Friday, October 17, 2008

On to Europe.


We flew into Paris and as some trips will happen, things immediately go awry. We planned on buying local currency at the airport when we landed. That would have happened flawlessly had we not landed so soon before the currency exchange kiosk opened. Then we planned to take a bus into Paris to get near our hotel. We needed small change of course so we had to wait for the kiosk to open. Once we were in town we were going to get some money out of our savings account through an ATM machine and go on about our business. Except at the time, the European ATM only recognized checking accounts and didn't allow choices to access savings accounts. So we had to wait until the banks opened, called our bank and have them transfer funds from the savings account to the checking account.

And that was all in the first few hours of the first day! Pam was ready to get back on the plane home by then. Once we got to our hotel, settled in, freshened up and had Pam had a good cup of real French coffee, we were good to go. Paris is a very beautiful city, esthetically. Everything seemed so pleasing to the eyes. While there we frequented a couple of the tourist hot spots, but mostly we stayed off the beaten paths and had a great time. For those who haven't traveled to Europe, we suggest the same path. The people who don't have to put up with tourists all day, everyday, tend to be more forgiving, more communicative, and more friendly. Another word of advice. At least learn how to say "Thank you" in the language of your host country, if you at least try, the people are warmer toward you. And last but not least, don't automatically expect everyone to speak English. Just because we're American and we love our country, doesn't mean that everyone else does. Be a good guest and they will tend to be hosts.

One funny story...Pam and I were going to visit Versailles. We were following the directions of our guide book, which told us which train station to go to, which track the train left on and other general information. It was a Sunday so the station was fairly deserted. When we got to the track we were looking for, we wanted to be sure so as not to make complete fools of ourselves catching the wrong train. So I asked a gentleman in a nearby booth (Yes, I do ask for directions, Whoa!!) "Does the train to Versailles come to this track"? I pointed to the track I was talking about. He responded, "yes". So we sat down to wait.

After a few minutes Pam and I noticed a handwritten note on a post near the booth the man was in. It was in French (of course) and the word "Versailles" was in it. Pam and I looked at the note, looked and each other and wondered aloud about the note. So I went over and asked him what the note said. His response, "The train to Versailles does not come here today, you must go to train station (something I don't remember)" Then he had this smirk of a grin on his face. I'm sure he justified himself in his mind by saying that I asked him if the train comes there, I didn't ask if the train comes there today. I wanted to bonk him on the head. But we had to run halfway across town to get the train that would get us there in time to see Versailles and get the last train back for the day. So it was France 1, Stupid American 0 for the day. But Versailles is well worth the trouble...BEAUTIFUL!!!

By-the-way, we're considered "Stupid Americans" in lots of countries because we tend to only speak one language. Uncommon in most countries.

More later....


Irma said...

I never face languauge barriers when travelling with Husbandly One, because I am bilingual, and he is....ummm, whatever you call someone who speaks five languages. ("show off"???)

But to your point, Husbandly One is from Portugal, and when he was young he was EXPECTED to learn Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, and English. I am from Canada, and I was expected to learn Englaish and French.

The US is such a wonderful, diverse country....why arn't your kids EXPECTED to learn more than one language? (I am honestly asking out of curiosity here). It is very easy to teach a new language to a child, but very, very difficult to teach an adult.
(an ESL-teacher-friend-of-mine explained that this is due to hormone changes in the composition of the brain that occur with puberty.)

Michelle Riggs said...

Sounds wonderful. I would love to see pictures.

Thanks for praying for Abby.