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Communications: Post, Phones, Internet And Media

 

Post offices ( Correos ) are generally found near the centre of towns and are normally open from 8am to noon and again from 5 to 7.30pm, though big branches in large cities may have considerably longer hours and usually do not close at midday. Except in the cities there's only one post office in each town, and queues can be long: stamps are also sold at tobacconists (look for the brown and yellow Tabac sign).

You can have letters sent poste restante ( Lista de Correos ) to any Spanish post office: 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 mail, ask the clerk to check under all of your names - letters are often to be found filed under first or middle names.

Outbound mail is reasonably reliable, with letters or cards taking around five days to a week to the UK and Europe, a week to ten days to North America, New Zealand and Australia.

Phones
Spanish public phones work well and have instructions in English. If you can't find one, many bars also have pay phones you can use. Cabins and other phones have been adapted to take the new euro currency but you're best off buying a phone card (from a kiosko or tabac ) of ¬6 or ¬12 which avoids hassles finding the right change. All cabins should display instructions in a variety of languages. 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 digáme ("speak to me"), often abbreviated to diga , or the even more laconic si .

For international calls , you can use any street cabin or go to a locutorio , an office where you pay afterwards. Phoning within Spain is cheaper after 6pm and all weekend for metropolitan and inter-provincial calls. International rates are slightly cheaper between midnight and 8am; the reduced rates apply all day on Saturday and Sunday. If you're using a cabin to call abroad and don't use a phone card, you're best off putting at least ¬2 in to ensure a connection.

Email
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 www.yahoo.com and www.hotmail.com . 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.

www.kropka.com 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.

The internet
The internet has made great inroads into Spanish life and access is widely available at internet cafés (more commonly referred to as cibercafés in Spanish), some computer shops and many locutorios . Prices vary; in cities hourly rates can be as little as ¬1.80, rising to around ¬6 in some smaller towns.

Media
Of the Spanish newspapers the best are the centre-left El País and the centre-right El Mundo , both of which have good arts and foreign news coverage, including comprehensive regional "what's on" listings and supplements every weekend. Other national papers include the solidly elitist ABC and Barcelona's nationalist La Vanguardia . The regional press is generally run by local magnates and is predominantly right-wing, though often supporting local autonomy movements. Nationalist press includes Avui in Catalunya, printed largely in Catalan, and the Basque papers El Correo Español del Pueblo Vasco, Deia and Gara , the last a supporter of ETA.

British newspapers and the International Herald Tribune are on sale in most large cities and resorts. There are also various English-language magazines produced by and for the expatriate communities in the main cities and on the costas ; all are of limited interest, though occasionally they carry details of local events and entertainment.

 

Also See:
 
• When To Go
• Red Tape And Visas
• Health
• Costs, Money And Banks
• Getting Around
• Communications: Post, Phones, Internet And Media
• Eating And Drinking
• Gay And Lesbian Travellers
• Spanish Time
• Best Of
• Bullfights
• Books
• Fiestas
• Explore Spain
 


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