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.

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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

    Guru Careers: Carpenter / Maintenance Operator

    £25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Coordinator

    £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced PSV Coach & Minibus Drivers

    £12500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Drivers wanted for a family run...

    Day In a Page

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals