Be sure that at every train station, port, and airport you arrive at in a new city to hit the tourism office. In almost every country, this will be identified in both the native language and English, and if all else fails, look for the distincitive italic “i” on a station map.
The tourism office will usually have a person fluent in English and can tell you exact directions to hostels, monuments, sights, restaurants, etc. In Barcelona, they were even familiar with the route of the Tour de France through the city, which we saw while we were there.
This single tip has saved me numerous times when showing up in cities without plans, maps, or hostel directions.