In honour of our recent trip to Gozo I thought I'd share with you my top 5 foreign language cock ups to prove why it's perhaps best that I stick to UK travel writing... (the Gozo blog will follow when I've sorted through all the pics!)
1. Hello toenail!
When I got in the lift of the apartment block on my first trip to Spain a Spanish gentleman got in, smiled and said what I thought was "una" to me. I smiled & said "una" back then, not realising I'd actually misheard the word "ola", proceeded to greet every Spainiard with a bright and breezy "una", which is Spanish for "toenail". After a week of shouting "toenail" at bemused strangers, someone finally put me right.
2. One letter makes a big difference.
Same trip and on the return flight I consulted my trusty Spanish phrasebook (bought to avoid any more silly "toenail" gaffs), and confidently requested a seat next to a widow instead of a window...
3. Divided by a common language.
To prove it's not only foreign languages that trip me up... At the tender age of 21 I made my first trip to the states with a friend's family. They'd previously lived there and were au fait with hotels, taxis and, most importantly, breakfasts. When the waitress came to take my breakfast order I asked for eggs on toast.
"How'dya like yer eggs?" She asked. In my finest Hugh Grant bumbling English accent I replied "Gosh, poached would be lovely. " The family roared with laughter & the dad told her I'd take them "sunny side up!"
4. Absolutely Fabulous
I actually love foreign languages and spent 5 years learning Italian, but managed to make my best Italian gaff in an Italian café in London. As I was enjoying a lovely lunch I was conjugating the past tense and going over how to say "Thank you, that was lovely" in my best Italian. The moment came - as I left the café I called out to the waitress "Ero ottima, grazie, ciao!". It wasn't until 10 mins after I'd left that I realised I'd got it wrong and what I'd actually said was "I was fabulous, thank you, goodbye!" Doh!
5. And finally...
When I met Steve I told him some of these stories and included another that happened in Spain. I told him how I'd gone to a beach bar and ordered 2 beers in Spanish but was given 2 cappuccinos. He laughed and thought nothing more of it.
Fast forward a few years and we're on holiday in Madeira. After a strenuous morning spent clambering up a very steep hill path we arrived at lunchtime at a nice café bar. I went in to get us a couple of beers using my finest Portuguese. Five minutes later I emerged with 2 cappuccinos. Steve looked at me. "Don't ask" I said "Just don't ask."