It was almost a year ago. We (I and spouse) were sight-hopping in Croatia and Slovenia, and had reserved this two-bed aparthotel in Ljubljana to stay on arrival from Zagreb late in the evening. Our estimated check-in time was 10:00 p.m. on 18 June 2019 as communicated, but by twist of fate, the train from Zagreb was delayed at the border and ran progressively late that we could reach the hotel only by 11:00 p.m.
The receptionist had left for the day, and with the main door locked and no access code provided, we tried to raise the hotel manager using the number printed on the door (found in the booking order and website as well). To our shock, there wasn’t any response.
At this hour🌃, there were very few people on the street to turn to and our inability to communicate in the local language compounded the situation. A night caretaker of a hostel in the neighborhood came to help seeing our plight and inquired with few known hotels/apartments for any available space to retire but there wasn’t any success. Our senior citizen status didn’t help either, and we had reached after a long and tiring journey with baggage. The time was past midnight and we were concerned.
Finally, the caretaker managed to call in a cab🚖 and told the driver to take us to various city hotels in the hope that any one may offer a room for the night. After many inquiries and travel in vain, we reached the Park hotel whose receptionist also regretted space availability. At this time (2:00 a.m.), we met with a Bengali night guard, who offered to take us to a downtown hostel (Tresor hostel) where he felt sleeping space may be had. He walked us along the streets until its door (as vehicles are not allowed to ply in the city center) with the luggage in tow where fortunately, a room was on offer.
Consider it divine intervention – our meeting with a total stranger who delivered us from misery and hopelessness. The long night came to an end by 3:30 a.m. when we felt secure enough to rest. Our bodies felt drained and minds numbed. Someone had told us that even the railway stations would not offer us refuge without a valid ticket and schedule of travel. As we recalled the distress and encounter with the aparthotel that night, the events that followed ran through our minds in a relentless manner. The planning had been compromised, and we were lost in the night in a strange land until help arrived from an unexpected source. How else would the chance-meeting of a countryman turn into godsend redemption?
What struck us, in hindsight, is the absolute need for all of us to live out the true meaning of empathy and humanity that may restore hope and faith in one another. The rest of the tour was nondescript, but that moment continues to ring in our ears even today.
The author Saji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Till next post, take care !!