The Magic of Google Translate

I know, I know. All these great little coffee shops and cafes on the streets of Barcelona, and we go to a Dunkin’ Donuts.

But what can I say, sometimes you just want a taste of home.

This Dunkin’ Donuts is located on Las Ramblas, perhaps the most well-known street in Barcelona. Las Ramblas is lined with outdoor markets, shops, restaurants, cafes, human statues, and people. Lots of people.

We stopped in at Dunkin’ for a coffee and a couple of donuts before heading off on a walk to Barceloneta Beach. The store had this wonderful mural (shown above) of the first Dunkin’ Donuts (1950) in Quincy , MA. Even though I don’t speak or read Spanish, it was fairly easy to get the gist of what the words were saying.

However, there were a few other text messages on the wall that I wasn’t quite sure what they were saying. For example:

I figured out what Dunkin’ meant, but that was about it.

Well to the rescue came the Google Translate app.

I was not really familiar with this app until a few days ago when we were walking through the Museum of the History of Barcelona. Many of the signs in front of the displays were written in both Spanish and English (as well as Catalan), but some of the signs were just in Spanish. I then saw one of the other visitors hold his camera up to one of the Spanish only signs and then tell the rest of his group what the sign said, in English.

Of course, I had to ask him what that app was, and it turned out to be Google Translate. I downloaded it on the spot, and was using it for the rest of our museum visit.

If you are not familiar with Google Translate, it is an app that enables you to either type in a word or phrase in one language, and see it translated into a different language.

But what is really cool is that you can also just hold your camera phone up to the text you want to translate, and it does so instantly.

Here is what my phone displayed when I held it up the Dunkin’ Donuts sign pictured above:

It’s not perfect, but it does a good enough job so that you can understand what the words are in your desired language. (Plus it was hard to be using Google Translate and then take a screen shot at the same time.)

In this case, the top word “Hoy” did not translate, at least at the moment I snapped the screenshot. Later on, it would translate “Hoy” into “Today”.

There was one other text box on the Dunkin’ wall, and here is the translated version of that text box, courtesy of Google Translate:


So a couple things here. First, once again is the magic of Google Translate that was able to tell me what the message said. Second, who would have thought that the Barcelona Dunkin’ Donuts would have been among the top 10 busiest in the world.

Anyway, back to Google Translate.

I have continued to use it multiple times. If we go to a restaurant that does not have an English menu, we can just hold our phone up to the menu and it is translated immediately. If I go to a grocery store and I want to check the ingredients, which are for some reason all in Spanish :), there’s an app for that.

And did I mention that the app is free?!

It’s just one of many amazing products from Google, in particular Google Maps, Gmail, and Calendar.

I’ve written about Google Maps before, but after this nearly three month journey to Europe, it deserves a second write-up, which will be coming soon.

So a big shout-out to Google for providing such wonderful products, at an incredible price. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Or for my Spanish-speaking friends at Google, here’s that last paragraph:

t I

I have no idea how well it did the translation, but I do see the words “shout-out” and “forward”, so it seems like it’s on the right track.

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