I just got back from a trip to Bulgaria, where I stayed in the eeriest place I’ve been in. It was an old castle converted into an avant garde ‘experience hotel’, complete with complimentary vials of oddly luminescent liquid delivered to the room each evening – I assumed it was some kind of local hooch, and opted to stay away from it. The last thing I wanted was a repeat of that time in Helsinki, but let’s not go there.
What else? That’s right – even though everything was, like, an old castle, it was fitted out with these surprising contemporary inclusions, like staircases with internally illuminated glass balustrades. Many of these led down into weird cavernous ballrooms filled with what appeared to be dancing ghosts, but must have been some kind of special effect – like an augmented reality thing.
Late one night, overcome with curiosity about how it was done, I snuck down to one of these ballrooms to try and figure it out. I didn’t expect the effects to be turned on at that hour, but the scene was in full swing, which I must say didn’t seem very energy-efficient. Then I realised that, with every step I went down, the glass staircase would shatter behind me. It’s funny, but all I could think was how much the hotel was going to have to shell out for commercial glass repair. For Melbourne hotels, that would be a lot, but maybe it’s different in Bulgaria.
Then I realised that the shattering glass, too, must be a special effect, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how it was done. At some point, I must have gone back to bed, because I woke up there some hours later. There was no sign of the shattered stairs that day, so either they got a glazier in quick smart, or… well, I don’t know.
Having not drunk the glowing liquid, I felt sure that I couldn’t be imagining all this, but then I did eat the local brand of sugared fruit-flavoured rings they offered for breakfast. They were a bit glow-y as well, come to think of it.