In Catalunya, post offices
are open from 8am to noon and again from 5 to 7.30pm, though the main post office in Barcelona (see "Directory") and big branches in larger towns and resorts have considerably longer hours; check the text for details.
You can have letters sent poste restante (general delivery) to any post office in Spain: they should be addressed (preferably with the surname underlined and in capitals) to Lista de Correos followed by the name of the town and province. To collect, take along your passport and, if you're expecting post, ask the clerk to check under all of your names - letters are often to be found filed under first or middle names. In Barcelona, poste restante letters will go to the main post office. Alternatively, American Express in Barcelona (see "Directory") will hold mail for a month for card and cheque holders.
Outbound post is quite reliable, with letters or cards taking around three to four days to a week to the UK, five days to a week to North America. You can buy stamps at tobacconists (look for the brown-and-yellow tabac sign) as well as at post offices (the postcard rate for Spain is ¬0.24, for Europe ¬0.42 and for North America and beyond ¬0.72). Use the yellow post boxes and put your post in the flap marked províncies i estranger or altres destins . You can also send letters "urgent" - ask at the tabac for the latest price and use the red letter boxes; there's one at the main post office. It's not a particularly reliable service, but is worth a try if you need to speed things up a little.
Spanish public phones work well and have instructions in English; you'll find plenty of cabinas on the street. They accept coins and phonecards, which you can buy in tobacconists - the phones display instructions to help you as you go. Avoid using the old-style green-coloured phones which you'll find in many bars and hotels, their rates are higher and you can't make anything except for a simple coin call. If you have no option then note that with these phones you have to rest the coins in the groove at the top and they'll drop when someone answers (you may have to push a button when the other party picks up). Spanish provincial (and some overseas) dialling codes are displayed in the cabins. The ringing tone is long; engaged is shorter and rapid; the standard Spanish response is ¿diga? (speak), or in Barcelona, a less linguistically committal ¿Si? .
For international calls , you can use any of the modern cabins, paying with either coins or a card, with a credit card , or a charge card issued by your domestic telephone company, whereby all calls made from overseas will automatically be billed to your home account. Contact your home long-distance provider to see if they have an overseas direct-dial service (such as AT&T Direct, Bell Canada Direct or BT Direct) from Spain. They will provide you with a number that you can dial free from cabins and which will connect you directly with one of their operators in your home country. Credit cards are not recommended for local and national calls, since most have a minimum charge which is far more than a normal call is likely to cost. Without a credit card, your cheapest option for international calls are the now ubiquitous locutorios - private phone shops which specialize in overseas connections - which you will find scattered through the old city. If the rates to the country which you want to call are not posted, just ask. You'll then be assigned a cabin to make your calls, and afterwards you pay in cash. If you want to make a reverse-charge call ( cobro revertido ) via the Spanish operator, you'll have to go to a Telefónica office. Avoid making any phone calls from your hotel room, as even local calls will be slapped with a heavy surcharge, and "no charge" calls to international operators may be charged as well.
The most convenient (and cheapest) way to make local and long-distance calls may be by using unidos phonecards, issued by one of Telefónica's new competitors. These rechargeable cards can be purchased at newspaper and tobacco stands and have rates which are much better than Telefónica's. To make a local, national or international call, dial the toll-free number indicated on the card (no coins are necessary) and you can proceed according to English language instructions. In general, international and domestic rates are slightly cheaper after 10pm, and after 2pm on Saturday and all day Sunday.
One of the best ways to keep in touch while travelling is to sign up for a free internet email address that can be accessed from anywhere, for example YahooMail or Hotmail - accessible through and . Once you've set up an account, you can use these sites to pick up and send mail from any internet café, or hotel with internet access.
is a useful website giving details of how to plug your laptop in when abroad, phone country codes around the world, and information about electrical systems in different countries.
We've listed places with internet access in Barcelona.