Day three: The hotel
Most of the volunteers are put up in the same hotel complex as most of the journalists, and I can confirm that there are some problems, to put it mildly, with our accommodation. Many of the rooms lack furniture, while in others there is so much furniture there’s no room for suitcases!
Window curtains are in the shortest supply. If you are lucky to have a curtain rod, all you need to do is get some curtains from the hotel administration. There are even rumors that some people have managed to do that.
You have, however, to have an element of luck: our room, for one, has no curtain rod at all, so the problem is not so easy to solve. But we Russians are very inventive: instead of sitting on our hands waiting to be taken care of and whining on social networks, many have taken their fate in their own hands.
The most creative solution I have seen to date is to stretch a raincoat across a portion of the window. Some use Russian flags for the same purpose. I am not entirely sure if this really works to fend off the light from the local streetlamps, which seem to be nothing short of floodlights in power, but at least the approach is interesting.
Door locks are another widespread problem. If you apply slightly too much pressure, the lock will come out complete with the key, but the door will stay locked. Putting the lock back takes at least two hours, so melancholy tenants lingering in corridors waiting for their turn to have their doors fixed are a common sight.
Door handles seem to come in two varieties. Half of them come off when you try to open the door, the other half get the door permanently stuck. This applies equally to the room door handles and the entrance door handles, so getting from one building to another may become quite complicated.
The accommodations for journalists may have normally functioning power supply, because I haven't seen many complaints about it, but in the buildings for the volunteers, there is definitely something wrong with the electricity. A tiny electric kettle takes a full 15 minutes to come to a boil, which simply should not be the case.
Bathrooms and toilets are yet another problem. In one of the rooms I've been to, there is no showerhead. There is a bathtub, a faucet, and the fixture for the showerhead, but the head itself is missing.
The volunteer section of our hotel complex is rife with stories about hot water disappearing regularly and without any apparent logic. If this happens to you, try to keep calm: there is a good chance that hot water will reappear - at the most unpredictable moment and for an unpredictable period of time.
Many journalists have also complained about the quality of tap water, and not only on Twitter. I personally overheard a journalist telling her colleague, and trying to suppress laughter, about the color of the liquid coming out of her tap.
Volunteers, however, have been spared this inconvenience: in our rooms, water does resemble water – visually at least. As for various unfinished bits and pieces, like unplugged holes in the walls, unwired climate control system, and non-functioning sockets, these things you can live with.
Given such essential everyday problems, and remembering Maslow's hierarchy of needs, you would not expect Internet access to be on top of our priorities. I should note, though, that the local Wi-Fi is quite ephemeral.
Its availability and connection speed appear to be very much fluid and arbitrary. In my room, Wi-Fi seems to be available in one particular location: I am writing this from my cast-iron bathtub.
The opinion of the writer may not necessarily reflect the position of RBTH or its staff.