Thursday, February 9, 2012

Excuse me…. Sir?


Dining in Europe compared to America is almost comical. We’ve all heard the stories about dinning out and to expect a long meal. Long? How about 3 hours or more in some cases.  First of all, rarely can you find a drive through restaurant. Of course, this is not a bad thing. But it does require a little planning unless you have the time to devote an entire evening to a meal.
I’ve discovered that if I use my favorite word from one of our beloved American Presidents, life is a little easier. Strategery.

When walking into the restaurant make eye contact with the person avoiding you and let them know you would like to sit down AND have a menu. The second is not always a given.
Ask the waitress for bottled water for the table. Yes, we know this will cost extra but we are anticipating being left alone for hours at a time parched and dehydrated. (if you get desperate you can always sneak your glass into the bathroom to fill a glass from the sink. No I’ve never done this, but I hear it’s done.) Oh and if they don’t tell you… blue…. Still water… red… disgusting.
Be prepared to flag the waitress down to take your order. They are paid a normal rate, not like in America. They don’t care if their table turns over. Thus, the reason tipping is so low.
Once your meal is over, be prepared to order dessert or get your game face on to ask for the bill. If you do not, you will literally fall out of your chair trying to flag them down.
Tipping. I’ve heard so many different policies from people. Get the bill and round up to the next Euro. Get the bill and tip 10% but that is it! Tip? What’s a tip? For me this was a learning process. The first time I tipped, I had had a 5E pizza and left the waitress the change. I figured out later this was somewhere around 7E. I didn’t realize some of those coins were 1’s and 2E a piece. One time, I tipped 20% and the waiter told me it was way too much and made me take some money back. I now tip 10-15% if the service is ok. I still tip 20% for great service. Some American habits are hard to break.
It may be a long and exhausting time out for dinner but who the heck cares! You’re dinning in Europe!

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