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Banks & ATMs -- You can usually find a bank—or at least an ATM—wherever crowds gather in Barcelona, especially in shopping districts and around major Metro stations. Most permit cash withdrawals via MC or V, and many are linked into international networks that will let you access your home bank account. Most offer a choice of language, almost always including English. The most prominent banks with large ATM networks in Barcelona are La Caixa and Banco Santander. Major overseas banks with a presence include Deutsche Bank and Citibank. Note that most Spanish ATMs only accept 4-digit PINs, so if you have a longer PIN, change it at least a week before departure. Many banks now have “dynamic currency conversion,” which means the bank will offer to charge your withdrawal in dollars rather than euros. The exchange rate is even worse than the one your bank at home will give you, so always answer “NO” and ask to be charged in euros. With the proliferation of ATM networks, cash exchanges are uncommon and should be avoided as they usually offer poor exchange rates and/or high service charges.

Business Hours -- Opening hours are in flux in Barcelona. The lunch break is vanishing faster here than in the rest of Spain, but expect small shops and some old-fashioned places to open at 10a.m, close 2–5pm for lunch, and open again 5–8:30pm. Other businesses stay open through the midday.

Consulates -- National embassies are all located in Madrid, but some consular offices are found in Barcelona. The U.S. Consulate, Carrer Reina Elisenda, 23 (tel. 93-280-22-27; train: Reina Elisenda), is open Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm. The Canadian Consulate, Plaça de Catalunya, 9 (tel. 93-412-72-36; Metro: Plaça de Catalunya), is open Monday to Friday 9am to 12:30pm. The U.K. Consulate, Avinguda Diagonal, 477 (tel. 93-366-62-00; Metro: Hospital Clínic), is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 1:30pm. Australia and New Zealand have honorary consuls in Barcelona.

Doctors & Dentists -- Barcelona has many hospitals and clinics, including Clínic Barcelona (tel. 93-227-54-00; www.hospitalclinic.org) and Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, at the intersection of Carrer Cartagena and Carrer Sant Antoni María Claret (tel. 93-291-90-00; Metro: Hospital de Sant Pau). For dental needs, contact Clínica Dental Barcelona, Passeig de Gràcia, 97 (tel. 93-487-83-29; Metro: Diagonal), open daily 9am to midnight.

Emergencies -- Call tel. 112 for general emergencies. To report a fire, call tel. 080; to call an ambulance, tel. 061; to call the police, tel. 088.

Internet Access -- Most lodgings offer free Wi-Fi access, at least in public areas, if you have your own laptop, tablet, phone, or other device. Typically, bandwidth on free hotel Wi-Fi is good enough to surf the web, use email, look up maps, and sometimes even make VOIP phone calls. It is not adequate for streaming video or music. Some hotels give away basic Wi-Fi but charge for faster access. Somewhat slower free Wi-Fi access is usually available in cafes and some stores. The city government also provides free Wi-Fi at 109 hotspots in L'Eixample and 61 spots in the old city. You will have to sign up for a free account to use it, however, and it is limited by intention to minimal service to “respect the marketplace.” Buses and some Metro lines also have free Wi-Fi. If you are planning to use a phone or tablet, download the GOWEX Free Wi-Fi app (iOS or Android). With the proliferation of free hotspots, Internet cafes are vanishing—usually they are coupled with long-distance phone services in immigrant neighborhoods. Expect to pay 2€ to 4€ per hour.

Language -- Catalunya has two official languages: Catalan and Castilian Spanish. Catalan (Catalá in its own language) takes precedence for signage, television and radio, and most publications. As a romance language, it resembles both Spanish and French. Indeed, most Spanish speakers read Catalan with little difficulty and the languages can sound very much alike. Note, for example, that a Catalan word ending in an accented vowel is pronounced as if there were a nasal “n” at the end. English is widely spoken in the tourism sector, although you might be better off resorting to your high school or college Spanish once you step away from the bright lights. Many Barcelona websites offer pages in English.

Mail & Postage -- The main post office is at Plaça d’Antoni López (tel. 93-486-80-50; www.correos.es; Metro: Jaume I). It’s open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 9:30pm and Saturday 8:30am to 2pm for sending letters and telegrams. Sending a postcard or letter to the U.S. starts at 0.90€. To calculate the price, visit http://correos.es. You can also buy stamps at any place that sells tobacco.

Newspapers & Magazines -- The Paris-based “International New York Times” (formerly the “International Herald Tribune”) is sold at most newsstands in the tourist districts, as are “USA Today” and European editions of “Time” and “Newsweek.” British papers abound on the same newsstands. Barcelona’s own leading daily newspapers, which often list cultural events, are “El Periódico” and “La Vanguardia.”

Pharmacies -- Farmacia Montserrat, Les Rambles, 118 (tel. 93-302-43-45; Metro: Liceu), is the most centrally located. It’s open daily 9am to 8pm. Pharmacies take turns staying open late at night. Those that aren’t open post the names and addresses of pharmacies in the area that are.

Safety -- Barcelona is a big city with many disoriented tourists paying scant attention to their belongings. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers treat the unwary like the weak antelopes straggling at the back of the herd. Don't be one of them. Be careful with cameras, purses, and wallets wherever there are crowds, especially on Les Rambles.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.