Water, the ADA, and dying of old age.  This is a hodgepodge of things that have happened in restaurants while we have been in Europe.  If you are traveling over here any time soon, you should definitely read this.
Water.  That wonderful ubiquitous liquid in the United States.  Over here, it’s like gold.  I have been over here before and knew this but I got conditioned on always having access to lots of water.  Here’s how it goes down.  In Paris, the way to save money is to say, “I would like a tap water.”  They bring out a bottle that looks like it’s been filled in the back and been chilled in a fridge.  The water was wonderful.  We had it made.  The funny thing is that they pour the water into something I would liken to a glass Dixie Cup.  So I drink the water like a shot, fill it back up, and repeat.  Amsterdam was similar.  We get to Berlin and I, the seasoned traveler that I am, order my precious tap water.  The waitress informs me this is not allowed.  I’m like, “What do you mean?”  She says it isn’t legal for her to give us tap water.  This is about five minutes after I’ve downed about a quart of water back at the loft.  Alarmed, I ask her, “Is Berlin water safe to drink from ze tap?”  She laughs at me and says “Of course.”  Good, I’m not gonna die from German tap water.  To me, it’s more of a money making thing than anything.  They are going to now sell me a bottle of water, “Vis gas or vis no gas.”  We prefer the water vis no gas.  Carbonated water repulses me unless there is Diet Coke (Coca Cola Light outside of the U.S.) in it.  Served in the same glass Dixie Cup though.  Haha.  A one liter bottle of still water costs almost exactly the same as a half liter of wine or beer.  What’s that telling you?  Ha.
The ADA.  The American with Disabilities Act has leveled the field for handicapped people.  Europe not so much.  Over the course of the last few weeks we have seen people carrying other people (babies, handicapped, etc) up stairs everywhere.  One of the deciding factors for a backpack was the fact that there are so many stairs.  If you are in a wheelchair or bring someone that does, getting to the subway, a train or just about anywhere will cause anxiety or could injure that person.  We are talking some of the ancient structures being around a thousand years.  They simply can’t install an elevator.  But it’s amazing that you don’t see the hover around scooters like you do in the U.S.  And most people are thin here.  They walk or take public transportation everywhere.
Dying of old age.  Back to the eating experience.  If you are used to grabbing a quick bite to eat, you have to change your paradigm if you want to sit down and eat over here.  They do have what’s called takeaway food which is quick but I’m talking you want to sit down and rest your feet and want something as simple as a cup of coffee, it may take a half hour or more.  Haha.  Here’s how it goes:
1.  Someone sits us at a table.  Space is a premium so we might be a few inches from someone else.  The host or hostess gives us menus.
2.  They disappear for awhile.  No drink order yet.
3.  They show back up 15 minutes later.  Drink order taken.
4.  They bring us back drinks.
5.  They disappear again.
6.  They come back at some random time and take our food order.
7.  They deliver our food.  So far not too bad.
8.  We finish our meal.  Typically very good.
9.  They are now gone.  And I mean gone gone.  What kind of gone?  Gone.  And even if they aren’t gone, they won’t make eye contact.  We see them waiting on other people but we are dead to them.
10.  We wait.  As much as half an hour later, I finally get some eye contact, make my highly trained sign language for “check please.”  Now we are rolling.  Just gotta pay and we are out of here.  We can see light at the end of the tunnel.
11.  They bring the check.  This is aweome.  Meal almost complete.
12.  We give them our credit card.  The end is near!
13.  See #9 above.  They are gone again.
14.  Sometimes this works to our benefit.  If we have been walking for hours, it gives us an additional foot rest time.  If we are in a hurry, it sucks.  Ha.
These are a few of the things you have to get used to in Europe.  Don’t be scared.  Book that trip.

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