Hotel Breakfast Madness

The hotel breakfast experience can be an uncomfortable, tense affair – especially if you’re in a foreign country. Does this story ring true with you?

The hotel buffet breakfast

Bleary eyed, wearing your shirt back to front, and with your hair looking like you were assaulted by a troop of wig-stealing monkeys on your way in, you fumble your way through the door of the hotel’s breakfast room. It’s a buffet breakfast; all you can bloat. You chuckle to yourself as you imagine the fat American man you bumped into yesterday (the one with the enormous boobs) jumping up and down with joy at the potential calories on offer. Let’s hope he’s wearing his sports bra…

As the Maitre d’ greets you by the door, it becomes obvious that he speaks no English. So, you try to hint that you want a table for one without inadvertently giving him ‘the bird.’

Following a period of mis-communication, during which you seriously considered punching the Maitre d’ in the face, as he stood between your hungry stomach and the eggs and bacon, he sits you down at a table of his choice. Frustratingly, he’s chosen the table furthest away from the buffet, meaning that you have to undertake a small marathon to reach the food. The realisation passes through your mind that you will probably burn off more calories getting to and from the buffet area than are actually contained within the food. Oh, why can’t they supply golf carts?

The waiter walks over. He, at least, speaks a little more English…

Waiter: “Tea? Coffeeeee?”
You: “What… err, tea… yes, I’ll have tea. Thank you”

Then comes the list…

Waiter: “What tea you like? Engresh breekfast, caamomile, greeen tea, mint tea, eeerl grey…?”
You: “Err, I don’t know. Tea. Just tea. I don’t want help sleeping, I don’t have prostate issues… ordinary tea!”
Waiter: “Ah, ok………… juice, what juice you like?”

Finally, the waiter leaves… he’s gone to get your strawberry tea and asparagus and wheatgrass juice (you won’t have a problem with constipation today, that’s for sure!). As you sit at your table, staring blankly into the distance, your eyes focus for a brief second on a woman struggling back to her table, supporting an enormous mound of breakfast goodies with both arms. Her head is tilted to the side of her plate to see where she is going. Forget the golf carts, how about a forklift truck?

Now slumped over your table, struggling to wake yourself, you glance at your watch. It’s 10.29am. Breakfast finishes at 10.30am, so there’s little time to loose. You’re going to have to act like a contestant on the television gameshow, Supermarket Sweep – without the bright, very gay clothing and without the over-exaggerated enthusiasm. It’s too early for that. You jump up from your table, like a startled deer. Well, ok, more like a wounded wildebeest…

As you reach the food area, panting from your exhaustive journey, you notice several groups of people wandering around with their heads down and arms out, reminiscent of extras from an episode of the Walking Dead. It’s the hangover crowd. You decide it’s best to stay away from them incase they walk into you or, worse, projectile vomit over your shoulder as you inspect the pastries and cakes.

It’s time to make your first big decision: how to begin the breakfast debauchery? Being that it’s the morning, you really don’t want to have a guilt trip for the rest of the day about what you’ve eaten at breakfast. So, the best option is to start with something healthy; fruit. You pick up a piece of melon with your spoon and carefully place it on your plate… that’ll do. It’s amazing how this one piece of fruit, measuring approximately a square centimetre, can change your perspective and make you feel so much better about the mound of unhealthy eggs, bacon, sausages, toast, pastries and cakes that will inevitably follow. Afterall, your breakfast won’t have been *all* unhealthy, right?

And, let’s be honest, you are “health conscious.” Yesterday, you walked all the way up the hotel stairs to your room on the ninth floor… having taken the lift to the eighth floor first.

After devouring your fruit in three seconds, it’s time to move on to the cooked breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and a mountain of toast. That brings us to one of the trickiest parts of the buffet breakfast…

The hotel breakfast toaster

Arriving at the toaster section, you’re confronted by a crowd of people with very perplexed faces, clutching pieces of bread. And they have every right to feel perplexed, for hotel toasters are always so incredibly over-complicated, with their vast array of buttons, dials and knobs (where-ever there’s a toaster, there’s always knobs). Moreover, the toasters always resemble torture devices with their mish-mash of metal spokes, prongs and cages. And why is there always one piece of ‘forgotten toast’ sitting on the exit tray; cold, getting in the way, but still optimistic of achieving fulfilment underneath a blanket of warm honey. It’s always perfectly toasted too – a miracle, in toasting terms. You can guarantee that your toast won’t turn out looking that good. ‘Hmm, you could just… no, it’s cold. Urgh.’

Having fought through the crowd, claiming to be the biggest toaster expert in the world, the torture device is finally revealed to you. Now, there’s an inevitability that the toaster will be one of two things:

  1. A time machine. Your bread will disappear for twenty minutes, only to re-appear looking exactly the same as it went in.
  2. A cremation furnace. You pop your bread in and, 10 seconds later, a pile of ash falls out onto the tray (the ash may or may not resemble the face of someone famous from history… possibly someone who was cremated)

Arriving back at your table with your mound of food, the waiter kindly presents you with a teapot of strawberry tea and a glass of asparagus and wheatgrass juice. Now, getting the tea from the little teapot into your cup should be easy. But, no, he’s given you the one teapot in the world with the dodgy lid and leaky spout. Consequently, when you go to pour it, the tea goes everywhere… everywhere except the cup, which remains as dry as an Arab’s flip flop. Seeing you in some distress, but clearly not understanding the gravitas of the situation, the waiter brings you a napkin. A single bloody napkin!

Although frustrated, part of you remains grateful that you’re not on board a boat with him. For, if it was to start taking on water he’d probably hand you a thimble to bail with…

At exactly 10.30am, events suddenly liven up. The lights in the buffet area are switched off, one by one. Breakfast is over… but the fight has only just begun. A mad scramble ensues, reminiscent of feeding time at the zoo. It’s a battle of wits between staff (starting to take things away) and people trying to desperately grab extra food for their breakfast. Everywhere you look, there’s chaos. Well, I say ‘everywhere’ – the fruit section remains incredibly peaceful.

You finish your breakfast and leave the restaurant. It’s all over. Behind you is a scene of carnage; bits of half-eaten food everywhere and tea-soaked table cloths as far as the eye can see. Although you arrived late, you feel contented that you aren’t the last to leave. That prize goes to a plump, married couple. There’s something not quite right though… the man has a strange muffin-shaped mound in his t-shirt and his wife is dragging a heavy handbag along the floor behind her. Forget the forklift truck – how about an articulated lorry?

A Towel Too Far…

Rapport can be described as a state of harmony achieved when the people involved appreciate and understand each other’s feelings and ideas and communicate on the same wavelength. Here is a story of how I established rapport with a room maid during my stay in Cancun. I was feeling a little cut off and lonely at the time, so it meant a lot to me.

During my two-week hotel stay, I occupied a twin room all to myself. This meant that I received two of everything, or in the case of bath towels, four of everything. It seemed a little extreme.

My first few evenings in Cancun were spent outside of the hotel. However, on my fifth night at the hotel, I was enjoying a rest before dinner when there was a knock at the door. I opened the door to a maid, who presented me with a towel before wishing me a good evening (in Spanish). “This is ridiculous,” I thought, “what the bloody hell do I need ANOTHER towel for?” Despite this, deep down inside me I felt a tingling sense of increased security: if I should need to have 10 showers a day, I could! Furthermore, if I ran out of money, I could start my own laundry shop… 😉

Opportunities can appear when you least expect them to. As I stood there, towel in hand, a childish idea came into my head – ‘towel origami.’ I could have some fun with this towel and put it to good use. So, this is what I made…

Enrique - Towel Origami

Say “hello” to my towel man, Enrique; made from one bath towel and one hand towel (together with a few bits and pieces from the complimentary bathroom pack). I left Enrique sitting at the top of the second bed; to greet the maid the next day. Next morning, I went out for the day, returning in the evening. As I walked back into the room I spotted that Enrique had disappeared… to be replaced by Mariana (complete with flirty eyes)…

Mariana - Towel Origami

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Travel

I realise that I normally write humorous articles. But, for once, I’m going to go against the grain and write a personal story – an account of my long journey home for Christmas. Unless you’ve had your head stuck up Rudolph’s bottom, you’ll know all about the severe cold weather that has hit Europe over the last week.

On Tuesday morning, I arrived back from a week-long trip to Sofia, Bulgaria. I had originally booked to fly back last Saturday. However, on Saturday morning the skies over the UK airports opened and dropped what can only be described as a “shit load of the white stuff”. The whole of the South East of England looked like a scene from the movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. Airport chaos followed, with runways closed and flights cancelled on a mass scale. I spent the next two days wondering whether I’d be home in time for Christmas. Thankfully, I found and booked a flight back to a different London airport, and so began 15 hours of travelling in an experience that contained both frustration and exhilaration.

So, why exhilaration? Well, the trip truly made me realise that when people face a common goal or a common enemy, they really can come together to face it as one. My 15 hour trip took in 1 taxi, 1 plane, 2 trains, 2 coaches and an automobile. But, more importantly than those statistics, it allowed me to meet and talk to other people, all of whom had the same goal – to get back to their families in time for Christmas.

First was Frank, who I met on the Bulgarian Airways flight to London Heathrow and who was, coincidentally, scheduled to fly home to London Gatwick on the same two flights as me that were previously cancelled. Throughout the four hour flight, we chatted non-stop, almost in relief at being with someone in a similar predicament. It turned a frustrating, slow flight into an interesting one as we chatted about our time spent in Bulgaria and our funny experiences of Bulgarian people (more on that in my next blog post). Our mini-friendship continued once we arrived at the airport, as we collected our luggage together and found our way onto the train network. It was at that point that I bid him goodbye and we set off separately on the next stage of our journeys. Continue reading