YOUR HOLIDAY DISASTER

Ellen Stoner planned a winter break in Moscow. But the only break was in her leg

Immediately prior to Soviet glasnost, my partner and I decided on a winter break in Moscow and Leningrad. So, in the first week of December, at 7.30pm, in pitch darkness, we touched down in Moscow. Unknown to us, wet ice covered the ground at the foot of the aircraft steps, and my first foot on Russian ground was whipped from under me and I fell, breaking my right leg, although I did not know this at the time. I felt an intense burning sensation and my instinct told me something was badly wrong.

I was helped to the airport bus, then into the customs and passport areas. I remember hopping on one foot through the scanner! We eventually met up with the Intourist and Thomson reps, got on the transfer coach, and arrived at the Intourist Hotel in Moscow. It was obvious that I needed medical attention and an ambulance was called. The crew decided I had a broken leg and needed to go to hospital. My partner was not allowed to go with me but, in response to my protests, the lady Intourist rep said she would escort me. After a long, cold, dark ride in an ambulance we arrived at a large run-down hospital. I was beginning to feel frightened.

An X-ray showed I had a bad break, needing, the doctor said, an operation to pin it. Horrific thoughts flooded my mind of bone infection, needle infection, cross-infection from unknown foreign sources etc. So I decided to politely decline an operation, take responsibility for myself, and to keep asking to be sent home.

Meanwhile the authorities decided to interrogate me. My handbag was emptied and gone through, item by item, and kept, and I had to fiercely resist the removal of my rings. By now it was well past midnight. Next, the doctor put my leg in a hip-to-toe plaster under a local anaesthetic.

Then,wearing only my panties and bra, covered with a kind of duvet, I was driven to yet another rundown hospital and put in a women's ward of about eight beds, so close together you could hold hands. I had managed to keep my watch, some Polos and tissues. My bed was damp and smelled of urine. I have never in my life spent such a long, cold, awful night, nor been so frightened.

In the morning, I was given sweet tea, a cold hard-boiled egg and bread. No-one else was given any food. A feeble old lady in the next bed, totally deaf, fed herself from a jar kept in her locker.

During the afternoon I admit I wept quietly under the sheet. Then a young English-speaking doctor arrived and said: "You are breaking my heart - I will get you back to your hotel to go home."

Miraculously at about 5pm a Red Cross crew arrived for me. I gave my Polos and hankies to an astonished old lady in the next bed and left to uncomprehending waves and smiles from the "Babushkas".

Next day I was hauled aboard an Aeroflot aircraft and flown home to Heathrow. As we were coming in to land, I realised my car was at Gatwick!

I still want to see Russia.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links