How Do I Get A Cup of Coffee Round Here?



Some days I think my language skills are improving although I still get a blank stare or a reply in English.  I asked for azucar the other day.  Sugar.  Only when I said it in French was I understood. Strange. Could it be my accent?

“Azucar por favor.”  Pause.  “Azucar?  AZUCAR?”  Then, “sucre?”

“Aaah, azucar,” said the shopkeeper.  Didn’t I just say that?


I’m coming to terms with the fact that I will never nail the word ‘galau’.  Milky coffee in a glass.  I know this because I went to a charming café with my daughter a few days ago moments before she was due to take her IGCSE Portuguese.  I tried several ways of asking for galau but the waitress still looked blank. I’m in a café so what else would I be asking for?  A haircut?



The cafe was packed with lunchtime diners and the busy waitress then reeled off a list of dishes.  Oh, they must only be serving food.  We’ll have to find somewhere else.  That must be the problem. No coffee.  Then my daughter who understood everything piped up.  Which makes me think she may pass her Portuguese.  “Mum they think you’ve asked for bacalau.  Not galau.”  Bacalau?  Cod?



So all this time have I been going into cafes asking for a CUP OF COD?





7 thoughts on “How Do I Get A Cup of Coffee Round Here?

  1. I know what you mean. I´ve been through that a lot. And I´m a Spanish speaker, I would think I got it easier, but not. I hope the exam went well, I also have 3 students preparing for the IB exams, but for Spanish. Good luck. I´m glad your site is back!


  2. Hi there. Problem is that it’s not a galau but a galão……….doesn’t rhyme with bacalau at all, but with bread, pão. Much more nasal. But you knew that, didn’t you? Just a spelling mistake……


    • Well I should have checked the spelling. I have tried doing the nasal thing but I just sound weird, like a duck with a cold. I’ll have to keep practising, in the privacy of my own home of course.


  3. The other problem is that you say the café was full of lunchtime diners so the time for a galão would have passed – it’s something you have for breakfast. At lunchtime you have café (small, black). So, my guess is that if you had asked for a “galau”, even pronouncing it wrongly, at 8am they may have understood you. Language is always in context.


    • Well, that’s a good point. Although it doesn’t seem to make a difference what time of day it is. Funnily enough a barista once did ask me if I could ask again in English, so I said ‘galau’ with an English accent, since we don’t have an exact equivalent word, which made him laugh and he realised what I’d asked for!


  4. Pingback: Let’s Visit Caldas Da Rainha | sandcastlesinportugal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s