I was asked to lead some walking tours in Hungary and as I flew into Budapest with the national airline, Malev on a flight for a four day recce of the route and accommodation I realised that I couldn’t decipher a single word of the Hungarian newspaper I had asked for.
However, within the week I had been allotted to travel around the route and gain some country knowledge prior to the first tour arriving, I managed to glean enough Hungarian to know what we were ordering in restaurants and to ask the way to places.
Incidentally, although most people who came on tour with me in Hungary (as an example), had bought a guide or phrase book costing a few quid, very few bothered to open them.
If you cannot stand red wine surely it is important to you to know that red wine is “voros bor” and white wine is “feher bor”, but you’d be surprised that some people still rely on you to order their wine even after being in the country two weeks. Lazy bastards.