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Old 06-25-2016, 03:48 PM   #61
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Yeah, DH ordered steak tartare in Paris and they didn't even cook it! ;-)
LOL!
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Old 06-25-2016, 05:20 PM   #62
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Good to know. Do they typically have waitstaff or is it more commonly counter service?
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Waitstaff.

One of the really cool things about Europe is you never need to worry about finding someplace to eat or drink. Restaurants, cafes, and bars are everywhere, including inside museums. They are for a relaxed stop - no rush. People sit back and chat or people watch or read their paper or personal electronics. To go is really easy too - bakeries, on just about every block, inside train stations no, etc., have a selection of freshly made sandwiches you can grab for the train or for a picnic.
Just an Italy specific tip.

In Italy the neighborhood "bar" is where you go for coffee, pastries, sandwiches. If you sit at a table, they may charge a surcharge. No surcharge if you stand at the counter or take it to go. Off the beaten path - less touristy places, they rarely charge.

In many restaurants (osteria, trattoria, ristorante) there is a table charge. This can range from 1 euro to a few euro. That is basically paying for your seat as long as you want. So if you pick a nice outdoor cafe - and settle in for people watching - you can stay as long as you want. But you'll pay this table charge whether you are there for 10 minutes or 3 hours. As others have mentioned, they won't rush you out, and you'll have to ask for a check. Keep in mind that tipping is much lower (usually a euro or two... )

In some, more touristic places, they might be ruder and bring you your check in hopes you'll vacate your seat and they can get someone new in. That is the exception, however.

I have used McD's as you've described - a place to grab an inexpensive refreshment, get off my feet, use the bathroom, and enjoy the AC. (Apple stores don't have much seating. Although there's a really nice one right in the heart of Aix en Provence.) We haven't really gone there for meals - just a quick hydration/potty break.
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:22 PM   #63
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Just an Italy specific tip.

In Italy the neighborhood "bar" is where you go for coffee, pastries, sandwiches. If you sit at a table, they may charge a surcharge. No surcharge if you stand at the counter or take it to go. Off the beaten path - less touristy places, they rarely charge.

In many restaurants (osteria, trattoria, ristorante) there is a table charge. This can range from 1 euro to a few euro. That is basically paying for your seat as long as you want. So if you pick a nice outdoor cafe - and settle in for people watching - you can stay as long as you want. But you'll pay this table charge whether you are there for 10 minutes or 3 hours. As others have mentioned, they won't rush you out, and you'll have to ask for a check. Keep in mind that tipping is much lower (usually a euro or two... )

In some, more touristic places, they might be ruder and bring you your check in hopes you'll vacate your seat and they can get someone new in. That is the exception, however.

I have used McD's as you've described - a place to grab an inexpensive refreshment, get off my feet, use the bathroom, and enjoy the AC. (Apple stores don't have much seating. Although there's a really nice one right in the heart of Aix en Provence.) We haven't really gone there for meals - just a quick hydration/potty break.
Do they call the table charge something like cubierto? I recall paying that in many places in Argentina/Uruguay. I remember it wasn't much - basically a buck or two USD and was usually offset by the lower tip expected (compared to the 15-20% US tip). That usually included a free basket of bread or some very light appetizer thingy. I guess I wouldn't feel bad about ordering a coffee and sitting for an hour or two, enjoying some bread and some sightseeing.

I like McDs because the table is free, no tip required, no minimum purchase (one of us could spend $1-2 on a small menu item or drink), unlimited bathroom and AC usage, and no rush to leave. It's also anonymous so we can barge in (we're Americans after all), seat ourselves, use the facilities ASAP (big concern w/ a 4 year old), kids can take a nap if necessary.
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:19 PM   #64
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It's called coperto in Italian.

Some McDonalds get packed so I wouldn't depend on always finding a table there.
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Old 06-26-2016, 08:30 AM   #65
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We came across a McDonalds in Toledo, Spain-smack in the middle of the tourist area. The beer was cold, the price was right, the shaded outdoor cafe seating was great, and the restroom was clean.

Met, and spoke with a wonderful older lady who, much to her children's distress, was travelling the world by herself for several months at a time. Her husband had died. He was ex USAF and they had lived all over the world. She gave up her home and travelled. She touched down at one of her children's home for a month or two every four months or so.
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:39 AM   #66
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Met, and spoke with a wonderful older lady who, much to her children's distress, was travelling the world by herself for several months at a time. Her husband had died.
I didn't think this was allowed. Too dangerous and all of that..... Well, you know.... She might be tempted by some young, smooth talking, foreign gigolo....
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Old 06-26-2016, 11:07 AM   #67
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Fuego - as far as the kids and napping - that's one of the reasons we prefer apartments vs hotels. Our experience was that if we went back to a hotel for naps - either the room wasn't made up yet - or the maid was in there making it up.... Didn't matter what time of the day, how late in the afternoon. With apartments you're in charge of making your own bed - so no maids interrupting kids' (or adults') naps. Much nicer when travelling with kids (or husbands who nap.)

We're past the point of kids needing naps - but we still enjoy taking a break from the heat in the afternoon before going out again in the evening.
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Old 06-26-2016, 12:19 PM   #68
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I didn't think this was allowed. Too dangerous and all of that..... Well, you know.... She might be tempted by some young, smooth talking, foreign gigolo....

Perhaps she's counting on it...
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Old 06-26-2016, 03:53 PM   #69
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Would never consider eating at a Mickey D's in Italy (or anywhere else outside the US). When we travel, we prefer to enjoy the local culture and cuisine, vs. a poor example of American fare. That said, if Italians want to allow an iconic American fast food joint next to the Duomo in Florence, I guess it's a free country there too. We'll just slide on by and eat at a local place instead.
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Old 06-26-2016, 05:08 PM   #70
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Fuego - as far as the kids and napping - that's one of the reasons we prefer apartments vs hotels. Our experience was that if we went back to a hotel for naps - either the room wasn't made up yet - or the maid was in there making it up.... Didn't matter what time of the day, how late in the afternoon. With apartments you're in charge of making your own bed - so no maids interrupting kids' (or adults') naps. Much nicer when travelling with kids (or husbands who nap.)

We're past the point of kids needing naps - but we still enjoy taking a break from the heat in the afternoon before going out again in the evening.
We're firmly in the apartment/house rental camp too. Basically anything over 2 nights we usually rent an apartment on airbnb/vrbo or similar. Although where we rent isn't always in the city center (price, noise, and access to amenities like grocery stores and non-tourist restaurants sometimes pushes us out a bit), so sometimes a mid-day nap for the 4 year old helps. And the big kids and adults don't mind some down time either.

I'm with you on the inconvenience of hotels. We'll usually ask to not have maid service if we're just staying for 2 nights. And when we rent, we usually don't opt for the maid service since we've found it inconvenient to have a stranger come in and clean up in the middle of the day and doesn't always match our schedule. One of the villas we rented in Mexico had maid service 20 hours per week (!!). Kind of excessive to have someone in your house 4 days per week for 4-6 hours at a time at least from my perspective. We aren't that dirty.
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