One of the sure shot ways, to cut down costs of a trip to Europe is stay at hostels. No two ways about it. But perhaps the most important question is how to scout through a laundry list of hostels on the internet and get the best possible one. For us, that was sorted as The Backpacker Co took care of all our accommodation across the 3 cities we planned to visit. So, when I opened an email, the good folks at the travel company sent me, I curiously looked at the hostels mentioned in the email and gave a quick review search on Hostelworld.com. All the reviews on the site, seem to have great things to say about the hostels booked. A little relaxed by now, I told myself excitedly- that this was for real and I was finally getting to stay in a hostel. It was kind of a dream come true, as my mom as a kid used to blackmail me to get things done her way and If I didn’t do it, she would send me to a hostel!
And here I was now! “Bonjourn”- my mind practiced some last minute French, as I stood in front of 3 Ducks, one of the best hostels in Paris. As we entered through the door, I was thrown into another world. Loud music, happy people, crackling sound of glasses and bottles, twinkling lights, cheesy platters. “Woah!” I thought aloud. Now, let me confess something. I have been to clubs, pubs in my own city. I am pretty open to this whole concept of nightlife (I am not that conservative Indian :P) and I have seen right from the best sober behaviors to cranky drunkards, all amalgamating at any given point in time in a wild pub! But I was still quite taken aback as I entered the bar cum reception at the hostel. Sorry, I am being a racist. But so many white chicks and guys, made me feel that I was somewhere else. (Which I was and mind you, we don’t get to see many White people, like Snow-White types) back home. That little weird trivia apart. It felt, we were transported to another world.
We were welcome by Carlos (a Spaniard, I guess) and he was all smiles. He met us at the backyard of hostel (because by now, we were lost among an already happy high bunch of hostelers) and took us to the reception desk. He made some checks on our passport, identity proof and then handed over our keys (some weird looking rectangular cardboard). I deviate again, giving out small details.
The next thing I notice, is this huge cute guy, with a beard and a pony. He was attending all the people at the bar, so I am assuming he worked there as a bar tender! You know what? I didn’t even ask him his name. Shucks! I mean looking back, I feel a complete fool. In fact, @Srinistuff will laugh at me for chickening out, once he reads this. I am so sure. I had such a huge crush on him and I am not even joking.
Anyway, if I ever meet him again, I will definitely say an hi to him 😀
Never-mind, we checked into our respective dorms. I was supposed to be staying with 3 more girls. But I being so scared, (I have never lived in a hostel, so come on!), kept my eyes wide open. It was night and I was tired from a long flight. I started exploring the nook and corner of my dorm. Nicely kept, there were bunks beds, with white sheets and pillows. The lights were just enough to look through clearly and walk without tripping over. I got off my bed to check out the toilet. Yes, off course. That’s the first and foremost thing my father checks in any given hotel during our trips. So it comes genetically to me. Kill me, but I keep on digressing from topic.
Soon, there were these two Australian lasses who come in knocking at the door. At first, a bit worried, I slowly opened the door. They smiled at me and said Hi! There was something reassuring about their smiles. It was good to hear English too. Slowly, they settled in and we waved at each other. We all were really tired from our long flights, so we went back to our beds without much conversation!
In the morning, as usual, I woke up early. The usual tourist in me- not wanting to miss any early surprises, headed straight to the bathroom. Lo and behold! Murphy’s law was at work here as well! I got stuck in the bloody bathroom! Finally, I had to get the Australian girls to bail me out of that bathroom. “How embarrassing”, I thought to myself. Sensing my apprehension and that I wasn’t used to bathrooms at hostels, the girls quickly started giggling in succession. “First timer at a hostel?” the girls asked. I nodded and then we all broke out laughing.
Voila! I had just survived one night at a hostel! 🙂
Note:Readers might argue, that the above narration is a hum-dry. But I have decided to experiment a bit with my posts on hostels. Since I am first timer at these hostels, I thought of sharing some of the thoughts that simply passed my mind during these stays. Some meaningful and some not. But just my thoughts and experiences, considering I have been accustomed to staying in 3-star/5-star hotels on a vacation, courtesy my parents! This post, is first of my 11 day, 10 nights stay at hostels during my Europe trip with The Backpacker Co, a travel company that organizes trips for solo, independent backpackers abroad. You can follow my travels with #ataleof3cities on the social web.