I wouldn’t dare say that I’m one of those people that knows how to use a map or a compass. I mostly trust in some kind of “dove-like” instinct that gets me to where I want to go. However, when I arrived in Barcelona, I learned a beautiful way that the locals have of stating EXACTLY where you are, so anyone can find you, on the basis of the four natural limits to the city.
It will work at any place in the city, but frankly it’s clearer if you go to the Eixample – Gran Vía de las Cortes Catalanes and up. The first two limits are the mountains (Tibidabo) and the beaches (Barceloneta and such). There is a slight slope in the city that is easy to sense when you look at people riding bikes. The end of the slope is the sea. The other part of the city, the upper part, is the mountain.
The other limits are the river Llobregat (near the airport) and the river Besòs (close to the Forum). If you stand looking towards the sea, the Llobregat will be at your right and the Besòs to your left. Knowing this, you can explain to anyone exactly where you are. For example, Casa Milá (Gaudí’s Pedrera) is located in the crossing of Passeig de Gracia and Provença, in the corner Mountain-Besòs.
In a city with an almost perfect grid, this kind of tip could help you when you’re trying to finding something without getting lost.
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