I hear the best part is when people think speaking slooow and LOUD makes foreigners understand English... XDHey you, yes you, the American tourist who just talked up the bus driver in English without asking if he even speaks the language.
I know you don't mean any harm but it is friggin annoying. Especially when you do it without even saying "hello" or "excuse me, let alone "could I ask you a question?" or "sorry to bother you, but are you from around here?" or using some other formula. Walking right up to people without even greeting them or smiling at them and directly asking them (in English!) "where is the castle?" is inpolite to say the least.
Yes, most people will speak at least some English and be able to answer your question and directly asking instead of saying hello or excuse me, etc. or please and thank you might safe you a second or two...but do you know what impression it leaves behind, how it makes you look?
It makes you look like a colonial overlord in some old Tarzan movie with Johnny Weissmuller talking to the native carriers!!!
That reminds me of this one American girl that approached me one night on the middle of the street, from behind, tipped me on my shoulder and said " 'Scuse me, ATM?" Just like that. How many Germans do you think even know what "ATM" stands for? Anyway, I told her the way to the next ATM machine and she left without saying Thank you.
I should have done what a Spanish friend of mine did when an (also American) tourist approached him on the Plaza de Catalunya in Barcelona and barked at him: "Catalunya Square?"....he kindly smiled at him and pointed at some place somewhere in the distance.
Disclaimer: I know a lot of very kind and polite Americans who live here and get along just fine. Don't mistake this for an anti-American rant. It isn't. It is an anti-impolite-tourists-with-a-colonialist-attitude-thinking-they-own-the-friggin-place rant!