Attending a conference abroad (2/7): Calling for Help

This is the continuation of my story about my time getting and being at the 23rd Conference on Applied Crystallography in Krynica, Poland. Make sure, you read the beginning of my story (as well as the disclaimer in case you get a wrong impression of the scientific value of this conference :)

For immersive reading, I recommend Singing in the Rain from Gene Kelly and Message in a Bottle from The Police as background music.

And this is how the story continues:

Still day 1:

Some light rain started to set in, although by the look of the landscape, there was a by far heavier rain just a few hours before. I turned right at the fork, upwards the hill. Soon my arms felt sore from pulling my trolley for more than twenty minutes by now. I knotted my poster-transport-box-thingy onto it and used the fabric handles as a backpack, placing my real backpack on my chest, this way it was much easier to get around. I was walking up the mountain, looking for a place were all the people from the conference could fit in but the buildings kept getting smaller and smaller. After a long way up, I unexpectedly found myself at the mountain station of previous mentioned ski-lift.

This was also the point where I started to doubt my map. Beside the fact, that I was completely lost and alone in a country where I did not understand the locals, I cherished in the fact that I had the brains to take a picture of the hotels phone number earlier on the advertisement, a number which I found myself punching into my phone. After what I thought was a lovely greeting in Polish, my first question was “Do you speak English?” This was followed by some more words I couldn’t understand, the sound of an earpiece placed on a desktop, some far away chatter and giggles. After a few more seconds another voice told me in broken English that they would transfer my call to someone who can understand me. The third voice I spoke to was also very friendly and finally able to help me, asked me where I was standing so that she could direct my feet. After some chatter, we both realized, that I had the wrong hotel on the phone, whether it was my misunderstanding of the advertisement or due to the call passing on, I do not know. Nevertheless, the woman on the other end looked up the number of the correct hotel. After many thanks from my side, I hung up and dialed the new number.

Some people say history tends to repeat itself and it came as no surprise to me that the person on the other end couldn’t speak English, but called for someone who could. The new speaker told me, that I needed to contact the reception and gave me the number. The most optimistic voice in my head said “finally someone who can help you!” and so I dialed again.

Some people say history tends to repeat itself and it came as no surprise to me that the person on the other end couldn’t speak English, but this time the only thing the voice said, was a very resolute “no”. I was thinking for a few seconds how to ask if he knows someone who does speak English. Since everything was quiet on the phone, I ventured a “hi”, just to make sure the connection was still open. The answer I got was “bye”, followed by some high-pitched noises phones usually make when the other side has hung up. I still believe, that the other side mistook my “hi” for a “bye”. Now I was really alone somewhere in the nowhere.

To be continued…

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