Hotel California is in France

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photo Traci and Seine

I will say this for our Paris hotel: it was clean, and it had adequate shower pressure and hot water. After that, I’m fresh out of compliments. While I knew the accommodations would be Spartan given the price, I didn’t factor in the heat wave that hit the country and sent the normal temperature of upper 70’s into the low 90’s. That one circumstance alone changes everything when you’ve rented a room with no AC.

The first eye-opener occurred before we even got to the room. The website promised a secure location to stow belongings if you arrived before check-in, and since our taxi had delivered us at 8am, we were like a couple of nomads looking to park a few camels. The employee behind the counter told us our room wouldn’t be available for another four hours, but that they had a special location for luggage if we needed to unburden ourselves. He pointed to a small nook in the middle of the lobby that was concealed by a hanging curtain that didn’t even stretch all the way across. What an interesting interpretation of the word secure. I suppose if you were a mosquito looking to heist a piece of Samsonite then that curtain was a real deterrent, but to anyone with the working use of at least one limb, the suitcases were yours for the taking.

Lauren shook her head and said, “There’s no way I can leave my viola here. I’ll just have to pack it around until check-in.”

I understood perfectly. Considering she plays an instrument that’s worth the same amount as my Corolla, probably more thanks to 6 years of automobile depreciation, leaving it in a lobby with only a juice dispenser acting as a guard wasn’t the smart choice to make. So she strapped that baby to her back and we set off for a morning of sights.

At noon we returned and got our second surprise in the form of the elevator. I’ve seen Vienna sausages with more wiggle room. And for someone who’s claustrophobic, this was a Stephen King trailer waiting to happen. We had to go up separately or we wouldn’t fit into the vertical coffin, and the second that interior iron curtain closed behind me, I envisioned myself stuck in that miniature sauna, pounding on the door and trying to figure out how to yell, “I’m about thirty seconds away from an I-Love-Me jacket if you don’t get a handy man up here pronto!” in a language I didn’t speak.

As soon as the door opened, I burst out of that casket-sized nightmare and joined Lauren at the door of our room. And we thought the elevator was small. You had to turn your body at different angles just to maneuver around beds without smearing sheetrock on your clothes. But what am I saying?  I’m pretty sure those walls were made of paper machete given the horribly disruptive flossing the neighbors were doing.

But the real trial came that night when the world, or at least France, should have been sleeping. Because of the weather, we had to open the window on our fourth floor room, and that allowed the glorious sounds of the street to drift our way. We heard the boisterous birthday party at 2am and the motorcycle drag race at 3. We had a loud controversy at half past four, and our considerate neighbors stumbled down the hall at six. We might not have heard their loud singing and belching in Swedish, but luckily, the construction crew for the building next door was already on the scene. We endured this for three days and three insomnia-infested nights.

You can get a lot of thinking done at 4am

You can get a lot of thinking done at 4am

On the morning of our fourth day, we left early enough that we could have been our own hotel bully, and a large part of me wanted to give back to the surrounding community at that luscious hour of 4:45. I was so tempted to ask Lauren to pull out her viola and give our street a parting farewell. None of that overplayed Bach stuff, no sir. Something along the lines of “Nails on a Chalkboard” in E flat. But I just couldn’t do it. As I drug my suitcase up the hall trying to be as quiet as possible, I had to lament the fact that momma had raised me right. It put a real kink in my plans for retribution.

© 2013 – Traci Carver

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20 responses »

  1. Hmmm, I think I’ve stayed in that hotel, only it was in Italy 40 years ago! Only thing you can say about these things is it REALLY makes you appreciate the modest comfort you can afford (hopefully) later in life!

    • I can take the heat during the day, but I like to sleep in a place cooler than 87. Those nights in Paris I tried not to blink excessively since it counted as a form of exercise.

  2. I can’t believe you’re in Paris! That’s so amazing 😀 Seems only yesterday that I took French with Mrs. Andrews. I still continued my French in high school after I left for Indiana-until I started college. My French is a little bit rusty, but I still remember most of it. Which reminds me…I went to Paris in the summer of 2010 on a European tour. I saw the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and I even got to practice some of my French skills ^_^

  3. Air con is pretty much superfluous in Europe for about 354 days a year so hardly anywhere has it. French hotels are also seriously strange but the ones in Amsterdam are stranger. 🙂

    • Yeah, but you’re getting all the insomnia without the Eiffel Tower! And maybe you could get your eldest to eat a French pancake . . . They do have Nutella on them, which ranks right up there with bacon.

  4. This reminds me of our hot stay in Venice. And I mean HOT. Like you, not wanting to shell out more liras (now euros) for a room with AC and in keeping with the “real” Italian experience, we bought a rotating fan. It got us through (sort of!) 2 Venetian nights. If you ever get to Villa Rosa in Positano, Italy, you may ask the innkeeper for the fan he bought from 2 Americans in 1999.

    I’m curious about Lauren and her viola. There must be a story there. Hmmm. . .

    • You’re walking right up my alley with the mention of Italy. It’s my number one place to visit. And Lauren is my incredibly talented friend who plays professionally. She attended a music festival in France, so we went early to explore and have a real vacation. Good times!

  5. It does stink sometimes when we aren’t allowed to use our powers for evil, doesn’t it, dear one? And with your love of sleep, you must have been on the last fiber of your last nerve. 😦 Did you at least get some good tips for flossing from your neighbors? LOL

    • I’m pretty sure I know how many molars each had . . . 🙂 Yeah, the whole not sleeping thing was a pill. Between jet lag and boisterous neighbors, it was a lose-lose sleeping scenario.

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