About seven months ago, Wayne had woken up one morning and was a little bit troubled with me. He immediately explained that he had had a dream that seemed so real that he couldn’t help but be mad at me for what “dream me” had done. Of course I burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of this idea. Wayne smiled and continued to describe his dream which had taken place at a hostel. Now, he has never been to a hostel and claims that he never will. This dream also occurred after we had watched Hostel 2 or 3 or 8 or whichever it was, so you know if has to be good. I won’t go details about the whole dream because it is unnecessary but the gist is that I left him. Physically and emotionally. I deserted him for all the other people who were staying with us in the same room of our hostel and became a raging witch. Hostels offer up this idea to people of being untrustworthy and deceitful. Wayne’s discomfort and concerns about hostels does not purely come from watching stupid gore movies that are just for the “gasp value.” His concern is completely valid about the security and safety of staying in one room with about five or more other strangers. A lot could happen. Once, Elise and I stayed in a room with seven bunk beds smooched up right next to one another to allow fourteen people to stay in a room that truly should have just had 4 bunk beds in it. This was Paris. But there are ways to stay safe and sleep well and have a really awesome time at a hostel and to push away that initial discomfort.
First. Not all hostels have a million bunk beds in them. Some hostels have the option to stay in a one or two bed room. If you truly are uncomfortable and will not be getting a good nights sleep if you are with others in the same room, by all means, pay the extra. But sometimes it is worth it to stay in the room with a couple other people like you. On January 26th of 2011, I arrived off a twelve hour flight into Sydney Australia. I took a shuttle straight to my hostel and was in the lobby signing in. As I was looking at the collage of the pamphlets and brochures that hostels offer the weary traveler, this really cute brunette girl from New York by the name of Shira, strolls right up to me. She is in my same room. We start talking about where we are from and how long we are there and next thing I know she is inviting me to go with a few other friends that she had also met at the hostel, to go with them to Manly Beach. It was completely not my plan for the day and it was screwing up my entire itinerary, but if there’s one thing I have learned through traveling in hostels it is to try and say yes to as many opportunities as you can. And it was the best first day in Australia I could have possibly asked for.
Hostels are amazing to meet people or find places to go or share stories and travels and advice. There is a comradery that comes with hostels. We are all traveling from other countries. We are all putting the same trust in one another to not steal or be dishonest. I know that this is all about sinking your every bit of trust into the goodness of mankind, but you know what? Some of us need to do that every once in a while. Besides, what do you have in that suitcase of yours that is so damn valuable? Why so much distrust now? You should be clenching the bag around your neck with your money and passport but other than that, why be so protective? Do you have a diamond stashed away in your suitcase? A valued painting? Or maybe some really stinky socks and old underwear? Yeah that’s what I thought. Relax just a little. You’re traveling the world. When I was in Paris falling asleep in the bunk bed that was squished right up to the next one (ok and I am not exaggerating in the slightest but right next to me was a large Italian man who slept in a bright speedo looking thing…I just had to laugh there was nothing else I could do) I was gripping my camera in my arms. I always sleep with my camera and my passport holder around my neck or arms. But I was fine. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because this particular hostel was my single best hostel experience I may ever have.
Elise and I had arrived into Paris fairly late and our hostel was located all the way in Montmartre, which when you are in the center of Paris late at night off the bus and do not speak French, Montmartre seems quite far away. Anyway, we check into our hostel and we cross through this courtyard full of people. We put our stuff down and go back to the courtyard to possibly talk to some people before going to sleep. They end up being a group of Barcelonians, a few Serbians, a Canadian, and an American. They are drinking bottles of wine out of the bottle and when we start to talk to them, they each throw us our own bottle. Suddenly a guitar has appeared out of the darkness and we are all singing the famous American song “Stand By Me.” No one speaks Serbian and a couple of us speak Spanish and almost no one speaks perfect English and yet they have become instant friends. The night rode on and so were through about twelve bottles of wine. It was now that we become aware that it is one o’clock in the morning and Elise and I begin to say goodnight because it seems as if everyone is winding down until the next day festivities. We are mistaken. So mistaken. We have come to find out that this is just the beginning of the night (Of course for the Barcelona crowd) and the next stop is an Irish pub down the street from the Moulin Rouge. We are each thrown another bottle of wine from this mysterious infinite wine bottle box. We drank wine through the streets of Paris, this crowd of us, and I learned how creepy the phrase “Bon sua” can be. We danced and laughed and drank wine until nearly four. And we still got up the next morning to explore the beauty of Paris. Elise and I still talk about this night to this day.