Getting by in Madrid

Old Jul 1st, 2006, 02:40 PM
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Getting by in Madrid

I'm an american who'll be travelling to Madrid in late August, early September. I'll be spending most of my time at a professional conference being held there. But in my off hours I hope to do a bit of sightseeing. Organized tours can be nice, but I have always preferred to wander around on my own.
The issue: Though I have had a bit of spanish in high school, it is a bit rusty at this point. How hard do you think it might be for me to get by with limited spanish skills? Any tips for learning the essentials I would need as atraveller?
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Old Jul 1st, 2006, 04:04 PM
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With a phrase book and a handy Streetwise Madrid you will probably be fine. I also have rusty Spanish skills and recently stretched a weekend from business as well to spend time in Madrid.

I did have to use the rusty Spanish some, but people were understanding and it was a very enjoyable weekend. Don't forget the phrasebook though! I forgot it on a quick trip to buy postage stamps and could not for the life of me remember the name, and the woman at the kiosk spoke no English so we finally just smiled at each other and I left.
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Old Jul 1st, 2006, 04:52 PM
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Your high school spanish will come back as soon as you need to speak it. Why not spend an hour or two brushing up on a few basics. After that you should be fine.
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Old Jul 1st, 2006, 06:25 PM
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Thousands of people who speak no Spanish whatsoever visit every year, so I think you will be fine. Also, their metro system is really clear and easy to use, so getting around will be a snap.
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Old Jul 1st, 2006, 10:38 PM
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My high school Spanish was not Castilian, which is spoken in Madrid, but we managed to get by. Of course, when you're used to speaking limited Spanish in Mexico, it's a bit off-putting trying to remember to say grathias, rather than gracias. Most people there were patient and pleasant, and seemed pleased we were at least trying.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 06:47 AM
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The whole business of difference between Castillian vs. American Spanish is much ado over nothing. Whatever you had in high school, whatever Spanish you were introduced to is so basic and universal, it should be of some help.

If you had 4 or 5 years of Spanish, which still is "a bit" in the long haul, I would try to go back to a textbook and review. If you had only a year for example...which is very little bit...then I would try the phrasebook method.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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Is not being able to say anything in Spanish other that gracias a problem in Madrid? Gee, I wish someone would have told me that. We spent 13 days in Madrid and Salamanca in May and I never encountered a single significant communication problem, even though we were staying in an apartment and didn't have the aid of a staff to help us. Sure it's NICE if you can speak some phrases, but it is NOT necessary.
 
Old Jul 20th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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I agree with Neopolitan and even on the Metro you can understand the names of the stops which are announced even though they are Spanish names.

I do not speak any Spanish whatsoever and had no trouble in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, etc.

And you do NOT need anything but a pointing finger to buy that gelato..and yes it IS good in Madrid.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 08:13 AM
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If you can't visit somewhere unless you speak the language, then there wouldn't be so many people traveling and on this website.

It's helpful to know the basics: hello, goodbye, count 1,2,3, how much is that, thank you..... I think most locals have seen enough tourist to know that not everyone speaks Spanish.
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Old Jul 21st, 2006, 02:00 AM
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Surely you remember things like: Por Favór, Gracias, and ¿Donde está? Add a few simple things like 'los Servicios' (for the men's or ladies room) and you should get along just fine.
BTW
'todo derecha' means straight ahead; 'a mano derecha' means to your right and 'a mano izquierda' on your left. Review your numbers and be prepared to ask '¿cuanto vale?'
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Old Jul 21st, 2006, 02:44 AM
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Hi

After one week in Madrid in desperation I bought a phrase book - Collins Phrase Book & Dictionary. See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0...e&n=266239. More or less pocket size it was a phrase book, sign guide, foodguide and dictionary. It was excellent and inexpensive. I could now work out what I wanted to eat and how to ask for it!
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Old Jul 21st, 2006, 03:53 AM
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I spent a long weekend there in March/April, don't know any Spanish at all (I'm not proud of this) & neither do any of the 5 people I was with, but we never needed to.
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Old Jul 21st, 2006, 07:59 AM
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I'm sure you'll get along fine. It's been a while since we were in Madrid, but we found less English speakers there than other places we have visited. Perhaps that has changed since our visit.

"And you do NOT need anything but a pointing finger to buy that gelato..and yes it IS good in Madrid."

I'm sure pointing works fine, but if you want to ask for it, don't request gelato but instead helado. We had some most evenings just around the corner from our hotel in Puerta de Sol and I agree it was very good.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 05:25 AM
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Spanish is Spanish!!! Don't get worried about Castillian Spanish, because the only real difference is the accent. Words like Gracias are the same whether you say it that way, or say it Grathias. THEY WILL UNDERSTAND YOU EITHER WAY AND YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT TIME. Adios.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 07:10 AM
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Mea culpa for even suggesting the difference! But did you have to shout?
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