barcelona

Communications

Internet

Internet access via Wi-Fi is available in all virtually Barcelona hotels. In addition, many cafés and bars are Internet hot spots and have signs indicating it in their windows. Easy Internet Café near the top of the Rambla is one of the citys’s most complete and convenient cyber-cafés, with 300 computers available from 8:30 am to 2:30 am daily.

Another, smaller solution is the art gallery-cum-Internet café bcnet, surrounded by medieval stone and offering everything from e-mail checking to video conferences until 1 am. Idea, which also has a bookstore, is a chill place for drafting e-mails.

An important piece of computer gear to pack is the adapter that translates flat-edged plugs or triple plugs to round dual ones. Most Internet cafés have no equipment to get your laptop online, but Wi-Fi technology is common throughout Barcelona. Phone jacks or dedicated computer hookups in hotel rooms allowing you to dial your server and get online are becoming obsolete.

Computer Supplies and Services

GeoMac (606/308932. geomac@terra.es.)

Microrent (Roselló 35, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08029. 93/363-3250. www.microrent.es. Sants Estació, Entença.)

Cybercafe Resources

Cybercafes. Cybercafes lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide. www.cybercafes.com.

Travel Bar (Boqueria 27, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/410-8592.)

bcnet (Barra de Ferro 3, Born-Ribera, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003. 93/268-1507.)

Cafe Internet Navego (Provença 546, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08025. 93/436-8459.)

Easy Internet Café (Rambla 31, Rambla, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/268-8787.)

Phones

Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls. In some countries you can phone from call centers or even the post office. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally. And then there are mobile phones, which are usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.

The country code for Spain is 34. To phone home from Spain, 00 gets you an international line; country codes are 1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand, and 44 for the United Kingdom.

Calling Within Spain

Spain’s telephone system is efficient, and direct dialing is the norm everywhere. Only cell phones conforming to the European GSM standard will work in Spain.

All Spanish area codes begin with a 9; for instance, Barcelona is 93 and Bilbao is 94. The 900 code indicates a toll-free number. Numbers starting with a 6 indicate a cellular phone; note that calls to cell phones are significantly more expensive.

For general information in Spain, dial 1-18-18. The operator for international information and assistance is at 1-18-25 (some operators speak English). Barcelona information of all kinds, including telephone information, is available by dialing 010, where many operators speak English.

Calls within Spain require dialing 8, 9, or 10 digits (beginning with a 2- or 3-digit regional code), even within the same area code.

Making a long-distance call within Spain simply requires dialing the 8, 9, or 10-digit number including the provincial area code and number.

Between phone booths in the street (ask for a cabina telefónica) and public phones in bars and restaurants, telephone communication in Spain functions as well as anyplace in the world. Many phones have digital readout screens, so you can see your money ticking away. If using coins, you need at least €0.20 for a local call, €1 to call another province. Pick up the phone, wait for the dial tone, and only then insert coins before dialing. Rates are reduced on weekends and after 8 pm on weekdays.

Calling Outside Spain

International calls are easiest from public pay phones using a phone card. The best way to phone home is to use a public phone that accepts phone cards (available from tobacconists and most newsagents) or go to the local telephone office or locutorio, a phone center. The best thing about the locutorio is the quiet, private booth. If the call costs over €5, you can often pay with Visa or MasterCard.

To make an international call yourself, dial 00, then the country code, then the area code and number. Ask at a tourist office for a list of locutorios and Internet centers that include phone service.

Before you go, find out your long-distance company’s access code in Spain.

Access Codes

AT&T (900/990011.)

MCI WorldPhone (900/990014.)

Sprint International Access (900/990013.)

Calling Cards

Pay phones work with a phone card (tarjeta telefónica), of which there are several varieties that you can buy at any tobacco shop (Tabac) or newsagent. The Euro Hours Card, sold at many tobacco shops for €6, gives three hours of international phone calls.

Mobile Phones

If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies from what’s used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, Cingular, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It’s almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call, since text messages have a very low set fee (often less than 5¢).

If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You’ll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time.

Cell Phone Rentals

Telecon Iberica (93/228-9110.)

Telenisa (93/240-5405; 902/364-752 customer hotline.)

Walkie Talkie (93/238-0653.)

Contacts

Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GMS phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287-5072. www.cellularabroad.com.

Mobal. Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones (starting at $49) that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888-9162. www.mobalrental.com.

Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988-4777. www.planetfone.com.

Electricity

The electrical current in Spain is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC); wall outlets take continental-type plugs, with two round prongs. An adapter from flat to round prongs is a must for computers and hair dryers.

Consider making a small investment in a universal adapter, which has several types of plugs in one lightweight, compact unit. Most laptops and mobile phone chargers are dual voltage (i.e., they operate equally well on 110 and 220 volts), so require only an adapter. These days the same is true of small appliances such as hair dryers. Always check labels and manufacturer instructions to be sure. Don’t use 110-volt outlets marked “for shavers only” for high-wattage appliances such as hair dryers.

Contacts

Steve Kropla’s Help for World Traveler’s. Steve Kropla’s Help for World Traveler’s has information on electrical and telephone plugs around the world. www.kropla.com.

Walkabout Travel Gear. Walkabout Travel Gear has a good coverage of electricity under “adapters.” www.walkabouttravelgear.com.

Emergencies

You can expect local residents to be helpful if you have an emergency. For assistance, dial the pan-European emergency phone number 112, which is operative in northern Spain, but not all parts of Spain. Otherwise, dial the emergency numbers below for national police, local police, fire department, or medical services. On the road, there are emergency phones at frequent regular intervals on freeways (autovías) and toll highways (autopistas). They are marked S.O.S.

If your documents are stolen, contact both the police and your consulate or embassy. If you lose a credit card, phone the issuer immediately.

To find out which pharmacies are open late at night or 24 hours on a given day, look on the door of any pharmacy or in any local newspaper under “Farmacias de Guardia” or dial 010.

In Barcelona, Tourist Attention, a service provided by the local police department, can help if you’re the victim of a crime or need medical or psychological assistance. English interpreters are on hand.

Foreign Embassies

Australia

Australian Embassy Barcelona (Av. Diagonal 458, 3rd fl., Les Corts, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08006. 93/490-9013.)

Canada

Barcelona (Pl. de Catalunya 9, 1?, 2?, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/412-7236. www.canada-es.org.)

New Zealand

Barcelona (Trav. de Gràcia 64, Gràcia, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08006. 93/209-0399.)

United Kingdom

Barcelona (Av. Diagonal 477, 13th fl., Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08036. 902/109-356. www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en.)

United States

Barcelona (Passeig Reina Elisenda 23, Pedralbes, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08034. 93/280-2227. www.embusa.es.)

General Emergency Contacts in Barcelona

Ambulance (93/300-2020.)

Dental Emergencies (93/265-8070.)

Fire department (080.)

Medical assistance (061.)

Police (091 or 092. Main police station, Via Laietana 43, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003. 93/290-3327.

).

Tourist Attention (Guardia Urbana, Ramblas 43, Rambla, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/290-3440.)

Hospital

Hospital Clinic (Villarroel 170, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08036. 93/454-6000 or 93/454-7000. Line 5 (blue line) to Hospital Clinic.)

Pharmacies

24-Hour Pharmacies (010. www.farmaciesdeguardia.com.)

Mail

The postal system in Spain, called Correos, does work, but delivery times can vary widely. An airmail letter to the United States may take four days to reach its destination, or it may take two weeks. Mail to the United Kingdom may range from overnight delivery to four days. Delivery to other places worldwide is equally unpredictable. Sending letters by special delivery (urgente) will ensure speedier delivery.

Post offices are usually open 8:30-2:30 on weekdays, and 10-2 on Saturday, though hours vary. Some main post offices, including Barcelona’s, which is on Plaça Antonio López, are open all day, 8:30 am-8:30 pm Monday-Saturday, and 9-2:30 on Sunday.

Airmail letters to Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada cost €0.80 up to 20 grams. Letters to the United Kingdom and other EU countries cost €0.55 up to 20 grams. Postcard rates are identical. An urgente (urgent) sticker costs €1.50. Letters within Spain are €0.30. You can buy stamps at post offices and at licensed tobacco shops.

To have mail held at the Barcelona post office, have it addressed to Lista de Correos (the equivalent of Poste Restante), Oficina Central de Correus i Telecomunicacions, Plaça Antonio López 1, 08002. Provincial postal addresses should include the name of the province in parentheses, e.g., Figueres (Girona). For Barcelona, this is not necessary.

Main Branches

Oficina Carrer Aragó (Aragó 282, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08007. 93/216-0453. Passeig de Gràcia.)

Oficina Central de Correus i Telecomunicacions (Pl. Antonio López 1, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 902/197197. www.correos.es. Jaume I.)

Shipping Packages

When speed is essential or when you must send valuable items or documents, you can use a courier service (mensajero), although it is expensive to ship items from Spain abroad, especially for overnight service. The major international agencies, such as Federal Express and UPS, have representatives in Spain, and the biggest Spanish courier service, Seur, has similar services and fees. Couriers will pick up the package at your door and can deliver it anywhere in the world, usually within one to three days. It’s best to call the day before for a next-day morning pickup. You can also drop off the package at an office. If the package is picked up before noon, it will usually arrive in New York or London the following day before 5 pm; delivery often takes another day in Australia or New Zealand. Prices vary from €20 to €60 per delivery.

Most stores, including shippers of fragile items such as ceramics or Lladró, will, for a price, wrap and ship purchases home. Depending on whether you choose surface or airmail, items may take from a week to a month. Logically, the farther away you send items, the longer it takes to get there.

Express Services

DHL (902/122424. www.dhl.com.)

Federal Express (900/100871. www.fedex.com.)

MRW (900/300400. www.mrw.gi.)

Seur (902/101010. www.seur.es.)

UPS (900/102410. www.ups.com.)