I’ve just arrived and have been having problems understanding how addresses work here. Can you help?
There are some key differences between the way that postal addresses are written here and in other places, and sometimes the task of working out where you are trying to go is made even harder because of the two official languages.
To start with the basics, a typical address in Catalunya would be written like this:
Enric Granados 48 entlo 2ª
The street name comes first and may or may not be preceded by the type of road it is (eg avenue, street, square, etc; for more on this, see below). The street name is followed by the building number and, if it is an apartment, the floor and door number. The next line is for the post code (codi postal in Catalan and código postal in Castilian) and the name of the town or city. In addition, the name of the province sometimes appears in brackets after the town name—eg 17257 Torroella de Montgrí (Girona).
In the address shown above, ‘entlo’ stands for entresuelo in Castilian (in Catalan, the word is entresol, abbreviated to entl.); this literally means ‘between floor’ and usually describes what English speakers call the first floor. The ground floor is bajos (bjs) in Castilian or baixos (bxs) in Catalan. Some apartment buildings also have the principal floor (often shortened to ‘pr’ or ‘pral’); this is also a name for the first floor. Another feature is the àtic (Catalan) or ático (Castilian), which, despite the name, is not the attic, but the penthouse flat. To make matters even more complicated, some buildings also have a sobreàtic, which usurps the àtic to the top floor. If in doubt, check the buzzers at the entrance to work out where to go.
Depending on the size of an apartment building, there may be two ‘staircases’ (escales). This means that the building is divided in two parts, each with its own stairs, usually indicated as Escala A and Escala B. Floors are written in ordinal numbers: in Castilian, 1º, 2º, etc; Catalan is more complex: 1er, 2on, 3er, 4rt, 5è, 6è, and so on. Flats are identified either by a number or letter. If the former, it is written in both languages as the number followed by ª.
As already seen, addresses here have a lot of abbreviations in them. What follows are the main types of road (Catalan / Castilian) and their abbreviations:
Carrer / Calle (abbreviated to C/)—street
Avinguda / Avenida (Avgda, Avda)—avenue
Plaça / Plaza (Pl)—square
Carretera (Ctra)—main road
Passeig / Paseo (Pg or Pº)—boulevard
Travessera (Trav)—these were originally streets that would cross from one side of a town or village to the other, and the name comes from the word to cross, travessar.
Another abbreviation you might see is s/n (sin or sense número), which literally means without number, and is common on big buildings that are hard to miss.