Typically I am a good tipper. If you have worked hard, done a good job, and provided me with a service I like, I will tip 20%.
I figure that it is best to be generous, I do it willingly, and perhaps this is selfish, but I hope that it puts good karma into the world and promotes abundance in some small way for me .But even if it didn't, I would tip well.
I even tip when I go to the tanning salon. (I go a few times before a vacation so that I don't fry to a crisp in places with strong sun). I leave a dollar on the bed as I know the girls in the health club are probably not getting paid big bucks to keep the rooms squeaky clean.
Then there was Spain. Dana, as well as others, told me that one does not tip in Spain, and if you do, it is very little. Out of the few discomforts I had on the trip (like not being able to speak the language) that was the most awkward for me to accept.
I tipped everywhere. When I gave the girl at the train station in Atoche a Euro for a few glasses of wine and asked for clean glasses as we wanted new ones, she was grateful and surprised. So what if I looked like a gringa for doing it. She must have a family at home to feed, otherwise she would not be working.
I left money where ever I went. Ah, the rich foolish American Gringa they must have thought.
But I did not care....
Then there is the story about the ride to the airport. I had very little change, so I gave the airport guy 5 Euros. Nice tip, real nice. He had a funny grin on his face as we walked into the terminal.
Problem was, he dropped us off at the wrong terminal...and no wonder he grinned. Nice tip for a shitty job. It was one of the few times that I mumbled as I lugged 50+ pounds of luggage through what seemed miles of airport in Madrid. Annie just laughed at me and I had to chuckle too.
I did some research AFTER I got home. Waiters and such are paid very good salaries and even get benefits, unlike here in America, so they don't expect tips. Sometimes if they do get them, it gets thrown into the cash register and the owner gets them, and some of them get a good laugh about the stupid Americans.
So the moral of the story is, do your research about such things BEFORE you go, or else, like me, don't give a hoot and be glad that you got to spread a bit of the wealth around. But next time, I will be a bit wiser and more educated about the culture before I experience it!
Patti O Trip Advisor
Photos: Overhead train photo that I caught with the top down on the car while driving home from work today, and the train between Valencia and Madrid.