I’m not knocking my hotel

  Jun 29, 2020 9:54 am Ibrar Younas 2030
Alsancak resident Nick Stather was unable to return home to North Cyprus after visiting his elderly father in Wales. This is his story:

I’m not knocking my hotel

We arrived on at Ercan around 6pm on our repatriation flight organised by
Cyprus Paradise.The flight, already cancelled once, was full with around 200 people . Myself and my friend, Tansie Lawrence were seated at the back of the plane.

We landed and were told to stay where we were until we could get off. One hour later the people at the front were allowed to disembark. As they were leaving the plane, the police took all passports to be checked. Within half hour later we slowly but surely were able to get off.

Our luggage was waiting for us on the tarmac for collection, so we didn’t need to go into the terminal. There were four coaches filling up and, we were the last coach.

We waited for a couple of hours on the coach at the airport. There were problems getting the passports back to their owners: One pile of passports, four coachloads of people. The police came onto the coaches shouting names of the passports for collection, Turkish accents muffled by masks calling out with Turkish music in the background. Also people were by now queuing for the toilet and having some fresh air outside the bus, so this process became chaotic.

Finally everyone had their own passport and we left for the hotel. There was a lot of confusion as we were told that we were going to the Malpas Hotel in Çatalköy. We all had paperwork for our quarantine stay at The Riverside Hotel in Alsancak. This is what we paid grand total of £870 for.

We arrived at The Malpas and waited on the coach for instructions. Two hours later we were told that they were now full .The first two coaches had been emptied to stay at the Malpas. We were told we were going to a hotel in Girne.

Eventually we arrived at a hotel called Olivia Palm Hotel, so the two remaining coaches emptied and we all queued up, couples first then singles, to pick up our room keys. By this time we were exhausted, mentally mostly.

I split from my friend Tansie who was on the first floor to go to my room on the third floor The lift was not in use because of the Covid 19. A Russian worker helped me carry my case up the four flights of stairs to my room.

I must say the room was lovely, very clean, but II noticed straight away no kettle for my two-week stay! I had cartons of milk, sachets of coffee and sugar in my case but no use for them.

It was now gone midnight, six hours since we landed. There was a knock on the door. A bottle of water was left outside. I managed to catch the waiter and ask about food as I hadn't eaten since the lunch on the plane.

Five minutes later there was a plastic tray. This was my dinner; a few chicken nuggets, onion rings,,salad and cabbage.

About 1am, I went to sleep. It had been a long day and I had not experienced anything like it.

First full day
I was very excited to be back home, till I opened the curtains to the view which i can only describe as Beirut in the bad old days.
A knock on the door which was breakfast and another bottle of water. I took my meal out onto my balcony. It did not look very appetising, one hard-boiled egg, a cucumber, tomatoes a slice of cooked meat and slivers of cheese and half a loaf of bread with butter and jam.

I spent the whole day via the internet chatting to friends and family who were all concerned and supportive. I had no joy persuading reception to allow kettles in to rooms but they were open to bringing up flasks of boiling water.

Tansie’s partner Bob, was bringing shopping for her, so I put in my order for fresh milk, sugar, coffee, tea, biscuits and crisps. No “proper” food allowed as you had to buy it off the hotel menu if you wanted a different meal to what was given.

Lunch came around 12. 30, as in a few boreks a few chips, cous cous and some stringy celery with half a loaf of bread and an ayran yoghurt drink, also a piece of watermelon.

Another knock on the door and a large bottle of water was waiting. I counted four bottles still unopened. It is quite nice when the door is opened as my neighbour, Jean Greenwood, gets a knock at the same time, so we have a gab about things, which breaks up the day a little. Later another knock and it's my supplies from Bob, sugar , coffee , tea, hobnob biscuits, crisps and a jar of what I thought was washing powder to wash my underwear. Bob phoned and told me the jar was more sugar not washing powder , so was a good job I didn’t put it on my smalls! Another knock on the door brings a menu for alternative meals- chargeable. No thanks. I’d paid enough already.
The afternoon was spent painting, as I had brought my paints and brushes. The plasma TV was mostly Turkish, but I did find al Jazeera news, the only channel I in English. There was a lot of talk about the food in our hotel on social media but as I discovered, The Olivia Palms only found out a few hours before we arrived it was to receive around eighty guests in quarantine, so was always going to be a difficult start.
 In the evening dinner arrived. Lentil soup , chicken kleftico , fruit pudding and an aryan. Another knock on the door and I was given a proper doughnut as well. The food in the hotel really had improved 100 percent. A bit of Al Jazeera , then sleep . Only thirteen days to go!