This morning we were in the Greek speaking part of Cyprus. Language wasn't much of an issue because most people spoke English. They were occupied by the British for quite some time so all of the signage is even bilingual.
Tonight we're spending the night in Liége, Belgium where they speak French. When we checked in at the hotel we asked for a recommendation for a restaurant with good vegetarian dishes. The lady frowned and finally recommended an Italian place.
Ristorante I Giardini was bustling and we were happy to get a seat but had to take a moment to collect our thoughts so we could try to manage the menu in French. When our server came I asked him in French if he spoke English, German, or Spanish. He offered us Italian so we made do the best we could with French and gestures. He was very busy and was all business. No sense of humor at all.
When it was time to ask for the check I couldn't remember the phrase in French but I knew it in Italian so I switched to Italian. Our server loved it! The humorless man disappeared and he was all smiles. The power of language changed his attitude.
I am often embarrassed that I don't speak better German since I have lived in Germany for so many years. I can get by but my grammar is poor and I could stand to know some more vocabulary. But tonight when I could offer conversation in three languages and pleasantries in two more I felt pretty proud and capable.
In the end we got the pizzas we ordered but not my salad. I know he understood me because he asked me if I wanted a large or small salad. I guess that was a nice excuse to eat some of Sophia's pizza. It was delicious.