People travel for all different reasons, but regardless the purpose or motivation, we all want to feel welcomed and learn something new every time we get out of the plane, train, or bus. By all means, be yourself and do what you are comfortable with, but sometimes a little bit of cultural awareness can make your trip a much better experience. Therefore, we put together this list of basic Czech etiquette.
On the street
Prague is busy, and once you get to the city center, you can easily think that there are only tourists there. But that is not true, many people work and live in the city center, go there for meetings, or run errands there. Try to follow these suggestions, to act like a good local:
• If you are in bigger group never block the whole sidewalk, but rather stand the way that others can pass you.
• It is obligatory for cars to stop in front of the pedestrian crossing (but the car is still bigger than you, so make sure it is really stopping before you start crossing), and when a car does stop for you, try to cross as fast as you can.
• We love drinking and having a good time, and we want you to join in too, so be courteous of people around you, and avoid making too much noise on the street when you are coming home from a night on the town.
• There are some pretty grimy places in Prague, and public urination is all too common, but it would be really appreciated if your bathroom visits while close to bathroom.
• A lot of people ask about drinking in public. You can of course drink beer in the beer gardens, markets, or by stands where they are selling alcohol, but there is actually over 800 places in Prague, where drinking in public is not allowed (e.g. bus, tram and metro stops, kids playgrounds, train and bus stations, islands, some parks etc.) Drinking and relaxing in a park is very popular, but if you want to be safe, first check the signs posted at the entrance of the park, which will tell you the "do and don'ts".
• Public transport in Prague is great, and it takes you pretty much anywhere in the city quickly. Locals use it a lot too, and often use this time to read newspapers or books, or for zoning out after a hard day at work. Therefore, try to keep your voice down, be safe by holding on to one of the handles, and be polite by offering your seat to older people, pregnant women, or moms with small children. Most importantly do not forget to validate your ticket! If you are going without validated ticket you are risking a big fine.
• Let people get out of the tram, or metro before you enter and stand on the right side while on an escalator. The left side is designated for the "runners".
In the restaurant
• Men traditionally enter a pub, restaurant, or bar before women – what if there would be a fight!
• It is better to let the waiter know that you arrived and ask for a table for how many you need. Unless there is a stand, which tells you to wait to be seating, it is completely fine to find your own table, but you are risking that the staff will not notice your arrival.
• Try to speak some Czech "Dobrý den = Hello", „Nashledanou = Good bye", „Děkuji = Thank you", „Prosím = Please".
• We use cutlery for everything except chips, ribs and anything with a big bone.
• When you are finished eating, put your cutlery next to each other on side of the plate. This is indication for the staff that you are done.
• If you are happy with the food and service, you can leave a little tip – usually just round up to the closest 100, or 50 CZK. You can simply give the waiter more and say that is ok. "To je dobré, or To je v pořádku." The same is for taxis, bars, and beauty and massage places).
• We like the beer the way it is brought to us, so no sharing with other by pouring into their glasses, or mixing the rest of an old one with the new!
• We like to toast! When with Czechs, toast with every new beer, look at their eyes and never cross arms with other people. It is also common, to lightly touch the table with the mug after toasting.
In the Czech home
• Czech take their shoes off before they enter their apartment. So to avoid faux-pas take them off unless you told otherwise by the host. Socks are fine and usually you are offered some house slippers. It might look funny especially if you are wearing a nice dress, but this is the way we do it
• If you are invited for a dinner to a Czech home, you are not expected to bring any food, unless you made some arrangements with the host beforehand. It is, however, usual to bring a bouquet of flowers, bottle of wine, or box of chocolate.
• If you are invited to come at 8pm, do try to come around this time. Our culture is historically quite intertwined with the German culture – so we like (try) to be on time.
• We eat our salad together with the main dish
• We are soup eaters – for many lunch means soup and a main dish.
• We say bon appetite before digging in and compliment the chef.
• It is polite to help to collect the used dishes from the table, or offer to help in any other way. In most of the times, you will be told, that your help is not necessary and that you should enjoy yourself, but we like the gesture.
Maybe it is all obvious, or maybe surprising – either way let us know how it is in your country. We want to be prepared when we will go there!:)
A big thanks to Bety & Tereza as this post originally appeared on their CzechPragueOut blog.
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