A couple fun stories from our trip around Europe.
The $30 laundry. We packed light, which made laundromats a frequent necessity. One evening in Italy we found a laundromat, I found the change machine, but couldn’t read the instructions. Thinking that these machines were universal, I fed it a 20 Euro bill. I was surprised when the machine expelled 20 Euro worth of flat pieces of metal that could only be used in that laundromat. I carried the fake coins around for the remainder of the trip, tried to use them at other laundromats, but never did find another washer that took the fake coins.
Emergency at Buckingham Palace. We met up with a friend in England who took us on a tour of traditional British Pubs – bangers & mash, along with many fresh pulled pints were consumed. The next day I decided to go for a run through the Royal Parks, I ran for an easy 45 minutes, but as I approached the heart of the park, in front of Buckingham Palace, I started feeling a tightness in my stomach. I frantically began my search for a toilet. I started scoping out the snack vendors for facilities, nothing, I started moving towards the park’s parameter, nothing, I looked for possible tree coverage, nope. Visions of being arrested for squatting in-front of Buckingham Palace were screaming through my mind just as a found a tourist map with clearly marked bathrooms, a quick stop at the Green Park tube station and I was back at it. Crisis averted.
The economy hotel. We booked most our hotels the day-of on Hotwire or similar bidding type websites. Not knowing what hotel we were purchasing led to a very wide variation of quality in our accommodations – which kept things interesting and fun. Hotel Wanda was definitely one of our interesting experiences. We struggled for sometime finding Hotel Wanda in the medieval streets of Florence, but eventually bumbled into a 20 foot door with a buzzer for our hotel, we rang, the door was buzzed open, we stood in a dark room of halls, doors, apartment entrances, plaster statues, and stairs – no signage. After some trial and error we discovered the hotel entrance on the 2nd floor where we were greeted by a man at reception (and the only member of staff in the hotel). The man apologized for being drunk, then showed us our room and disappeared. The room was huge, a giant ashtray was sitting on our table (both of us are somewhat sensitive to smoking), upon further inspection, the comforter was riddled with cigarette burns, and the lock on the door was broken. We decided to make the best of it, opened the windows to let some fresh air in, and headed out to explore the city. Upon our return (in the evening) we discovered there was a bar beneath our room, the smoke from the bar patrons, along with their conversations and the music were wafting into our opened windows. No hotel staff were to be found. We closed the windows, popped in the earplugs, and tried to salvage the night. It was a cheap hotel, and we certainly got what we paid for.
We weren’t the only one with similar experiences at Hotel Wanda:
an apparently very drunk gentleman yelled at us from down the street and asked if we were looking for Hotel Wanda. He apologized, took us upstairs and, despite being extremely intoxicated, attempted to tell us which rooms we could have. Although the rooms were very big, it was a bit dark and strange.- Crazy experience (and not in a good way)