We got off at Montreux airport after breaking at Lousanne.
Couldn't fine anyone who understood English at the station. Very different from the English yodellers at Zurich airport.The only French we knew between the two of us was Kainaz's Parles no Francais (If i've got it right).
A few broken directions later the two of us pulled our strolleys down the winding lanes of Montreux. The town looked like a picture postcard. Correction. It didn't then. I had a Polaris missile of a headache from hours of travelling.
After a while of strenuous tricep and bicep flexing we reached our hotel Villa Toscane, our hotel. A restored villa. Looked as picturesque as promised. We reached the reception.
There was no one there! You apparently have to go to the Royalé Plaza hotel opposite the road to check in. I went. Was give the keys. End of story. No porters, etc.
We went up to our room. It was dainty, clean, smartly done AND was the smallest hotel room in the world. The bathroom was the size of a loo in an Indian train with the trappings of the regal Place on Wheels trains of Rajasthan perhaps.
You needed the grace of a Russian ballerina to get around the suitcases and the bed and your shoes. And the yogic flexibility of Baba Ramdev to sit on the pot of the very petite, as they say here, loo.
I have neither.
Kainaz and I looked at each other and said aah this must be what they mean when they speak about the tiny hotel rooms of Europe and its do it yourself service. 'Where else can you wake up and see a lake and a mountain rising above it lost in the clouds' said K to comfort me. And I reconciled mysel to my Ian Wright experience.
We remained naively understanding till I met a few friends who booked a week back and said that they had huge rooms in the same hotel.
We had booked three months back.
So I walked politely to the reception during the break after I presented my paper on the second day. The normal thing to do would be to storm down and not 'walk politely'. But I am not a storming sort of person. And everyone is so sweet and friendly here.
In hushed tones I told the girl at the reception that we had booked three months back but our room was very small which was a bit difficult to live in and could do they please lease do something since we were here for five nights.
In equally hushed tones, she said she'd try and two minutes later gave us a key to another room.
This room was huge, regal, the bathroom was as big as the earlier room, opened onto a private terrace at one side and a huge private balcony on the other. Both faced the lake, on the mountain, lost in the crowd etc etc.
If the earlier room was from Ian Wright's backpacking world then this was more from Samantha Brown's indullgent travels. (Both are hosts on Discovery Travel & Living)
I was so happy that, at the risk missing lunch at the conference, I packed our bags and we shifted immediately.
The conference beckons so more later.
Note: Unlike at the station English takes you quite a distance in the rest of the city. The colour of the skin is a good indicator. Dark shades starting from brown in this multiracial country are more comfortable in English. Everything, except the restaurants, shut by 6.30 PM. And the people are very sweet, straight out of a Mary Poppins set.