The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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2:56pm on Thursday, 22nd September, 2005:
For some reason, whenever I am abroad people think I'm a local and ask me directions. I've no idea why, but it wouldn't surprise me even if it happened in Japan, it's so comon. My Amserdam trip ends today, but in the short period I've been here I've been approached 3 times by complete strangers for information.
The first occasion was when some women stopped me and gabbled something in Dutch. I told her I didn't speak Dutch, so she said "Time?". I showed her my watch, and off she went.
The second occasion I was accosted with those magnificent words, "Do you speak English?", to which I invariaably reply, "I am English". This time it was a bunch of Germans wanting to know if the building they thought was the railway station was indeed the railway station. I told them it was, but they weren't impressed. "I'll look it up on my map, then", I offered, to which the reply was, "You need to look at a map?!". Well no, I didn't. "This is Dam Square, that road is Damrak, and that building at the end is the railways station!" I snarled. Then they got out their own map to check.
The third occasion was near said railways station. A chap stopped me and didn't even ask if I spoke English, he seemed to assume anyone over the age of 5 in Holland must do (which may well be the case). He pulled out a piece of paper with an address on and asked if I could tell him where it was. Bizarrely, I did: it was a quiet square of small, old houses that used to be accommodation for a nunnery. It goes by the name of Begijnhof. This chap asking me directions was 90 degrees out: he was heading south when he should have been heading west. I wasn't convinced he was able to comprehend this, explanation, so I gave him a pocket map I'd picked up in the hotel. He thanked me, then strode off in the direction of the red light district.
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