When all you want is a decent night’s sleep…
Those who have spent any time travelling will know, hostels are usually the cheapest places to put your head down at night and the easiest way to make friends. But they can often be the biggest adventure, and provide some of the funniest – all right, I can laugh now – memories that will stay with you for years to come.
Here’s a list of some of my favourite ones.
1. When You Fear You May Be In The Shining
A few years ago, a friend and I spent a summer backpacking on Amtrak around the United States.On the whole I found the hostels to be centrally located, modern and clean. There was one occasion when, however, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy.
Upon arrival at the grand, old property in New York state, the proprietor took some time opening the locked front door.
We were confronted with a lady who looked like the American version of Nora Batty from Last of the Summer Wine: curlers in her hair, house-cardigan, slippers and drooping stockings that had divorced her knees and married her ankles. Her hair stood out at all angles, and she glared up at us through the thickest lens glasses I had ever seen.
She barked orders through a closed door, to a man who remained unseen to me throughout my stay, although I could hear them shouting at each other throughout the night. Unidentifiable thuds and bangs accompanied the shouting, along with the slamming of doors and then deathly silences.
She announced that we were to use a bathroom that had two connecting doors – the other one into her bedroom. There were no locks on either door.
The whole hostel was empty, apart from my friend and I, in this large, creaking old house. There were no curtains at the windows, just lace doilies tacked to the window panes.
Needless to say, we spent the evening cowering in our beds and checked out early the next day.
2. When You Have Scary, Scary Room Mates
My friend, E, was staying a night in Te Anau in the South Island of New Zealand. Upon check-in, she was told by the receptionist wearing an odd smile, that she was sharing the ten-bed room with only one other guest – an ‘interesting’ character.
She was alone in the room when a huge, tattooed guy came in and introduced himself to her.
He explained that he had spent 17 years in one of New Zealand’s most notorious gangs.
He then continued to detail at great length all of the crimes he committed. He had been in and out of prison until he had decided to leave the gang, find God and learn how to love. Now he had written a book about his life and toured around the country on his motorbike, selling his publication.
Poor, frazzle E relaxed ever so slightly. This hardened ex-gang member was not threatening, and turned out to be one of the most interesting, albeit in a rather extreme way, roommate she would ever share a hostel dorm with.
Only someone you would tell your mum about a few months after you met them!
3. When Drunk Room Mates Show You More Than You Bargained For
My friend, J, booked herself a night in a dorm room in Queenstown, New Zealand. Having just finished the long, international journey from the UK, she was feeling the effects of jet lag and figured she would sleep soundly that night.
Unfortunately, not the case.
She was woken by her three other room mates bursting through the door at some unearthly hour in the morning, having enjoyed a raucous night on the tiles in Queenstown.
Too raucous, in fact.
One guy was so drunk that he could barely pick himself up off the floor. When he did so, he pulled down his trousers and underwear and stood with his crown jewels directly opposite the face of poor J who was now sitting up, wide awake, in the bottom bunk.
Having given my friend a jolly good eyeful, he eventually mustered the co-ordination and energy to haul himself up into the top bunk. Peace and quiet ensued (apart from thunderous snoring), until some point later in the night when he dropped from the top bunk like a stone, crawled to the bathroom, and spent a long while vomiting loudly in the en-suite bathroom.
Sometimes, even the tiredness of extreme jet lag cannot guarantee a good night’s sleep.
4. The Sound Of Snoring
We are all guilty of snoring a little on occasion, but guaranteed at some point you will find yourself sharing a room with someone whose snores are loud enough to wake the dead, let alone allow you to nod off.
I was trying to drift off in my bed in a hostel in Bundaberg, Australia but to no avail. Unluckily for me, I was the only girl in a room full of guys, and more than one of them was thunderously snoring.
Their deafening crescendo had me cursing to myself that I had, for this one time only, lost my ear plugs. Â I attempted to listen to my iPod to drown out their din, but the music served only to keep me awake, the ear buds digging into my ears against the pillow.
When I realised their cacophony of snores was accompanied by a malodorous series of farts, I did what any self respecting traveller would do; get on social media at two in the morning to complain bitterly about my situation.
I know I’m not the only one to have suffered snorers.
My friend who once stayed in a hostel in Auckland, NZ, told me she had thrown a shoe at an offending snorer in an attempt to stop them. My other friend told me that once in Bali she had yelled out toward the snorer in the room, begging for the love of God and all things holy, for peace so that she may sleep.
The moral of this story is: always, always pack earplugs!
5. When One Drink Is Never Just One
This story isn’t so much amusing as downright shocking, but I feel it earns a place in this list as it is right up there on the travel woe stakes that you could probably manage to laugh about years later.
My friend, D, recounted a time she and a friend stayed in Barcelona. They shared a room with a particularly loud, obnoxious backpacker, who did not make them feel welcome and scattered their belongings around the place as if they owned it.
Due to leave the following morning, D and her friend went out on the town for last-night drinks. One drink, of course, did not remain at just one and they staggered through the door at silly-o-clock in the morning, incredibly inebriated.
So inebriated, in fact, that D’s friend vomited in the case of another traveller in the middle of the night. So horrified were D and her friend that they got themselves dressed at the crack of dawn and fled the scene of the crime, nursing their substantial hangovers and regrets.
Is there a moral in this story? Too many to list here! Just watch out for karma, as payback is often a bitch!
Every traveller I’ve met has got a funny or a woeful story about staying in hostels. What’s your favourite one?
All images courtesy of Pixabay
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