The Europeans LOVE to eat out and be social. You can simply sit over a cup of tea or coffee for a few hours and just chat away without feeling as though any of the staff are trying to rush you out the door. Get used to having to signal someone for the bill when you want to leave!
If you don’t want the bread, don’t touch it! Or kindly ask before they can even place it on your table that you would like none. This was a trap I got sucked into A LOT. At home (in Australia) bread is a given thing. Go to any fancy restaurant and they will give you bread for free. So it’s a no brainer. You see bread sitting on the table and without hesitation you munch away. In Europe, you pay for it.
Whether you ask for bottled, sparkling or tap water, they will charge you for it. Yes, even tap water. To avoid this, I normally carry bottled water around with me everywhere.
It does help to have a fair idea of what you feel like eating before you actually get hungry and bombarded with food options! If you are in major cities, there are restaurants in every direction and particularly in the busier parts, be prepared for restaurants trying to lure you with their menu’s and cheap deals.
If no prices are posted, be wary. This can be an easy way to rip tourists off. Assume any market, restaurant or bar with no printed prices has a double price standard. One for locals and a more expensive one for tourists.
If you are dining with a group of people, don’t expect to be able to split bills. It is probably a wise idea to make sure you have got a little bit of cash with you if you know you will be eating out.
When in Italy, don’t expect fast service as opposed to other European countries. It does depend on where you are and what you have ordered but in some instances, the service is a lot slower so just be prepared to wait.
Language barrier can be an issue at times, but it never hurts anyone to have a go and try speaking in the language of the country you are in…please and thankyou’s can go along way! And even if you get it wrong, least you tired! And they will appreciate your efforts.
Again, with the food barrier, if you have any food allergies, write it down in all the different languages of countries you will be heading to and have this piece of paper/notebook with you at all times. Will make life so much easier. No more awkward sign language or attempts of a language you have no idea of!
While in Australia, there’s about a billion anti smoking campaigns and smoking free zones in more places than there are not, Europe is very different. If you are a non smoker, get used to having smokers light up around you.