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Lost in Europe

By: Frank Middleton

I have just returned from a trip to Europe where I spent time in Paris, Rome, Madrid and Vilnius (capital of Lithuania and a beautiful and interesting city).

In Paris, I used my basic French. I asked for pan-au-chocolat and said oui, merci and s'il vous plait. I wandered the streets feeling continental, suave and sophisticated. My wife pretended to be impressed.

In Rome, I used my basic Italian. Grazie, per favore and so on. We visited the Roman forum, hung out in chic cafes and said buongiorno and buonasera to anyone who would listen.

In Madrid, we visited art galleries, used the metro and drunk vino tinto with the best of them using my basic Spanish.

And then we arrived in Lithuania. In Lithuania you should speak Lithuanian (surprise, surprise) although it seems that people also understand Russian. Unfortunately, I speak neither Lithuanian nor Russian and once away from the beaten track it didn't appear that many people spoke English (German perhaps but not English).

There was a certain castle that I wanted to visit, a short train ride from Vilnius and feeling adventurous we bought tickets from the station. We hopped on the train and set off. By a stroke of good fortune, there was an English speaker in our railway carriage who told us where we needed to get off (or de-train).

We disembarked at the correct station, and followed the crowds to the castle, a popular local tourist resort and I held up two fingers to indicate two tickets, money was exchanged and in we went. Very interesting it was as well. I like castles.

So far, so good.

On leaving the castle, I thought that the scenic route back to the railway station would be a good idea, following the contours of a lake. It looked easy and so I was not bothered that we didn't have a map - although there was a certain glance from my wife which indicated trouble in store should we take a wrong turning.

Before I knew it, we were lost and following one of those driving rows but without the car were still lost.

We were not lost in the sense of being stuck in the wilderness, there were roads and people (laughing and joking and generally enjoying themselves - with beer and ice-cream ). It was just that I was unable to ask anyone where to buy ice-cream (or better still a drink) , let alone that I wanted to find the train station. I tried, of course, speaking loudly in the time honoured fashion but it was no use.

I felt pretty stupid as we wandered down quiet residential streets looking for a station that wasn't there. We ended up returning to Vilnius on a bus, wet and irritable and wishing that I had had the foresight to learn some Russian or Lithuanian or at least not to take an interesting shortcut. My wife was scathing and frosty and my ego dented.

We are now safely back in Blighty, but before returning to Lithuania (and we will) I will learn at least some useful language. Where is the train station?

Author Bio
Frank Middleton is a freelance author and writes occasional articles for a site with a practical realistic and fast approach to learning words and phrases in a foreign language, using a combination of sophisticated testing and simple games.

Article Source: - Free Website Content

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