"No no, I said ice not weiss."
I had ordered my usual summer drink - black tea with a large glass of ice - at a gelateria in a town called Bellano. The waiter brought a cold glass of German Weiss bier.
"Ice! I want a glass of ice for my tea."
"Errr … gelato?"
He didn't speak German either. Most Italians in the touristy areas around Lago di Como and Lago di Garda speak German either because of the proximity of Switzerland or because most of the tourists speak German.
English, not so much. But eis and ice sound the same so I'm guessing German was as foreign to this tattooed waiter as English.
Clearly not a very touristy area. There were barely any camps and most of the traffic on this side of the Lago di Como was Italian. At Garda most cars were from other countries.
But hey, that's what you get when Kaylee, the GPS, encounters a twenty kilometer stretch of closed road and gets lost. Took us three hours to get from Bellano to Dongo - a distance of just fifty kilometers. Infinite if you don't know where to go.
"No no, no gelato. Ice, ice! err … cold water?"
"I don't know, eis. sygnals furiously with hands Err … tiny cubes of water … aqua solido."
"Si si, ghiaccio."
Aqua solido worked. Good on @robertbasic coming up with that. We had no idea what ghiaccio meant, but the waiter was very encouraging.
"Errr … okay then, ghiaccio, si. A full glass of ghiaccio, preggo."
Moments later the sunburnt waiter came back with a full glass of ice. Ghiaccio, have to keep that word in mind.
That was the first time we hit the language barrier on this roadtrip around Europe. Running around Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Germany like two lunatics equipped only with our native languages, English and fragments of German was a brilliant idea. I'm absolutely certain no more language barriers will be hit and from now on everyone will speak fluent English.
Especially when we're longboarding up in the goat mountain roads where the serpentines are sharp and cars overheat. Everyone there is going to speak English right?
When did I become one of those crappy American tourists that expects everyone everywhere to speak English anyway? It's not even my native language ...
Oh well, onwards to Millau at 7:30 tomorrow morning to see the tallest bridge in the world and then to a four day longboarding event at Maison de Peyragudes.
Everyone in France speaks English right?
Learned something new?
Read more Software Engineering Lessons from Production
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
Subscribe below 👇
Software Engineering Lessons from Production
Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.
"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"
Senior Mindset Book
Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companiesLearn more
Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.
Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.
Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev
Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization
Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog
By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️