Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hotel Viru...

Hotel Viru...  I stayed here once, on one of the worst hotel experiences in my life (and I have a pretty good collection of personal hotel horror stories!).  The year was 1992 (I believe).  The hotel's management hadn't yet absorbed western ways; the experience was largely unchanged from Soviet times (which had ended just the year before), right down to the not-so-little old lady who sternly dispensed and handed out room keys in the hallway where my room was located.  The highlight: my bed.  It was made from a carefully stacked collection of thin, flat cinder blocks – each about the size and shape of a half-high shoe box.  There were no holes in them; they were solid blocks.  On top of this stack was a straw-filled “mattress”, roughly 2 inches thick.  Pieces of straw stuck through the mattress and the sheet, leaving me full of skin irritations in the morning.  I'm a civilized guy – sleeping on a pile of uncomfortable straw was not my idea of fun!

I was traveling with a colleague, who told me his room was ok.  Nothing to write home about, but perfectly acceptable.  We were there on a business trip, to meet with a small Estonian company that we were considering acquiring (we did).  Several people we met from that company told us of the KGB reputation of the Hotel Viru.  I felt as though I should be careful what I said, though I didn't really have anything to talk about that would be interesting to anyone at all, much less the KGB :)

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