mazing Hotel Polonia
June 30 - July 8, 2002
When Jan came back to tell Gerry about her inspection of the Hotel Polonia she could hardly contain her astonishment. She wasn't speechless but, well, she was nearly at a loss for words to describe it. "You'll understand when you see it." she said.
We had been about to board a tram to get to the pension that Gerry had booked in the train station when Gerry spotted the banner outside the Hotel Polonia just a short walk from the train and bus stations. We could hardly believe our eyes. The hotel was advertizing rooms for $30 a night, about 3/4 of what we had engaged ourselves to pay for a simple pension much further away from the city center and all its tourist sites.
Jan was deputed to go and investigate. As she walked into the lobby of the hotel, she became convinced that this hotel could not possibly charge so little for its hotel rooms based on the quality of the lobby. However, when she enquired she was told that yes, they had rooms available at the advertized price, and yes, she could look at one. The first clue to the solution of this mystery was the key, or rather keys, that the porter was given. No ordinary hotel room has more than one key.
Gerry waiting outside had his head in a book and didn't notice Jan come out of the main door of the hotel and follow the porter along the street to the next-door building where he used one of the keys to get into the entrance door. Jan followed him up a short flight of stairs, down another and out into the building's rear or interior courtyard, overlooked on the right by the Polonia Hotel. From the courtyard the porter entered another stairwell, climbed one long circular flight and used another key to open the door to what might be our hotel room. At this point, Jan was still more than a bit sceptical. The building's entrance had not been very preposessing and the courtyard was also none too clean. Imagine her surprise therefore when she walked through the door and into a very large bright 2-room apartment with brand-new en-suite bathroom.
Apart from the beautiful new bathroom, each of the two rooms was big enough all by itself to be a 2-room suite and the apartment still had its traditional floor-to-ceiling tiled stove. It must have been fifty feet from the door across both rooms to the windows that overlooked the main street. It was minimally but pleasantly furnished with twin beds in the bedroom, a wardrobe, a table and chairs, two easy chairs, and a chair-bed. The 'living-room' had only another single bed and a large wall-unit. (A day after we moved in, it was supplemented by a nice room-size rug.)
Not surprisingly, we took the room and stayed there five nights. Obviously the Hotel Polonia was looking to expand. According to one of the hotel clerks, they already owned a handful of apartments in the building and were beginning to rent them as soon as they could be brought up to acceptable standards. Presumably as soon as they could buy the remaining appartments, they would rebuild the building as an annexe to the main hotel. The excellent price was largely because of the furnishings. There was no TV and the beds were very poor quality. In the end, we had them swap the twin bed from the living room for one of those in the bedroom for Jan, and Gerry slept on the chair-bed in preference to the awful mattress on the other twin bed.
The room was so large that it could have been part of a comedy sketch. If we were sitting by the street window and went to the bathroom it seemed almost like we'd gone out for the day, the trip took so long. No more shouting to one another, as all of our other, small rooms allowed us to do.
There was a small, additional fillip: one door down was an internet cafe that charged incredibly low prices until 11:00 a.m. We ended up going most days. It wasn't until our second to last day that we noticed there was network wiring in our room. At that point it wasn't worth the effort of trying to set up a temporary account and go though the hassles that seem always to be there.