Coming, Going and Getting Around

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2020 has shown us that our ability to travel, how we do it, and even how much we need to do it is changing. But we still need to talk about travel and transport, and there are plenty of figurative uses of words like arrive, depart, etc. So let’s explore the vocabulary at the heart of ‘the journey’.

Fundamental nouns
  • journey – el viaje
  • departure (train) – la salida
  • departure (person) – la partida
  • arrival – la llegada
  • return – la vuelta / el regreso
  • entrance – la entrada
  • exit – la salida
Fundamental verbs
  • to leave – salir
  • el tren sale … – the train leaves …
  • to arrive – llegar
  • el avión llega
  • voy a llegar a … – I’ll arrive at …
  • to go – ir
  • to go away – irse
  • Vamos a irnos al fin de semana – We’re going away at the weekend.
  • to return (trip)- volver
  • to come – venir
  • to travel – viajar
Idiomatic uses
  • llegar a una decisión – to come to / arrive at a decision
  • ¡Váyase! – go away! beat it!
  • soy / somos de inglaterra… – I/we come from (are from) England
  • la devolución – the return (of something stolen)
  • regresar – to return (to a condition) or to ‘backtrack’

This chapter examines the verbs and other vocabulary relating to travel, departure, arrival etc, including the figurative uses like ‘arriving at a decision, as well as returning to the topic of giving directions.

Public and International Transport

Few journeys (viajes) succeed without a little planning (planificación) so that is the starting point of this section.  Any number of people and organisations will be useful to know about and communicate with, for example the travel agent or agencia de viajes. As a tourist (turista – whether male or female) you may find you are engaging in a package tour viaje organizado or independent travel viaje independiente. However independent you are, the following vocabulary usefully relates to the different forms of transport you may use along the way:

  • aeroplane   un avión
  • flight    el vuelo              
  • ticket   un billete            
  • bus autobús                     
  • coach  autocar                  
  • bus stop  parada de autobús
  • train  el tren 
  • station  una estación de tren / autobús  /autocar
  • taxi  taxi 
  • taxi rank  parada de taxis                 
  • Fare  tarifa
  • return (ticket) – (un billete de) ida y vuelta
  • single / one-way ticket – (un billete de) ida

Cars and Driving

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It pays to check out the vocabulary (and the rules) surrounding driving if you’re visiting Spain. The main roads are autovías (dual carriageways), nacionales, and autopistas (motorways) and you need to remember to drive a la derecha – on the right!

  • car – un coche / un carro (in Latin America and Las Canarias)
  • hire / rent – alquilar
  • car park – aparcamiento / parking
  • to drive – conducir
  • garage (workshop for repairs) – un taller
  • petrol – la gasolina
  • unleaded – sin plomo
  • diesel – gas-oil
  • petrol station – gasolinera

Signs you might come across:

  • apagar luces de cruce – headlights off
  • apague el motor – switch off engine
  • calle peatonal – pedestrians only
  • calzada irregular – uneven surface
  • carretera cortada – road closed
  • callejón sin salida – no through road / dead-end
  • ceda al paso – give way
  • completo – (car park) full
  • desvio – diversion
  • encender luces de cruce – headlights on
  • estacionamento limitado – restricted parking
  • hielo – ice
  • obras – roadworks
  • ojo al tren / atención al tren – beware of trains
  • paso a nivel – level crossing
  • peaje – toll
  • peatones – pedestrians
  • peligro – danger
  • precaución – caution
  • prohibido aparcar – no parking
  • prohibido el paso – no trespassing
  • salida de camiones – construction (lorries) exit
  • vado permanente – in constant use (no parking)
  • velocidad controlada por radar – speed cameras
  • zona azul – restricted parking (blue zone)

Directions

Whether on foot, driving or taking public transport, at some point you’ll need to ask (or even give) directions. These situations are opportunities to interact and practise your Spanish, and you can keep questions simple, but you’ll need to listen hard to the responses. You’ll seldom get a ‘textbook’ (or phrase book) answer.

Things to get started with include a polite ‘Excuse me?’  ¿Perdon?  and might even extend to Estoy un poco perdido (I’m a bit lost) or just ¿Puede (usted) ayudarme?   Directions conveniently are direcciones, and you could of course ask simply Como ir / andar a …? (How to get / walk to …?) ¿Puede usted decirme como ir a …? , if spoken fluently, might of course open the floodgates to detailed directions, so be ready to add the ever-useful ¿Mas despacio por favor? (more slowly please?) delivered with a smile.

  • to the left –  a la izquierda
  • to the right a la derecha
  • todo rectostraight on                     
  • todo derechostraight ahead
  • hasta – up to… or until…    
  • hasta el final  – up to the end

A place might be described as – un lugar or un sitio (site), and ‘the location’ is la posición. Adjectives used to describe location and in giving directions include:

  • delante de / frente ain front of 
  • en frente de opposite
  • detrás de  behind 
  • (de) arriba – above
  • abajo  beneath
  • cerca declose to / near 
  • lejos de far from             
  • s allá de – beyond
  • al lado de  next to  
  • entre  between                 
  • en medio de – in the middle of
  • al final – at the end 
  • al final de la calle at the end of the street
  • en las afueras de la ciudad –  on the outskirts of the city

Landmarks are important to note, and useful words include :

  • street  – (la) calle 
  • no through road / dead end – callejón sin salida 
  • the 1st/2nd street on the right –  la primera /segunda calle a la derecha            
  • corner – esquina              a la esquina – at the corner                  
  • path –  camino  / sendero
  • cycle path – sendero de bicicletas
  • crossroads (el) cruce        al cruce   at the crossroads                    
  • traffic lights – semáforos                     
  • roundabout – rotonda
  • signpost – poste de dirección or un hito

Buildings and other structures to know include:

  • Town hall – ayuntamiento
  • Police Station – la comisaria                    
  • Bridge – el puente
  • Church – la iglesia               
  • Cathedral –  (la) catedral           
  • Mosque – mezquita
  • Museum – museo
  • Park – el parque
  • Port – el puerto
  • Shop(s)tienda(s)
  • Bookshop – la librería     
  • Library – la biblioteca              
  • Supermarketsupermercado
  • Bread shop  – panadería    
  • Cake/pastry shop – pastelería
  • Ice cream shop – heladería              
  • Fishmonger – pescadería
  • Butcher’s shop – carnicería
  • Shopping centre – el centro commercial

Instructions – use of the imperative to give directions

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  • Sigue – follow (seguid  – plural)     
  • Ve – go (id – plural; vaya usted)Cruza – cross (cruce usted)           
  • Tuerza – turn              
  • Dobla – turn around
  • Sube go up (or get on, e.g. a bus) (suba usted)                 
  • Baja – go down (or get off)
  • Toma – take
  • Busca – look for
  • Vigila – watch out for                                               
  • Entra en – enter ; go in                 
  • Sal – go out / leave (salid – plural ; salga usted polite))
  • Abre open                
  • Cerra – close
  • Espera – wait (espere usted)  
  • Párate   – Stop (yourself)  (paraos plural)  [the verb, a reflexive, is pararse]


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