A new life at 67.Can a woman start all over again?

Posts tagged ‘Hotels’

A Travellers Tale

“To Travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive,
and the true success is to labour”
Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894 Virginibus Puerisque 1881

We should be enjoying ourselves,for it’s time to take a summer break again.We pilgered to the Holiday Exhibition and came home with two bags full of books and brochures. (Heaven help the enviremont) Special offers had also fluttered into the house by post, which we should have taken them up on monthes ago.Too late now. I have scoured the internet to no avail and two days ago I was obliged to set foot in a Travel Agency.That is of course where the trouble really starts.

There are so many of them here, that’s because the Swiss are always on holiday somewhere. Each travel firm has it’s offices in every town. Upmarket and downmarket businesses,usually all controlled by a couple at the top,so the prices don’t really vary, we are just made to think we are getting a good deal.

On entering we are always greeted by a helpfull smiling assistant.Don’t be taken in by the smile,in actual fact the scenario is of the spider greeting the fly.

If you have studied the wonderfull coloured books full of carefully shot photos you will also have read the small print,and interpreted their language. “Original” well in need of new beds,paint,showers. “Quaint” on it’s last legs. “Within walking distance” anything between 10 meters and 10 miles. “Discotheque in Hotel” not for people who like ro go to bed early,especially if your room is near it. “Child friendly” be very carefull if you like to see young children but not hear them.” Side view of the sea” only if your partner holds you feet while you hang out of the balcony. The traps are endless.

I had already decided where and when. I just wanted a 5* Hotel there at 1* price. Can sometimes be done,but then there is always a snag with the flights. Just one place left when there are two of you.All seats booked on the return journey etc.

I wasn’t lucky of course with their “Last Minute” offers, is anyone ever? But then I would have had to have paid a 100 Dollar booking charge instead of 60.
Because I wanted to use my credit card to pay for the arrangement, which would save me the 45 Dollar obligatory insurence coverage they would have to ask for a further 1 1/2%.
Would I like to reserve a special seat on the three hour flight? For free,of course not, 50 Dollars more. No thanks I’ll stand.

I came out feeling liike a squeezed lemon,and vowing to do it all differently next time.

Not to worry I have a month to prepare myself for the real problems.
The Check in at the Charter Flight desk at 4.30 in the morning.
How to think positively and thus not draw anybody into the place in front of me on the plane who is going to put his seat right back the moment we are in the air, or beside me and glue their elbows onto both arm rests for the whole flight.

If we do take off and land without any mishaps,I only have the apprehension at the luggage belt.
and the elbowing of my fellow travellers at the hotel reception to overcome.

Then, usually after a bad first night in a new bed walking down to the beach at seven o’clock in the morning to find that all the sunbeds under umbrellas have already been reserved with draped towels and bags printed with “Neckermann machts möglich”. OK maybe “Kuoni” too.

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Are Hotels discriminating?

My friend came up to visit from Lausanne last week as she wanted me to help her book a hotel room in Zürich. She could have tried through the Internet of course but it was a chance to see each other again, and chat about the things that only women chat about.

No problem to find a decent hotel room in this city, proud of it’s tourist tradition you may think, except we wanted to book a double room for someone in a wheelchair.

Luckily we didn’t have a budget, so our first stop was a high 5* hotel belonging to an American group across the river from the main railway station. The lobby was beautifully decorated with so many Orchids that I thought I was back in Bangkok. At least we had them to admire while we waited ten minutes to find out if they had a free room that was wheelchair maneuverable for the said dates. The staff at the reception also had a bit of difficulty with my friends’ accent, she speaks with the dialect from Bern but had offered to speak English if it was easier for them.

Eventually we were shown a double room and a suite, both very small by 5*standards. There we might have had difficulty getting through the bathroom door with a wide wheelchair,and there was no way we would have got between the end of the bed and the commode of drawers in the double room. So much for their wheelchair friendly room.
Having a drink in the bar was nice but a visit to the toilet brought the two steps at both ends of a twenty foot gangway to eye. One way of stopping drinking and driving a wheelchair I suppose. The hotel had been recently renovated. Somehow we had the feeling they didn’t want invalids.
We slipped a star, and tried a well established Swiss hotel in the major shopping district. Rooms compatible but decidedly tricky to wheel around in.They smelt of smoke (? from inside or out) and rates were higher than the first one.

And so it went on. Steps here steps there. Doors too narrow, bathrooms too small. Could it be that hotels didn’t want their guests to be offended by the sight of anyone with a disability.?

We had given up on most of the hotels in the center of Zürich for one reason or another.Then we came to Hotel Central. It couldn’t be more central but being by a tram stop and big road junction I hadn’t given it a chance because of the very likely possibility of it being very noisy.

I noticed the special wheel ramp by the entrance straight away. A friendly smiling women greeted us at the reception,

although we were both looking a bit the worse for wear by this time.
Could she help us? But certainly, the entire first floor was planned to accommodate guests in wheelchairs.!!!

She took us to look and we couldn’t believe our eyes or ears.

Perfect, modern, but friendly decorated rooms .Windows triple glazed,you could have heard a pin drop. Even specially designed toilets.

The price? It is probably the most reasonable 4* hotel in Zürich. We could book it straight away she told us,but we would get cheaper rates over the Internet page.

That’s real Swiss service.

At least one place where a hotel is a hotel for everybody.

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