Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dehydration in Europe

One evening on our trip in Provence, I discovered I had a headache along with my dry throat. I knew I was not drinking enough liquids on the trip, especially considering it was hot and we were doing a lot of walking. The general problem is, I have not figured out a good way to travel in Europe on a budget AND stay hydrated at the same time.

Maybe you’ve been to Europe lately and seen the menus. 5,30 EUR for a water in Milan. 5,50 CHF for a water in Zurich. 2,90 EUR for a water in Avignon. And then, when your great thirst from 4 hours of touring tries to relieve itself at an outrageous price, it is given a mere 20 centiliters with which to do so.

This lack of liquid liquidity leads to such preservation techniques as the universal half-sip. This is done while hoping your food will arrive faster than half your water disappears. It’s really quite an accomplishment to manage actually having any liquid left when your meal arrives in Europe. And it’s yet another accomplishment not to pine for the good ole free water and free refills that run rampant throughout the United States as you stare at your overpriced not to mention, gassy water. The combination is enough to make anyone’s stomach turn.

To get the proper liquid (about 180 cl a day) from restaurants in Europe would cost the poor traveler an average of 45 USD a day. No wonder I drink too much beer and wine on this side of the Atlantic. Usually it’s better for my pocketbook. But worse for my poor dehydrated body.

Yes, grocery stores are around. But let’s be honest. A tourist is on their feet all day and can only carry so much liquid with them without breaking their back. One 50 cl water is about all I feel comfortable carrying along with cameras, guidebooks, jackets, etc. And even then, while I may save 5-10 dollars by carrying this water, my shoulders pay the price.

A friend I know actually scours restaurants in Europe, not for the menus, but to see if there are carafes of water on people’s tables first. She doesn’t pick a restaurant based on Michelin Stars, rather on liquid generosity. The few restaurants in Europe that bring free water are few and far between. But they can save you a lot of thirst. And a lot of money.

And thus my project begins:

A list of restaurants in Europe that bring you free water without even having to ask. (Just don’t expect ice too). Here’s a couple to get you started.

Zurich, Switzerland
Universitätstrasse 23
8006 Zürich

Zurich, Switzerland
Hot Pasta
Universitätstrasse 15
8006 Zürich

Avignon, France
Das Camping Bagatelle
25 allée Antoine Pinay -Ile de la Barthelasse
84000 Avignon

Avignon, France
Restaurant NEM (Vietnamese)
7. Cloitre St. Pierre
84000 Avignon


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