Dr.DTW
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:08 pm

Hi There...

I'm planning a 10 day trip to Europe.

This is my first time across the pond, but I can only speak English.

What countries are best suited for the English-only traveler, and which should I avoid?

Any input is appreciated.

Thanks.
Ed.
 
deaphen
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:12 pm

In the Netherlands, you will have absolutely no problem.

I only speak English and am studying here!

Nitin
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flybyguy
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:16 pm

The UK is obviously a good place to start. Germany I've heard has an excellent grasp of English in the main cities (Frankfurt, Munich etc.). France, however, may not be the best place for English speakers... especially Americans, because of lingering cultural tensions between the two nations. However, if you do plan on going to France (particularly Paris) you should make an attempt to speak French... the people there I've heard are more receptive if you engage them in the native language rather than assuming that they speak English off the bat.

I've also noticed when traveling in Asia (could be true in Europe)... that young people, particularly the college aged crowds, are more inclined to know English than the older generations.
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agill
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:19 pm

Well you could probably get by pretty much everywhere, but Netherlands, and Scandinavia are very safe for making yourself understood in english. I thought Italy was a bit hard to communicate in since most poeple I met there didn't speak much english, but usually you get by anyway.
 
MadameConcorde
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:21 pm

You can go to Cyprus and Malta. Both are English speaking places. They are both part of the E.U. Not only these islands are international business and banking centers but they also have a very old history.  Smile
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David L
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:23 pm

I've had no problems in Norway and Iceland and you could probably get by in Switzerland. I assume the same would be true of Sweden and Denmark, though I haven't been there.
 
Charles79
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:24 pm

You'll be fine in most places like the other posters have said though it never hurts to try and at least learn some common expressions in the local language.

From personal experience the UK, Netherlands, and Germany are all perfectly fine if you don't speak the local language/dialect.

Quoting Agill (Reply 3):
I thought Italy was a bit hard to communicate in since most poeple I met there didn't speak much english, but usually you get by anyway.

Communication in Italy is quite simple, just use your hands a lot!
 
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STT757
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:26 pm

English is widely spoken/understood in Europe. My Wife and I took our Honeymoon in Europe back in '06, we visited;

Barcelona Spain,
Marseilles, Aixen Provence, Nice France
Monaco
Florence, Rome, Naples, Positano Italy.

We had no troubles at all, in fact I was pleasantly surprised how friendly everyone was to us Americans (even in France). We found many comforts of home in Europe, Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona, Starbucks, McDonald's etc..

Don't sweat it, the only trouble you will find will be tv. I found Tv in Europe to be dreadfully dull.
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Braybuddy
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:27 pm

You won't have a problem in most western European cities, even in Paris, but you'll draw a blank from Parisians if you address them in English. A few words in French go a LONG way to dismantling that famous Gallic froideur. Even in the larger eastern cities you'll get by. It's part of the fun of travelling doing your best to interact with the locals anyway. Outside the UK and Ireland, as Deaphen says, you won't have a problem at all in the Netherlands as the Dutch all speak better English than we do, as do the Danes and other Scandinavians. In Switzerland, Belgium and Germany English is widely understood, less so in the Mediterranean countries, but nearly everyone under 40 can speak and understand some.

[Edited 2009-02-07 09:29:21]
 
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falstaff
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:39 pm



Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
Germany I've heard has an excellent grasp of English in the main cities (Frankfurt, Munich etc.).

In the old DDR side of the country I found few people that could speak English. Maybe if I was hanging around younger people I would have but the over 40 crowd were generally not English speakers. I met plenty of people that wanted to speak English. I didn't have any trouble, but I was with two native Germans so I didn't have to do much talking other than to them.

Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
We found many comforts of home in Europe, Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona, Starbucks, McDonald's etc

I have seen that stuff too, but I don't go anywhere on vacation I can go at home.
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David L
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:40 pm



Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
I found Tv in Europe to be dreadfully dull.

The TV you get in hotels, yes.
 
ME AVN FAN
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Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:48 pm

In Switzerland you will have no problem in urban areas like Zurich, Basel, Berne, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Kreuzlingen/Konstanz, Lucerne, Zug, etc. And none in Geneva and Lausanne. It may be a bit different in non touristic rural areas of course. Much depends on YOUR English. If it is near to classical British English, ok, but if it is a heavy US dialect, please simply speak slowly and clearly. The proforma question "do you speak English" will usually result in a "Yes" of sorts and is the polite way.
 
us330
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:08 pm

From where I've travelled--England/Scotland (obviously), the Netherlands (since few non-Dutch actually speak Dutch), Denmark (same as the Netherlands--don't try speaking German though--I made that mistake and was slightly reprimanded (tried to be all smart and cool and asked for tickets to the Hauptbahnhof, then was told the Germans had left in 1945... Big grin )), Germany, and Switzerland.
Spain there are people who speak English, but less compared to the other countries I described.

That said, if you are going to Europe, don't pick a country just because it is easier to speak English, go to a country because you are interested in its history, culture, etc. For example, if you are a huge Victor Hugo fan, go to France even if you can't speak French--you'll get by anyway, and have some great stories to tell.
 
andaman
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:03 pm



Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
Don't sweat it, the only trouble you will find will be tv. I found Tv in Europe to be dreadfully dull.

At least in the Nordic countries the foreign tv programs are shown in the original language with subtitles, not dubbed like in Germany and Italy, that should help ,) And a lot of British/American stuff on tv here, the Finnish tv produces news in English also.

Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 11):
if it is a heavy US dialect, please simply speak slowly and clearly

Would say the same about Nordic Europe, English is widely spoken but some American terms don't say much here. We only know the metric system, for an example.

And it's always useful to find out something about local culture beforehand - same goes with Europeans traveling to US of course... like tipping less common here and tipping with US dollars not a good idea, happens sometimes.
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Acheron
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:29 pm



Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
We found many comforts of home in Europe, Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona, Starbucks, McDonald's etc..

To be honest, I don't see the point of going to europe(or anywhere, for that matter) and eat stuff you get back at home, anyway.
I prefer to try the local restaurants, and they are probably far more healthier anyway.
 
TSS
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:09 pm

As I've never been outside the US, I'll relate what my better-travelled friends have told me on this subject:

Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 11):
Much depends on YOUR English. If it is near to classical British English, ok, but if it is a heavy US dialect, please simply speak slowly and clearly.

A friend of mine who spent some time in the UK said that he was quickly and rather emphatically informed on a couple of occasions that the language he spoke was not "English", but "American". Since he too is from Alabama, I'm guessing that to UK ears his language was exceedingly "American".  Wink

Quoting Falstaff (Reply 9):
Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
Germany I've heard has an excellent grasp of English in the main cities (Frankfurt, Munich etc.).

In the old DDR side of the country I found few people that could speak English. Maybe if I was hanging around younger people I would have but the over 40 crowd were generally not English speakers. I met plenty of people that wanted to speak English.

Another friend visited Germany hoping, among other things, to improve his language skills by speaking German to native German-speakers. Much to his dismay, almost all the native Germans he met insisted on speaking English to him to practice and/or improve their language skills.
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STT757
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:23 pm



Quoting Acheron (Reply 14):
To be honest, I don't see the point of going to europe(or anywhere, for that matter) and eat stuff you get back at home, anyway.

The only place we visited in Barcelona that we have back home is Starbucks, while I loved the coffee in Barcelona the portions were just too small. A large cafe Americano con leche at the typical Barcelona cafe was just too small, I needed a 16oz.
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RobertNL070
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:03 pm



Quoting STT757 (Reply 16):
A large cafe Americano con leche

 yuck 


Starbucks will never get off the ground here in the Netherlands. I believe there is just one Starbucks in the whole country, in Amsterdam. Their coffee is gnat's pee.

/insults  Wink

However, when visiting Europe, don't let yourself be guided by language, or lack thereof. Go for the history and the culture. Surely someone intelligent enough to be a doctor can learn a smattering of two or three European languages - outside of English. Walking in a Dutch bakkerij (bakery) of a Saturday morning and greeting the bakker (baker) with a cheery goede morgen (good morning) will earn you some points.

Arguably the best countries in the world for coffee lovers are Spain and the Netherlands.

Enjoy.
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Pyrex
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:48 pm

In general you should be fine pretty much anywhere. After all, you are only going for 10 days to travel around and not to do business. In the worst case scenario, pointing at stuff at looking at the value in the cash register should get you through most day-to-day situations. That said:

Quoting Dr.DTW (Thread starter):
and which should I avoid?

Spain and Italy are notoriously bad in those respects. Plenty of reasons to avoid Spain, really, and the inability of speaking English is just one of them, but it is not like you will starve to death and miss your flight because of it.

Quoting TSS (Reply 15):
Another friend visited Germany hoping, among other things, to improve his language skills by speaking German to native German-speakers. Much to his dismay, almost all the native Germans he met insisted on speaking English to him to practice and/or improve their language skills.

I keep having that same problem with my French. I love the French language but have barely no opportunity to practice it so my French is quite bad. However, whenever I have tried using it recently (in Paris, Montreal and Tahiti) people almost immediately switch over to English and don't give me a chance to practice it. Some of them even address me in English straight away, before I even open my mouth (I must have "tourist" written all over my forehead or something). The ones who do speak French with me are usually nice enough to acknowledge the effort I am doing and keep going even though the conversation would flow much smoother in English.

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 17):
Arguably the best countries in the world for coffee lovers are Spain and the Netherlands.

Dear God, please tell me you are kidding.
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RobertNL070
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:58 pm



Quoting Pyrex (Reply 18):
Dear God, please tell me you are kidding.

No, I am not kidding. It's my opinion and that's why I used the word 'arguably'  Yeah sure
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Pyrex
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:04 pm



Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 19):
No, I am not kidding. It's my opinion and that's why I used the word 'arguably'

Well, it is my opinion that you couldn't be further from the truth and that is why I used the expression "Dear God"  Yeah sure
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allrite
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:09 pm



Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 8):
You won't have a problem in most western European cities, even in Paris, but you'll draw a blank from Parisians if you address them in English. A few words in French go a LONG way to dismantling that famous Gallic froideur.

I agree with Braybuddy in that you should try to learn at least a few polite words in the local language - it's not difficult and it helps to demonstrate that you respect the fact they do have their own language and culture. I've never had a problem in France. Sometimes I'll find someone who can't speak English, but then they have tried to find someone who can usually speak better English than my paltry French.

I found the level of English to be better in the Netherlands and Germany than in the UK. Many UK accents are impenetrable and I dun unnerstan nuffink wat dey speak.  Smile
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aircatalonia
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:26 pm



Quoting Dr.DTW (Thread starter):
What countries are best suited for the English-only traveler, and which should I avoid?

If you speak slowly and you try to make yourself understood, you should have no problem. The only places where you may encounter some difficulties are perhaps southern Spain and Italy (not the big cities). Then the "far east" (eastern Europe) is a different story and you may have some issues getting by in the areas with most Russian influence, but I presume you are planning a trip to western or central Europe.

Good luck  Wink
 
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LTU932
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:38 pm



Quoting Falstaff (Reply 9):
In the old DDR side of the country I found few people that could speak English. Maybe if I was hanging around younger people I would have but the over 40 crowd were generally not English speakers.

That is true, because most of them in the old DDR learned Russian instead of English as first foreign language.

That being said, if you go to Germany, you should have no language problem even if you only speak English. And if they don't speak English, then they'll certainly understand some of it, after all, the English and German language are related in some way.
 
Scorpio
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:41 pm

Here in Belgium, it depends on where you go. In Dutch-speaking Flanders (with cities like Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, etc.) and in bilingual (French and Dutch) Brussels you'll have no problem at all, with levels of English as high as in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. If you go to French-speaking Wallonia, you might have some more difficulty, though you should get by.
 
Dr.DTW
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:29 pm

Thank you all so much...

What about these cities:

Lisbon
Madrid
Barcelona

There are the three I'm considering....

Thanks
Ed.
 
doug_or
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak Engli

Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:50 pm



Quoting Dr.DTW (Reply 25):
Lisbon
Madrid
Barcelona

You shouldn't have much trouble as a tourist in any of these cities, but as others have said, Spain does lag most of Western Europe in English accessibility.

How are you planning on getting around? Train, plane or automobile (don't underestimate the bus either- European buses are WAY better than greyhound)? If you do an Iberian tour consider the cities south of Madrid (Seville and Toledo). I also liked the small cities on the south coast of Portugal (the big resort towns are just places for Brits to get drunk and sunburned).

I'm just kind of repeating what others have said, but they're spot on so I'll reinforce it anyway:

Learning a little bit of language ahead of time is a good idea, even if you're going to the Netherlands or Scandinavia where English is spoken by almost 100% of the population. People will be more friendly and you better understand what is going on around you. Watching a few subtitled movies from whatever countries you are visiting will help with pronunciation and offer a small insight into that nation's culture. (Most Lonely Planet guides offer a few recommendations for important movies from their subject's country in the culture section).

The bigger the city, the younger the person (especially in central [what we sometimes refer to as eastern] europe), and the more tourists around, the more likely they'll speak english.

Get a good guidebook, and read it BEFORE making your itinerary.
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Pyrex
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:00 am



Quoting Dr.DTW (Reply 25):
Lisbon
Madrid
Barcelona

I have never been to Barcelona and it has been a while since I was in Madrid for the last time but I can tell you that in Lisbon you should be just fine, no problems travelling around. Pretty much any touristic place has signage in English as well (as do many/most restaurants) and most reasonably-educated people under the age of 30 or so (the younger generations) should be able to speak English as well, as will many above that age. Just look out for taxi drivers, though, they might... hmmm... feign ignorance.

Being in a foreign country where you don't speak the language isn't really that much of a deal, though, if you know how to point at things and can read the signs (luckily almost everywhere in Europe, except Greece, Serbia and Russia use the Roman alphabet).
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Ken777
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:09 am

As an English only speaker I've always relied on translators - Palms in years past and some nice ones on the iPhone/touch.

Another rule is to learn to say "Think You" in a local language and remember that a smile ha no language barrier.

For traveling in Europe I loved going to the UK with my wife. Dublin is a great place. For "non-English" countries the top of my list is Vienna. They are very kind in accepting my ignorance of their language and and always leave me wanting to return.

I loved Barcelona, but mostly walked around that wonderful city for hours. The Palm Pilot translator was very handy for me though.
 
MAH4546
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:25 am

Many Europeans have a very strong grasp of English. In general, the "weaker" a language in a country, the stronger their grasp of English is.

In the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, where the national language is barely spoken outside of the country, English is spoken by pretty much everyone. I would say that Danes have a better grasp of English grammar than most Americans do. English is also widely spoken and understood in Switzerland and Luxembourg, again to a level where most people are as close to fluent as you can get for a non-native language.

In Belgium, Spain, France, Portugal, Austria and Germany (especially eastern Germany), where the national languages are also important global languages, English isn't spoken as widely (at least in my experiences), but it won't be that hard to communicate.

I would say Italy and Greece are in between the two - somebody is not as likely to speak good English as in Sweden, but more likely than in Spain. I lived in Athens, and as my Greek is not strong, I mostly communicated in English and never once experienced problems.

Among the "Big 5" European countries, excluding the UK of course, Italy in my experience has the best grasp of the English language, especially northern Italy.

English is not widely spoken in Eastern Europe.

And, of course, this goes for urban areas. English is widely spoken in, say, Athens and Florence, it isn't widely spoken in Sparta or Cittevechia.

And another thing to note is that English is becoming more and more commonly spoken among younger generations. It's just that some countries are only now catching up. English has a second language has been taught, often mandatory, in Greece and Scandinavia for seemingly ages. It has only been with the current "internet" generation that English language education has expanded in popularity in France, Spain, Germany, etc. A 40 year-old in Germany is much less likely to speak English than a 40 year-old in Greece, but the same can't be said if you were comparing two 18 year-olds.

[Edited 2009-02-07 18:31:45]
a.
 
TristarAtLCA
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak Engli

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:44 am

I would certainly recommend Barcelona, by far my fave Euro city. A beautiful, fun city. Loads to see and do and its got a beach!!!

Most hotel desk staff speak very good English as do most younger people. You may find older people speaking Catalan, but it won't cause you a problem.

Have fun on your trip.
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IBERIA747
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:58 am



Quoting Pyrex (Reply 18):
Plenty of reasons to avoid Spain, really

And those would be?

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 17):
Arguably the best countries in the world for coffee lovers are Spain and the Netherlands.

I have never had a cup of coffee in the Netherlands (even though I've been there about 10 times) so I can't give you an opinion. However, I agree with you about coffee in Spain. Italy seems to have a big tradition in good coffee as well.
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Kiqaboy
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:21 am

If you have enough time come to Kosova, its a great place to visit, and you would not have problem with English here at all.

Kiqa
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KirkSeattle
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:23 am



Quoting Dr.DTW (Reply 25):
Lisbon
Madrid
Barcelona

My very first trip to Europe was to Spain in late 2006 and I didn't speak Spanish. I absolutely LOVED IT ! Flew into Madrid for a couple of days then flew to Barcelona. Drove down the coast to Murcia and flew back to Madrid onward to the US. I've been to London (which is was fun and easy) and Paris was a great experience ( I can read and speak French ok).

I found the Spanish people, warm and welcoming. The food was awesome as was the wine. I've been back to Barcelona and just love the city.

While in Barcelona, I had to run out and find a lighter for the stove in the apartment my friends and I rented and although I had to run around and didn't know the proper translation - a quick "flick the bic" hand signal, got me what I needed. There were two incidents where the language barrier arose, but it wasn't anything that bad (however, a teenage girl in a Carrefour in Murcia did a pretty good job on making me feel bad on not bagging my produce correctly).

Portugal is on my list, along with Poland, Germany, Croatia, Denmark and Sweden. And although I don't speak any of the languages of those countries, I would feel comfortable visiting as long as I read up on customs and learned some words (please, thank you, hello, red wine, beer, restroom).

Good luck!

-Kirk
 
mal787
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:23 am

Hi Doc
I have travelled trhough Germany Czech Replublic Hungary Netherlands Germany Finland & Spain and had no problems at all. France whoever I found people can be very rude if you do not speak the language so I would avoid it on your first attemp

Happy travels

mal787
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captaink
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:34 am



Quoting Pyrex (Reply 20):

Well, it is my opinion that you couldn't be further from the truth and that is why I used the expression "Dear God"

Well don't keep is in the dark, I am eager to find out what European destinations are great for coffee lovers.
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Elite
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:38 am

The United Kingdom... honestly. When you travel to other parts of Europe, English can get you by but you will run into some problems (as I have). I prefer to go with a tour.
 
WunalaYann
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:55 am



Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
France, however, may not be the best place for English speakers... especially Americans, because of lingering cultural tensions between the two nations.

I am very happy to say that this is absolutely incorrect. I am sad to see that this cliché keeps popping up, despite overwhelming evidence of the contrary.

Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
However, if you do plan on going to France (particularly Paris) you should make an attempt to speak French... the people there I've heard are more receptive if you engage them in the native language rather than assuming that they speak English off the bat.

Replace "France" and "French" by just about any country/language combination and you have a sensible proposition. Basic courtesy and cultural awareness dictates that one should learn "hello", "please", "thank you" and "Sorry, I do not speak XYZlanguage" when travelling to XYZcountry. To make it a French-specific issue is a mistake and unfair to French people. Being French myself, I have been battling this misconception for the better part of 15 years.

 Smile

Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 29):
English is not widely spoken in Eastern Europe.

My experience is radically different, but that is what you get in a continent of 500 million people with millennium-old civilisation.

 Smile
 
jush
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:58 am



Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
especially Americans, because of lingering cultural tensions between the two nations

Let me just say everyone is very welcome in Germany, especially Americans. There may sometimes be political tension between our countries, but the general public still like Americans and you are always welcome for a visit.

You shouldn't have any problems with English only. You may not find an english speaking person right away but a lot of people can understand enough and e.g. can tell you the way or similar.

Enjoy the trip to Europe.

Btw, you could get problems in France with English as they only speak one language there: Frenchy. Even if they are fluent in other languages they won't help you out.


Regds
jush
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B737200
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Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2005 5:30 pm

RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:38 am

I wouldn't really worry about it that much, you'll find someone who can speak a bit of English. I hear quite a few people say that in Germany people speak good English, but personally when I was their most of the people I had contact with didn't.

However the actual point to this is that people were very helpful and you'll manage to get around. I think this might be more important than a country that can speak English fluently, what's the use if they're not willing to help, so especially if you're not travelling alone (but even if you are) I wouldn't simply discount non-English speaking parts of Europe because you might be missing out.

Oh and if you decide to come to Malta as others have said we speak English and I'm sure you'll have a good time.
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RobertNL070
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:20 am



Quoting Dr.DTW (Thread starter):
What countries are best suited for the English-only traveler, and which should I avoid?

Another point. I started going to France and Spain some thirty years ago, wonderful countries by the way, and nobody, but nobody spoke a word of English then. Nowadays English is spoken more widely, especially by the younger generation. Maria, a friend of mine who runs a very popular restaurant in La Carihuela, Spain, speaks both good English and French outside of her native Spanish. Her husband is Flemish. It gives her restaurant the edge over others.

However, as I said earlier, do try to learn a few words of some different languages. It might open some doors.

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 20):
Well, it is my opinion that you couldn't be further from the truth and that is why I used the expression "Dear God"

Please enlighten me as to your criteria for a good cup of coffee then (subject for a new thread).
Youth is a gift of nature. Age is a work of art.
 
WunalaYann
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:23 am



Quoting Jush (Reply 38):
Btw, you could get problems in France with English as they only speak one language there: Frenchy. Even if they are fluent in other languages they won't help you out.

Wow. Talk about a slap in the face. I am sorry to hear you have had bad experiences but that was one big generalisation...
 
PanHAM
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:41 am



Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 17):
Starbucks will never get off the ground here in the Netherlands. I believe there is just one Starbucks in the whole country, in Amsterdam. Their coffee is gnat's pee.

LOL, I would'nt bet on that, there is even Starbucks in VIE, that's like having a mosque in Vatican City.

Advise for Americans travelling to Europe. Yes, you get by with English most of the time. Try to learn some basic phrases in the local languages, it widens your horizon. Try the local coffee shops, bakeries, local fast food and local slow food.

DO NOT go to McDee's, Starbucks, Drunken Donouts, Burger Queen and whatever else you know from home. You might as well stay there, it's cheaper.
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Kiwirob
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:50 am

It's pretty easy really, you can break down Europeans understanding and speaking of English into 2 camps, those countries which dub ie Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Eastern Europe and those which don't, the Nordic countries, Holland and the UK. Those that dub generally have a poor understanding of English, those that don't will have average to excellent ability in English.

There are of course individuals in the dubbing camp who speak excellent English but they are few and far between, same as there are people in the non dubbing group (mostly older or country people) who have a poor understanding. I also find that if you do need some help it normally young women who best at speaking and understanding English.
 
RobertNL070
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:50 am



Quoting Jush (Reply 38):
Btw, you could get problems in France with English as they only speak one language there: Frenchy. Even if they are fluent in other languages they won't help you out.

Well if you will drive to France in your German registered car and they see you getting out of your car...................  duck   Wink
Youth is a gift of nature. Age is a work of art.
 
WunalaYann
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:56 am



Quoting Us330 (Reply 12):
That said, if you are going to Europe, don't pick a country just because it is easier to speak English, go to a country because you are interested in its history, culture, etc. For example, if you are a huge Victor Hugo fan, go to France even if you can't speak French--you'll get by anyway, and have some great stories to tell.

 checkmark  Thank you. For a moment I thought I had lived on another planet for 25 years.  Smile
 
Kiwirob
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:57 am



Quoting Kiqaboy (Reply 32):
If you have enough time come to Kosova, its a great place to visit, and you would not have problem with English here at all.

Kiqa

Please tell me that you are kidding, I was in Kosovo late last year it was a bugger of a place when it came to people understanding English, when it comes to countries in the former Yugoslavia the only places I don't have problems in are Croatia and Slovenia.
 
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GrahamHill
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:18 am



Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
However, if you do plan on going to France (particularly Paris) you should make an attempt to speak French... the people there I've heard are more receptive if you engage them in the native language rather than assuming that they speak English off the bat.

Well, who would not be? I went to Japan 7 years ago and people really appreciated I could speak a bit of Japanese. Then I had to speak English because my Japanese was not enough fluent, but at least I made the effort, and it was appreciated.

Quoting Flybyguy (Reply 2):
I've also noticed when traveling in Asia (could be true in Europe)... that young people, particularly the college aged crowds, are more inclined to know English than the older generations.

Yes and no. In France, the education system focuses mostly on the French language. It's already hard enough to learn (even for native speakers!). Therefore you will find people among the young generation who would probably be able to formulate some basic sentences, but that's all.

I think we really have a problem with foreign languages, at least compared to some other countries in Europe.

Quoting STT757 (Reply 7):
We had no troubles at all, in fact I was pleasantly surprised how friendly everyone was to us Americans (even in France). We found many comforts of home in Europe, Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona, Starbucks, McDonald's etc.

Like some other people said, you don't go abroad to go and eat or drink in American places. I think you have enough countries in Europe where you can eat some real nice food and drink proper coffee. France, Italy, Spain among others. Try local cafés and restaurants. You'll have much better products.

Avoid the UK and Ireland. That's all Big grin

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 8):
even in Paris, but you'll draw a blank from Parisians if you address them in English. A few words in French go a LONG way to dismantling that famous Gallic froideur

Are we cold?  Wow!

Well, we might not be as talkative as the Irish, that's for sure!  Wink

Quoting Us330 (Reply 12):
That said, if you are going to Europe, don't pick a country just because it is easier to speak English, go to a country because you are interested in its history, culture, etc. For example, if you are a huge Victor Hugo fan, go to France even if you can't speak French--you'll get by anyway, and have some great stories to tell.

 checkmark  Yes, Europe is full of history everywhere. You just have to choose which one you like the most!

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 17):
Arguably the best countries in the world for coffee lovers are Spain and the Netherlands.

Huh? And what about Italy, the country of coffee?! I don't think you'll find a better place than Italy for coffee.

Quoting TristarAtLCA (Reply 30):
I would certainly recommend Barcelona, by far my fave Euro city. A beautiful, fun city. Loads to see and do and its got a beach!!!

Yes, and they have the best soccer team in the world. If you want to discover soccer, I would highly suggest you to go to the Camp Nou.

Quoting Mal787 (Reply 34):
France whoever I found people can be very rude if you do not speak the language so I would avoid it on your first attemp

Did you have a bad experience? Honestly, we appreciate if you try in our language, but we won't be offended more than that if you don't!

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 37):
I am very happy to say that this is absolutely incorrect. I am sad to see that this cliché keeps popping up, despite overwhelming evidence of the contrary.

Yep. Any American is welcome with open arms in France. I have not met an American who had a bad memory going to France. Just avoid being "too American". When you go abroad, don't think you go in a conquered territory. That would be the biggest mistake you could do.

On the other hand, be humble, be curious, be interested and you will be nicely welcomed.
"A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one" - Moliere
 
JRadier
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:36 am



Quoting Ken777 (Reply 28):
For traveling in Europe I loved going to the UK with my wife. Dublin is a great place.

You are aware that Dublin is actually in Ireland and not the UK right?
For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and ther
 
Gemuser
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RE: Where To Go In Europe, If You Only Speak English?

Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:29 am

I have spent time in Italy, France, Spain & Portugal. Speak only English with a very flat Australian accent. I had more language problems in SFO than I ever did in MAD or LIS.

Now admittedly Mrs Gemuser is a native Italian speaker (very rusty after living in Oz for 50 years) and a pretty good student of the French language, but we were not together all the time and in fact I speak better "timetable", "railway", "bus" and "plane" & "science" than she does and in many case was able to communicate with the local in those subject better than she could. There was one "family famous" occasion when she left her passport in a hotel in Sicily and I had to travel most of the way across the island by public bus to retrieve it, changing twice one way and three times the other and had no real problem.

I found Paris & Parisians to be a very kind and helpful people, contrary to everything I had heard about them. On the other hand I didn't like London & Londoners!

Listen to the advice in this thread, it certainly matches my experience. If it really worries you go to Denmark, they speak better English than you find in SFO & LAX & SYD!

Gemuser
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