All of my recent talk about holidays got Terry and I reminiscing about the various trips we’ve taken together, and some of the things that have happened on them – both good and bad.
Now, as you know, I can’t have a thought without writing it down, so today I’m going to share some of my worst holiday memories with you: because, let’s face it, they can be SO much more interesting than the good ones, can’t they? As it happens, we’ve been pretty lucky so far, so none of these are particularly awful, but who knows: maybe you’ll have some holiday nightmares of your own to share? In the meantime, here are some of mine…
01. The hotel room above the karaoke bar
The worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in was one in which Terry and I were given a room directly above a karaoke bar. Actually, I tell a lie: we weren’t directly above the bar – there was a room under ours, and IT was The Room With The Constantly Barking Dog, so there was no end to our troubles on that vacation. I mean that literally, by the way: there was no end to it. The dog would bark all day long (I have a lot of patience for barking dogs, but not when it’s all day, every day…), and then the karaoke bar would start up, and our room would be filled with the sound of drunken holiday makers screeching their way through Hotel California and the like until 3am every morning. NOT fun.
02. The room with the all night rave
On one particularly memorable night at that hotel, no sooner had the karaoke stopped than a new form of torture began: that of a pounding baseline, which was SO loud we figured it must surely be in the room with us? Nope: as it turned out, the music was coming from the car park directly opposite our hotel – a car park which had all of a sudden filled up with cars, all of which seemed to be blasting out music at top volume, while people milled around, drinking, dancing, and doing God knows what else. After around an hour of this, we complained to the hotel receptionist (Who attempted to feign surprise, even although she could barely hear us over the sound of the music), who grudgingly called the local police. Terry and I returned to our room, and watched as the police duly showed up… and politely asked the party-goers to turn the music down a notch. They DID turn the music down… for as long as it took for the cops to drive away, at which point back up it went, and it kept on going until around 6am – at which point we returned to reception and asked for a change of room.
03. The room with the super-small bedsheets
Our room change request was duly granted (Yeah, this is still the same hotel, by the way: needless to say, we never went back…), and this time we got a room which only got ear-spitting noise for as long as the pool bar was in operation. This was at least better than the previous option, so we took it… only to find that the double bed we’d been given was fitted with bedsheets designed for a SINGLE bed. So they were basically just draped on top of the bed, like a tablecloth – nice. By that point we’d lost the will to live, and would probably have slept through anything, so we just put up with it for the few days before we left, despite the fact that every time we tried to lie down, the bedsheets would wind themselves around us like a snake. Comfortable it was NOT.
And why did we put up with this catalogue of disasters, I hear you ask? It’s a perfectly reasonable question, especially given that I’m the kind of person who can hear a pin drop in the next street, and who’s so sensitive to noise that I never leave home without a set of earplugs. Under normal circumstances, I’d have demanded a change of hotel on day 1: the only reason I didn’t was the fact that this was the holiday of…
04. The Worst Flu in the World
To be fair, this was one thing that WASN’T the hotel’s fault. I’d had the flu the week before we flew out, and thought I was over it, until I woke up on the first day of the holiday, shivering uncontrollably, and feeling worse than I’d ever felt in my life. For the first few days, I left the hotel room only to go out to hire a heater – because although we were in Tenerife, and the temperature was far from freezing, I just COULD NOT get warm, no matter what I did. I vividly remember lying in bed, listening to the karaoke bar below, and wearing every item of clothing I’d packed, topped off with two of Terry’s sweaters, and with beach towels piled on top of me, because all of the blankets in the room were STILL not enough for me. Terry couldn’t believe I was still cold, but every time his back was turned, I’d drag myself over to the heater I’d made him hire, and sit as close to it as I could: I. WAS. MISERABLE. (Oh, and I was also pretty sure I was going to die, which is why changing hotel rooms was the last thing on my mind. Fun times, indeed…)
05. The cockroach house
If you’ve ever rented a private villa somewhere, you’ll know there’s often a locked cupboard somewhere which contains the owner of the home’s personal belongings. This was the case in a house we rented in Florida one year, only in THAT house the cupboard didn’t just hold the owner’s stuff: it also held cockroaches. Lots of them. And one night they all started piling out through a crack in the door, like some kind of scene from a horror movie. After a quick trip to the supermarket to buy bug spray, we thought we’d dealt with the problem… only to wake up in the night to find more of them creeping towards our bed (the cupboard was right next to our bedroom door, creepily enough). Another bug-killing spree ensued, after which I somehow managed to nod off to sleep: I do, however, remember waking in the night to find Terry sitting at the bottom of the bed, staring at the door with a mad look in his eye, and a pillow in his hand, ready to attack any approaching bugs. We remember it as “The Cockroach House.” This helps distinguish it from “The Ant Attack House”, which… well, you can imagine, can’t you?
06. The house with the Dexter basement
Anyone watch Dexter? The year we visited Miami, Terry and I had just finished binge-watching several seasons of the show… which was unfortunate, because we found ourselves living in a creepy house, with a basement I was convinced looked like the kind of place Dexter would totally use as a kill room. Actually, it wasn’t even a basement: it was a garage which had been converted into a bedroom, but the weird layout of the house meant you had to go down a steep flight of stairs to get to this stuffy, windowless room, which had no air-con (And bear in mind this was Miami in the heat of the summer), and which I was absolutely convinced was haunted by the souls of the people who had surely died there. I was so convinced of this that I couldn’t bring myself to go into the room – not even after a couple of glasses of wine, or on the few occasions when I stood at the top of the stairs and tried to dare myself to do it. It was as creepy as hell – and I wasn’t the only one to think it, because my mum couldn’t set foot inside it either.
(My dad and Terry, meanwhile, were just FINE about it. Terry, however, used a totally haunted bathroom for the duration of that holiday, without even realising it was haunted. And let me tell you, that bathroom was TOTALLY haunted. Which just shows you what HE knows, huh?)
07. The time the Queen Mary almost killed me
We were walking away from The Queen Mary, in Long Beach, California, when the ship all of a sudden let out such a loud HONK that all four members of my family dropped to the ground and LITERALLY DIED with fright. Then we all had to straighten up and pretend that nope, that didn’t happen…
(OK, this isn’t exactly a holiday “nightmare”. It WAS pretty funny, though…)
08. The hire car that wouldn’t go uphill
It was a Fiat Cinquecento, and it was so past its best that it slowed almost to a stop on any kind of hill – and by “hill” I mean “gentle slope”. It also didn’t like being put in reverse, so one time we had to get out and push it backwards, to get it out of a space. And yet STILL we never complained. WHY? At least we managed to keep track of it, though, which is more than can be said for…
09. The car that got impounded
Well, our Spanish was pretty limited at the time (Mine still IS limited: to “can I have a dry white wine, please?”): how were we to know we were parked in a tow-away zone? Or that it would cost 100 euros to get our crappy car back? Or that only one of us would be allowed into the building to arrange the release of the car, and that while I waited outside, I’d be hassled by a group of men who I became convinced were going to try to kidnap me. And, you know, Terry had just spent our last 100 euros getting the car back: WHO WOULD FREE ME NOW?
10. The snorer next door
You know those stone-built Spanish apartment buildings? You’d think the walls on those would be thick enough to block out the sound of someone snoring in the next room, wouldn’t you? You would be wrong, though: as Terry and I discovered the year we were woken every night by the rumbling snore of what sounded like a hippopotamus in the next room. Every single night. Banging on the wall didn’t help, so in the end we were forced to take the mattress off the bed and sleep in the living room. We could still hear him from there, but at least it was a LITTLE bit quieter…
11. The time we broke the honeymoon house
For our honeymoon, Terry and I rented a house with a pool, in Lanzarote. It was a beautiful home, in a picturesque little village in the hills, and we were determined to look after it as if it was our own, so on our last night there Terry went out to top up the water in the pool… and managed to completely drain the water tank in the process. We came home that night to find we had no running water, no working plumbing, and as the next day was a Sunday, no prospect of getting it fixed, either. Our flight home wasn’t until 11pm the next night, so we had to spend the day using public toilets, and trying to stay out of the heat of the sun, because we couldn’t shower. Oh, and worrying that we’d BROKEN SOMEONE’S HOUSE, and that it would cost us, like, a million pounds to fix it or something. Luckily for us, no lasting harm was done, but… let’s just say it was a memorable last day.