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Practical  information

Climate|Language | Spanish words |Transportation | Lodging | Food | Communication
Money| Safety| Public holidays| Shopping| Children| Disabled| Health| Addresses | Links

Climate

Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, humid summers. During winter days, temperatures don't drop below 10░C and in March temperatures start rising to 15░C, the next following months 3░C is added every month, till it reaches a top of 30░C from July to early September. Spring and autumn have nice temperatures but get most of the rain. As summer gets hot and humid, it's more comfortable to visit the city during another period. Do you want to know how the weather is right now in Barcelona, check out : http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/08181.html

 

Language

In Catalunya, of which Barcelona is the capital, there are two official languages: Catalan and Spanish. Because the two languages are used, things can get confusing. Streetsigns are mostly in Catalan, for example, 'street' in Catalan is called 'carrer' and in Spanish 'calle', 'Avenue' is called 'Avinguda' in Catalan and 'Avenida' in Spanish. I once read that Catalans are offended when you talk to them in Spanish, but I haven't noticed this, on the contrary, when you do your best to speak a little Spanish, most people are very friendly. At tourist attractions, museums and shops or restaurants, at least someone will speak a few words of English. Because speaking a bit the language of the locals can make things easier, I've made a short list of some Spanish and Catalan words and expressions. See Spanish Words.

Transportation

From the airport to the city:
The train is a cheap and fast way to get to the city centre, twelve kilometers from the airport. The RENFE trainstation is located at the other side of the street when you exit the airport, and can be reached by a pedestrian bridge. The blue line leaves every half hour and stops at different stations. Barcelona - Sants is the 3rd stop (a 20-minutes ride) and Plaša de Catalunya, right in the middle of the city, is the 4th stop ( 25-minutes ride). Both trainstations are linked with metro and bus station.
Departing from the airport: daily from +- 6 a.m. to +- 11 p.m., every half hour.
More information www.renfe.es .
Other alternatives are the airportshuttlebus (Aerobus), leaving every 15 minutes to various locations and taxis ( € 15 - € 30.)
Recent info on airport transportation: 
http://www.bcn.es/turisme/english/turisme/welcome.htm and on the site of the airport:  http://www.aena.es/ .

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Transportation in the city:
On foot

You can never experience the atmosphere of a city better than by walking through it. Barcelona is an ideal city to walk through, attractions are mostly concentrated by neighborhood.  If your time is limited it's better to take metro or bus for longer distances.
Metro

The TMB metroline is extended, there are 5 lines, each with its own color. The metro is fast, cheap and safe. There are all kinds of tickets and passes available. More information about TMB metro on the TMB page www.tmb.net . Tickets are sold at ticket machines and at the ticket window in some stations.
Hours : On weekdays from 5 a.m. - 11 p.m., on Saturdays from 5 a.m. - 1 a.m., Sundays from 6 a.m. - midnight, and on Holidays from 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.. Trains run very frequently. 

Bus
TMB has an extensive network of buses. Prices are the same as for metro. The busdriver only sells tickets good for one ride, but no buspasses. More information about buses on the TMB website www.tmb.net.
Train
There are two different train companies operating in Barcelona: RENFE, serving the airport and some cities in Catalunya and Ferrocarrils, serving the cities north of Barcelona. If you have to catch a train, make sure that you're in the station of the right company. For information on RENFE trains, check out their website : www.renfe.es .

Lodging

It's best to make reservations for a stay during July and August. Making a hotel reservation at a travel agency at home is usually cheaper (this is the case in Belgium, I don't know how it is in other countries ) and it saves you a lot of time when arriving at your destination. The disadvantages are that you need to make reservations in advance and that tour operators don't offer real low-budget accommodation.
If you are still looking for a hotel when arriving in Barcelona it is best to visit a tourist information center. They can provide information about one of the 400 hotels, apartments, hostels or youth hostels in the city.
Tourist information centres are located at the airport, at Plaša de Catalunya n░17 s (open from 9 a.m. -9 p.m.) and at Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes n░ 658.
City trips are always expensive, but Barcelona is cheaper than cities like New York  or London.
It saves you a lot of time and transport expenses when you are staying in a centrally located hotel. Try to find a spot in the areas Barri Gotic, El Raval or Eixample or on the Ramblas where you are close to most of the places of interest and public transportation. The Barri Gotic houses a lot of cheap hotels and hostels, the streets aren't always too neat, but you are in the middle of the city. El Raval is a student area, Eixample is more distinguished and the Rambla is very lively. Check out following sites for hotels: www.Publintur.es  and www.bcn.es and www.tourspain.es .

Out of town
Formule 1 motel, Auda Rabassaires 40, C-17, km 18 Mollet del Valles. This motel offers rooms without private bathroom for +- € 32 a room. It is located +- 15 kilometers from Barcelona. http://www.hotelformule1.com/formule1/
Campsites
are also a possibility. They are situated about 12 to 15   kilometers( +- 1 mile) from the city in El Prat de Llobregat near the airport and in Gava.

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Food

Hygiene is OK in Barcelona, tap water can be used without problems, but it doesn't taste very good. Be careful with fresh food during the hot summer months.
There are many restaurants, but they have limited opening hours : lunch from 1.30 p.m. - 4 p.m., and dinner starting at 9 p.m. ! When it doesn't bother you to eat late, you'll have no problem with finding a restaurant, there are plenty of them (especially in the Gothic area) so you can compare menus and prices. Between mealtimes you can only get a snack there (or try tapas: Spanish specialties like anchovy and olives). Of course fastfood and torust restaurants are open almost all day. Many of those restaurants are located near Plaša Catalunya or on the Rambla.
You can keep your meal budget low by buying lunch in a bakery or supermarket. A supermarket (= supermercado) is located at the right side of the Rambla, not far from Pl. Catalunya, or at the food department of El Corte Ingles on Pl. Catalunya. It's never a bad idea to have food and drinks with you, in case you're in an area where there aren't much restaurants, like Montju´c for example.
If you are looking for something special,  search the 'Yellow pages'. In most hotellobby's you'll find maps or addresses of all kinds restaurants.

Communication

Making a  telephone call from abroad to Barcelona: dial the international code, then 34 (for Spain).
Making an international phone call from Barcelona : dial 00 (international code), followed by the country code, city code and the subscriber's number. Calling from a phone booth is the cheapest way and you can pay with coins or phone cards, sold at exchange offices or postoffices.

Stamps are often sold in shops where they sell postcards or at postoffices. Mayor postoffices are located at Pl. de Antoni Lopez, at Carrer Arrago n░282 and at Ronda Universitat n░ 23 , open from 8.30 a.m. - 8.30 p.m..

Money and bank

Money
Since January 2002, the Euro is the monetary unit in Spain. If you want to know how the currency is, check out this  money converting site:  http://www.xe.net/ucc/ .

Bank services
Bank offices have very  limited hours: from Monday till Friday from 8.30 a.m. - 2 p.m., and on Saturday till 2 p.m..
Exchange offices (cambios) stay open much longer and there are several of them in the tourist areas. Credit cards or traveller checks are mostly accepted.

Safety

Lots of stories are being told about robbed tourists in Barcelona but don't let those scare you. As in every big city pickpockets are where the tourists are, near tourist attractions and on crowded streets. Here are some tips everyone should (or does already ) know to avoid problems.
Watch out for people who want to sell you things like flowers: it might be a trick to steal your money. This method is often used by thieves in Barcelona!
Put your valuables in a properly closed bag or rucksack an carry it in busy places on your stomach.
Only take the money you'll need for the day with you and put a bit apart in a small purse, then you don't have to show large bills when paying somewhere. Leave the rest in the hotelsafe.
Make copies of your passport and carry this with you, leave the original in your hotelsafe.
When you're seated somewhere and your bag is on the floor, put your foot trough the strap, or when it's on your lap, put your hand on it.
Try to look as less as possible as a tourist: look self-assured, put your camera in your bag when you don't need it, don't look on a citymap all the time, if you have to look, put yourself aside and keep an eye on your bag.
If you'll have to pay, look in advance how much it costs, and take the money ready, so you don't have to juggle with your money at the cash desk. Look before you leave to Spain or at least the first day there, how the money looks like, that will save you some time when you've got to use it, and makes you look more confident. And, very important: watch your change !
In the first place you have to enjoy yourself being in such a beautiful city, but it is a fact that you are vulnerable as a tourist. Just keep your head cool and keep an eye on your environment, that will lower the chance of a robbery. In case you'd have bad luck, there is the city police, la Guardia urbana, who has a special service for tourists in trouble.
Address: Guardia Urbana (police), la Rambla 43.
Police officers are visible present at the places where tourists walk around, and they are very helpful.
I don't think there are really dangerous area, but the side streets at the end of the Rambla, including Plaša Reial and the streets of Raval are less safe at night than the rest of the city.

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Public holidays 2012

January 1, 6
April 6,9
May 1,28
August 15
September 11,24
October 12
December 6, 8, 25 and 26.

Shopping

Most shops are open from 10 a.m. - 8 or 8.30 p.m., but many are closed during siesta, from 1.30 p.m. - 4.30 p.m..
Popular stores are located between Plaša de Catalunya and Carrer Portaferissa and on Avinuda Portal de l'Angel, but in fact whole of the Gothic area is filled with all kinds of shops. Eixample houses mostly expensive shops, concentrated on Rambla de Catalunya and Passeig de Gracia. Designer clothes can be found on Av. Diagonal at Plaša Fransesc Macia and a little further on the Diagonal at Carrer d'Entrenša you'll see the shopping mall l'Illa, housing chain-stores like Fnac(music and books)and Decathlon(sports). At the harbor, on the other side of the wooden bridge on Moll d'Espanya, you'll see the shopping mall Maremagnum, which has a mirror fašade beautifully reflecting the harbor. Art and design gadgets can be found at museum shops.

Visiting Barcelona with kids

Children usually don't like to go on a city trip, but Barcelona can be fun for them too. There is a beach, a few nice parks, a zoo, an interactive science museum and an aquarium. Or maybe you can organise a picnic in one of the parks.

Disabled people

Disabled persons can order information about accessibility via one of the tourist offices. You can ask specific information about the accessibility of public transportation via the e-mailaddress on the TMB website. The majority of the streets are accessible for wheelchairs, but unfortunately, Parc GŘell might be a problem to visit.

Healthcare

People with health problems shouldn't be worried, hospitals and doctors are OK in Spain. Tap water is safe to drink and hygiene standards are as high as in the rest of Western Europe. However, don't eat meat or fish that isn't well cooked, and avoid (perishable) food that hasn't been kept cool. The pharmacies (farmacÝa) sell a lot of medication without description. Barcelona can be hot during the summer so be careful with the sun: drink enough water and protect your head and skin.

Important addresses

Spanish tourist offices abroad :  www.spain.info/TourSpain/Turismo+Exterior/?Language=en
Tourist information : Centre d'informacio Turisme de Barcelona,Pl. de Catalunya n░17 s (open from 9 a.m. -9 p.m.)
Other tourist information addresses on the official Barcelona site : www.bcn.es
Consulate USA : Pg Reina Elisenda 23, http://barcelona.usconsulate.gov/barcelonaen.html
Consulate U.K. : Av. Diagonal 477, www.ukinspain.com/
Consulate Canada : www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/canadaeuropa/spain/
Barcelona airport : http://www.aena.es/
Police with tourist assistance : GuÓrdia Urbana, La Rambla 43.
Emergencies (also with mobile phone) : 112
Police emergency : Tel : 092
Ambulance : Tel : 061.
List of addresses museums on my page museums. Information on other important touristplaces on page areas.

Links

Official Barcelona site : www.bcn.es/turisme/english/turisme/
Tourist information about Barcelona : www.seebcn.com
Tourist information about Barcelona :
www.barcelonaturisme.com
Tourist information Spain : www.tourspain.es
Catalonia homepage : www.publintur.es 
T.M.B. Metro- and busservices www.tmb.net
RENFE trains : www.renfe.es
Barcelona weather :  http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/08181.html
Moneyconverting site :  
http://www.xe.net/ucc/
Spanish tourist offices abroad :  http://www.spain.info/TourSpain/Turismo+Exterior
Language site:
www.travlang.com

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