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Topics include Dining Scene, Spain: For Foreign Visitors & more!
As with any foreign country, customs and culture will often differ from what travelers are accustomed to. In Seville, and in fact in Spain as a whole, there are a few things that travelers should be aware of before they go in order to make their stay as enjoyable as it can be.
The Spanish do several things that people from other countries, especially Americans, may find strange. In some bars for example, not the nicer ones, people find it perfectly acceptable to throw bits of trash and cigarette butts on the floor. While someone generally comes by and cleans the mess up every so often, the stuff is seen better to be on the floor than on the counter or tables. Another thing that is common in Spain is smoking. Almost everyone seems to smoke and they pretty much ignore no smoking signs, which don't seem to be enforced anyway. Pushing and shoving in line is also commonplace, especially at the train station or while waiting for taxis. Spaniards do not mean it rudely, however, so Americans should not be perturbed.
One of the beloved and admired Spanish traditions is the time schedule. Shops usually open around ten (with the exception of a few coffee shops here and there) then close for a short break during the morning, reopen, and close again from around 2:30-5 for the siesta. The city usually settles down during siesta when school children go back home for lunch, employees go home to rest, and even hotel staff take a break. Restaurants are generally still open as it is lunch hour...but it is a slow-paced lunch. Take your time should be the motto in Spain. Also, after this late lunch, you will see Spainards bustling around shopping from 6-8. At nine, dinner is served. Expect to stay out until about 11, at least, every night. Most travelers come to appreciate the relaxed lifestyle in Spain.
Additionally, when eating, it is commonplace to order an appetizer for the table (usually a mixed salad) before the entree. Again meals are meant to be slow in Spain. The bill will arrive some 1- 1 1/2 hours after you have sat down. Waiters will give you a very odd glance if you hurry to the bill only 30 minutes have eating. Tip is usually included called "cubiertos" or tableware (yes they charge you for your silverware...by person).