Thinking back of our trip to Porto (Portugal) I remembered something, which made me think about the problems you can have when you don't speak the language.
I do know a couple of languages. My main language is Flemish (or Dutch), I speak and write English without having to search for words, I am also fluent in German and of course I know French. Not that I like it, but it's necessary you know it. I can perfectly understand anything written and said in French, but if I have to speak it, I'm always wondering what to say. I also know some Swedish (I took a course of it during my uni days) and I can follow a conversation in Italian and Spanish.
But Portugese? It looks like Spanish when it's written, but the pronunciation is completely different.
Now, we arrived by plane at the Porto airport and as we did not know the city yet, we decided to take a taxi to the hotel. Now the first taxi in the row was driven by an elderly gentleman. We gave him a note with the address, and he took off.
But soon we noticed he did not quite know where the hotel was. In Porto you have an Avenida de Baovista, which turns towards the end in Rua de Boavista (where the hotel is situated). We arrived at the Avenida, but of course he did not find the hotel there.
So he started a conversation - in Portugese - which we didn't understand. Another elderly gent came to the help, and with sign language I managed to make them understand there should be a STREET as well, next to the AVENIDA.
Actually, you can do a lot with sign language. Well, not the one for deaf people, but with hand gestures and universal words. It took us an hour, but at last we arrived in the Rua de Boavista....
The taxi meter was running crazy, but the guy was ashamed that it had taken him so long to find the destiny and he did not want any money. It took some persuasion on our side to give him the money which is normal for a taxi ride to the airport (some 20 €). He was very grateful and we got an embrace as well.