Post #10#.... There is the "Antonin Dvorak" that goes from Wien to Praha (the "Franz Lehar" - same design, does Wien to Budapesta). It is incredibly good - and there are no rickety bits. Oh - and if you've a spare €15, the restaurant car rivals the Orient Express and Northern Belle at a fraction of the cost.
Read my post again... I was not talking about the train. I was talking about the tracks, the "road" the train runs on.
The train is good and fast, but the tracks are in abysmal shape. So a train that is capable of going 200 kms/hr crawls along at 60 kms/hr. Fortunately they are doing something about it. Unfortunately this also means that construction is going on, making things even slower.
Thank you Cain for the compliment!
Plaça Catalunya, you don´t get more central then this! It is directly next to las Ramblas and the meeting point for a lot of people. Take notice though that this is about the most toursity spot you will find in Barcelona and therefore there are a lot of pickpockets and other ´scammers´ walking around and about. Keep a close eye on your bag and don´t keep stuff loose in your pockets.
This in not to scare you off because I have walked there plenty of times and never got robbed or anything but unfortunately it does happen.
Also you might want to consider bringing earplugs, I don´t know how soundproof your hotel is but you might not want to be woken up by noisy people during the night and the busy traffic in the early morning.
Besides that, perfect location!
For daytrips there are trains leaving at Catalunya but also at Passeig de Gracia (5-10 min walking from Catalunya) depending on where exactly you go. Girona is nice but seeing the season you are in you could also consider a daytrip to one of the beaches around. Sitges is more quiet as is Tarragona. More to the North you find towns like Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar which are nice but might be overcrowded with 16-25 year olds in July, turning it in party town.
If you don´t feel like going to the beach I would advice you to go to Figueres, the town itself is not very interesting but the Dali museum is located here and that is definitely worth a visit! It is around less then 2 hours by train to get there.