Thursday, March 11, 2010
Astray Tourists: Directions in Barcelona
Finding directions can be tough, specially when you are not good at spacial orientation like me, you know. I am one of those that can't find the car in the parking lot or wouldn't tell right from left after turning myself around. So I understand that in spite of how well designed streets are in a given city, people get lost. Besides there's an extra difficulty, we get clumsy when we are taken out of context. It seems that besides our capacity to know where we are and to follow signs properly, besides our ability to interpret a map, we need a general view of the whole map in our minds. And that's when geography might help. There are cities in the middle of a prairie that if it weren't for the Sun or the stars do make it difficult to reach your destination. Should you get lost in Barcelona, something impossible in the Eixample quarter by the way, always remember that you have mountains around, streets have a certain slope and the sea is right there going down every road. Once you spot those, then think you have two rivers in the other axis. So, when you face the mountain side you've got Besós river to the right and Llobregat to the left (towards the airport). Of course, relevant buildings or streets also help particularly when no slope is visible as in the old part of town (that means you are near the sea!). In general, if you bear in mind that bird's eye view perspective you'll be on the right track. It's funny but this is the second photograph I take of several people around a map and both look like Japanese tourists to me. Is it a matter of idiosyncrasy?. Maybe Western people are more like: "Hey, I carry the map cause I'm good at it". I don't know. How is it in your city? Is it difficult to find directions?
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