Getting directions in spite of a language barrier.
Communication need not be difficult. All one needs is a small amount of note paper and something to write with. Suppose that you have a particular place that you wish to visit and somehow you take a wrong turn. We have all been there. It is difficult enough to get directions when you speak the language, but when no one speaks your language... It is character building to say the least.
When facing a serious language barrier, and this is true anywhere, the first thing you need is a piece of paper written by your hotel staff with the following information: your destination, the tram, subway, or bus number you need to take, the "end station" of whatever conveyance you are taking, directions to the stop when you leave your lodging with a little map to show you the way to the stop, and finally, the name of the stop where you get off the vehicle. It helps if you are good with maps. Personally, I can get lost in the bathroom, so I need some help. I carry 20 - 30 pre-printed 4-up 4x5 inch notes for the purpose (photo included). The blank side I use for notes to me or to store clerks. Knowing the "end station is important because just taking a bus with the number 12 for example, doesn't help if you don't know which direction to go. Almost everywhere (including the US), all you need to know is where the bus ends and turns around. Make sure that you understand where the tram, bus, or subway stop is located. It should be within a couple of blocks. If you have to change at any point, use a second note. Those little pieces of paper will get you to where you want to go. When you need help, just show a local the note and point to what you need.
The next thing that you need to know is how to get a ticket for your method of transportation. First, ask at your lodging as they sometimes sell tickets. Most of the ticket machines that I saw in the Eastern bloc countries were multi-lingual. Sometimes tickets are available on the tram or bus. Tobacco shops usually will sell tickets. Tickets are usually good for any mode of transportation. It is usually cheaper to use the machines.
The last thing to do is to validate your ticket. Buses and trams will have a small box near each door. Put your ticket into the box in the direction of the arrow on the ticket. You will hear the ticket being stamped or punched. Even if you purchase your ticket on the bus or tram, you still have to validate your ticket.
Learn the words for please , thank you, good day, good evening, and where is the nearest toilet? Also learn the metric scale. One kilogram is 2.2 lbs. I just drop the two tenths for simplicity. Thus 100 grams is just under one-quarter pound, 250 grams is one-half pound, 500 grams is one pound, etc.. Then go shopping. Everyone understands written numbers so just write the number of grams that you want. Those words, numbers, something to write on and with, and your index finger will get you whatever you need. It has worked for me for 50 years.