Travelogue, Part Two:

Living in a Box

Okay, this part is not about my finest hour.

First, know this: I was exhausted. I had the LEAST attractive undereye circles; it looks like I've punched my own self in the face.

Second, know this: I am poor. I have had to save for this trip. I have entered into an unholy alliance that is a lot like indentured servitude. I have BABYSAT. I have made some serious sacrifices, is what I'm saying.

So when I pulled up to my hotel and saw it in person for the first time, well ... I was underwhelmed.

I would stay here for seven nights, and the going rate for a stantard single room is L95 per night (that would be my sorry excuse for the pounds symbol). Given the sorry state of our economy, that comes to roughly 190 American dollars. I KNOW. So I was expecting luxury.

Instead, I found out that the British definition of "standard" is very very different from the American definition of "standard."

I got in around 1:00 a.m. GMT, so I was not too quick to notice things. I did, however, notice that when I got in the elevator lift, I could touch my elbows to the walls on either side, and that my two suitcases and I were stacked on top of one another on the way up to the sixth floor.

That is my foot, which is attached to my leg, which is attached to my hip, which is pressed against the other wall of the elevator lift. Yes, that is correct: the width of the lift is 33 inches. I'm no math genius, but even I know that is less than THREE FEET ACROSS.

And it was less than that from back to front.

So it was good that I was traveling solo. It definitely wouldn't have been convenient for me to develop claustrophobia. And from the inside, as it was going up, it totally sounded like it was powered by a hamster running madly on his wheel. It was SCARY, is what I'm saying.

When I saw my room, I promptly had a breakdown.

To get an accurate picture of how small this (very very expensive) room was, I would suggest that you stand in the doorway of an average walk-in closet and consider whether or not you could live in it for a week.

This is a medium-sized suitcase. Notice that it almost fills the doorway.

The bed was smaller than twin-sized. And it touched the wall at both ends. I, at 5'7", was fine. But I will say that my toes touched the wall and that the area from head to the other wall was about the width of my palm.

The vanity/desk was pretty much a plank attached to the wall.

This represents all of the storage in the room.

The closet cupboard held most of my clothes. It had to; there was nowhere else to put them.

I realized just how small the bathroom was when I was in the airplane bathroom on the flight home, and I thought, "Wow, this is roomy!"

I went back downstairs and requested a larger room, but the hotel was full. (Well, probably it had reached it maximum capacity: four). I requested an upgrade again--which I NEVER do--and the desk clerk said he would put me down to change rooms on Sunday.

I got in the hamster lift and trudged back to my broom closet room, and I called my parents, and I cried. Not little crying. The lack of sleep, stress of all day travel, and disappointment all ganged up on me at the same time, and I lost it.

I hung up and bawled. (I didn't find out until later that the window was open the WHOLE TIME). Then I set about making the best of a bad standard situation. I would just have to be organized, is all. Fortunately, I had plenty of drugs.

And after all that, they didn't even have the decency to stock the refrigerator with booze.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt a lot better. The combination of sleep and sense of humor went a long way toward calming me down. In the end, I didn't get a bigger room after all; I stayed in the same place the whole time, and look: I survived!

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