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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

The Inns and the Outs
Tuesday, April 5, 2022 @ 1:07 PM

Whether it's part of a business trip or maybe a leisurely visit-and-souvenir hunt, one's new hotel room can be an adventure in itself. 

We've just come back from a rare trip away - indeed, the first time I've been out of Andalucía in three and a half years. Alicia and I had gone to Sitges, just down from Barcelona. Alicia to go on a course - a new-fangled way of communicating with a horse (a sugar lump is considered so infra dig these days) - while I had the pleasure of a couple of days wandering around the resort.

The hotel was distinctly odd, at least for a rube like myself who hasn't slept in any bed than my own for a long time. To begin with, there was no reception, no nothing and nobody there. On arrival, you are meant to tap in a number on a box at the door and your memory card falls out, which fixes both the front door and your room upstairs, at least, until your pre-paid stay runs out of credit.

I've notched up many a hotel-stay in my lifetime, in several continents. The odder ones remain with me now. A hotel in Almeria with springs, springs! in the pillows. Another, I think in Alicante, where a spring suddenly broke out of the mattress below me while I had my late wife bouncing about above me. Transfixed, as it were, by a half inch of iron dug into my left cheek, I felt it was no time to call a halt to what we were doing. She told me later that she was mightily impressed by my shrieks. I still have the scar.

Another time, in a far-off place in Central America, where the rooms in those days were only one dollar a night, I was having some fun with a local lady who made a rather poor living out of entertaining gentlemen. The wooden flophouse we were in was just a line of rooms with no reception and, down at the far end of the passageway, a shower. I seem to remember the whole place was painted entirely in green. And it was very hot. We were even hotter after a strenuous couple of hours and decided to cool ourselves off with a refreshing ducha. With just one small towel between us, thoughtfully provided by the management at no extra price, we made our way to the facility only to discover that there was no water. As we returned to our quarters, we found that the door had closed and locked itself, leaving us in the hallway, naked except for that one towel. An hour passed before I had persuaded the girl that I might be able to push her through the empty transom window at the top of the door - she wasn't too happy about how she would land safely on the other side - and it was thus that we were discovered by the morning cleaners as they opened the front door - me wearing nothing more than a sheepish grin and my hands raised and supporting the rear-half of the woman that was sticking out of the gap above the door. The towel on the floor. A perfect cameo and a good opportunity to practice my very best 'Buenos días'.

A hostel in Fuengirola - we used to run a Brit newspaper down there - furnished me with an itchy allergic reaction, and a very large and dead bed-bug trapped between my fingers as I woke up. Another, in a fine hotel in Melilla, had one of those wrappers around the lavatory describing its sanitary excellence - and an impressively large turd floating in the pan when I opened up the lid. No, I have no idea. Still another, in Lanjarón, was so chilly, we had to put the curtain on top of the blanket and spend the night fully clothed. 

One time, sleeping in a train along with my father coming from Romania to Hungary during the latter days of Ceaușescu, the cabin was so cold, at -2C, that we were obliged to even keep our boots on in the bunk. The carriage, in solidarity with the dictator's wishes, was honoring the electricity cut in the capital city (even though, on  a train, the heat is free). The engineers generously turned on the radiators as we crossed the border. Even some East German students we had got to know on the journey let out a ragged cheer.

Later on the same train, the Hungarian border guards told us we were not allowed to export Romanian brandy into Hungary and that we must consume our bottle before we arrived that morning in Budapest. Which, well: which we did, By Jingo. (The two guards helped).

My son flew over from Texas to visit a couple of years ago and we took him and his wife up to Córdoba. A friend of Alicia's had recommended some place in the narrow streets of the antique Moorish quarter, where unfortunately, an all-night Flamenco party was being held just on the other side of our wooden shutters. I think my daughter-in-law was impressed, even if the rest of us weren't. Give them their due, those gypsies, they played a lot of songs I hadn't heard before. 

Recently in Antequerra, late at night as Alicia and I were on the way home from Seville, we found a hotel in a back street and checked in. The room we were showed to had seven single beds in it. Although nobody else was sharing that night (just as well, I think), we had to bounce on all seven (none were the same as the others except in their stragginess), until we found two that more or less suited us. Cheap, though, I'll give it that.

The joint in Sitges, where we spent last weekend, is located in the old part of town, which always means the same thing: nowhere nearby to park. It's cold up there right now, at least for someone who lives in Almería. Lugging our cases through the rainy streets, looking for our lodgings, and tapping in the correct number in the small box to get a card to grant us entrance. Isn't modern life grand?

The next morning, as I explored the town, Alicia went off to meet her new friends. But alas, as I returned to the hostel to retrieve my wallet to buy myself some lunch, I discovered that my card didn't work in the street-door.  The neighbour,  a friendly sort who works in the tattoo trade, didn't know where I might find a staffer, and so I tried to Google the hostel for a phone number. The best I could find was their email, to which I sent a rude letter, tapped out on my mobile phone. They still to this day (checks Gmail) haven't answered. That evening, cold and disheveled, I was picked up by Alicia and her friends, one of whom told me that putting a mobile phone next to a hotel card in the same pocket could easily wipe the card.

Well fancy that. You learn something new every day.  

Like 1


sdeleng said:
Friday, April 8, 2022 @ 10:35 AM

Hilarious! Quite the man too…

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