You know I'm a nutcase on this subject, but I just don't feel happy or comfortable without knowing at least some of the language for the place I'm going. Spain was actually the most uncomfortable place I've been because despite knowing a number of other languages, I don't know Spanish. It turned out using Italian and listening in Spanish worked fine. In places where no one speaks their language it's fine (for example, Scandinavia) because they speak perfect English, though I'd still try to learn a few words.
But I'm going to Greece (2 nights in Athens and 4 in Crete) which will now be my sixth trip, so I'm serious about learning modern Greek and not satisfied with me 4-6 words/phrases. Are there any Greeks among you with advice? I bought three books and Pimsleur 1-10 and was unsatisfied. (The elementary textbook with a basic CD turned out the best.) So last night I did the unimaginable because I don't like their process for language learning and ordered Rosetta Stone Greek 1,2,3. It had high reviews, and there is a six-month satisfaction guarantee. Has anyone used it? I can basically read the Greek alphabet (slowly, in small letters), so I have a start.
Speaking of which, I love reading local mysteries for places I've been or will be and recently found some great ones for Greece fans, by Jeffrey Siger (I just finished one on Mykonos/Delos, which I adored, and now am on another about Patmos, which was fascinating, and from which I got some of the most beautiful pottery anywhere. Since I do not know him and have never done anything but write a recent Amazon review, it's impartial. I also love Donna Léon for Venice mysteries; mm.