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Customs and traditions Personal experiences

A Fallas visit ruined by the coronavirus

At the end, my friends didn’t come and the money for the hotel is most probably lost.

According to the official propaganda, the infections have finally peaked in Spain. I take such news not just with a grain of salt, though that would be great after almost 17,500 people have died of the coronavirus here.

Some anecdotes related to the current pandemic are personal, not just absurd news I find in the Spanish press, and today’s post id one of those.

The Fallas festival was declared as Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO committee on the 30th of November 2016. The biggest cultural event in Valencia and one of the most relevant in Spain takes place from the 12th to the 19th of March. For the first time since the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, all related activities in the city were officially cancelled on the 10th because of the pandemic.

On the 15th of March, Danish friends were supposed to arrive for a three day visit, which suddenly they had to cancel themselves. Denmark imposed travel restrictions on the 12th due to the worsening health crisis, before Spain went into a lockdown on the 13th at midnight.

As one of them is allergic to cat hair, I had booked a double room in a little hotel nearby months in advance for more than three times the rate that my brother had paid last May. However, such exorbitant prices are perfectly legal during special occasions and common around the world.

On the 12th I first talked to a member of the hotel staff, a lovely young Japanese lady who spoke excellent Spanish, about a refund for the room. She was very cooperative, but the manager told me that at the time they were only legally obliged to give money back to guests from China and Italy. In a quite arrogant way, he let me know that Denmark didn’t fall into that category. After we almost had an argument, he suggested that I come back on the 16th to further discuss the issue.

That wasn’t possible anymore due to the measures enforced since March 14th. Surprisingly, on the 16th somebody still picked up the phone at the hotel, advising me to call again the next day, which I did without success. On the 18th, the whole hotel had closed down until further notice. Nice!

Once the worst is over, and that might at least take another month, I will try to get the money back. However, it’s quite unlikely that there will be a happy ending to this story. Who knows if the hotel is going to reopen after all? In any case, I would need to be very patient. Even more than usual, which is easily said in a country where time seems to have no value at all.

P.D.: To be fair, I should mention that my Danish buddy transferred me the money I had disbursed for him, so it will probably be his loss only. That doesn’t make it any better!

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