The enchanting city of Barcelona is a visual delight, and has anatmosphere that combines elegance and sophistication withprovincial charm. In exploring its streets you'll discover medievalromance in its Gothic quarter and the awe-inspiring delights of thefantastic and sometimes outrageous Art Nouveau architecture ofGaudi and his contemporaries.
The funicular up to Tibidabo, or the cable car up Montjuic bothoffer breathtaking views over this city. Its skyline is perhapsmost famous for Antoni Gaudi's masterwork, the still incompletechurch of the Sagrada Familia, as well as the city's huge Gothiccathedral. The artistic legacy of Barcelona is one of the city'smost appealing offerings, with museums containing extensivecollections of the works of Miro and Picasso.
Barcelona is also a shopping Mecca, with the city's flair forstyle reflected in its numerous boutiques and markets, open lateinto the afternoons. As the sun sets, and the city's many bars andrestaurants open, the night comes alive. Dinner is served at anytime between nine o'clock and midnight, and the festivities aroundthe bars and nightclubs carry on well into the early hours of themorning.
Barcelona is the commercial centre of the popular holiday regionknown as the Costa Brava, the northernmost Mediterranean seafrontin Spain, as well as the Costa Dorada to the south. The coast isdotted with popular resort towns, many retaining their age-oldcharm, which can be easily reached from the city.
Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the lastSunday in October); The Canary Islands: GMT (GMT +1 in summer). Electricity: Electrical current is 220 or 225 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard. Money: Spain's official currency is the Euro (EUR). One Euro is dividedinto 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at bureaux de change andmajor hotels, but banks give the best rates. All major credit cardsand travellers cheques are widely accepted at most hotels,restaurants, and shops. ATMs are widespread and are generally thecheapest and most convenient method of obtaining money.
Language: Spanish is the officiallanguage, but English is widely understood in areas frequented bytourists. Catalan, Galician and Basque are spoken in the relevant areas. Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens require a passport valid for period ofintended stay and a return ticket or proof of onward travel. Novisa is required for a stay of up to three months. Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must hold a passport (can be expired for up toone year), but no visa is required for a maximum stay of threemonths for those holding a passport endorsed British Citizen,British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizenor British Subject. Other UK passport holders require a visa and apassport valid at least three months beyond visa expiry date. Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport valid for period of intended stayand a return ticket or proof of onward travel. No visa is requiredfor a stay of up to three months. Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens require a passport valid for at least periodof intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to threemonths. Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans should apply in advance for a Schengen visa toenter Spain. Passports should be valid for at least three monthsbeyond expiry date of visa. Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a valid passport, but a visa is notnecessary for a stay of up to three months. Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for the period ofintended stay, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to threemonths. Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes thefollowing countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France,Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands,Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue astandard Schengen visa that allows the holder, in principal, totravel freely within the borders of all. Non-EU nationals must holda return or onward ticket. All visitors may be asked for proof offinancial means for their stay in Spain. Embassy or Consulate in US: Spanish Embassy, Washington, United States: +1 202 452 0100. Embassy or Consulate in UK: Spanish Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 75898989. Embassy or Consulate in Canada: Spanish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 747 2252 Embassy or Consulate in Australia: Spanish Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6273 3555. Embassy or Consulate in South Africa: Spanish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 3443875/6/7. US Embassy or Consulate: United States Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 587 2240. UK Embassy or Consulate: British Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 700 8200. Canadian Embassy or Consulate: Canadian Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 423 3250. Australian Embassy or Consulate: Australian Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 353 6600. South African Embassy or Consulate: South African Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 436 3780. Health: There are no health risks associated with travel to Spain, andno vaccination certificates are required for entry. Bird flu wasdetected in a dead bird in July 2006, and although there is littlerisk to travellers, close contact with live birds should be avoidedand all poultry products well cooked as a precaution. No humandeaths or infections have been reported. Spain has a reciprocalhealth agreement with most EU countries, including the UK,providing free emergency health care at State run hospitals. UKtravellers should take a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).Note that private clinics are not covered, and the scheme gives noentitlement to medical repatriation costs, nor does it coverongoing illnesses of a non-urgent nature, so comprehensive travelinsurance is advised. Tipping: Hotel and restaurant bills usually include service charges, butadditional tips are welcomed for services rendered. In restaurantstips of about 15% are expected. In Mallorca value-added-tax isusually included in restaurant bills, designated 'I.V.A', and maybe mistaken for a service charge. Drivers of metered taxis expecttips of 10-15%. It is customary to tip small amounts, usually 5-10%for most services, including guides. Safety: The ceasefire declared on 24 March 2006 was to be the first steptowards peace between the Spanish government and the ETA; howevertalks of peace were shattered on 30 December 2006 when the ETAdetonated a car bomb in the T4 parking lot of Madrid's BarajasAirport, injuring 24 people. The group has been responsible fornumerous bomb explosions across Spain, and is blamed for the deathsof over 800 people in its fight for independence, which has lastedfor four decades. There is still a potential risk of internationalterrorism, as in other countries, although the risk to tourists isconsidered to be low. However most visits to Spain aretrouble-free, except for street crime, which is common in the bigcities, and travellers are advised to take precautions to avoidtheft of passports, credit cards, travel documents and money. Bewary of strangers offering or asking for help of any kind, as it isoften a distraction for accomplices. There are scams involvingletters sent, either stating that the visitor has outstandingtraffic fines from their stay, which must be paid into the givenbank account before a certain date, or notifying the visitor thatthey have won the Spanish lottery and are required to deposit anamount of money into a bank account to secure their winnings. Customs: Smoking in public places is banned and stiff fines will beimposed for smoking in areas such as enclosed public spaces, areaswhere food is prepared and sold, public transport, designated areasof bars and restaurants, and any places that cater for children.Drinking alcohol in the streets of Madrid, and in the Canary andBalearic Islands is illegal. Business: Spain is one of the most conservative countries in Europe and itis important to dress accordingly at all business engagements;formal suits are appropriate. Punctuality is expected of visitors,however, may not necessarily be reciprocated. People should beaddressed as Seor (Mr), Seora (Mrs) andSeorita (Miss) unless otherwise specified. Shaking hands isusual with introductions. Business cards are common and like alldocuments it is recommended that they are printed in both Spanishand English. Gift-giving is not common and not expected. Meetingsoften occur over lunches and dinners and may be characterised byseveral speakers. A hierarchy is generally observed with respect.Business hours vary: working hours are generally 8am to 5pm, buttrading hours are roughly 9.30 to 2pm and 4.30pm to 8pm Monday toFriday. Communications: The international access code for Spain is +34. The outgoingcode is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for theUnited Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)93 forBarcelona and (0)91 for Madrid. Pay phones are either blue or greenand accept either coins or phone cards, which are sold at postoffices, tobacco shops, and newsagents. Three mobile phoneoperators provide thorough GSM 900/1800 coverage throughout thecountry and the Balaeric and Canary Islands. Email and Internetaccess is available at Internet cafes in most towns andresorts. Duty free: Travellers over 17 years arriving from non-EU countries do notpay duty on 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250gsmoking tobacco; 1 litre spirits with alcohol content higher than22%, or 2 litres dessert wine not exceeding 22% and sparkling wine,and 2 litres still wine; perfume up to 50g and 250ml eau detoilette. Travellers over 15 years do not pay duty on 500g coffeeor 200g coffee extract; 100g tea or 40g tea extract; medicine forpersonal consumption; and goods to the value of 175 peradult or 90 for children under 15 if arriving from non-EUcountries. Strictly prohibited are poultry products from Asia.
Message Edited by LL_Editor on 05-30-2007 03:42 PM
Barcelona will most likely be overwhelming to most travellers upon first impressions; however, it is a wonderful city, very walkable and relatively mild in nature. We were very impressed with the obvious strong work ethic of its citizens. Parc Quell is an underrated attraction- it is a must visit on a fine day. The L'Eixample is a terrific hotel location.: Hotel Majestic or Hotel Actual are good ones. On your first day, please do not hesitate to take the Tourist Bus tour- a stop is right at the Hotel Majestic; stay on the bus for the full tour of the city and get a feel for its many sections. The La Rambla area may be best walked during the day- it gets too hectic a night and , frankly, one walk on this boulevard is sufficient. Restaurants are very good, friendly and need not be overly expensive. However, do not plan on dinner until at least 9pm in the better places. So much to see, take it in stride and enjoy this surprisingly pleasant and extraordinarily clean city. We experienced no issues with street crime, but it is best to stay alert and keep to the better parts of the city at night. ENJOY!
As a Spaniard living in Seville and working as private travel advisor, Barcelona is a must for any visitor in Spain. Always rivalizing with madrid, Barcelona enjoys a mediterranean location by the sea, more light and open spaces in my opinion, and state-of-the-art philosophy when it comes to fashion, shopping, restaurants and arquitecture. New stunning hotels will soon be developed, excellent gastronomy in hundreds of modern restaurants (try getting lost at El Borne district), and a great nightlife compared to cities like London. New infrastructures in the next few months and years are transforming the city into a main city break destination in Europe, and with connecting flights almost everywhere.
From Seville, we look at Barcelona and learn from them. In a few years, my city will also be innovative and modern, although the charm of Spanish Southern cities is hardly found in Barcelona. But thats another story.