperys like private cabs, he stood on the pavement almost crying in his pleas to just get in the car and stop this agony when we suddenly had our epiphany, an almost religious experience as the penny dropped in three heads simultaneously and Gareth stood 50 yards away, now actually crying.
“Its there” one of us said, and we all pointed in astonishment.
Gareth was stood right in front of the hotel, he turned to follow our pointing fingers and fell to his knees sobbing in relief, the taxi driver slammed the door in exasperation, shouted something, possibly obscene, at us in Spanish and screeched off down the Carrer D’Arago to find some other, more stupid tourists, I wish him well in that venture.
We had forgotten one thing.
The hotel, like many hotels in Barcelona, did not have a frontage at street level but only had one nondescript glass door with a small illuminated sign above it, the hotel lobby was actually the next floor up for Barcelona’s streets are dedicated to retail shops and not frippery like hotel grand entrances, such a shame that we hadn’t noticed this small detail as we exited the place excitedly earlier in the evening.
My feet took weeks to recover, thank you for asking.