WALKING EVERYWHERE…that’s what we did. Hit the ground running, literally, because we worked up a sweat every time…and it was December. We HAD to slow down. Isn’t that the reason we retired?
Enamored with subways we still had to walk to the metro stops. But we often got carried away. So much to see in a new locale we unapologetically gawked at everything. The beauty was evident with the wide tree lined streets and even wider avenues (avenidas; avingudas-catalan) and passeigs. The trees being devoid of leaves that time of year made it so much easier to see the diverse and artistic buildings of the Eixample area.
The old town, Ciutat Vella, with its narrow streets is comprised of MOSTLY pedestrian areas. Much like a deep maze it would seem easy to get lost. Don’t worry, just enjoy the adventure and the history, and keep walking until you find another group of wide-eyed tourists to follow out to the main streets. It helps to have your phone’s map app to tell you where you are, then input where you want to go and hit the direction symbol for “step by step” navigation.
Yeah yeah…most people know that Barcelona is very walkable, and relatively compact. So what? Well…there are a few things that we have learned by observation or NOT paying attention that you might find helpful.
I mentioned “MOSTLY pedestrian areas.” Other modes of transport may cross or even use pedestrian designated areas and paths. In fact it is our experience that you are less likely to be hit by a car than by a cyclist – motorized or not. (And don’t get me started with all the people using skateboards and scooters-electric or not, on the sidewalks.)
Motor scooters are very common, more so than motorcycles, and are allowed to park on the sidewalks when there is not enough street parking, which is all the time. So they WILL be driving on the sidewalk to get to/from the street, often via the crosswalk (with ramps for wheelchair accessibility.)
Think you are safer in crosswalks when you have the green light? Of course look both ways no matter what, but especially if there is a bike lane. Cyclists seem to be less likely to stop when YOU have the right-of-way. To be fair the traffic is not heavy enough for you to JAYWALK as many locals do, so be even more careful then.
Last tip for now – street signs. The names of streets are up on the side of the closest building to the intersection, like many European cities. In Eixample because of their “open” intersections with the corners cut off makes finding the street name more interesting.
And of course you have to walk farther to cross the intersection (for you math whizzes it’s like walking the two equal sides of an isosceles right triangle.)
If you are lucky there might be a traditional sign showing the name of the street you are crossing.
And sometimes there is neither. So again…keep you map app handy.