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Sevilla. Has anyone else noticed the appalling service?

Sevilla. Has anyone else noticed the appalling service?

Apr 5th, 2002, 08:13 AM
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Cooter, I do hear what you're saying about cultural expectations, but I don't think this was the case here. I'm actually english, and am more than used to mediocre service in London. I must admit the jocularity of American waiters always takes me by surprise (in a good way).

Actually, all I expect in bars and restaurants in for someone to take my order, bring it to me, and then bring me the bill when I ask for it. I you wouldn't believe how hard that was.
Apr 5th, 2002, 09:18 AM
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I really am concerned wading into this post about service in Sevilla (in specific) and Spain (in general) but I feel obliged to point out to people that this is an area of true cultural difference between the Spanish people and Americans (and possibly other Europeans but I will limit my comments to the American customs).

The Spanish way of life and its pace is extremely different than the American one. Not better, not worse, just different. This goes for almost everything from shopping for groceries, to hiring a plumber to having a drink and a meal in a restaurant.

Americans (for better or worse) tend to be "all business" about many of these daily transactions and expect to accomplish all of this in a rapid, straightforward manner. In Spain, however, all of these experiences seem to be transacted in a much more "social" way at a slower pace with lots of interactions with all parties along the way. Dining out in Spain has some of these qualities in that mealtimes last 2 or 3 hours and typically include friends, extended family members, neighbors, etc... Also, different from America, the typical Spanish waiter is considered a lifetime and full-time "career" choice rather than a college student working for a few years or on a part-time basis. The result is that Spanish waiters are paid a much higher hourly rate compared to Americans and the tipping thing is Spain is extremely minimal (5% or so) because of it. So these things together create a situation in a Spanish restaurant where a waiter is actually being MORE polite (from his point of view) in allowing patrons to very leisurely talk and socialize and have a drink, then an appetizer and then maybe get around to ordering their main courses (typically more than 1) and then slowly finish eating and then ordering dessert and then finally having coffee. Note: In Spain coffee is the final course and not served with dessert that I am sure many Americans find to be another delay!

Also, a Spanish waiter, typically, would never approach a table to ask if people want another drink or to bring them their bar tab...he knows they will spend 2 hours talking after finishing the single Coca Cola they ordered and that is perfectly acceptable in Spain! To approach a table unbeckoned to solicit additional drink orders or serve diners the bill is considered rude and rushing the patrons. I am sure that some of these things may be slowly changing but there are huge cultural differences here that account for what many Americans may consider "slow service" or rude/indifferent waiters.

I hope that you will reconsider your experience in this light and knowing you were there at the height of the busy season.


Apr 5th, 2002, 09:50 AM
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we were in sevilla during santa semana this year and while i agree that it was VERY crowded and therefore somewhat frustrating, we did not get bad service, or encounter rudeness anywhere we went and our spanish is extremely limited. my teenage daughter did comment however that she likes france better than spain so this is not such a unique emotion. in general, individual spaniards were warm, courteous, generous of their time and helpful/protective of us tourists.
Apr 5th, 2002, 09:57 AM
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Maria; As usual a brilliant post from you about Spain. But I get the feeling that your information won't make a dent on some of these negative posters. They want to be "appalled".

Who knows who they actually are anyway. Perhaps they are insensitive to cultural differences and want everything to be their way. I live in a mostly hispanic town in America and believe me I am familiar with proud aloof servers. Frankly, I find the Spanish extremely helpful, dignified and mannerly. We always have a wonderful time with the people in Spain and in their restaurants. Their pace is completely different from ours and anyone going there has to keep that in mind, otherwise you will be very dissatisfied.
Apr 5th, 2002, 11:32 AM
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We just came back from a tour thru out Spain (from Madrid, Barcelona, alencia, Granada, Toledo, Peniscola - spent 2 nights in Sevilla. People were great, lots of foreign and local tourists around for the Easter processions that week. The locals were great even though we didn't speak any Spanish at all. Maybe it's the "tourist attitude" that can affect your experience. Must go back to Spain again!!
Apr 5th, 2002, 01:18 PM
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While I can't comment on Sevilla, my experience has been that serivce in Spain is fast, efficient, and somewhat formal. I'm always surprised when people talk about the 'slow' service in Spain. At least in Northern Spain (including Madrid, Salamanca, Leon), I've always had my order taken immediately and the goods produced almost as fast.

However, as others have stated, it is not 'friendly' service in the American style. Although I speak Spanish, I've never gotten into a casual discussion with a Spanish hotelier or server. In Italy (although I don't speak Italian) it seems like everyone wants to say hello and converse. That's also been my experience in Central America, where its very easy to strike up conversations. I agree with the New England analogy - I think the Spanish simply tend to be more reserved and formal with strangers.
Apr 5th, 2002, 05:20 PM
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The French are so much nicer than the Spanish. I have been going to both countries for years. I've heard but once in Spain someone say "perdon" excuse me. They push and shove and generally are very gruff. It takes a long time to get to know the SPanish and you generally have to have an"in" somehow.
The French are just much more courteous and smile more. They are also very polite and are interested in maintaining friendships.
I speak both languages and I have found that the French are more patient than the Spanish are. I know that people WANT to put down the French at any chance they can get but they dont give you these pained looks when you try to speak their language. The Spanish just laugh at a non native speaker who speaks with a South American accent.
Apr 5th, 2002, 07:56 PM
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"The Spanish laugh at a non-native speaker...." The absolute opposite of my many experiences in Spain. They are so forgiving. On the other hand,I have a Mexican employee here in the states and he is prouder of his language and more critical of those who do not speak it just right then any Spanish person from Spain.

Also, what's all this comparing the Spanish to the French about or the Spanish to the Italians. It's apples and oranges. I don't go to a country for the people but for the exotic experiences, beauty and culture. The people are secondary.

The Spanish have nuance. They are not what meets the eye in the initial experience of them. You must give them time. They are some of the nicest, kindest, most hospitably, gentile people in the world.
Apr 21st, 2002, 01:26 AM
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OK, I'll jump into the fray...I cover alot of backgrounds on this one...
1) my family was in the restaurant business 2) I've been a waitress and bartender 3) I'm a travel agent 4) I'm from California, where we have those perky waitstaff people. That said, here are my impressions of service / rudeness,etc. in Spain:

My husband and I started in the north in very small towns and I quickly realized, unlike other parts of Europe, that not too many people spoke English. Not that I expect everyone to speak English, just a bit of a culture shock...(8 days before I met anyone who spoke English), so we muddled along with our fractured Spanish and we had a fine time with leisurely service (hey, we're on vacation!) As we progressed along, meeting people along the way, a majority of them Brits, I thought "gee, you'd think these Spainiards would learn to speak more English since a great deal of their income comes from the tourists from the UK". By about the second week of meeting various people it struck me - I've been meeting all these UK people who have been here 4 or more times and have made absoluely no effort at all to learn even simple phrases of the country they're visiting! Now puleeze....UK people don't flame me on this, it's just an observation after spending 3.5 weeks in Spain! Just an interesting note. Believe me, there is no one more inept than an American, who confronted with multiple languages can only stammer "er, I only speak English" (or in my case rely on high school French and Spanish)

I never met a rude waiter anywhere in Spain; I did find the service to be slower in some cases, but again, we're on vacation and another country where the pace is slower - actually I found everyone to be most accomodating.

Apr 23rd, 2002, 02:11 PM
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I honeymooned in Sevilla in Sept. 2000 and found people to be very helpful and friendly.
In fact, me and my husband got lost in Carmona and stumbled upon a family in their yard. Their two children walked us all the way back to town--it took about 20 minutes! We had a great time.
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