Weekend Travel Inspiration – Frances Mayes

Weekend Travel Inspiration Frances Mayes

This may be one of the best reasons for traveling.  When you don’t know the language, you can bumble along, and be completely unaware.  I’m sure I’ve done many things wrong, or at least differently from the local population, sussing me out as an impostor.

The wonderful thing is, instead of being the hindrance that you might think it is, not knowing the language usually helps me meet people as I try to stumble my way through mundane tasks such as buying bus tickets from a machine.  Although, often brief, these interactions are some of the most memorable.

To be quite honest, I love sitting in a cafe, watching the world go by, and not being able to understand what they are saying at the next table.  When I am in an English-speaking environment, I feel a little overwhelmed because I tend to listen so hard.

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  1. Interesting. When I read the quote I didn’t really agree with it for myself. But then I read your commentary and I totally agree with your interpretation.

  2. Such an intriguing quote. I found your take on it interesting. I find when I’m trying to communicate in another language I almost try harder and am more open (even a bit silly with hand gestures to make up for lack of language skills), hoping the other person will understand.

  3. We were just saying whilst in Bratislava last week that we love being surrounded by people speaking in languages we don’t understand, when it’s in English it all seems so crass, so banal and in your face, where as the tones of another language are filled with possibilities. Not being able to speak the language is a challenge we love!

  4. I think it probably helps, because people help you more and that helps to establish relationships. Plu, you can’t take offence if they might say something mean, because you don’t know; tho body language is pretty clear at times

  5. So true about how not speaking the language makes things more memorable. I immediately was taken back to our trip to St Petersburg. Arriving by train and the fear of doing the wrong thing, giving the wrong papers to the Russian guards when they boarded the train. Trying to politely ask for two subway tickets when all we needed to do was bark “Dvah!” and indicate two on our fingers, and the amusement of the old Russian lady as we tried to work the ticket barriers and get our luggage through them – all made for great and unforgettable travel experiences!! 🙂

  6. when i was in asia I found Vietnam the most frustrating language-wise. If the alphabet isn’t even your own, you know it’s hopeless and don’t even try to figure things out, and there’s no stress. But Vietnamese street signs, menus, etc. had our letters so I was always drawn to look for words that looked familiar and that I could figure out and of course there weren’t any because the language has no relation to Euro languages despite the letters.

    1. Eileen, Too funny! I think the country I’ve had the hardest time language-wise is South Korea, but I can read it….just not understand a word I read. Go figure!

  7. Totally agree with the language not being a barrier but a blessing. In fact I don’t really consider myself on holiday unless I’m somewhere where English isn’t the first language. At times it can be difficult to communicate but it just makes it all the more rewarding.

  8. To be honest with you, I don’t quite like the fact that I don’t speak other countries languages. I feel really lost and embarrassed. Wouldn’t it be great to have an one-world language?

  9. In India there are so many languages that traveling one state to another is very difficult. But I have managed somehow. Like Anda says best to have one world language. 🙂

    1. Indrani, I don’t know. I live in Europe and I think having all the countries with the same money is pretty boring. I think I would not enjoy if all the language was the same, too.

  10. How do you find these amazing quotes, Corinne? they really hit the spot. This one reminded me of my time in China. While undoubtedly it was difficult to travel with just a phrasebook, it was fun too, and I wouldn’t exchange my experience with any other!

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