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View Full Version : Pub Etiquette in foreign countries



Spinko
21-12-2011, 18:39
I've just planned a trip back to Brussels and it reminded me of my last visit. I went to the famous Delirium Cafe with a friend and sat at the bar, having around 8 or 9 bottles from all over the world. Of course, you don't pay on each round like you do here. However at the end of the sesison they asked us what we had had :o Well I could reember the last 3, and knew I'd had another 3 more, but they were all different ones and my friend had had different ones too, so there was no chance I could remember all of them. I think we just said we'd had 12 and the barman tried to figure it all out. I think we paid for about two-thirds of what we had, looking back.

Belgian pub etiquette is the most difficult to fathom. Some you sit down and wait to be served, and others you can go to the bar..where sometimes you may be asked to pay and sometimes you may get a tab started.

All very bizarre!

Rex_Rattus
21-12-2011, 22:14
It's very unusual for bar staff not to keep count of what they've served, but it does happen. I remember being on a Club 18-30 holiday (it was some years ago!) somewhere in Greece where a number of us were camped in a bar all evening, with people joining and leaving all evening, leaving cash to pay for their share of the drinks. At the end of the evening the barman asked those of us remaining what we had had, apparently seriously expecting us to remember. I guess that between us we must have had well over a hundred drinks! He got a fair bit of money, but I'm sure it can't have been the right amount. I've drunk in bars all over the world, and my default is to sit down, wait and see what happens but keep my eyes open to see what is going on.

I still occasionally see tourists in London sit down in a pub and wonder why no-one is coming over to take their drinks order. I always tell them when I see it happening, but it irks me when I see bar staff that can't be arsed to walk over to overseas customers to tell them the drill.

gillhalfpint
21-12-2011, 22:55
We have started going over to Belgium quite a bit these days, and my worry is that I might get up and leave a bar forgetting to pay. I like the practice of getting a chitty with each round that happens in most of the bars as that is a good reminder. If I don't get one, I tend to keep a bit of paper with my own tally on. I need something to remind me to pay.

If I order beers at the bar, they tend to bring them over, and I rarely pay for drinks as I order them. The practice seems more to pay when you finish.

Off to Belgium for Xmas so may not be around on here as my phone won't accept my password to let me onto the forums.

Strongers
21-12-2011, 22:57
Some time ago I was told that there was no service at the bar in here (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/23752/) and to get a drink I had to find a table and wait for a waitress. I waited for almost two minutes before being asked to leave for pointing out the stupidity of two rushed off their feet waitresses slaving away whilst the barmen stood chatting. I’ve had no such problem in continental Europe as my backside hasn't normally hit the chair before being asked to leave.

AlanH
22-12-2011, 03:04
I went into a German pub. There were people at every table but some with free spaces. I didn't know if it was like an English pub where you would politely ask if the spaces were free, or an English restaurant where you would stand until a table came free. As virtually everyone were just drinking, I decided it was a pub and went over to a couple and said "ist hier frei?" She was most upset and said "Nein! Nein! Nein!" waving her hands about. I tried a man sitting on his own reading a paper who just glanced up and said "Ya". As soon as we sat down and ordered, the couple at the other table left!
So I am still not sure of the etiquette in this type of place.

In Belgium we were sat drinking in a pavement bar at about 1.30am, when various other people came into the bar only to be told "sorry, closed". We thought "last orders" has gone so we would be leaving when we had finished our drink, only for us and the other half dozen in the bar to be asked if we wanted more to drink. We were the first to leave about 2.45. I still don't understand these bar rules either.

Farway
22-12-2011, 14:03
No experience of continental bars, unless you include Isle of Wight, but I like the US [Florida] system, sit at bar, plonk money on counter, order drink, barman / woman takes the cash as you order from the counter dosh

Only Florida experience, maybe vastly different in say Texas, perhaps they shoot you if you get up to leave?

hondo
22-12-2011, 14:33
tipping :eek: can be an issue as well :confused:
685 ;)

NickDavies
22-12-2011, 16:51
I still occasionally see tourists in London sit down in a pub and wonder why no-one is coming over to take their drinks order. I always tell them when I see it happening, but it irks me when I see bar staff that can't be arsed to walk over to overseas customers to tell them the drill.

On the other hand much amusement can be had in countries like Italy when a group of (usually) Brits go into a place and acquire a round of drinks, then wonder why someone chases after them gesticulating wildly when they try to take them to sit at the tables outside. The Italians think they're trying to avoid paying about three times the price to sit outside. I doubt it ever crosses the Brits' minds that that is how it works.

ROBCamra
22-12-2011, 19:44
I like the US [Florida] system, sit at bar, plonk money on counter, order drink, barman / woman takes the cash as you order from the counter dosh

Only Florida experience, maybe vastly different in say Texas, perhaps they shoot you if you get up to leave?

That's how they do it in New York and Toronto as well. But they don't in San Francisco, Seattle or Vancouver for example.

See what others are doing is the key. Or getting a good guide book is another idea as many of them mention the local customs.

My favourite line in a guide book was about Paris Casino in Las Vegas.

They said it was "Just like the real thing. Overpriced and full of Americans". :D

It was too.

Old Blue
23-12-2011, 11:54
tipping :eek: can be an issue as well :confused:
685 ;)

I often get confused about tipping when abroad. Once propping up a bar the USA I forgot it completely. The young barman eventually asked "Am I doing something wrong sir? Only I've served you three drinks so far and you haven't tipped me at all". Obviously I apologised profusely for my mistake, and I mentioned that in the UK when we appreciate our bar staff, what we do is buy them a drink, so I bought him a drink. He thought this was such a nice idea that he bought me a drink back later, thereby leaving himself with no sort of tip at all!

Strongers
23-12-2011, 13:31
Whilst traveling up through Italy some years ago I soon figured out never to order anything without seeing a menu. 500% mark up for the dumb tourists. I suppose it is the same in London for the unsuspecting.

Al 10000
23-12-2011, 14:33
I have always hit problems when drinking anywhere but England or Wales.

When we went in a bar in Holland me and my mate were asked if we wanted to have a tab this sounded a good idea at the time but 7 hours later when we were half pissed and we got a very large bar bill it spoilt our session having to shell out a load of money.

When in Glasgow with my wife we went in what looked like a normal pub in the city centre,the pub was empty and i went to the bar and asked for a pint and half of heavy only to be told to take a seat and order which i did'nt take to kindly too,after a bit of an argument we went and sat down the bloke behind the bar followed us and then said what would you like to drink i said i have just f ing asked you at the bar have you got a short memory.
He did'nt look that chuffed with us.

When in a grotty back street bar in the hague which was run by Turkish people for Turkish people me and my mate hit big problems after drinking in there for about 8 hours.
The morning statred ok got in bar about 7.00 Sunday morning and ordered two heinekens these came in bottles ouf of a fridge there were no draught beers here.
After two drinks the bar chap said you stay drinks will be cheaper so we stayed and started going for it in a big way,our large round table was full of empty bottles which they then took away and we then filled it up again.
I was all going well untill about 2.00 in the afternoon when all the Turkish people who were in the pub started to give us funny stares,we did'nt know why untill we tried to order some more drinks and we were told no beer here,the local Turks were blameing us for drinking the bar dry so we had to make a quick getaway as they were getting more angry by the minute.

I hav'nt been abroad for years and it is probably a good job i dont.

Spinko
23-12-2011, 20:37
Dunno what's been happening on all your visits but as a Real Ale Lout i think I will be taking a very steady head to the continent. Mamma mia. Foie gras no more