Things to Know Before You Go ...

Electricity

Barcelona's electrical current is 50Hz, 220 volts is used throughout Spain with 2 pin wall sockets. An adapter may be needed.

Emergency

Dial 112 for police emergencies. Dial 061 for medical emergencies. You may also reach the Spanish Medical Information Service for a list of doctors by dialing 902 111 444. If you are from the European Union, you must have your blue EHIC card for free medical help. Pharmacy (Farmacia) are open weekdays 09.00- 20.00 and 24 hour Chemist Shops are available throughout the city. As with many large cities, pick-pocketers can be found in major tourist areas. Exercise typical caution with your valuables and person.

Internet Connection

The ISTM is providing free wireless internet connection within the convention center during the conference. Travelers in Barcelona can check e-mail and access the Internet from their laptop or PDA, or at cybercafes found all over town. Many hotels, and all three local airports, have Wi-Fi access as well.

Internet access is plentiful, both in cybercafes and in hotels. The Bornet Internet Café (Barra del Ferro 3, Born; tel. 93-268-15-07; www.bornet-bcn.com) has 16 terminals and charges 2.80€ per hour. For music while you catch up on your e-mail, try Alsur Café, Carders 17 (tel. 93-182-54-07; www.alsurcafe.com), with two branches, one in the Sant Pere district, the other next to the Palau de la Música.

Gratuities

Service charges are usually included in the final tabulation of restaurant bills. If you wish to leave more to recognize exceptional service, a few Euro or 5%-10% could be also left for the server. It is common to leave 10 or 15 cents when having coffee or snacks. It is common to round up to the closest Euro or tip your Taxi Driver 1-2 Euro if you thought they were friendly.

You do not have to tip your porter or hotel staff. Hotel cleaning staff will appreciate a tip of around 1 Euro each day.

Identification

It is recommended that you carry your government issued identification with you at all times.

Language

Barcelona is in the heart of Catalonya. The 2 main languages are Spanish and Catalan. You will likely find people who speak English in the center of Barcelona and in areas that cater to tourists.

Liquor Laws

The legal drinking age in Spain is 18, however in some areas it is 16. Wine is widely offered and considered a typical drink with your meal. It is forbidden to drink alcohol on the street, even though you will see vendors selling beer in the streets. 

Lodging Tax

Hotels charge a 10% lodging tax. It should be clearly marked on your hotel bill.

Metric Conversion

Spain uses the metric system. Visitors find weather temperature reports given in Celsius degrees, gasoline sold by the litre, grocery items in grams and kilograms, and road speeds posted in kilometres per hour.

Money

Legal tender is the Euro, which divides into 100 cents. Bills come in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. The coins in use are of the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, as well as 1 and 2 Euro coins.

Banks and Caisses Populaires (Credit Unions)

The normal bank opening hour in Spain is 08.30 Monday through Friday. Banks then stay open until 14.00 or 14.30 and close for the day. Some banks will stay late during on week night and open on a Saturday morning during the winter months, October through May. Traveler's cheques are not widely accepted anymore, so it is best to bring cash and an ATM or debit card. These cash machies are readily available all around the city.

Credit Cards

Major credit cards such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted almost everywhere. With the advent of automated teller machines, also called "cashpoints", visitors can do banking through network systems like "Plus", "Circus", "Interac", etc. and enjoy excellent rates of exchange. 

Check with your fnancial institution to see what fees will be charged for transactions omade utside of your home country before you depart. 

No Smoking Regulations

The Non- Smoking Protection Act forbids smoking in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants, as well as public transportation. Smoking is not allowed in the convention centre. 

Shopping Hours

Most businesses, including shopping centres, are open from 10.00 until 20.30 or 21.30 weekdays. Traditional shops open at 10.00 until 14.00 and 16.30 until 20.30 on weekdays.  Typically shopping centres and stores have shorter hours on Saturday and are seldom open on Sunday.

Taxes

The standard tax (IVA or VAT) is 21% in Barcelona.

Time Zone

Barcelona is in the Central European time zone UTC +01.00

Weather

The temperature in May ranges from 12-20 °C (53-68 °F) and the average rainfall in May is 54 mm (2.13 inches).  Spring is typically warm, and clear, sunny skies are normal this time of year.