In Barcelona, and throughout Catalonia, there are two official languages: Catalan, the language of the Catalans, and Spanish, the official language of Spain. As in most European countries and also in Catalonia, GMT is the time system used in Barcelona. Clocks are one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two in summer and are adjusted twice a year, going forward one hour in winter and back an hour in summer.
Spain is in the Eurozone and the euro is its official currency. Foreign currency can be exchanged at savings banks, or ‘Caixes’ (the opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 2pm. Thursday afternoons, 4.30pm to 7.45pm, except June to September) and banks (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 2pm and Saturday, 8.30am to 1pm, except summer). Bureaux de change also open every day in Barcelona city centre, and at the main railway stations and the Estació del Nord bus station and at the Airport, where they have longer opening hours.
The working day in Barcelona usually begins at 8 or 9 in the morning and ends around 6 or 7 in the evening, with a one- or two-hour break for lunch at 2pm. This is the daily life and routine that befits the Catalans’ reputation in the rest of Spain as a hard-working and thrifty people.
Lunch and dinner are usually eaten a little later than in the rest of Europe. Most restaurants open from 1pm to 4pm, and from 8pm until 11pm. Tipping isn’t obligatory, but people usually leave 5% if they are satisfied with the service.
Shops have long opening hours, from 10am to 2pm and from 4.30 to 8 or 8.30pm. In Barcelona city centre, most shops don’t close at lunchtime and large shopping centres and department stores open until 10pm in summer.
With regard to prices, Barcelona features a wide range of accommodation, shops and services to suit all pockets. Here are some approximate prices in Barcelona: a single public transport ticket costs 2€, an espresso coffee between 1 and 1.50€; a lunchtime set menu can cost between 8 and 15€, a cinema ticket 10€; a sandwich 3 to 4€, and a newspaper about 1.30€. Smoking is prohibited in all bars and restaurants in Barcelona.
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