After two hours sleep and two aeroplanes transporting me across Eastern Europe, I arrive at the hotel in Minsk which the office kindly booked in advance through Expedia. The hotel is beautiful, so are all the people milling inside of it, and the staff.
I must look like SuperTed (before he becomes SuperTed), I just want to sleep. That is my frame of mind and I being mindful to remain within my calm demeanour, which is quite difficult as I am feeling completely inadequate in comparison to the glamorous women inhabiting the lobby. But that is my secret whilst I stand here, just about able to peep over the marble counter.
Can I check-in please?
Sure, can I have your passport?
I hand Dude-Receptionist my documents and he taps away at the keyboard. He is not appearing his happy self from seconds ago. Something is plainly wrong, perhaps the least item I was worried about is rapidly becoming the one thing I should have been stressing over?
I hand the Expedia reservation print-out to him, advising him this is all the information I have, nothing further. Tapping the keyboard has turned to hacking, I think he might dive into the screen at this rate. Can I take your hotel reservation number please? My what-what? I only have the details as on the printout, the Expedia Itinerary number and Booking Information number, neither of which are calling up my details on the system.
I call the office (do not forget I am half way across the world, it is not like I can just jump on to a train home) and obtain another reference number, which is still not the correct code. A gorgeous blonde receptionist (girl) is also now involved and she trots across to the Reservation Department. The office is speaking to Expedia in the meantime. Blondie returns and advises I do not have a reservation, or a booking and I will have to pay the full rate at right now so I can check in.
My issue is, if Expedia have supposedly already booked, I do not want a duplicate payment to disappear into the ether. I reply that I am waiting on the office for further advice and I sit on the leather sofa in the reception area writing this post, well, at least it gives the impression I am important whilst the palava unravels.
Fifteen minutes later, Blondie returns to tell me Expedia have confirmed that I will be making the payment right now too. Er, no, I won’t. For several reasons. One of them being I do not have a credit card and my debit card has enough for emergency purposes (having paid the Belarus visa application 48-hour turnaround in cash already was a hefty sum in itself) not to cover an apparent pre-paid two-night stay in a four-star hotel. Thoughts to myself of course.
I call the office, line engaged. I wonder what will become of me. So I continue to write to prevent any delirium. I am tired, hungry, jetlagged, and without a bed. My pen and paper are soothing my senses as I draw the situation with pretty words.
Forty-five minutes later, indeed, this kind of thing can only happen to me, I am still waiting for a resolution. Blondie just wants my money so she can get rid of me and into my room I am sure. By a huge round about way of doing things, it all works out.
Apparently Expedia had some sort of technical hitch whereby the booking was not placed. Brilliant work there, thank you for informing us of that slight issue as I trek miles across the continent.