TRAVEL with pat and lew

* even supposedly seasoned travelers can still do very stupid things

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 3, 2014

Because of our adventures with the baggage handlers at Orly we were over an hour late arriving in Nice. Richard, who had arranged to meet us around 2:00 pm, had gone off to handle other business on what for him is a very day (He manages several apartments in different locations and Saturday is a transition and cleaning day). But he soon returned and let us into our apartment (see prior posts). Then he left.

We immediately recognized that we had failed to ask several questions and ran out into the hall to catch him. The door blew shut behind us. Both keys were inside the apartment.

Pat raced down the stairs but Richard was already gone. All of our luggage (including our phones), was inside the apartment. We were now in the lobby, realizing just how stuck we were. We couldn’t leave the building since we would be unable to get back in without the keys and fob. We couldn’t contact Richard since we didn’t have phones or his mobile number – we had always before contacted him by email. There was no place but the hard marble floor on which to sit, and no readily available bathroom. Richard would probably return eventually, but it might be many hours and there was always the chance he had gone for the night. There is a building concierge but he was not on duty.

A couple entered the building. The woman spoke no English but the man did. We showed him the mobile number of the concierge, which was posted, and he agreed to make the call. Pat went with them to their apartment and I stayed in the lobby in case Richard returned. The concierge did not answer his phone. The man said his neighbor had Richard’s mobile number, went to get it, and called. Richard did not answer. Pat left a message.

An hour had passed. We considered other options. It might be possible to climb from the adjoining apartment balcony to ours. Two problems. How to get in the other apartment. And how to survive the fall from the 5th floor if the climb failed. Think of something else. Call the police? We’d probably get arrested ourselves. The fire company? We decided to wait, calling Richard every 30 minutes or so. Another hour passed.

Richard answered his phone and said he would return in five minutes. That was the good news. The bad news was he did not have another key. The concierge had one, but he was not reachable.

Richard arrived, expressed no anger with our stupidity which had clearly interrupted his busy day, and said, “I don’t have a key, but I will arrange a solution.” For the first time in hours, thoughts of sleeping on the marble floor, or the beach, or even being arrested as vagrants, left our minds. Richard set about calling the cleaning personnel who did have keys. He found one, who was just about to leave Nice, but who gave the key to her daughter who said she would bring it to the apartment.

Another hour passed. Richard entertained us in his apartment and I went to the supermarket (optimistically) to get wine and cheese for the evening. The young lady arrived while I was gone. Pat went up with her and retrieved our keys. By the time she got back down, I was back and Richard was already gone, back to his tasks.

We like to think we are really good travelers and I think, on balance, we are. But when we make a stupid mistake, it can really be a doozy. Thanks so much to Richard, the young lady, and the couple who helped us. We unpacked, then sat on our terrace as it got dark, eating cheese and potato chips, and finished the entire bottle of wine.

terrace at night DSCN4292

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