Signs of the Times: “Leave your fancy footwear behind — oh, and your feet, too.”

© Sue Browne 2013

© Sue Browne 2013

Yangon, Myanmar. I love this sign, and it’s actually pretty famous in terms of funny mistranslations from around the world. Good family friends visited Burma earlier this year and took this photo. I’ve since seen it in Lonely Planet’s Signspotting and other blogs. I think it goes particularly well with the photo below.

© Stephanie Glaser 2013

© Stephanie Glaser 2013

McDonald’s, Colorado Springs, CO, USA. This completely cracked me up. I can’t imagine running in heels after toddlers in the first place. In fact, I only started wearing wedge sandals and heels occasionally when with my kids about one year ago (and only on completely sturdy surfaces.) Being a geeky English teacher, I also noticed that an unnecessary apostrophe appears with Moms. The poor apostrophe — it’s so misused. However, that’s a different post.  

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Signs of the Times: Welcome to McDonald’s (but after 30 minutes, get the hell out!)

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser

Las Vegas Strip, Nevada. I understand that on the Vegas strip, many people probably “linger” a bit longer than some businesses may like, but this sign is pretty clear. I also definitely get why you don’t want people who aren’t paying customers to hang out, but wow, if someone is enjoying a Big Mac bonanza, he or she should probably be allowed to at least begin the digestion process. I wonder if the people to which the sign is targeted think to themselves, “Wow, like the sign says, I’ve overstayed my “welcome,” I had better move on.”

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2013

On the other hand, this Mickey D’s further down on the south side of the LV strip where it’s less populated and glitzy, has a sign that says, “Here’s where the party is People!!” Now here is a welcome sign. I’m lovin’ this one!

Travel Oops — Should I add McDonald’s to the Guidebook?

© Stephanie Glaser 1989

© Stephanie Glaser 1989

No more creating copy about high-speed railways, long-span suspension bridges, retrofitted freeways or any other engineering miracles. I was going to be a travel writer. For nearly three years, I had worked as an editor in the public affairs office for the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley, and I longed to write about other subjects. I would, however, gladly examine engineering feats along the lines of windmills, dikes and bicycles.

berkeley guide

Hired to write insights about Europe — the Netherlands in particular — for the 1996 edition of the Berkeley Guides, a budget Fodor’s travel guide series produced by students at Berkeley, I had found a dream job. Although not a Berkeley student, I was a copywriter and editor.

Plus, I had studied in Leiden, Holland, for a year while in college. Ultimately, I could serve as a cultural anthropologist.

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Silos, Cows, Poppy Fields and Ukrainian Soldiers with AK-47’s

© Edward Schuck

Cows, silos, barns, and cornfields. Count these as the main sights of a trip I took in 2006. One would think this place was Iowa, Wisconsin or my home state of Minnesota. Nope. I was in Ukraine looking at fields of corn and pastures of cows. Lots of fields and lots of cows.

Ukraine has long been considered the breadbasket of Europe, and so is the region from where I hail. While it was a nice coincidence, being in breadbasket turf, even in another country, was not necessarily what I wanted to experience. One of the main ideas behind travel is to visit places and appreciate cultures that are different from your own.

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This Buda’s for You — in Greek

A beautiful building in Buda. I have no idea what it is.
© Stephanie Glaser

The tour minivan emerged into what had to be an important historical area of Budapest. The view from the window closest to me was of an especially stately palace adorned with statues, gates, towers, spires — typical castle stuff.   The guide began to speak, and I eagerly waited to find out what iconic Hungarian landmark I was looking at.

“There are 16 McDonalds throughout the Buda and Pest metropolitan areas,” said Gabriella, a college student from Greece, who was translating the guide’s commentary, since I was on a tour of Budapest conducted entirely in Greek.

“Huh? Are we stopping for lunch?” was my first reaction to Gabriella’s comment. However, the seriousness of her tone convinced me that this was actually an authentic cultural tidbit she was relaying. Meanwhile, the tour guide, along with the rest of the passengers consisting of Iga, a woman traveling with her seven-year-old daughter, Katerina, as well as her parents and sister, turned to assess my response. None of them spoke English. Continue reading