The sweet little hotel on the place des Vosges gave me a duplex room. There must be hoardes of people who would sin to be given a duplex but not me. I'm a dyed in the wool lateral room person. The problem with a duplex room is simple - the bed is upstairs and the bathroom and wardrobes are downstairs. Want to sit on the edge of the bed and put on your socks? Oops, they're downstairs. Want to put on your cufflinks? Oops, they're upstairs. Oh, that's the mobile phone ringing must run downstairs to answer it. So life in a duplex goes on - yoyoing up and down. At least double and probably three times the usual amount of energy and time must be expended to achieve the same result.
Arrived at the hotel to check-in and greeted the front desk staff in what was more than adequate French. Imagine my surprise when they started to talk back to me with a series of apparently uncoordinated sounds interrupted by glottal stops. Somehow, despite having stayed in the hotel many times, they had got me down on the computer as being Portugese. I've been to Lisbon only once and sadly speak not a word of the language. Seeing my blank expression the receptionist repeated the greeting - twice. Each time he ratcheted up the volume in the belief that he was dealing with someone who was self evidently hearing impaired. At check-out the process was repeated - despite having a decidedly un-Portugese name and paying with a Scottish bank credit card the computer cannot be wrong.
Thank you all for your kind balloon blowing reminiscences. 'The font' is now even more convinced of the benefits and superiority of Swedish health and safety legislation.