I’ve stayed in a fair few hotels in my time and unfortunately occasionally they get booked for me. If you want to read about why I think it’s best to book your own accommodation, I wrote about it on Ron Reed’s blog. There are definitely times I should follow my own advice and this week has been no exception especially when I find myself in the outer reaches of Budapest.
Budapest is beautiful, I didn’t get to see much of it as it’s work travel, but I did make the effort to take a long walk on my first night with my colleagues to see some of the city. Although my hotel wasn’t much to write home about, the room was clean and the hotel was modern but the staff were useless for everything from checking in and out, to cleaning the room and after several attempts at asking for towels I gave up and resigned myself to using the face cloth that they left me to pat myself dry.
Then just after 2 days it’s a 4.30 am start to travel to Poland. We had great fun getting from the airport in Warsaw to Janow, it’s a long drive and our designated driver (although he had Sat Nav to direct) decided he would take a few roads just to see. We ended up running out of road at one point but it was fun as I got to cross on a river ferry. The weather was a lot hotter than I had bargained for in my wool suit and the humidity was starting to get the better of my hair but all in all it was quite an adventure.
I’ve been in Poland for 2 days now and this is only my second night. I am missing home terribly but so far I found the hotel quite quaint in a very backward way. The receptionist walked us individually to our rooms. It’s a nice touch but when there’s 7 of you waiting to check in after a short flight and a 5 hour drive and only 1 receptionist it’s kind of, well let me say just plain bloody annoying. I just want to get to my room so we can then get to work. Yes we still have to work on that first day.
Getting to the room was an adventure in itself, there’s no lifts and a multitude of stairs and corridors, more stairs and more corridors and then even more stairs and a corridor before I got to my room. I was so intent on not giving myself a hernia carrying my suitcase that I didn’t have time to take in my surroundings. I’m looking forward to entering my air conditioned room as the sweat is dripping from my forehead and running down my back, at this point the only other word that comes to mind is ‘shower’. What I didn’t know then is that my shower has a mind of it’s own and varies from scolding hot to freezing cold; no matter where the setting is and air conditioning is in the form of opening the window. Although the hotel is on a lake, an artificial lake at that and one that is home to every type of mosquito, gnat type biting insect that you can possibly imagine, so there’s definitely no opening the windows. I made that mistake and now look like I have the plague.
Anyway back to my hike through the hotel – What I have since discovered is that at the other end of the corridor is one set of stairs leading to the spa and the door to the outside world, if you then just take a very short walk on the outside of the hotel, you only have one set of steps to get to reception. Now bearing in mind the wheels on my suitcase become redundant with stairs, it’s like carrying several small children in a hammock with one hand, so you can imagine how chuffed I was that I got an extended tour of the corridors and stairs lugging it about when I could of just lugged it up one flight.
Tonight I’m tired so instead of joining my colleagues I decided I’d have a night to myself, I dropped my stuff off in my room and took a walk back through the windy stairs and corridors to the restaurant which is just beside the reception – why I didn’t do the short walk I have no idea but it seemed like a good idea. On my way through the corridor and up the 2 flights of stairs, as I’m ascending on the 3rd flight I noticed a large painting on the landing, it’s one of those children with crying eyes paintings.
(This isn’t the picture, this is The Crying Boy by Bragolin and I actually like this one )
On first glance I thought it was quite sad and although I was slightly disturbed at how fixated the eyes were on me, I didn’t like or trust to take my eyes off it. OK I know they can’t be fixated, it’s a painting. So I turned my back on it as I carried on walking. I had to walk through the door to get to the next flight of stairs but I had a bizarre feeling, you know the overwhelming one you get when someone is watching you. So I turned round to see the picture was still staring at me. It was looking out of the corner of it’s eyes, straining to stare, so I moved to the side so I was almost level with the wall it was hanging on but it was still straining and staring. In fact it creeped me out so much that to make myself feel better I turned fully and poked my tongue out at it.
Yep – that’s so mature but now I’m freaking because the eyes are still staring and I started to back away, I sunk as far into the wall that we were both now hung against but I could see it straining even further not taking its eyes off me. So what did I do?
Yep – I did the mature thing and bolted. I legged it down the corridor to the next set of stairs and then (still with my back to the wall I must add) I practically knocked over the waiter standing in the entrance to the restaurant. My dinner was pretty uneventful, there was only 3 other people in the restaurant, they were on one table and quite a way through their food. I thought great, I’m hungry, I missed breakfast and didn’t really care for lunch so this will be quick. I couldn’t be more wrong, I waited for nearly 30 minutes for the waiter to take my order including what I wanted to drink (a large stiff vodka at this point) and then when my meal arrived it was skinned, meaning it had been microwaved. After a few mouthfuls I promptly lost my appetite and hesitantly decided to go back to my room.
The problem being I didn’t want to go back past the creepy painting. The short door to the outside would of been the best bet, I’d of been able to get up the stairs to my room really easy but there’s another problem. The door only opens from the inside unless you have a key and I’m not talking a hotel card type key, I mean like a skeleton key. Well that scuppered my short, creepy painting free route – it’s no good because unless I’m kipping on the floor of the reception area I have no choice but to go back that way.
I told myself to stop being so stupid, it’s just a painting. I walked extremely focused all the way to the doorway where the dreaded painting was waiting but I stopped just before turning onto the landing, mainly because as I got closer my imagination was going into overdrive and I knew exactly what was waiting for me. Those eyes, the forlorn, piercing, menacing, I’m going to ‘incarcerate you in this frame whilst I take over your life’ type eyes or worse still ‘I’m going to come out of the painting and suffocate you in your sleep’ type eyes.
So being the mature type of individual that I am, I decided I would do the whole ‘If I can’t see it then it can’t see me’. So I pictured in my head where the stairs were and how fast I could get there and then I ran. I ran to the stairs and down the stairs without looking at it, as much as I had the irresistible urge to rip it off the wall and burn it there and then, I just ran.
(Yes this is the actual corridor to my room, my room is the last one at the end)
Three flights later and I’m now running to my door, I get that elongate corridor feeling as I’m running (I get that a lot in these places) and I had my room key poised and ready in my hand. I’m still running and I flash the card over the reader to open the door, it opens, I make it inside and shut the door I have my back to it as I’m locking it. My heart is pounding so fast, it’s about to burst out of my chest. It’s not from the running it’s because I’m totally, stupidly and genuinely scared. Being the rational sane person I am I grab the chair and force it against the door under the handle. There you go that’ll stop ‘it’ if it decides to come dancing down to my room. Yeah right! Because if the demon child painting can morph itself out of the painting it’s going to stop and open the door to come in, or better still it’s going to knock before it brutally slays me across the blue brocaded single bed. On the other hand I’m now barricaded in my room unable to get out of it because I stupidly blocked my exit.
I have a feeling I’m not going to sleep very much later but I’ll tell you tomorrow if I make it through the night.