The evening before -and no, we are not superstitious and we don’t believe in Friday 13th nonsense- one of the staff at the hotel had told us it was the last dinner she’d be serving: she had been laid off the following day, along with hundreds other staff members.
In the morning there was no breakfast buffet. Sure, there was food. A tray with plastic-wrapped sandwiches, no choice and not to be touched with our own hands. There were yoghurts in small diposable bowls with disposable spoons. There was coffee and tea, but we were not allowed to pour it ourselves. Orange juice in a plastic cup was put on our table by blue-gloved hands and we were kindly requested to ask for anything if we needed more.
Compared to the day before, there were only a few guests in the breakfast room. The cook at the open kitchen counter looked pleadingly in our direction, hoping anybody would want some hot food, a fried egg or maybe some bacon or a sausage. The atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty seemed to outweigh his wishful thinking .
When about to leave for a walk, we were offered an orange or a banana, just in case we wanted to bring it with us. We felt like declining, but politely took an orange because of the kind gesture and secondly because bananas not being favourite fruits.
We pottered about the Latin Quarter, strolled along the boardwalk, admired and listened to The Wave and walked around the Kastellet where the oranges were eaten on a bench in the sun.
Around lunchtime when trying to find a place for coffee, we experienced that something insidious and malicious had taken hold of the city…….