Spain is famous for its vibrant and diverse bar culture, where people of all ages and backgrounds gather to socialize, eat, drink, and have fun. Whether you are in a big city or a small town, you will find plenty of bars to suit your taste and mood. However, there are some customs and etiquette that you should know before you go out to bars in Spain, to avoid any awkward or unpleasant situations and to make the most of your experience. In this article, we will share with you some tips and advice on how to behave, what is expected, and what Spaniards would never do when going out to bars. Let’s get started!
## 1. Don’t expect to sit down
One of the first things you will notice when you enter a Spanish bar is that there are not many seats available. Most Spaniards prefer to stand at the bar or around small tables, holding their drinks and tapas in their hands. This is because they like to move around and chat with different people, rather than staying in one spot. Therefore, don’t expect to find a comfortable couch or a cozy booth to sit down and relax. If you do find a seat, be prepared to share it with others or to give it up if someone else needs it more. The only exception is if you are in a restaurant-bar, where you can reserve a table and enjoy a full meal.
## 2. Learn how to order
Ordering drinks and food in a Spanish bar can be a bit confusing for foreigners, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. Here are some basic rules to follow:
- To get the attention of the bartender or waiter, you can say “perdón” (excuse me) or “oiga” (hey), or simply raise your hand. Don’t snap your fingers or shout, as this is considered rude.
- To order a drink, you can say “quiero” (I want) or “ponga” (put) followed by the name of the drink. For example, “quiero una cerveza” (I want a beer) or “ponga un vino tinto” (put a red wine). You can also specify the size of the drink, such as “caña” (small beer), “tubo” (medium beer), or “jarra” (large beer).
- To order tapas, you can say “quiero” or “ponga” followed by the name of the tapa. For example, “quiero unas croquetas” (I want some croquettes) or “ponga una tortilla de patatas” (put a potato omelet). You can also ask for recommendations by saying “qué me recomienda?” (what do you recommend?) or “qué hay de bueno?” (what is good?).
- To pay, you can say “la cuenta, por favor” (the bill, please) or “cuánto es?” (how much is it?). In most bars, you pay at the end of your visit, not after each round. You can either pay at the bar or at the table, depending on the place. Some bars have a system of keeping track of your orders by writing them on a piece of paper or a chalkboard, or by using toothpicks or bottle caps. Make sure you don’t lose or tamper with these items, as they are your proof of payment.
## 3. Enjoy the tapas
Tapas are one of the best things about going out to bars in Spain. They are small portions of any of Spain’s many traditional dishes, such as ham, cheese, olives, potatoes, eggs, seafood, meat, and more. They are usually served on small plates or skewers, and are meant to be shared with your friends. You can either order tapas from the menu, or choose from the ones displayed on the bar or in the glass cases. Some bars also offer a free tapa with each drink you order, which is a great way to sample different flavors and save some money. Tapas are not only delicious, but also a great way to socialize and mingle with other people. You can try different tapas in different bars, or stick to your favorites in one place. The choice is yours!
## 4. Be respectful and friendly
Spaniards are generally very friendly and welcoming people, who love to talk and joke with strangers. However, they also have some rules of respect and courtesy that you should follow when going out to bars. Here are some of them:
- Don’t be loud or obnoxious. Spaniards like to have fun and make noise, but they also know how to moderate their volume and behavior. Don’t shout, laugh, or sing too loudly, or you might annoy or offend other customers or staff. If you want to listen to music or watch a game, go to a bar that has a TV or a jukebox, and don’t impose your preferences on others.
- Don’t be stingy or greedy. Spaniards are very generous and hospitable people, who like to share and offer their drinks and tapas to others. Don’t be afraid to accept or decline their invitations, as they are not expecting anything in return. However, don’t take advantage of their kindness or abuse their generosity. Don’t drink or eat more than your fair share, or expect others to pay for you. If someone treats you to a drink or a tapa, you should reciprocate or thank them.
## 5. Throw your napkins and toothpicks on the floor
If you go to a traditional Spanish bar, you might be surprised by the amount of litter on the floor. This is not a sign of poor hygiene or bad service, but rather a common custom that shows how popular and busy the place is. In fact, some bars even encourage their customers to throw their used napkins and toothpicks on the floor, as a way of complimenting the quality of the tapas. The staff will come around regularly to sweep up the mess, so don’t worry about stepping on anything. Of course, this practice is not acceptable in every bar, especially the more modern or upscale ones, so make sure you observe what others are doing before you join in.
## 6. Have fun and be open-minded
The most important thing to remember when going out to bars in Spain is to have fun and be open-minded. Spain is a country with a rich and diverse culture, history, and geography, and each region, city, and bar has its own unique charm and personality. You will find bars that are modern and trendy, and bars that are old and traditional. You will find bars that specialize in certain drinks or tapas, and bars that offer a variety of options. You will find bars that cater to specific crowds or interests, and bars that welcome everyone. You will find bars that are lively and crowded, and bars that are quiet and cozy.
Whatever your preference or mood, you will find a bar that suits you. The best way to enjoy the Spanish bar culture is to explore and discover different places, meet and talk to different people, and try and taste different things. You will be surprised and delighted by what you will find, and you will have a memorable and authentic experience.
Going out to bars in Spain is more than just drinking and eating. It is a way of life, a social ritual, and a cultural expression. It is a way to connect with others, to celebrate, and to enjoy. If you are interested in Spanish culture and thinking of going to Spain for a language course, you should definitely try going out to bars like a local. You will learn a lot, have a lot of fun, and make a lot of friends. And who knows, you might even find your new favorite drink, tapa, or bar. So, what are you waiting for? ¡Vamos de tapas! (Let’s go for tapas!)
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