The Hotel That Cannot Be Seen

Just how crappy did I sleep during our second night at the AWH? I had gone to bed around 10pm. At 1:24am, still unable to fall asleep due mostly to the music from the bar next door, I got up. Steph was up, too. We talked about our plans for the day, after we somehow managed to sleep. Then we decided to take the comforter and quilt from our bed and put it on the floor in the hall outside our bedroom because it was more quiet in the hall than in the bedroom. So that’s where we slept, finally.

In the morning I made some coffee, washed the dishes from the previous night’s dinner. From a nearby takeout place we had eaten lamb meatballs, spinach, some shredded beef dish with whipped potatoes and cheese on top, and rice.

The lamb here tastes far better than any lamb I have ever eaten in the US. In the US, to me, lamb tastes as if it has been found feral, killed, cleaned, and then left to hang outside so maggots and flies may introduce their own special flavors to the meat before being prepared for human consumption. The gaminess has always seemed absolutely rancid to me.

I attempted to shower. The knob that you lift on the spigot had broken the night before during Steph’s shower. She managed to finish her shower. When I attempted to wash myself, the water only came out of the spigot in the stall and not the shower head.

The drain was so slow that within a minute or two, the water was ready to overflow the bottom of the stall, push through the doors, and flood the tile floor. So showers were rinse, turn off the water, lather, turn on the water, and rinse. I can live with that. It’s actually better for water consumption.

But without the shower head working, I had to rinse, lather, and rinse again under a spigot that rises only about two-and-a-half feet from the bottom of the stall. Good thing I’m skinny and flexible. This seemed par for the course as far as the plumbing in the bathroom. I had discovered upon arrival that the toilet didn’t flush because there was no water in the tank. There were two water lines leading from the wall into the tank. I turned one and the water spurted all over the floor and I quickly turned that one off. Luckily for our standards of hygiene and tolerance to smell, the second line filled the tank and we had a flushing toilet.

I went to an Internet cafe to check email and attempt to have USC send verification for my Master’s degree to my contact at Yeditepe University. I have to prove to them I have a Master’s degree not to just qualify for the job but also so they can process the paperwork necessary to obtain the work permit on my behalf. But because the browser on the Windows computer did not have Java script enabled I wasn’t able to complete the secured process of having my academic records from USC sent to Yeditepe University.

We ate a very late breakfast at the Krispy Kreme in a small mall on Istiklal street. We bought six donuts so that we could get this fancy metal box.

IMG_20130830_090659_067

We now have our first Istanbul keepsake. (The donuts were just as good, and sugar-rich, as they are in the States.)

We strolled down Istiklal to go take a look at the hotel where I had booked us through Hotels.com the day before. We thought we might ask when we could check-in. We found the building and saw a small sign above our heads that read “Perapart.” But we could not find the actual apartment hotel. We walked up the first two flights of stairs but saw only a hair salon. Then we took the elevator up to the 4th floor where a rooftop cafe was located. I asked if they knew where “Perapart” was and a man told us it was two floors down. We went down two floors and knocked on the doors. No one answered.

A hotel in a major tourist destination should not be proficient at demonstrating the value of not being seen.

This meant we had to find another place to stay as soon as possible. Good thing we didn’t try to haul our luggage all the way over there to try and check-in.

Back at the AWH, I ate leftovers from the previous nights’ takeout while Stephanie went to an internet cafe to see if she could find a hotel near where our apartment will be located in Sisli. She returned with the names of two hotels.

I went out with my laptop and found a restaurant and cafe that offered wi-fi. Fueled by tea and baklava I researched the hotels my wife had found. But they were not available. Then I did another search and found a hotel (Taksim Star) and booked it for four nights. I figured that would enough time to evaluate it.

At the AWH, I announced my findings and we packed our stuff. You’ve seen all we have [link to first post]. I offered to take our green monster suitcase and the large black backpack, while wearing my packed laptop bag, and walk to the new hotel, check us in, and return to get everyone and the rest of our luggage.

It was not a long walk. But up and down brick and cobble stone streets, pulling very heavy luggage, it seemed very far. When I arrived at the hotel (it must have been less than a half-mile away) I was quite sweaty. I told the man at the reception desk I had a reservation through hotels.com. He seemed incredulous and asked for my passport. Then there passed many many minutes of him speaking on the phone and talking with the man from the office behind him in Turkish, with frowns and then the occasional chuckle, all the while holding a printout of my paid reservation from Hotels.com.

My only thought was, “This can’t be good.”

After awhile they handed me my passport and explained that there was no room at that hotel even though I had booked and already paid for four nights. They took me down the street to another hotel, run by the same company, and gave my family and I a much nicer room. I thanked them, feeling quite relieved. Once I’d checked into the room, I returned to the AWH and Steph, the kids, and I took the rest of our stuff to the hotel.

The Grand Star hotel is nice, but we can’t afford to stay here beyond the four nights. The list price for our double room at the reception desk is 300 Euros per night. We did not pay anywhere near that amount. So we will have to move once more. We can deal with that.

The kids fell asleep on their bed while my wife and I typed away on our computers in the quiet, air-conditioned room. Our fancy metal Krispy Kreme box sat on the desk. I managed to complete the online process for requesting my academic record from USC. It looked like we’d get a decent night’s sleep.

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4 thoughts on “The Hotel That Cannot Be Seen

  1. I admire your resourcefulness!

    • There’s no better way to focus on survival than being forced to do just that. In many ways we are very lucky. We have a credit card which has afforded us our escape from the AWH. Keeping calm has been our best strategy because having any kind of meltdown will serve no purpose in this temporary situation.

  2. The box looks really nice!
    On another note, I was first intrigued by the title. I thought it was something scary. But having read this post, this hotel experience feels like a buzzkill especially if you have kids around. It’s a good thing that you were able to find a more decent hotel.
    And lastly, indeed the lamb is better in Istanbul! And I guess in its “relative” countries in the Middle East. 😀

    • The box is nice and kind of kitschy. Everything has a heightened sense of panic when kids are involved. My wife and I are trying hard to ensure things are as smooth as we can make it for them, given that we’ve dragged them across an ocean to another country to live for the next ten months.

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