Once upon a time in the mid-90s I visited a touristy town called Lloret de Mar on the southern Spanish Coast some 75 kilometers from Barcelona.
My wife and I took a charter bus from Denmark, through Germany, Luxembourg and France to Spain.
The usual exciting things happened on the way down like Stau (traffic jam) in Germany, and also near the France-Spanish border. The driver also only had one cassette/Cd with the Eurythmics on it, which first made me a fan then turned me into an all time hater of their music, especially that particular album, which we heard over and over and over.
Here is a map of the area, with Lloret de Mar seen on the right.
Screen shot from Google Maps
We stayed in a hotel with an elevator, which seemed like the handy thing to use, as we were on a sightseeing trip, and not a run up the stairs 3 at time trip!
Lucky (or unlucky) for us I had taken a few years of Spanish, which means that it was sufficient enough to ask a question, but not being able to understand the answer, it being spoken so quickly. One day we needed to purchase postage stamps, which are traditionally sold in Tobacco Shops. Again, I was able to ask its location, but had to guess at the answer I got from the helpful hotel employee. Luckily I guessed correctly and was able to send a postcard to my Mother in-law, saying something like, “I wish you were her“, or something along those lines.
The unlucky part comes now. One day when we were in the elevator, it broke down. Not between the 2 floors, but with about 20% vision of our destination to be seen. The emergency button didn’t seem to work, and all of the passersby seemed to ignore our cries for help. I felt at a loss, not being able to say, “ascensor – elevator” and “roto – broken” which might have helped us a bit. I wasn’t even thinking of a verb between the 2, or perhaps that I should have yelled “help” in Spanish, which again we only knew in English.
We were going nowhere, that might have been a joke, when suddenly we caught the attention of a young English Speaking lad. He understood our problem, and fetched some people with a knowledge of both English and Elevators, which made the rest of my day, let me tell you. We thanked both him and his parents, and went on our way, pretending to be “Cool Touristas” in España.
I guess, I never got a proper chance to learn “ascensor” while on that vacation. I did, however, learn a very useful word while perusing my English-Spanish Dictionary. My wife could never understand, how I could read a dictionary like a book, but I could, and happened to fall upon a word that I remember to this day, some 20 years down the line.
Gaviota (f) Seagull. Why Seagull, you might ask?
Well, they were to be seen on the rooftop underneath our hotel room, and that is how I came to remember Seagulls, and not Elevators in Spanish!