Well, I arrived at my new hotel around 10:00am from my previous splendor at the Catherine Palace… it was a .. different…vibe from my earlier stay. The first room I was given had recently (At least, I hope recently) been used by someone who had a great night before I arrived… and they also may have had a lot of Taco Bell as the bathroom laid exposed, victim to the crime.
My new kick-ass neighbour, Kelly, also found her window off the hinges when she arrived.
After a hot exchange between the hotel staff and our tour director, they moved Kelly and I to our new rooms (sadly we were no longer next door neighbours). I was moved to the very end of the hall, next to a door which would exit you to the roof.
My new room was cleaner than the previous room, (at least it felt like nobody had partied hard the night before). Although I did have my very own collection of various body hairs that were nicely collected and on display on top of my toilet. (On Top?? Yes, on top! Right beside the flush push. It was like someone was particularly proud of these curly creations and were saving them to take home and possibly scrapbook with). I’ll get more into the hotel, and hotel room in a later post.
The day itself was rather low-key, all tour participants would be arriving throughout the day, from 10:00am to 10:00pm. So there were no set plans for the day.
Although I was eagerly looking forward to connecting with my new found Romanovphiles, everyone was coming off flights of over 20+ hours, so the afternoon was mainly used to watch a bit of Russian TV and then catch up on jetlag sleep. (In hind-sight, I wish I had used this time to go back to Tsarskoe Selo so I could explore at my own pace).
If there was anything to note about this afternoon, was just a general observation about Russian commercials. Companies are reallllly working hard at marketing to women about varicose veins. They had at least 3 of 5 commercials about the various solutions, including one military dressed bean(?) who, once you applied the bean cream, it would go to work and destroy those varicose veins like Russia destroyed the Germany in WWII. No joke.
In the evening we had a dinner at the hotel which was quite lovely. Although all of our trip participants of the ‘In the Steps of the Romanovs’ group had not yet arrived (they didn’t get in until after 10:00pm!), I already was able to meet some pretty remarkable people. We enjoyed an interesting dinner of soup in a shot glass, a variety of veggies and, what I think, was a pudding for dessert.
After dinner we retired to our rooms, and that’s when the real drama started…
I had found that my European power adapter did not work and I needed to find a solution in order to charge my devices. Thankfully, one of my newfound friends, Rose, was kind enough to let me use her power adapter for an hour, I just had to come get it from her room.
I grabbed the wall plug, and made my way back to my room. I unlocked the door, (With a physical key, they don’t do key-cards in this specific hotel), and just as I was about to go into my room these two men approached me really fast from the stairs across the hall from my door.
It seemed to start innocently enough, they asked me what floor my room was on, (although, I confess, I found the question odd, as it seemed as though the hotel was keeping all guests on the same floor). After telling them it was on the second floor, the one guy stepped forward, opened my hotel room door, walked in, and looked out the window of my room. (The window to my room was right off the roof, so if some was walking on the roof they could just climb into my room.)
It all happened so fast.
He then turned around and said, do you have any friends staying with you in this hotel? I said I did, and then they asked what rooms they were in. I told him they were throughout the hotel. Then the one man left my room, and they both quickly left down the hall.
What. The ?
Talk about feeling vulnerable! I wasn’t quite sure how to react to what just happened. I went into my hotel room, closed the door and posted what had just happened on the private Facebook page of my travel group. Many said I should go to the front desk, explain what happened and get a new room.
I walked to reception to explain. The reception at the Park-Otel’ Potemkin speaks exclusively Russian. I tried to talk, but found it easier for me to write my experience in Google Translate. The receptionist read over my small novel and I could see her eyes widen. She told me to sit down and she would look into it.
The receptionist called our group translator, Ludmila, to reception, and Ludmila was kind enough to translate for me (I guess Google Translate didn’t do the trick). After what sounded like a big argument (Customer Service in this hotel was a solid –2), Ludmila told me there was nothing that could be done, and that I was to just make sure all my doors and windows were locked for the night.
So I walked back to my hotel room, locked the door to the hotel hall, and locked my 7ft tall window (that had no screen, and opened into the hotel room like a door).
I didn’t sleep well this night.