Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some Moscow Quirky Stories

Sorry for the prolonged delay in updating this blog. It's been more than three weeks since I last updated this page.

As promised, I will start with a crazy Moscow story that transpired right in my hostel.

When I was leaving Irkutsk, I forgot to write down the name of my Moscow hostel. I knew I had two hostels: one that I booked months ago and the second hostel that I booked literally days before, since I would be coming to Moscow earlier than I expected (since I decided to skip Mongolia). The reason I booked a different hostel in Moscow rather than adding days to my original reservation is because this hostel was cheaper and I try to keep my expenses to a minimum--especially when realizing that I have a $350 deficit when comparing my planned expenses to my actual ones. I was positive I had booked Godzilla's Hostel, though, and didn't sweat that I didn't get the address from the Internet, since it was posted on the Irkutsk Baikal Hostel's info board. All I needed to do was copy it down and I was set to go.

So I arrived to Godzilla's Hostel in Moscow on Bol'shoy Karetnyy Pereulok and was told that they didn't have a reservation from me. Strange, I thought, for I had reserved a room for two nights. I told them that they must have lost it and ended up convincing them, rather easily, that I had to pay only the remaining 90% for the first two nights, after which I would end up staying at the Napoleon Hostel. So after I had checked in, I checked my e-mail and realized that my reservation was NOT at Godzilla's Hostel for the first two days, but at a different one. What's worse is that the other hostel was not only cheaper, but I would also be fined a first night fee for no-showing if I did not call them. And I realized that I had screwed Godzilla's Hostel out of 10%, too, since I only paid them 90%, as I was sure I had paid them the deposit online.

This was insane! So I called the hostel I had actually reserved online and asked them if we can work something out where I would not be fined the first night's fee. They told me, yes, it's OK, there will be no fine if I show up the next day and stay for 2 nights, as I had reserved--just on slightly different dates (Nov. 11 and 12 rather than 10 and 11). No problem, I thought! I agreed, and then proceeded to e-mail Napoleon Hostel and tell them to cancel my reservation. Since I had paid a 10% deposit to Napoleon Hostel and was canceling more than 24 hours in advance, I would not be fined at all. So I stayed at Godzilla's Hostel the first night, at the originally-reserved hostel the next two nights, only to come back to Godzilla's and stay my last night there. It was no problem to change my booking in Godzilla's from Nov. 10 and 11 to the 10th and 13th, since there was room available and the reception people were great and friendly. Hours later I was told that I had paid them an extra 1,000 roubles ($38) somehow--and that I was overcharged for my room as is.

I could not fathom how this could be, but, apparently, as I had told them that I had reserved online, the price listed online for the cheapest dorm is more expensive than the actual price if purchased on the spot. So not only did they return me my 1,000 roubles, which I had no idea I misplaced, but a few days later they reimbursed me for overpaying, too. Thus, rather than me screwing them out of 10% profit, they actually screwed me out because of my mistake but happily admitted that forthright without me even inquiring and paid me all the money back. That's what I call amazing customer service... and in Moscow, of all places. :)

P.S. Then this is where the scary part begins. In short, there was a psycho American girl who was complaining about her health on the first night. She had some boyfriend who was supposed to meet her in Moscow, but he ditched her at the airport and she was penniless (literally). So the embassy (U.S. Embassy) took her passport as a deposit and was giving her $25 per day (about 700 roubles) that she had to pay back later. This meant she could not fly out on time either. Every 10 minutes she would complain about her health to the point that the reception girl didn't know what to do. When she heard the word "emergency," she kinda freaked and called the ambulance. So, at 2 a.m., the ambulance arrived and I was there as a translator, translating random questions to the psycho girl, who was giving weird answers all the time. Then they left and said she seemed to be relatively OK. When I checked back into Godzilla's Hostel for my last night, the U.S. embassy personnel arrived and gave her a new ticket from Moscow back to the States, as well as her passport. I'll never forgot moonshining as a translator (voluntarily, though) in Moscow at 2 a.m.--and at a hostel of all places. :)

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