Yes, I´ve had to get a bit sassy, after a series of misadventures involving various hotels in Seville have tried my patience.
It all started in Paris. I was waiting outside my apartment building for the taxi to take me to the airport. As the taxi arrived, I stepped into some lovely fall leaves on the ground, with an unexpected bonus. It seems one of my lazy neighbours hadn´t bothered to take his or her dog directly across the street to the park. Instead the dog had done his messy business amidst the leaves on the sidewalk. And I was wearing LK Bennett driving loafers, which have lots of ridges on the sole. So you can image the mess. I spent the first few minutes at Orly removing the last vestiges of French chien! Merde!
Thankfully, the Iberia flight to Seville was uneventful. The taxi ride from the airport was fine. And when I arrived at the B&B, the receptionist watched me get out, pay the driver and struggle with my two bags. I showed her my written confirmation of my booking and she nodded. Then she said there´s something wrong with the water in my room, so they were sending me to another hotel.
I argued with her as best I could, considering that she barely spoke English and I knew only a few words in Spanish. But she was adamant there was no room at the hotel; alas, the manager was nowhere to be found. So she gave me a map with the alternative hotel circled, phoned a taxi and off I went, with a bad feeling about this unexpected turn of events.
And I was right. As the taxi approached a construction site with a huge hole in the ground, to my dismay, the driver stopped at a dated building next to the site. I went inside, where an elderly gentleman informed me I was there for one night at the same price as the other B&B. I asked if the hotel was air-conditioned and he replied, "Ah, who needs air-conditioning in this weather?" Uh, someone like me who was just getting used to lovely fall weather in Paris?
Then he took my passport and copied it into his computer. When he handed me the printout to sign -apparently for police verification - every part of my name was wrong. I said, "No, that´s not my name." He shrugged, assuring me it was "of no consequence." Not to him, maybe. By this time I had the dreaded feeling that things were about to go from bad to worse. He gave me the key and I took my luggage to the sixth floor. I took a deep breath, before opening the door to a box room containing a bed with a brown bedspread, a chair and a desk - no lamp, television, air-conditioner or accoutrements of any kind. The blinds were drawn and I opened them to see - what else from the top floor - a splendid view of the construction pit!
Obviously, this just wouldn´t do. These days I´m a little old to be roughing it. And I was in a fury that the reservations I´d made in June had seemingly disappeared into thin air. So I phoned the language school and explained my predicament. They said they would phone around and try to find alternate accommodations. Meanwhile, I walked around the neighbourhood near the Cortes Ingles department store, going into one hotel after another to find them fully booked.
I got out my French cell phone and again called the school, but they´d had no luck. So after a series of phone calls with confusing directions (I´d left my map in the horrid hotel), I arrived at the school. Its location was only a few blocks away, but the route through narrow pedestrian streets was inaccessible by taxi. The staff phoned practically every hotel in town, even one across the river in Cartuja - all were full!
I was beginning to despair, because there was no way I was staying in that horrid place. So I asked Jessica of the school staff to phone the B&B where my original booking was and ask questions in Spanish. She spoke to the manager, who had just arrived. He spoke to me in excellent English and said it had all been a big misunderstanding - that the receptionist had thought I was staying only one night. I asked how that could be, considering I had presented her with written confirmation of the length of my stay and he had no answer. Apparently whatever problem had sent me to the horrid hotel would be resolved by the next morning.
This still didn´t resolve the issue of where I could stay that night. Finally, a staff member suggested Hotel Colon, a four-star hotel that actually had a vacancy! So I went back to the horrid hotel, retrieved my luggage, paid the bill (I´ll argue that with the B&B manager later) and went off to the (relatively) luxurious air-conditioned room with a small balcony. And phoned my husband saying I wish I hadn´t come to Seville, it had been such a horrid afternoon. Of course, I was just hot, tired, irritable and hungry - by this time 6 p.m. and I hadn´t eaten or had so much as a cup of tea all afternoon.
The next morning things improved when I arrived at the original B&B to confirm that a room was actually available. The receptionist was full of apologies and said, "Oh, yes, come now and bring everything." So I went to the Hotel Colon, a short walk away, retrieved my luggage, checked out and got a taxi. And the taxi driver - even though there was a sign pointing towards the direction of the B&B, with the name of the B&B clearly in his line of vision and even though I´d showed him the name and address of the hotel written in Spanish - he pretended not to understand any of these things. I had to direct him past every sign clearly pointing to the hotel. He was feigning ignorance, trying to run up the meter.
As the hotel was only a short distance away, the meter read two euros. But he immediately switched it off, hoping I wouldn´t see that and insisted I pay him four euros. I argued with him that the meter indicated two euros; he claimed the other two were for my bags. I knew that wasn´t true; besides, he´d been rude since the moment the hotel bellman put my bags in his cab. Obviously, he was just trying to take advantage of a tourist. The sad thing is, he probably behaves this way with every tourist who gets in his cab.
I frowned at him and gave him four euros, but no tip. I went inside to the B&B, where of course, the room wasn´t ready. So I left my bags and went exploring. More about that in the next post.