Hotel Adria and the Juri's
We made it safely aboard the connector flight to Prague and I was so grateful. Our driver arrived relatively on time and brought us into the city center. Minor problem. English was a bit of a struggle. You could tell that "Marik" had certain things down pat, such as how to tell you to buy a bus ticket, where to go for $, what not to eat, etc. but when it came to questions, he was understandably confused. This is mainly because learning English in CZ before the iron curtain lifted was seen as an act of will against the government, as well as a statement that you were going to leave, which was also unacceptable. Therefore, people’s English now is broken at best and teachers for it are extremely rare.
We pulled into Wenceslas Square in Vaclavske Namesti or Vaclavik, Prague (city center) and were directed to the Adria Hotel. It was advertised to be a restored convent from 1912 and a "gem" of the old street, as well as prime real estate for those of us who hadn’t rented a car. Being a 4/5 star hotel according to review sites, we did not expect what we received. Entering the hotel, you were hit with a wall of smoke coming from a cave-like eating area to the left, which contradicted the online disclosure that the premises , was "non-smoking". Upon check-in with Juri #1, we were directed to our room and everything seemed fine until we had to literally pull our own 50-lb. bags up 4 flights of stairs to our room. “Was there no porter?”, you ask. Well, there was one man at the desk and another in the back office, but no, no porters at this 4-star hotel. The lights in this part of the hotel were motion-sensitive, so along with the hotel being built the year the Titanic sank, they decided to make the feeling authentic because I also felt like I was aboard the sinking vessel when the lights would flicker off & on randomly when walking to our room. I admit I began to look down hallways, expecting to see Jack locked in a room handcuffed to a pipe.
Once in the room, it was far removed, frigid, tiny, and stuffy. Definitely not what was depicted in our travel packet or online. You can imagine our mixed disappointment and frustration after the day we had already. Lugging our bags back down the 4 flights of stairs to the front desk to see Juri again, Juri looked as amused as we were. He began the conversation with, “What’s wrong with you?”...hahaha, as Julia Robert coined, “Big mistake, HUGE”. My mother took this one, explaining the discrepancy in what was advertised versus shown. He replied with the fact that the whole hotel was ‘booked’ but that we might be able to switch rooms tomorrow, Easter. Reluctantly, we returned to our small 3rd class Titanic room, 50-lb. luggage in tow.
The second night in the room, we had no heat. I called down to the concierge and tried to remedy the situation given that it’s been blizzarding here all week and was just a tad cold in this unused, forgotten room. Juri #2 was much nicer than Juri #1 who'd checked us in. He offered to come up right away and take a look at the thermostat, but if I wouldn’t mind, would I please give him 5 minutes? He was eating chicken. Ooooook, Juri #2. Sure, eat your chicken. Then come fix my f-ing thermostat cuz I’ve had a long f-ing day and my ass is freezing. Prosim dekuji. Just about 5 minutes later, here comes Juri #2, not smelling at all like the chicken that was sounding pretty good about now (it had been hours since my breakfast box). He takes 1 look at the wall thermostat and claims that’s “air conditioning”. The “heater” is by the window. Know what it is? A radiator! Hi, 1860. Know what’s in front of it? Curtains. He turns it on anyway and says it would take a little bit to start working. I thanked him and let him go back to his chicken. Perhaps he hadn’t killed it yet.
An hour later, the room was still just as frigid and my patience was thinner than the ice it felt like in there. I called back down to concierge, thinking I’d get Nice Juri with the chicken, but I got Bad Juri, Juri #1. Juri #1 remembered me. He was just as annoyed as ever to be required to participate in his job, and said, “I don’t understand you, what do you want me to do...there’s nothing wrong with the heat, what would make you happy?” I said, “What would make me happy is someone coming here and actually fixing the heat, or bringing me at least 4 comforters instead, thank you”. Silence. Yep, Juri #1 hung up on me, just as I was asking myself how many strikes this guy was gonna get from me. He arrived with two comforters in-hand at my door & asked to look at the radiator behind the apparently magical curtains that don’t catch on fire. I welcomed him in and he touched the lukewarm heating device, claiming “it’s working” and walked out.
I felt increasingly bad for the Czech nuns who had to live here so many years ago. I guess it's true what they say, suffering really does bring you closer to God, because I was talking to Him a lot so far.
To be continued...