My job requires travel. I visit factories, construction sites, and customers wherever and whenever necessary. In the last three weeks I’ve been to Portugal, Germany and France. This week I travel to Spain. Next week perhaps a return trip to Germany or a quick trip to Italy. Based in England most of my travel is one day trips – one L O N G D A Y ! I’m not complaining (well maybe a little bit) but traveling the way I do requires leaving my house here in England at 2:30 or 3:00 AM to catch a flight and spending most of the day traveling (planes, trains, and automobiles). Then I return the same day at midnight (or 1:00 or 1:30AM – technically the next morning) only to repeat the process the next week or several days later. Eventually it catches up with you.
Of course on the weekends Deb and I like to see as much of England as we can, so we stay busy traveling around here, too. And I love it (mostly)!
My continental travels are almost always comical at some point. Like the time in Spain I was looking for a rest room: “Donde esta el bano, por favor?” only to be directed to the swimming suits or bath towels in a major department store. Turns out ‘aseo’ is the Spanish word for restroom – seems I was asking where I could take a bath. Or in Portugal when I spread some kind of creamy cheese all over my bread thinking it was butter. My hosts were quite amused – apparently you eat it with a spoon like yoghurt. In Germany I have stayed in a hotel (?) that looks like something out of Grimm’s Fairytales. I got busted taking pictures of the dining room and lobby. The proprietor must have thought I was some kind of corporate hotel spy: “Was ist los!!??” I just thought the place was quaint but didn’t know a way to politely tell her without sounding insulting.
So I stumble along, nodding, smiling, pointing at items on menus, signs, and maps. God only knows what kind of idiot I must appear to be to my “new friends”. But even though most of my international travel contains much mystery, I occasionally learn something new along the way and try to remember it for next time. And I pray that my guardian angel is multilingual. I miss the ease of traveling in the U.S. but sometimes even that can be challenging, so I tuck my ‘Rick Steves Guide to Europe’ in my briefcase along with my Google Translator app and trudge along. How lost can I get?