It’s always a little surprising to me when I am traveling and people come up to ask me questions or directions. Have they mistaken me for a local? Do they think I look like I know a lot? I ask these questions because I almost always do not have answers for them. I have never been very good at giving directions, especially in a place that I am not familiar. Below are some of the questions I have been asked during my travels.
“Do you know where the closest McDonald’s is?” –Lisbon
“Do you know where I can exchange South African currency?” -Marquis of Pombal Square, Lisbon
Two people on bicycles rode up to me and asked me a question. In English, Italian, and Spanish I replied that I did not speak the language. They understood none of these replies and continued to circle around me on their bikes asking questions. I had to shrug my shoulders and shake my head to imply that I did not understand and continued walking. -Rome
“Do you speak English or German?” “English.” “Do you know where such and such is?” “No, sorry I’m not from here.” They replied with disappointed looks on their faces. -Outside of El Corte Ingles, Lisbon
At trolley stop, a man asked me some question about the trolley, but I didn’t understand because he was speaking in another language. I replied in English, Portuguese, and then Spanish that I did not speak the language. This didn’t have any effect on him and his expression remained unchanged. He continued to ask, but I still didn’t understand and had to just shrug my shoulders. -Lisbon
In the middle of a brisk walk down a crowded street, a woman picked me out to ask a question in another language. I replied with the typical, “I don’t speak ____” in three languages. She understood, we both laughed, then smiled at each other and continued on our way. -Lisbon
Two young men approached me on the way up the steps and asked me a question in language I did not understand. I had become tired of using the reply that I didn’t speak the language, so instead I just shook my head and said, “No.” He replied, “No? No?” with a puzzled look on his face. I said “No” again with an apologetic look on my face and continued up the steps. I realized after looking down at them a little while later that they were probably just asking me to take their picture. -Spanish Steps, Rome
At a Metro stop, a man asked me if the upcoming train was to a certain location. I smiled because I actually knew the answer. “Yes, it is.” I had only been using the Metro for one day. –Washington, D.C.