Your Holiday Disaster: After a hot, tiring day in Sofia, all Kate Absolum wanted was a refreshing shower
Sunday 04 October 1998
Our guidebook had helpfully provided a map with all the street names in English. But in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, all the street names are written in the Cyrillic alphabet and we found it difficult even to navigate our way out of the station. We didn't manage to find any of the monuments highlighted on our map, and when, in desperation, we decided to give up and have a drink, it took us half an hour to find somewhere that served beer. Exhausted, it was time to find a place to stay. Consulting the guidebook, we headed for a (supposedly) good cheap hotel.
Checking in, I didn't notice all the scantily clad women hanging out in the lobby, nor, in my hot, tired, drunken state, did I notice all the shifty men who peeked out from behind their doors as we stumbled down the dark corridor to our room.
I did notice, however, the flies that buzzed in an irritating huddle above our beds, and the crack in the ceiling and stains on the basin. But we were exhausted, and figured we could deal with it for one night, so we prepared ourselves for bed.
Grabbing her towel, Rachel, my travelling companion, headed off for the shower. In a very short space of time, she returned looking disgusted and dragged me off to have a look. The shower was huge, the whole room was tiled a cracked brown, there was a rusted metal nozzle, a drain and a seatless chair.
Undaunted, Rachel had turned the shower on and stripped, taking off her glasses. Halfway through her ablutions she had become aware of a very nasty smell. Fumbling for her glasses, she looked around the shower. There was a very large and very human excrement placed carefully on the ground near the drain. Retching, she threw her clothes back on and raced out.
In my semi-drunken and exhausted state I was feeling assertive, so I stormed downstairs to have a word with the manager, and to get it cleaned up. Except I don't speak Bulgarian and he didn't speak English. In desperation, I frog-marched him up the stairs to view the shower himself, yet he didn't seem in the least perturbed. He merely showed me another shower I could use, ignoring the fact that at least five people were queuing to use it. I was angry and demanded my money back. I was still shouting at him as he scurried off down the stairs.
By this time it was late, and Rachel and I decided we'd just have to put up with it. We tried to get some sleep, to a delightful jumble of night sounds, the beds squeaking from the rooms all around us, moans and grunts, doors slamming and the all-night whine of mosquitoes combining with the car alarm just outside the window.
We woke very early and, removing our hands from our ears, decided to leave the hotel as quickly as we could.
Share your holiday nightmares by sending a 600-word account to: Holidays Disasters, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 David Cameron refers to 83-year-old Labour MP Dennis Skinner as 'Jurassic Park'
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
UK weather: Commuters complain of 'hell' in sweltering train carriages as temperatures set to hit 35C
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
100 things to do before you die, 1-50
The most powerful passports in the world
The ten best city beach breaks
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?
£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...
£22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...
£39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...