"Bidets to Bullfights"
c - Arthur J. Langdon -1970
013c -- Zwiebrucen & Kaiserslatern, Germany - "Search for Aunt Clara's ancestors" - 013c
In the popular tourist areas, almost all of the people you come in contact with have sufficient command of the English language so that very little communications problems exist. In the quaint little places where tourists are very few, the situation is very different. For, as you and I know a few words of French or German, or Spanish, or Portugese - so to do these people know a few words of English which they can apply - as well as we can apply our own "foreign" words. As an example, the soup of the day in one place was Tomato. Also, on the menu was "Hungarian soup" and not knowing what it was I asked the waitress - "What is Hungarian Soup?" She answered "vegetable". So, I ordered it. It proved to be small chunks of beef in a heavy gravy with no vegetables at all. "Vegetable" to this young lady - meant anything other than Tomato.
Another instance -
My good wife - ordering a chocolate sundae - and then receiving what we know (on the East side of New York) as an "egg cream" - which is basically chocolate syrup and soda is another instance which was corrected by drawing a picture of a sundae glass with some circles to indicate balls of ice cream. The result was very delicious. Apparently a small gift for the art of drawing things is better than exchanging language of poor understanding. The cushion of this philosophy is that on our first day in Germany, I had a few beers in a local pub, and asked the young man next to me - "What should I give the waitress as a tip?" Meanwhile holding out one of each type of German coins. He immediately picked one out, went over to the cigarette machine, came back with a pack of butts and said - "dankeshoin". I still don't know how much tip I should have left, but they are a very polite people.
One reason for spending a few days in Zwiebrucen was that my wife's family originated in the area and also in nearby Kaiserslatern - where Martin Luther preached. In the cemetary behind the Martin Luther Church, several of her ancestors were supposed to be buried, and it seemed a must place to visit. We made two visits to Kaiserslatern and questioned dozens of people as to the whereabouts of the old church where Martin Luther preached and found not a single one knew. What is more surprising is that none of them seemed to know who Martin Luther was. Perhaps if we had asked about Martin Luther King - there would have been a more positive response. After much digging around, we think we finally found the church. But, if so, bombs during the war had eliminated the cemetary in favor of new construction.
Index - Uncle Art & Aunt Clara's trip to Europe - 1970, "Bidets to Bullfights"
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