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1. Posted by abesworld (Budding Member 48 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hey everyone, happy new year! I am planning a pretty big trip for this summer from early June to late August, spending most of my time in Spain but also going to France, England, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, (possibly Germany, Denmark, Sweden), and Norway. I used to drink occasionally, but recent events in my family caused me to stop a few months ago. When planning the trip, I think to myself sometimes, "well.. in Europe I might have a drink or two here or there, no problem" but I'm not sure if I want to anymore. Is it socially expected for people to drink in the places I'm going to? Is it possible to enjoy the nightlife without drinking alcohol? Of course I cannot make up my mind until I am there, but I just wanted to know what to expect. Thanks!

2. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

From my own experience Ireland, Scotland and England are massive drinkers and drink way more many
beers than any other nation that I am aware of in Europe.
If Ireland had 24/7 licenses then no one would leave the pubs!

In France they don’t binge drink like the Irish. What I mean is they are not a bunch of piss heads!
They just like to drink wine with there meals or the occasional beer in the square scoping out everyone who walks by them.
A lot of the nightlife in France concerning bars closes at 10pm, they are much more into there coffee than anything else,
of course they got bars and nightclubs.

I actually think it is important for you to try beers in different countrys purely for its taste! and quality apposes to get drunk!
providing you like beer! Especially when if you come here in hot weather.

In Ireland you can still have an amazing time even when sober! Just meet me and listen to the crap that comes out of my mouth when I am drunk.
But also a lot of people don’t drink and drive in Ireland because well not like they used to as its now regarded as very serious offence.
Infact you can get lashed out of it for just drinking one pint of beer by the police.

And NO it is not socially expected to drink in any of the places that you are going to and I am sure in anywhere in the world!
A nice glass of orange juice can be just as nice to a beer!

what i noticed in a lot of european countrys is that they drink to enjoy themselves. in ireland most people drink to get drunk.

3. Posted by Herr Bert (Moderator 1388 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

There are some places that will offer you a drink to welcome you, or when you are leaving. At least in Austria and Switzerland, that can be the case. But if you tell them that you don't drink, most people will understand, and respect that.

4. Posted by sirwhale (Full Member 84 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I think oslaue's post is quite accurate, i know we (The English) are bad, but i also know the irish are worse

If you really don't want to drink then get a soft drink, its no real problem, but time spent with people from the British Isles involves alot of 'pub' time. Thus you will be in a drinking environment alot.

To be blunt i can imagine alot of people here not really understanding it (unless its medical) as our culture is very much based upon drinking... the continentals eat meals together, and we drink together. But don't let that worry you, no one is going to force you to drink, nor take the mick, you may just have to put up with some drunken stories while you sit sober. After all you're there to see different cultures, not for the different cultures to see you.

Best of Luck


5. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

true what christian says.
but we probably make it sound worse than it is.

we normally only drink at night! during the day we are busy working or playing sports...doing normal things.

but with all that drinking you can only imagine its one big party and a very good atmosphere.

if you go to your to a pub in a country in ireland everyone is dancing, drinking and of course singing.
in france they are very reserved and are more interested in how they look and what people think of them.
in ireland, scotland, england we dont care what people think. we just want to enjoy ourselfs.

you will see more beer bellys in the uk and ireland than anywhere else! the germans think they got bigger bellys but theres is from food and that does not count.

having said that...i saw a lot of fights in england when i was on a night out when i used to live there, and in ireland i think they drink so much on a night out that they are incapable of fighting.

in switzerland i heard it is very expensive and i think sweden is too! i have a friend who lives in switzerland and says the night life is boring.

dont get me wrong there are people out there who just dont like the pub seen as well.

but no one pressures anyone to drink, in ireland yes but thats our culture! once you make a decision just stick by it because us irish are very convincing!

6. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

and you can take advantage of all those drunk irish women! and tourists!!!

7. Posted by abesworld (Budding Member 48 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks everyone for the replies, good insight from people who know. I love this site.

Yeah I don't really mind being around people while they are drinking, and I'll be very used to it by the time I'm there. I am spending about 2 weeks in England and Ireland combined with a friend of mine, and knowing me I probably will partake in some pub activities. I don't know what my life will be like by that time, but it will probably be less tense and a bit more laid back--I hope.

Does anybody know what I should expect in Spain, since that will be the majority of my summer?

But really, thanks for all you guys have said so far, really helpful information. I just can't wait to be over there, I've never been and always wanted to go.

8. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hello Abesworld.

I rarely drink alchol.

In most bars, in Germany, where i live now, most bars serve coffee, and that is what I drink. Or else mineral water.

I am Irish, and there is a big drinking culture, in Ireland. I did not drink much there, either. Or any of the countries I visited or lived in.

I have not had problems, with not drinking. Often people ask why not, so have an answer ready. I usually tell the truth. I dont enjoy it enough, for the calories to be worth it.


9. Posted by rbyslipahs (Respected Member 349 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

My best friend and his wife just came back from southern Spain (on their honeymoon). She does not drink, and it was never a problem for her. Spain is so relaxed and carefree, anything goes. Just remember that dinner doesn't start until 9:30, and don't plan on being done before 11:30 or midnight at the earliest. Take your time and enjoy it! I think sometimes when we travel in different cultures, we worry too much about trying to fit in with local culture. Just be yourself, have fun, be respectful, and don't let something like drinking or not drinking even get in the way. There's too much out there to enjoy to let that mar a vacation!

10. Posted by pfeiffer (Full Member 211 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Quoting abesworld

Is it socially expected for people to drink in the places I'm going to? Is it possible to enjoy the nightlife without drinking alcohol?

Aren't you a bit too old for peer pressure? (I'm just guessing, but you use capital letters, which is always a good sign.)

I can't imagine anyone forcing you to take a drink (and what would they do if you refuse). Perhaps if you meet some lunatic baron who invites you to his castle for a month and then takes offense when you refuse to join him in a toast and then throws you out of the castle, leaving you on a lonely road far from civilization. But you see how far-fetched this sounds -- not to say that it couldn't happen.

Now, if you were an ex-smoker who wanted to avoid the cancer-inducing, stinky air of other smokers while dining -- then I'd say you might have a problem with "Old Germany". My tip: travel in the summer, when you can sit outside; in winter, never go into a restaurant later than 6:00 p.m. But, you only asked about drinking.

Gute Reise!

Kevin Pfeiffer