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Shop opening times
The Catalans might have some differences with the rest of Spain, but there is one Spanish tradition that many don’t want to give up: The Siesta.
Traditionally shops are open from 9:00 or 10:00-14:00, and then reopen from 16:30-20:30 or 21:30. Many shops in the centre of town and shopping centres are open from 8:30 or 9:00-20:30 or 21:30.
Most shops are open Monday to Saturday, however in July and August many close on Saturday afternoon. Sunday is notoriously quiet, as the town shuts shop religiously, although this is a common evening for dining out.
The main post office (Correos) is located at the end of Via Laitana. Impossible to miss, it is a stunning, classical building on “Plaça Antonio López” that looks towards the iconic Cap de Barcelona: a large surrealist sculpture created by American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Services include: information services, stamps, for sending and receive letters, packages, telegrams, etc. If you want to send a simple letter or post card you can purchase stamps in the Tobacco shops about town, and then pop it in one of the yellow post boxes.
Once in town you might need to exchange money. The Euro (€) is the currency.
Banks are open from Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 14:00.
There are many major banks in Barcelona, and the exchange rates differ slightly between each one. It’s best to find a bank or change house located further away from the major monuments or places of interest.
Surf the Internet
Barcelona is a wired city, with public access WiFi (look for a blue “W” sign) throughout the city; such as in parks, beaches, and plazas. Many hostels and hotels, and chain restaurants have free Internet access.
The metro is definitely the fastest way of getting around Barcelona. In summer it is air conditioned, in winter it is heated.
Barcelona is a relatively safe city, most street crime in Barcelona consists of pick pocketing and scams. Barcelona scam stories should just serve to make you beware, as Barcelona is fairly similar to other major European cities in terms of its levels of crime. Like in any other major city you should take normal precautions such as never leaving valuables unattended, not walking home alone in certain areas at night, and being aware of your belongings.
To avoid being pick pocketed you should always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for potential scams that could trick you into loosing your possessions. There are certain situations and locations where you have to be particularly careful; La Rambla is always busy with tourists and there are a lot of distractions. Also, in metro stations where there are lots of people, it is normal for people to brush by close to you and you are concentrating on your destination rather than your possessions. But to avoid these situations as much as possible you can just take a few simple precautions and you will be susceptible to a lot less risk:
Dress appropriately; Barcelona is a city like any other, even though it has a beach the Spanish do not walk around in the street in swim wear so in order not to stand out from the crowd you shouldn’t either.
By having a map out you make it very obvious to pickpockets that you don’t know your way around very well, you also have your attention focused on something other than your possessions and you make yourself an easy target. When you’re walking around look like you know where you’re going and if you get a bit lost and need to refer to a map then go into a bar or café and do it there, you’ll be much safer.
International Time Zone
The time in Spain is GMT + 1 hour.
The two languages spoken in Barcelona are Spanish and Catalan. Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya and therefore Catalan is widely spoken by the people of Barcelona. However both Spanish and Catalan are widely spoken interchangeably.
In the tourist areas you will have people who speak English as well as Spanish however more off the beaten track most people will only speak Spanish or Catalan.
Barcelona is however a very cosmopolitan European city with millions of tourist visitors each year so you should not have any real problems communicating.
Barcelona drinking water is very unpalatable and it is highly recommended to drink bottled water whilst you are here. Although you can drink tap water safely it is much preferred to have bottled water. Bottled mineral water can be purchased very cheaply from local supermarkets for example the supermarket on the Ramblas.
Electricity supply is 220 volts throughout Spain with 2 pin wall sockets. For any European countries that utilise 240 volts e.g. UK and Ireland most electrical equipment will function adequately.
If you intend to use the UK electrical plugs then you will need an electricity plug adapter that will convert the standard 3 pin socket into a two pin socket. In the US where the electricity supply is 110 volts a transformer would be required to step down the voltage to 110 volts. Damage to the electrical appliance can occur if you attempt to use a 110 volt rated electrical appliance with a 220 volt supply.
Places of interest
San Pablo del Campo
Santa Maria del Mar