The Beauty of Failed Holidays

July 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

I’ve read in this book called “Travels with myself and another” that people don’t want to hear about how great your trip to Egypt was or how amazingly beautiful Thailand is. When people ask “how was your holiday?”, they want to hear about disgrace, problems and hear how badly fucked you were.

Call it the human passion for misery or jealousy, it’s true. You have to admit it.
That made me feel a bit better about my trip to Nice (where I have arrived today and will leave on Saturday) and how things are not working out as planned.

First, a bit of background. I have never been to south of France or even Paris for that matter. My only experience in French soil was in a beach in the north called Dinard. Ryanair tickets for £5 return. What can I say? First time camping, it rained for 4 days non-stop. The only thing to do there was a Hitchcock festival apparently, which would be quite exciting wasn’t for the fact it happened in another time of the year.
So, Nice held a lot of expectations. I had seen pictures and thought it was amazing and being a film enthusiast, the proximity to Cannes was exciting (even if the festival was 2 months ago).
A great friend of mine and former work colleague just moved to Nice, in order to study French. So, my plan was also spend some time with him.

So, as soon as I stepped foot on the airport, turned on mobile, as you do. No signal. ‘Oh, must be because it’s the airport’. Get to the city centre and still nothing. Nada. Zero. How the hell was I suppose to find Elliot?
I see an Orange shop. Yes. Go to the shop. No air con. Ten people waiting. One member of staff. Excellent. Wait wait. Nope. After 15 min, he’s still dealing with the same guy. I have no idea what’s the problem since my French is equal to of a 3 year old French baby.

I give up and decide to check in the hostel. It’s pretty easy to find, well located in the Old Town. I ring the bell 4 times. No answer. Nothing. Nada. Zero. I check if I’m in the right place. Seems like it. Same street. Same number. Same name. Yep. An old lady (who turns out works at the hostel) arrives and opens the door for me.

I had emailed the hostel a week ago asking if they take credit cards, since my budget is well tight. No one replied. I got there and they obviously didn’t. But then let me talk about this place.
It’s an old building and the computers are just 2 netbooks. The reception is quite reasonable for the price £25 a night.
I had read reviews about the cleaniless not being its strong point. I wasn’t ready for that, though. Think shithole. Think drugged homeless joint. Yep. You get the picture.
I managed to send a message for Elliot on facebook thanks to the wifi. At least that was good.
The girls dorm is on the 3rd floor and as of now, is under construction. So, all the heavy material and dust are all over the place. The toilets are up in some sort of attic, with wooden stairs that are far too dangerous. The light inside the toilets is so dark you can barely see what you’re doing. That certainly explains the wet floor, humid walls and dirty toilet seat. It doesn’t help that people don’t flush.

The room is ok at first sight. A bit small for 6 bunkbeds, but I’m on a budget. I’m not expecting luxury. However, after a more careful analysis, the floor has obviously not been swept in days. There was also a mix with my bed (I came back to findy stuff somewhere else entirely).

Anyway, I don’t have an iPhone. My iPod is my only contact with anyone right now. So, I had to keep looking for free wifi spots in order to talk with Elliot. He messages back saying he was coming to the hostel. I saw half an hour later and went back (told him to wait). Waited for 2h and nothing. Nada. Zero.

I found out later that he been earlier and had left a message (that I only got at night). My locker didn’t have a key, which I was promised for later. I didn’t get it. Had to take all with me to the beach, which means I couldn’t really stay in the sea for long, since everyone tells stories about people stealing bags of swimmers.

The beach is stony. In case you are not aware, it’s not very comfortable. I knew that already, but it was still painful enough. Now, the best thing so far has been the sea. Damn, what a lovely water and temperature. Being Brazilian, I must admit I miss it a lot.

I went to the Orange shop again to try sort it out the mobile. The guy just looked at it and said there was nothing he could do. That Orange hadn’t authorized the use of it abroad. Bullshit, I have just been to Barcelona and it was fine. I try to go into my Orange account online and nothing. Nada. Zero. It says it’s offline.

Calling from payphones is a pain. You need to buy a card and be able to understand the instructions in French. I gave up on that. In the meantime, Elliot messages me on Facebook saying the name of the place where he’s working and what time.
I went to meet him there 15min before his shift started. He told me he’s working today, tomorrow and Saturday all day (which is the only day he doesn’t have class).

To top it all that, my credit card is not working. I haven’t used it since the end of last month when it was paid and it’s just being a complete useless piece of plastic. My actual money will only last 3 days.

While I’m here typing this in the hostel reception, two Spanish girls arrived to find out that there aren’t enough beds. They will have to share one single bed for one night. Oh, it’s very hot as you can imagine. There is not one fan in the whole hostel and obviously no air con. I’m also being eaten alive by mosquitos. I should also add, I’m allergic to them.

I sincerely hope tomorrow is a better day.

Ah, the hostel? Hostel Smith.

Update: I ran into the owner when I was leaving the bathroom. He came to me and asked what I honestly thought about it and how he could improve the place. I told him and he said that he wants to do all that but because there’s always a lot of people staying there it gets difficult. Kudos for him for wanting to improve the place.


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§ One Response to The Beauty of Failed Holidays

  • Dean says:

    “I’ve read in this book called “Travels with myself and another” that people don’t want to hear about how great your trip to Egypt was or how amazingly beautiful Thailand is. When people ask “how was your holiday?”, they want to hear about disgrace, problems and hear how badly fucked you were.”

    I wrote a story on exactly that basis about my trip to Egypt. Authors are sadists who invent characters then put them through hell. You write well, btw.

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