November Theme Of The Month: Black Friday!

Category: Tourists/Travel

It’s All Dutch To Me, Part 2

, | Amsterdam, The Netherlands | Extra Stupid, Food & Drink, Money, Tourists/Travel

(I am traveling with a group from my American university for a conference, back when the Netherlands still used guilders as currency. At the time they were at about two to one dollar.)

Classmate: “Wow! Beer is so expensive here!”

Me: “Not really… they’re only three or four dollars each.”

Classmate: “But it says beer is $6!”

Me: “No, it’s 6 guilders. That’s the currency here. Remember when we changed our money?”

Classmate: “No. That must be in dollars.”

Me: “Why would it be in dollars? We’re in Amsterdam!”

Classmate: “But stuff was in dollars at the airport. And I don’t get why [American beer] is so expensive and the [Dutch beer] costs less.

Me: “Because they have to import the [American beer] from America.”

Classmate: “But it isn’t an import!”

Me: “We’re in AMSTERDAM now!”

(By now, the guy behind the bar is doing an increasingly bad job of hiding his laughter.)

Classmate: “Oh, my god. How will I order? I don’t speak… uh…”

Me: “—Dutch? I’ll do it. You go sit down.”

Me: *in English, to the bartender* “Two beers, please.”

(The bartender gets me the beers, but only charges me for one of them, and winks at me. I tip him well and go back to my classmate.)

Classmate: “Wow! I didn’t know you spoke the language!”

Me: “I’m a fast learner.”

It’s All Dutch To Me

Accentuating The Problem

, | Paris, France | Food & Drink, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

(My family is on vacation in Europe with a large tour group, consisting of about 40 people from Canada and the US. My sister and I are trying to order at a Parisian McDonald’s, while a middle-aged Texan woman from the same tour is waiting in the next queue over.)

Me: *in bad French* “Uh, could I have a… McChicken?”

Employee: *in French* “Sorry, what did you want?”

Me: *in French, more clearly* “Um, McChicken.”

Employee: *in French* “Ah! Of course. That’ll be [amount].”

Sister: *to me* “I think you were trying too hard to get the accent right. You sounded ridiculous.”

Me: “I didn’t think it sounded that bad… At least I tried.”

(While waiting for our food, we can’t help but overhear what’s going on in the next queue…)

Texan Customer: “Yeah, I’d like a combo number four–”

Employee: *in French* “Sorry, what?”

(The woman gives the flustered employee a death stare, then speaks loudly and slowly.)

Texan Customer: “COMBO. COOOOOMBO.”

(We left then, so I don’t know if the customer ever got her food. To this day, no one in my family ever says the word ‘combo’ without putting on an exaggerated drawl!)

Talking About A Whole Other Animal

| Trier, Germany | Funny Names, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

(Trier is an ancient city with many Roman ruins. At the moment there is a traveling show in town showing lizards, snakes and amphibians. I’m on my way home.)

Tourist: “Excuse me. We are looking for the amphibian theater.”

Me: “The lizard show? It’s all the way on the other side of the city.”

Tourist: “No! The amphibian theater! The Roman gladiators!”

Me: “Oh! You mean the Amphitheater. Just 50 meters that way.”

The Expiring Is Not Inspiring

| South Africa | Family & Kids, Tourists/Travel

(I do the entertainment program at the resort. Just to add, I am 25 years old. The children of the guests that stay at the resort will come and play with me. We do arts & crafts, colouring-in, swimming, etc. All the kids are currently sitting down on a round table, busy making some paper dolls. Between the kids there are two girls sitting across the table from me. They are between four and five years old.)

Girl: “So, where are your children?”

Me: “I don’t have any kids.”

Girl: “Where is your husband?”

Me: “I do not have a husband.”

Girl: “Boyfriend?”

Me: “No. I do not have a boyfriend either.”

(The girl elbows the other girl next to her, and says:)

Girl: “Isn’t she past her expiry date?”

Acting Cuckoo

, | Scotland, UK | Food & Drink, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

(Our hotel is in a pretty popular tourist area and we frequently get customers who struggle with English, especially with the bar food menu. My colleagues have already had some trouble making themselves understood when I go over to take one table’s order.)

Me: “Hi, would you like to order some food?”

Customer: “Yes, we would like food please.”

(There is a long awkward pause, until I realise they are not going to order on their own.)

Me: “So… what food would you like?”

Customer: “Oh! I would like this. This is steak, yes?”

(The customer is pointing to lamb shank on the menu.)

Me: “Oh, no, that’s lamb. Lamb shank, it’s like a small leg. We have a steak just here, if you like?”

(The customer remains pointing at the lamb shank.)

Customer: “So this… this is steak?”

Me: “No, no, this is steak…” *I point* “…and that is lamb.”

Customer: “So this… what animal?”

Me: “Pardon?”

Customer: “What animal this?”

Me: “Oh! Sorry! That’s lamb. Uh, sheep.”

Customer: “Sheep?”

Me: “Yes, sheep. Erm…”


(I am puzzled for a second, and then realise he is making a sheep noise!)

Me: “Yes, baaaaa!”

Customer: “Oh! Yes! And this?”

(The customer points to the steak.)

Me: “Steak. Cow.”


Me: “Yes, mooooo!”

(The customer points to each successive meat dish in turn, and eventually I begin to make the animal noises before he does, to save time. I manage to keep a straight face, because I don’t want him to feel patronised, but his impressions are very funny.)

Customer: “And this?”

(The customer points at the last menu item, which is a venison dish.)

Customer: “What animal, this?”

Me: “That’s venison, which means deer.”

Customer: “Deer? What is deer?”

Me: “Erm…”

(I stop dead as I realise that I haven’t the faintest idea what noise a deer makes, and am certainly not capable of reproducing it.)

Me: “It’s… ah… deer… well, it’s… stag. You know, stag?”

(In desperation, I hold my hands above my head in the shape of antlers. The man looks puzzled for a moment, then seemingly has an epiphany.)

Customer: “Ah! STAG! Stag…”

(The customer looks questioningly at his wife, and then at me, seemingly without getting the help he needs.)

Customer: “I… like… stag?”

(The customer did end up getting the venison dish, and was very pleased with it. His wife had ‘chicken cluck cluck’ and was likewise satisfied.)