Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eight No Nos When Traveling in Spain

Just a couple of days ago my friend and I were trying to find the pizza joint that we had made a reservation at when we turned to a street and my heart suddenly dropped. “Oh my god, this can’t be the place where we’re having pizza, this is the tourist trap street!!” I said panicking. To much of my relief, the pizza place wasn't on there and we had just made an early turn. But looking at the tourist ally, with all of the waiters trying to fish you into the restaurant, the big, obnoxious signs yelling out “authentic tapas,” I just felt like I had to run for the hills…or just make a blog post on what NOT to do when visiting Spain.
1. Don’t get impatient, or at least don’t show it. In Spain people like to take things a little slower, especially when doing leisurely activities like going out to eat or waiting in line at a store. Efficiency isn’t very much on the top of their list and travelers visiting Spain have to be aware of that. Be prepared to wait in long lines at the grocery store, Zara, or changing rooms and don’t nag about how there’s only one person in the cashier, it’s customary here ;)

Be prepared to wait long lines in delicious places like La Campana- great place to go to for a classic calamari sandwich!
2. Don’t get mad at your waiter. The waiter isn’t being rude when he or she doesn’t ask how everything is going every 2 minutes or if they don’t immediately send you your check after having a meal. This is normal- usually waiters here are in charge of 20 tables so they either a) don’t have the time to check up on you or b) they aren’t taught by the restaurant…it’s ok though! Plus, having the waiter bring the check immediately after eating is considered rude here in Spain. Eating out is much slower paced than eating back in the states, so bringing the check right after eating basically translates into the waiter saying “you can get the f out now.”

The waiter does his thing and you do your own- it's chill.
3. Don’t be surprised to see people out on Sundays all day. “What? People aren’t in their house getting ready for the week?” Domingos, or Sundays, are known to be spent in a leisurely manner with friends and family. Whether you’re planning to go to the park for a picnic or tapa hopping, be prepared to be surrounded by locals, especially if it’s a sunny day. 

Beautiful day for a stroll in Parc Guell? You're not the only one thinking the same thing!
4. Ignore by all costs restaurants with tacky pictures of food and/or a waiter calling to you to come in. Like a lot of places I’ve visited in Europe, this concept also applies to Spain. No matter how convincing the waiter might seem or how delicious the food might look in the picture, watch out because this is a reg flag tourist trap. The food’s not good, the waiters are probably not as nice as they seem, and you will 100% regret it. I stupidly fell victim to this when I went to Barcelona and had “paella” near the Barceloneta…. I’ll probably never forgive myself for that. 

Avoid restaurants in La Plaza Mayor-unless you're getting a bocadillo de calamares, don't eat here!
5. Don’t drink Sangria. This is a very common move a lot of travelers make when coming into Spain. I think there is more sangria offered in restaurants in the US than in actual Spain since Spaniards don’t actually drink it. Instead, have a tinto de verano, a much more authentic, yet still refreshing drink you can easily have with any meal.

Pass me the tinto de verano, por favor!
6. Don’t expect everyone to know English. Normally people working in touristy areas will know the most basic level of English, but if you want to venture off the beaten path (which I highly recommend), you’re going to know at least basic Spanish, especially when ordering at a restaurant. 
7. Don’t expect to get free water and bread. Most places back in the states offer complementary bread and water which is not the case here. Depending on the restaurant, they might charge you one or two euros per person for the bread and silverware which they will label on the receipt as “servicio de mesa.” As for water very few places offer aqua del grifo, or tap water which means you’ll have to end up getting a bottle to share.

Bottled water is customary to wash down these amazing patatas bravas at Ovejas Negras in Seville!
8. Don’t tip the normal 15%-20% unless you really want to. Waiters here make a solid salary unlike the waiters back in the US where they make 2 dollars an hour and solely rely on tips. Typically what people do if they have change leftover and they enjoyed the service is pitch in 1-5 euros depending on the price/the number of the party.  

Do you have any don'ts that aren't listed above? Comment below! 


  1. Wow... This is really helpful for those who are willing to have a trip to Spain. But you must take care of your passport photo it has to be pretty noticeable that help you to identify.

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