Barcelona has transformed itself into one of the most dynamic and stylish cities in the world. All year-round the city sizzles - it's always on the biting edge of architecture, food, fashion, style, music and good times.
The buildings, many the work of the eccentric genius Gaudí, will blow you away. The art, with significant collections by Picasso and Miró, will make you clammy all over. The people, with their exuberance, their duende, their persistent egalitarianism, will fascinate you.
Barcelona's enviable position between the mountains and the sea ensures year-round outdoor fun. It is a city that is inconceivable until you get there unbelievable while you walk its streets and unforgettable after you've gone - if you ever manage to tear yourself away.
For thousands of years Spain has been one of the cultural centres of Europe. It has many beautiful cities and towns, offering thousands of monuments as well as a tremendous mix of architecture. Its various regions are all vary from one to the next by cultural, language, geographically, climatically and even in personality differences.
Spain is about life, music, and “Carpe Diem” to seize the day. In each region of the country you will find many different versions of this philosophy being played out.
That is the one unique thread that holds the Spaniards together and why Spain is such an enjoyable country to travel in.
Spain is a land of legends, unusual tales which often mix historical fact and fiction, whose origins date way back.
The season of festivals and fiestas is revving up to full throttle, from streets carpeted in flowers to films-by-the-sea, from the running of the bulls to concerts and ballet in the gardens of the caliphs. Paella and sangría are world-famous, but we want you to know about an evolving cuisine whose contemporary practitioners are as daring and celebrated as any on the planet. You’ve heard about the eye-popping Guggenheim Museum that has transformed Bilbao, but let us tell you about Gaudí and the modernist architects who made Barcelona as visually arresting a city as any in Europe. The capital, Madrid, has over fifty museums and a palace with 2,600 rooms. Spain has tropical islands, hidden hill towns, Roman cities and mountains have snow past spring.
Climate and Clothing
Barcelona’s location on the shores of the Mediterranean means it enjoys a warm welcoming climate, with pleasant temperatures all the year round. It has five kilometres of beaches with every amenity, which are used by Barcelona’s inhabitant all the yare round, and an Olympic marina which meets all the requisites in order to enjoy nautical sports throughout the year. Barcelona enjoys sunshine during all the seasons of the year. You can eat at open air restaurants or enjoy a drink at any its pavement cafés, always on the Mediterranean.
For international calls to Spain, dial the international code +34 and the correspondent’s number (without the 0).
Credit cards / Cash machines
All major credit cards are accepted widely, but not everywhere. If in doubt, ask in advance. Cash-on-card services are available from selected American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and VisaCard addresses. These cards are also accepted by all GWK currency exchange outlets and Change Express Offices.
The local currency is the Euro (EUR). 1€ =100 cents
There are no limitations on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into the country..
Please consult Official Aena Website: http://www.aena-aeropuertos.es/csee/Satellite/aeropuertos/en/Page/1208353368464/
The voltage in Spain is 220 volts. Hotels may have a 110-volt or 120-volt outlet for shavers, but travellers are advised to bring a power converter and an adapter for two-prong, round-prong plugs with side grounding.
For all emergencies, please dial 112.
Spanish is the national language of Spain. The official congress language will be English but some sessions will be translated into Spanish (see final programme).
The subway is the easiest and fastest way of moving around the city. Barcelona has got 2 different systems, the subway with its 5 lines and the FCG , with 2 lines in Barcelona and 4 more lines going to nearby towns.
The bus is certainly a slower transportation but it allows you to enjoy the city views while moving around.
Barcelona is not quite a safe city and beware of pickpockets! As always, do not leave valuable items in your car or in a cloakroom, and watch your bag in crowded places. Most shops and all major taxi companies accept credit cards, so there is no need to carry a lot of cash.
The most common business hours are Monday through Saturday, from 9.30 h to 13.30 h and from 16.30 to 20.00 h.
Big shopping centres and department stores open from 10.00 h to 21.00 or 22.00 h uninterruptedly. These big stores open sometimes on Sunday.
In coastal cities, in high season, shops are usually open passed 22.00 h.
Pharmacies open from 9.30 to 13.30 h and from 16.30 to 20.00 h. In all major cities you can find pharmacies that open 24 hours. Pharmacies follow a rolling late-hour schedule, which is published in the newspapers, and is posted at all pharmacies..
Black and yellow taxi cabs show a green light when free. Just wave your hand to call them. The meter (it is compulsory to use them) will indicate the price to pay, but an extra fee is charged when taking it at the airport or when you carry luggage with you, etc. Prices are shown on a sticker inside the cab.
Tel: +34 93 225 0000
Tel: +34 93 433 1020
Tel: +34 93 357 7755
Tel: +34 93 300 2314
Tel: +34 93 300 1100
Tel: +34 93 303 3033
Tel: +34 93 284 8888
Tel: +34 93 330 0300
Tel: +34 93 339 9262
Taxis are an affordable alternative to public transport. A 15 minutes journey will only cost about EUR 10,–. Licensed Taxis have to charge you the amount displayed on the meter. However if you are carrying extra luggage there may be a small surcharge. Rates will be displayed inside the cab.
Tipping is welcomed but not required. If you wish to give a tip give 5 to 10% of the taxi fare.
Barcelona follows Central European Time (CET) which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). At the time of the Conference, summer daylight saving will be in operation which is two hours ahead of GMT.
In Spain, Value Added Tax and service charges are included in your check in hotels, shops, restaurants and taxis. Tipping for extra service is always appreciated but not necessary. It is customary to give taxi drivers and waiters a tip of about 10%.
Many public restrooms have an attendant who is usually tipped EUR 0.50.
A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is recommended. The Organising Secretariat as well as ESPEN will not be held liable for illness, accidents or thefts suffered by Participants or Accompanying Persons during the Congress or their stay in Spain before, during or after the Congress. Participants are strongly recommended to seek insurance coverage for health and accident, lost luggage and trip cancellation.
Not many people know if you live outside the European Union and come to Spain for a visit you can enjoy Tax Free shopping. This amounts to a saving of 18% off the price of any items purchased while on holiday in Spain where the total bill exceeds € 90.15. But the service is only applicable to items that you intend to take back with you to your country. The tax saving however is not applicable to restaurants or hotel bills or food items as these items are not seen as exportable but rather a consumable.
When a European citizen buys any goods within the EU they pay an automatic tax called VAT (which stands for Value Added Tax otherwise known as IVA in Spain) This tax is invisible to the customer they simply pay the price of the item that is displayed in the shops. However all items have a VAT component which amounts to 18% in Spain excluding food items, books and optics which have a 7% VAT tax rate. The shops then pay the government back this VAT every quarter when they do their accounts - It's a round about way for the government to claim additional taxes from the people without them knowing about it!
How to claim the TAX back
When you arrive at the airport you must present you tax refund cheques at customs BEFORE you check your bags in. Customs may request to check the items before they stamp your cheques. Once your cheques have been stamped by customs you can cash your cheques at any Bureau de Change in your chosen currency.
Spain is part of the European Union. Many visitors can enter the EU countries without a visa. A valid passport is all you need to enter Spain. Check with the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your own country whether you need a visa. They also have the necessary forms you have to complete.
Foreign Embassies in Spain, and Spanish Embassies abroad, at your service: