It’s called The Placa de Catalunya (Spanish: Plaza de Cataluna; English: Catalonia Square) and we just had to choose a hotel that was within walking distance of this square. We stayed in Barcelona for a total of seven days and we walked to the square every single day. Hotels and restaurants line the square as well as banks (including my bank’s atm machine) and a huge El Corte Ingles department store dominates one entire block. There’s a large Tourist Information office downstairs where we bought tickets for our Barcelona sightseeing tour and for our day trip to Montserrat. You grab your bus to the airport here and this is also where you find the terminus for the hop on / hop off bus. And underneath the square several Metro lines intersect and will take you to just about anywhere in Barcelona. We took the Metro to Tibidabo one day.
We usually take along a Rick Steves guidebook on our trips to Europe and three of Rick’s walks start here, mainly because three of Barcelona’s most important streets also start here at the Placa. The most popular street for tourists in all of Catalonia is La Rambla which starts on the square’s south corner not far from a Hard Rock Cafe. And Rick’s walk to the Cathedral starts at Portal de l’Angel (the Portal of the Angels) on the square’s east corner. This street is easy to spot: just look for the building with the four-story thermometer. His third walk through the Eixample neighborhood starts on the square’s north corner on Passeig de Gracia. We followed Rick on all three of his walks.
The square itself is adorned with statues and trees and gardens and fountains and in the middle of the square at any given time of the day you will see a zillion pigeons hanging out. Some people feed them; some kids try to scare them; most people just walk as fast as they can from one side of the square to the other.
We arrived at the square before dawn on our second day in Barcelona and it was eerie. The entire square was dark and wet. No people and no pigeons. Neither the birds nor the people of Barcelona get up early. Most restaurants don’t open for breakfast until 8:30 or so. We walked around the square and finally found a place that was both open and served bacon and eggs. In my next posting I will show you some pictures of the Placa I took in the early morning.