Nora Johnson – Vanishing act

Taking back the streets

In the quirky corner of Barcelona’s La Salut neighbourhood, local residents are throwing a party over a rather unusual feat: wiping themselves off the map!

For years, residents complained they couldn’t get home because the number 116 bus is always crammed with visitors to Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell. The park is the city’s second most popular attraction after the Sagrada Familia basilica recently described here.

But then they won the bus jackpot! Thanks to some nifty moves by the city council they’ve the bus to themselves now, with Google and Apple maps removing it from their routes.

“We laughed at the idea at first,” said a local activist. “Getting on that bus before felt like squeezing into a sardine can. So jam-packed even people with walking sticks couldn’t get on.”

The city council’s playing it coy, neither confirming nor denying their hand in this vanishing act. And Google’s staying tight-lipped too, only singing if the council calls the tune.

The activist, who’s been campaigning for eight years for the council to address the problem, is now eyeing the ultimate prize: removing the whole of Park Güell from Google maps.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page,” wrote the 4th-century philosopher St Augustine. Maybe for number 116 bus passengers some pages were becoming a bit too well-thumbed…

Nora Johnson’s 12 critically acclaimed psychological suspense crime thrillers, including the latest ‘The Couple across the Street’ (, all available online at Amazon etc. Profits to Cudeca cancer charity.                             

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Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.