Somewhere in Belgium
Once upon a time we did road trips in Europe. We’d rent a car and drive from one place to another with a general plan but no reservations. We would pull into a city and hit the tourist info center for a hotel reservation. It worked pretty well. There was a place in Antwerp where a number of roaches marched around the twelve foot high ceilings. I received a can of bug spray by way of my complaint to the manager. We never unpacked and he graciously handed back our money. In Belgium (no names to protect the innocent) we had secured a reservation and were headed across town to find the place. Stopped at a railroad crossing, I idly noticed this hotel. At my urging Lisa entered and asked about rooms and prices. She came back with a price of about $20 when the currency was converted. I said, impossible and sent her back to be sure. She not only confirmed but had also looked at a couple rooms. It seems the rooms were mostly open and available to view. Well, it couldn’t have been nicer than the one we were headed. The price was too good to be true. I remember mirrored ceiling but maybe it was the bathroom. The next morning we asked about staying for an extra night. The desk clerk ascertained that we would be out all day touring and then she agreed. Later that day Lisa had a small issue and needed a change of clothes. When we entered the lobby, the startled clerk explained we couldn’t enter the room. It was in use. Because of the train station next door folks used the rooms during the days to rest before continuing their journey. Lisa used the restroom and I noticed a beaded curtain and a couple emerged holding cocktails. My suspicion was reinforced by the parking lot full of cars. The lot was empty again in the evening. You do the math. And for the second night it appeared that we were the only guests again. Years later and armed with my story and picture, grandma and grandpa tried to get a room. No dice. I figure, they figured we were just a couple poor Americans kids and they took pity and let us stay a couple nights.