Day 4 of the Blog Each Day in August Challenge! An embarrassing moment.

Day four of this blog challenge is to write about an embarrassing moment. My life is made up of embarrassing moments! Like the day I ran up to a strange man, thinking he was my husband. He received a hug and a “Darling!” before I realised my mistake, and I, at last, faced the fact that wearing glasses was no longer an optional extra in my dress code. Or was it that day of mishaps during my first overseas trip? Hmmm – let me go back quite a few years.

As a teenager, I wanted to explore the world. When I met my husband, at seventeen, I was working in a shoe shop and putting away money regularly for an airfare to England, my first stop of a planned Europe adventure, and money to fall back on for those hard, unemployed times. Meeting my husband changed all that.

Many years later, we had three children and just moved to our new home. That’s when we learnt my husband’s father had been diagnosed with bowel cancer and the prognosis was not good.

As soon we heard the news, we knew what we wanted to do – take our children to meet this wonderful, caring man who was also their beloved grandfather. The decision made, we thought we might as well make it a special trip – something all of us would remember for a lifetime. So, after spending time with our English family, we took the children up to Scotland and back again, staying at Youth Hostels along the way.

The reconstructed Treasury of Athens, built to...

The reconstructed Treasury of Athens, built to commemorate their victory at the Battle of Marathon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Travelling to England is not a little venture for Australians. Already outlaying an immense amount of money to go overseas with three kids, I had convinced my husband before we left Australia that it was important for my well being to enact the dream of my teenage years and visit Italy and Greece all by myself.

For two weeks, I backpacked in Italy  – how I loved Roma, Naples and Florence – before going to Greece for an organised tour. This was supposed to be the trouble-free part of my journey before I headed home to re-join my family, but my tour did not begin well.

First of all, when the bus driver assured me I was near my hotel and deposited me in the streets of Athens, I discovered I had no idea how to read Greek. It didn’t help that the people I asked for directions could not read the address of the hotel, written in English. Travelling alone, I was very cautious about talking to strange men (I had a husband and three children), but when an English speaking Romanian asked if he could help me it was like a prayer answered. He offered to take me to the hotel, grabbed my backpack and started walking. I stilled my beating heart and my imaginings of him running off with most of my belongings and followed, continuing my prayer that he was taking me to my destination.

My kind Romanian Knight did take me to the right hotel, but the fun of this very strange day was really just starting.  At the reception desk I found that the hotel had double-booked into a room with another woman.

“But I paid extra for a single room in Australia,” I protested.

“We are sorry, madam. There are no more rooms,” the girl at reception replied. “ The other woman is Australian, too.”

I think I stared blankly at her, while my travel tired mind tried to figure out why this was so supposed to make me happy. Australians like to room together?

“Could I speak to this Australian?”

“No madam. She is not in the room presently, but she is expecting you.”

I protested and protested, but the staff remained unmoved. So – I thought I would wait to talk to my roommate and then go down with her to sort this stupid situation out. I grabbed the key and my backpack, and went up to the room to shower.

As soon as I entered the room I knew I was in trouble. There was only one double bed, with dresses and scarfs spread all over one side, next to an open suitcase. I rushed down to tell this to the staff.

“You can’t expect to share a double-bed with a stranger! And does she really know about me? It doesn’t look that way,” I croaked, feeling ready to weep.

“Madam – we assure you, she is aware of the situation.”

“And the bed? I can’t sleep with someone I don’t know.”

“Madam – did you not notice the sofa in the room? It is also a bed.”

I was exhausted, so I gave up and returned to the room for my shower. I just hoped my roommate was as upset as me and, once I had a chance to speak to her, we could both argue the point with the staff and I would get my single room. So I showered and waited, sitting on the edge of the sofa.

Eventually, a very elderly woman opened the door and blinked in great surprise at the sight of me. I could see straight away she had no idea about this shared room arrangement. After her first moment of surprise, she was just a very unhappy, cross woman. She even inferred, after checking her personals, that I had taken a shoe and lock from her suitcase.

So I returned to reception, this time accompanied by my very unhappy and angry roommate. She made such a loud fuss about this awful state of affairs that the staff thought she was a lunatic (she yelled at them, while, yet again, I tried to reason with them). The lunatic label was reinforced when she pointed at me and told them that I may have stolen her shoe and the lock.

The staff, at last realising they had a problem that needed solving, told me to get my things and come back to reception. When I returned, the manager, saying the staff thought me far nicer than my very mad fellow Australian, gave me a key to a suite on the sixth floor.

It was a lovely large suite, with separate lounge room and bedroom, as well as a balcony. At last, beginning to relax, I undressed and put my summer nightdress on. That’s when I decided to go out to the balcony and have a good look at Athens.

It was a hot night, and I had the air conditioner on.  As I was taking in the amazing sight of the city lights of Athens, I was also sliding the door shut to keep the room cool. There was a click. I checked the door, only to find it locked.

I considered my options. The first one was obvious: admit defeat and sleep outside. But not without water or a toilet.  All right then – perhaps I could swing myself over to the next balcony and knock on their door. It was feasible. Just.  Only problem, there was six-floor drop if I failed in my bid to reach the next balcony.

During my investigations of likely escape routes I had noticed people on the rooftop restaurant. Reasoning if I could see them, they would hear me, I put aside my embarrassment of standing there in a very thin nightdress, with absolutely nothing on underneath, and started to yell, “Hello! Hello up there!”

My desperate yells caught the attention of a young couple. Thank God – they understood me when I shouted to them about being locked out.  Not long afterwards, the girl from reception, the same girl who had dealt with me from my arrival until handing over the key to the sixth floor suite, came and rescued me.

But that was not all. The morning before the start of my tour I became locked in the basement’s toilet. Once again – all the time panicking that the tour bus would go with me – I had to yell and yell to get rescued.