Monday 15 October 2007

This is not the Vietnam War - it's just an hotel near Girona!


Towards the end of our holiday, the Snapper receives a phone call, and has to return to England.
On a scorching hot morning, I drive her to the airport, where an emotional goodbye leaves me with 48 hours to kill.
No longer in holiday mood, I have booked a room at an hotel directly between Girona City and the airport. My plan is to pass time, because the only place I now want to be is home.
Unfortunately, I read a few internet guest reviews of my hotel after I had booked the two nights. Many referred to dark dingy rooms and an unfriendly man at reception.
I drive off into the midday heat and proceed to get completely lost, puffing and sweating around the Catalan countryside, until I finally find the hotel, between a motorway construction site, a dual carriageway, the high-speed rail link and the flight path.
Ah well, it looks nice enough. Palm trees and a pool - how bad can it be?
Knowing that I look a wreck, with five days stubble, three hours sweat and old geezer shorts on, I employ my biggest smile and to show willing, greet yer man behind reception with a big native Catalan "Bon dia!"
He neither smiles nor greets me back. His melancholy eyes sit on a huge Humpty Dumpty head, which unfortunately twitches from the neck, his low-hanging jowls wobbling in a less-than-sexy way.
"Your room not ready. 20 minutes."
No 'Sorry!', 'Please!', 'Hello!'; not a 'Why not wait over there, Sir?' or anything. I ask him for my passport.
"Why you need your passport?"
"Because... because it's my passport!"
"I must put it into computer. You do not need your passport."
I go to wait in a lounge, and later hear him yelling out to me, but my obstinate feet will not budge. He can bloomin' get off his lazy rude arse and come to me, which eventually he does.
I lug my heavy bags up to the room, where they sit on the bed for 20 seconds, before I take them back down again.
My plan is to stay in my room for many hours over the next two days, and this room is vile.
My spirit is so low, my energy supply gone, but I do not want to stay here.
Giving Laughing Boy his keys back at reception, I explain that I'll find somewhere else.
"You cannot do that! If you do that I will charge your credit card!"
"Look, mate, see this printout? It says I have a top floor room with balcony. You just gave me a first floor cupboard with a tiny window, soaking wet floors and I don't want it!"
"If you leave I take your money on your credit card!"
"If you do that I will call my credit card company and make sure they cancel their account with your hotel! I phoned two days ago, and spoke to somebody who sounded very much like you, and they said my room was on the first floor, and I said I wanted the top floor, and they said the hotel had only a first floor. If your builders can knock off that whole second floor in two days, seems to me you should send them down to Barcelona, so they can get cracking on Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral. They'll have it finished in no time!"
Laughing Boy twitches up a storm and starts to lose it.
"I book you this room. I don't know why! I book you this room and I not know why!"
For once in my life, I actually lose my temper: good and proper, arms waving, voice shouting, all guns blazing, nothing held back.
It felt great.
"You don't know why? I'll tell you why! Because you're working in a fucking hotel, that's why! I book a top floor room with balcony and you confirm it by email, and then I get a middle floor room with wet floors, no light and barely enough room for a mouse to masturbate, and I don't want it. If I go to a bakery and ask for a loaf of bread and they give me a brick, am I going to eat it?"
To be fair, that was a little obscure, and Laughing Boy is lost.
"I know nothing of a phone call. Nobody called me on the phone!"
"Are you calling me a liar! Are you? Are you? Look, I walk in here with a smile on my face, say Bon Dia and you do nothing. You don't even offer to help me with my bags."
"I help nobody with their bags!"
"Yeh, I bet you don't! So I want out! Bye bye fruitcake features!"
As I head for the door he shouts to me:
"Come please, let us try again! Please, we can start again!"
Ever compassionate, I turn and smile.
"Now you're talking! Ola! Bon dia!"
"Hello. Look, here are the keys to a room. Leave your bags here and go up and see if you like it."
The room is huge, with a balcony and pool view. Shaking from anger, stress and exhaustion, I unpack everything and lie on the bed, taking notes.
As I write, a noise comes into my head. Sounds like a flood.
Up on the wall the air conditioner is shooting two jets of water out of itself, down onto the table below, upon which I have spread my phones, the phone charger, the electrical adapter, my wallets, cards and documents.
Rushing for the button I turn off the unit, and the flood subsides to a steady trickle. Almost in tears, I carefully dry off all the electrical appliances, remove all my cards and documents from their soggy homes, and then lie on the bed, in 35 degrees of heat, doing a bit of 7-11 breathing ... calm down ... calm down.
If only there were a propellor fan above my head, I could have relived my favourite scene from Apocalypse Now.
But this is not the Vietnam War. This is supposed to be a holiday.
I know that I will not be telling Laughing Boy about the air conditioner.
I do not want to move rooms again.
I do not want to have engineers in my room.
I just want to lie here, breathe calmly, feel intolerably hot, and wait two days for my plane home.
Horror. Horror.

Double Vision

Caricatures Ireland

1 comment:

Charlie Adley said...

I have sent a copy of this to the manager of the hotel in question. Any further developments will be shared here.

As I lay starfish naked on that bed (apologies for that image!) I was fully aware that were I being held hostage in Iraq, or living homeless on the streets of Mumbai, that room would have been a dream come true.

But as the movie Apocalypse Now showed us, and as its inspiration, Conrad's Heart of Darkness revealed, the 'horror' is already within us, just looking for a way to show its head.

Anyway, with time this trifling tragedy has become a comedy, thank goodness.