Be them street signs, signs on a building, or informative markers, here are a few of the signs that played a role in my travels abroad.
The above sign was the first I encountered in Ireland that, probably shockingly, threw me for a loop, but also helped formulate a bond. It was my first night in Dublin and a group of six or seven of us were in a pub just off Grafton Street. One girl, Lisa, and I were looking at the jukebox when another girl in our group came over to ask us if we knew where the bathrooms were. Neither of us had any idea but I remembered seeing a guy head through the door that had this sign above it and go up some steps. So I said to the girl, “I think that sign means the bathrooms are through that door and upstairs.” She hit me with a look that questioned my intelligence and sobriety and, before moving on, replied, “I think that means Exit.” My brief embarrassment quickly vanished as both Lisa and I fell into hysterics. She and I became fast friends after that.
The sign to the right is an unconventional, handmade one from Siena, Italy. I arrived the day after the Palio di Siena horse race. This day the winning contrada, or district, was celebrating its victory by parading through the streets waving flags of their contrada (Torre or Tower), beating drums, and blowing whistles. I encountered the large group when they made their way to the Piazza del Campo, the site of the race. This gentleman is being helpful to the tourists by wearing a sign indicating which way to the fountain and which way to the Duomo, two of the city’s main attractions. Either that or he was just tired of being asked for directions. I never quite figured out where he needed to be standing in the city for the arrows on the sign to be accurate.
One sign that was no trouble to understand was this one below, which was on the side of a restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium. Alas, I did not go in to see if the proclamation was indeed true, though I had little doubt it was telling the truth.
Also in Antwerp was the sign for the hostel my friends and I stayed in. The sign was telling us more with its rust than we originally suspected.
Upon arrival we dropped off what we didn’t want to carry for the day. When we returned to our room later in the evening, we found much of the floor, bedding, and walls to be damp from the rain. We gals muddled through laying out wet clothes to dry for the next day and sleeping on top of our towels. It wasn’t until weeks later that I realized the damp, rusty-signed hostel had given me a parting gift of scabies on my hand. Not surprisingly, I do not recommend this hostel, and, according to some of the reviews on-line, other people do not recommend it either.
Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland
On our way to the Cliffs of Moher, my friends and I decided to take in the views along the ocean as we walked from Doolin to the main cliff-viewing area at O’Brien’s Tower. This was about three miles of gorgeous scenery. As the terrain rose we came across the sign below that we took as a simple warning as the path we were on was well worn. Walking between the property fence and the edge did produce some heart palpitations as the space was quite narrow making me think twice about disregarding the sign.
Before we made it to O’Brien’s Tower to see the full view of the breathtaking cliffs, we had one more hurdle to climb – a gate with barbed wire – next to which was a sign telling us in three languages not to take the very path we had just taken. Oops.
Last, here are some of the street signs that caught my attention for their humorous specificity, imagery and drawn figures. The first was found in Drumnadrochit, Scotland and the latter two were found in Cornwall, England.