MEALTIME PROCEDURES

We'll have a variety of dining scenarios, from boxed lunches to nice restaurants and more.

"Group Dinners," "Group Lunches," Boxed or Bagged Meals, and food on the airlines are included in your tour package.

"On your own" or "go find lunch" are meals you're responsible for.   Other snacks & treats you want along the way are on you.


Restaurants:

The Cumberland (London), Le Solferino (Paris), La Manifattura (Paris), Drei Rosen (near Dachau), Gastein Alm (Bad Hofgastein):

These are nicer establishments with table service.  Menus are fixed already, including for those who registered dietary needs when you signed up for the trip.  There will be plain water on the tables that is unlimited.  Other beverages will be purchased through your server.  You should know that "free refills" aren't a thing in Europe (except for the table water).  If you order a second soda, for example (which is fine), you'll buy it  You will be expected to pay (cash) the server when they bring the drink - they don't keep a list of who had what.  Costs aren't outrageous, though.  Perhaps a euro or two - but they won't take the time to process credit/debit cards.

Table service means that we'll have use of specified tables in the restaurant.  You may sit wherever there is an available seat within our section.  They will wait until everyone is seated before taking drink orders and bringing out the various courses.  You'll receive instructions specific to each location, but in general, when everyone has finished the dessert course, we'll all leave together - in a quiet, orderly fashion.

Getting "seconds" in your meal is not a thing.  If you're still hungry after the provided meal, you may certainly grab some snacks after we leave.  Or perhaps someone near you doesn't want something on their plate...

We will exhibit good table manners.  European culture is such that sit-down meals are intentionally slow.  You'll need to be patient if you get restless.  Take your time eating, and enjoy the cuisine.  Conversations will naturally tend to get louder to be heard over nearby conversations, especially when all of the diners are excited to share news of the day and make plans for what's to come.  Help each other remember to hold the noise down and talk in a conversational (not loud) volume.  

Gratuities (tips) for the restaurant staff are already paid.  Don't add a tip on top of the one they're already getting.  Generally, tipping is viewed much differently in Europe.  Servers earn a real wage, so they're not dependent on tips to make a living.  When you're out on your own for a seated meal, check the bill (we call it a ticket).  If a "service charge" is on there, that's the gratuity.  No need to leave more.  If nothing is already added, a 10% tip is generous.


** Notice when you're eating on your own in restaurants, the servers never take your credit card from the table.  They'll bring a reader to you.  If you're paying in cash, your server will have a thick wallet to make change for you.  (Remember that the smallest folding money in each country is a 5 - £5, €5, CHF5. There are a lot of coins in play.  You'll have quite a collection!)

** Unlike the US, whatever price is listed on a menu (or on a price tag in a store) is actually the price you'll pay.  They don't add tax on top of your purchase.  You'll wonder why we don't do that here at home.  You'll notice, though, that meals don't automatically come with side dishes unless specified in the menu; you may have to order them "a la carte."  (Meaning you'll pay for each choice individually.)

When you're out on your own, check the menu that's almost always displayed near the front door.  Make sure everyone can afford to eat there before going in.  There are exceptions, especially in smaller places accustomed to serving Ambassador students, but generally, asking for "separate checks" is frowned upon.  Discuss with your group how you want to settle up.  We suggest if it's doable, one person pay for the meal on their card, and everyone pay that person cash.  OR, everyone can chip in their cash and pay that way, but you'll not be popular if you ask the waiter to run multiple cards.  

Whatever you work out is up to you, but don't put each other in the position of owing each other money.  If someone covers your purchase, be sure to pay them back as soon as possible.  When you're budgeting your trip, loaning and borrowing money can make things awkward.  Just take care of things right away - don't let things pile up or take much time.  


** REMEMBER that sitting down to eat is going to cost more than just picking up take away.  (To go food)  Several establishments even have a walk-up window for those who don't want to be seated.  A reminder - sit-down meals in Europe are meant to progress slowly.  Get used to that idea before we go so you don't rudely hurry your server along.

A final thought about eating in restaurants, pubs, bistros, cafés, etc. - once we leave the UK, menus will be in French and/or German, and sometimes Italian.  In the places we'll be, there will usually be an English translation as well, though it might not always make sense.  It's totally acceptable to ask your server to help you understand what you're ordering.  Otherwise, you might have a culinary adventure when whatever you actually ordered comes out!   Most of the servers in these places have at least a pretty good grasp of English.  However, be prepared to speak slowly if you find communication is challenging.   It's worth remembering that YOU are the foreigner.


BREAKFASTS are at your hotel or inn.  The morning meal is more relaxed, and you can come anytime before it's time to be somewhere else.


HOTEL DINNERS run in a similar fashion, but there is a time everyone is expected to be seated.  The menu has already been chosen, so you'll just wait on the servers to bring you the various parts of your meal.  Just like in restaurants, beverages other than the water on the table are not included.  Remember that you'll pay your server as they bring your drink (see above).

There are a few times we'll have BOXED LUNCHESYou'll be instructed on those days to swing by on your way to the coach and pick yours up.  Unless we tell you otherwise, though, save it for the designated meal time that's coming.   *Those who registered dietary needs will have specially made boxes.  Make sure you get what's been set aside for you.  If you didn't register dietary needs, don't pick up the boxes packed for those people.   

Boxed lunches will be eaten outdoors.  Plan ahead to leave no trace of litter when you get up to go somewhere else!  Use the trash/rubbish receptacles, even if they happen to be too many inconvenient steps out of your way.