I’m over the World Cup now. It seemed only fitting for Iniesta, Xavi and co to win the thing as Spaniards seem to be winning everything on the sporting front these days. So we figured if you can’t beat ’em then let’s join them, as last weekend we jetted off to sunny Malaga to attend the super wedding of our daughters’ very good friends Austen and Panni. The guys have been friends since they were all at school together and Austen and his brother Devin were always round our house as teenagers. Even so it was extremely generous of A and P to invite all our family to their wedding.
And it was like one of those Hollywood weddings with the reception held in the grounds of a palace, tables laid out on the lawn, fabulous views over the town towards the sea, guests seated under the shade of huge eucalyptus trees to watch the wedding ceremony, and fabulous food and wines. We had a great old time but had to sneak off around 1am whilst the girls danced away till 4am. We’re such lightweights these days.
We had a few days staying in Malaga which was a new experience for us although we’d transitted the airport several times in the past. And it’s an OK town – several good museums and art galleries, Picasso’s birthplace, a nice port, many Roman other historic remains, great shops and more tapas bars/restaurants than you can shake your pinata stick at. But perhaps the highlight for us was the great hotel we stayed at – the Molina Larios, close to the heart of the town and the beaches and cool central gardens. The rooms were good, food excellent and the staff first class (more later).
But its best feature was the small but very welcome roof-top pool area which was a cool place for relaxing during the heat of the day and which became one of the hottest venues for drinks etc in the cool of the evening. The picture above is from the roof area and shows how close we were to the Cathedral. It wasn’t an especially iconic building but you might notice that one of the towers is unfinished. A little odd I thought so I did a bit of research. It’s not a Sagrada Familia thing where Gaudi’s masterwork was only partially completed by the time of his death, and is still under construction decades later. No this is a more politically-motivated story. It seems that the Bishop of Malaga appropriated construction funds and sent them to America to help them in their War of Independence against the British. The interfering old bugger. Anyway, his intervention succeeded as we lost America but, it pleases me to think that some 200 years later the Brits only went and invaded the Costa del Sol. There’s some ironic justice in that I believe.
Anyway back to the hotel staff. C and I are early risers and had a lovely breakfast each morning in the shaded courtyard or breakfast room. The girls never made it – daughter E was glad of the rest I think and daughter R can sleep in for England. Regular readers will know that R has Down’s Syndrome and she was sharing a room with us at the hotel. Our daughter S and husband I did make it the final morning (in fact they usually had an early morning run and had breakfast out) but arrived just as we were finishing off. C asked if I would pop up and get her handbag from the room whilst she chatted with the kids over coffee. I popped up, got the handbag saw that daughter R was just stirring (she’d be another hour or so getting bathed and dressed so she’d miss breakfast. I thought we’d take her a bacon roll or something up once we’d finished).
Just as I was about to leave there was a knock at the door. Standing there was the waiter, who had just been serving me breakfast, with a trolley absolutely full of breakfast things; croissants, toast, a large plate with two fried eggs and masses of bacon, yoghurts, an asssortment of fruit, coffee, water, milk and a nice selection of cereals. We looked at each other in puzzlement. I explained that there must be some mistake as we were just having breakfast downstairs. He shrugged and apologised for troubling me – no problem – and said he’d go and re-check with reception as he obviously had the wrong room number.
I went back inside and with a slight niggle in my mind told the sleepy R what had happened and asked, a little incredulously, whether she’d just ordered a huge breakfast on room service. ‘No, of course not Daddy!’ she replied. Reassured I toddled off, caught up with the waiter at the lift and travelled down with him. We chatted about the incident and I assured him that my daughter was only just stirring and had confirmed that she hadn’t ordered any room service.
There was an animated little discussion between the maitre d’ and the waiter when we got back to the breakfast room. A little indignantly, I got up to clarify quite firmly that whoever had ordered the room service it wasn’t C nor I as we couldn’t possibly require any more food. Nor was it my daughter who had only just woken, and had told me that she wasn’t responsible.
Sensing my annoyance perhaps he accepted my explanation graciously, apologised for disturbing our breakfast and said he’d go and remonstrate with his reception staff for getting the room details hopelessly wrong. Family honour restored I returned to the breakfast table to finish that coffee with the family.
Two minutes later the maitre d’ was back again. With a lot of grace he explained that in his conversation with the reception staff they confirmed that the person who ordered the breakfast was a young women, clearly English, quite self-assured in her choice of breakfast items and that the telephone number had come up on the switchboard system’s CLI facility. It was room 707 – our room! I looked at C with a knotted feeling in the stomach. We both instantly knew that it must have been R. She’d woken, probably realised we were down in the breakfast room and figured that she wasn’t going to miss out. Hell it was her holiday too!
I asked the assembled staff now if they’d forgive me for a minute as I charged up to the room and asked R again if she’d ordered the breakfast. Very, very sheepishly she confessed and apologised for not being entirely honest. What can you say? We wouldn’t mind her having breakfast obviously (though we might have suggested she had a little less than the Henry VIII selection) but the little white lie is something in her nature that occasionally comes out if she thinks she might get into trouble.
Kids eh. I had no choice but to return downstairs to apologise to the many staff now involved in this breakfast imbroglio. At best I’d look like a hopeless, helpless and completely delusional father with absolutely no grip on reality; at worst they might think it was my usual practice to lock our handicapped daughter in our room, deny her food whilst we feasted or even that we were a family of compulsive liars. As I walked out of the lift I couldn’t help thinking about the old Bishop and his seemingly irrational dislike for the British. Perhaps he had a point after all and I was now about to give his hotelier descendants another solid reason to think we are an island race of degenerates.
As it happened they couldn’t have been sweeter and more understanding. They seemed genuinely charmed at R’s ability to rationalise her thoughts so lucidly that she could bamboozle her obviously dopey father and order quite the most staggering breakfast that the kitchen staff had ever prepared for a single person. And there was no charge on our final bill for the breakfast that never was. Muy Buena Espana.