I've been living out of a suitcase for the last ten days (and blogging from hotel rooms -- on hotel wi-fi, not always the best for inserting big pictures or managing links; sorry). One thing I've solved, though, is the hotel "coffee for breakfast" problem.
The issue is this. You want to get up early and work, but there are no coffee-making facilities in the room -- and if there are, the resulting coffee is truly ghastly. So the only options are: a) to go down to the hotel restaurant (but that demands getting dressed) or b) order room service in advance (but that means predicting the night before when exactly you are going to need the caffeine injection, and also you have to deal, scantily clad, with the waiter ) or c) order room service when you wake up (but by then room service is busy and you can be busting for a coffee for a long time -- and there's the same problem re the waiter). Not to mention the fact that the coffee in all these cases may still not be much better than dishwater.
Anyway, thanks to my friend Caterina (really thank you C), problem is solved.
This time I packed in my suitcase a small sized, electric espresso maker, a tin of ground coffee, and when I got to Rome I nipped out to buy half a litre of milk which I managed to squeeze into the mini-bar. So I've been filling it with coffee and water each evening and just switched it on when I have woken up the next morning. And hey presto.
It hasn't actually been entirely trouble-free. For a start, the plug on the coffee machine is that slightly larger size of the European two-pin plug, while the socket in the hotel is that slightly smaller Euro size (does anyone else have this trouble?). This means that it is a bit of a struggle getting the plug plugged in. Then, you have to make sure to disconnect the machine straight after the coffee has been made, because it goes on heating up and producing a decidedly pungent burned coffee smell (enough to be accused of smoking in a non smoking hotel room)..and it gets very hot.
But, that apart, this little gadget has solved the morning coffee problem.
A great Xmas gift idea for the lonesome traveller.