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Pleasant encounters

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The thread about how not to look like tourists reminded me of one of the possible benefits of looking like a tourist--to wit, the lovely conversations I've had with strangers.

The American opera singer we met on a street corner in Regensburg when we were trying to figure out how to get back to our hotel. The German teenaged boy in Segovia who was delighted to speak to us in English, which he knew very well, as opposed to Spanish, with which he was still struggling. It was very sweet to see how glad he was to speak with us two old girls.

Then there was the chambermaid in our hotel in Beilstein, who asked where we were from. We said, "Washington state," to which she responded "Oh, the Evergreen State." It turned out that she had lived in Bellingham (on the coast) and had worked as a carpenter's apprentice there.

The German woman I chatted with in the coffee shop at the Neue Nationalgalerie, or the talkative woman at the next table on the Hauptstrasse in Heidelberg. We had quite a nice conversation, as nearly as I could tell. (I didn't understand it all.)

And the British couple (she actually South African and he born in Germany) I first met on a streetcorner in Quedlinburg. I spoke to them when I heard them speaking English and I commented that I thought we were the only English-speaking people in town. We later met in the main square and had a great conversation as we drank coffee and ate Eis.

And my favorite, though the briefest. I had ordered breakfast at a cafe in Schwábisch Hall, asking for "ein mittel-gekochtes Ei, " in my most grammatically perfect Deutsch, and the woman at the next table, obviously realizing I was a student at the Goethe Institute, gave me a big smile and said, "Gut gemacht!" That is "Well done!" I loved it!

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