solving for s…

“a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”

i have solved the mystery my friends…i have discovered the meaning behind the “s” in hostel. you may notice, that without the “s” the term hostel is simply “hotel”. well, they added that “s” in there for a reason. brace yourselves…it stands for shite. because the only thing standing between you and a restful night’s sleep at a hotel, is the shit you’re wading in at your hostel.

i knew i should have packed my rain boots…just didn’t think i’d need them so soon. turns out…there is no disney inspired cleaning song that applies to the life of a backpacker choosing a hostel living. after a jet lagged and early night to bed at the travelodge sydney, this (stronger a little more every day) backpacker had the next 3 nights of her journey booked in a hostel in kings cross. i was told that was the place to be for packers like myself and would be pivotal in making some friends. i felt like a kid off to college again only this time with fewer possessions and no tearful drop off (that happened ages ago-a week and two days ago to be more precise-in arizona). i navigated my way through the train system to get off at the right stop just fine…becoming a bit of a train expert these days…and as i came up the steep escalator from the underground…my first impression of the neighborhood where i had chosen to stay wasn’t one that induced warm and fuzzy feelings. what came as i turned a corner to finally arrive at my “home” for what i thought (and hoped) would only be 3 nights was even less so.

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after checking in, swiping plastic, leaving an aussie $20 as a deposit, collecting my key, sheets and leaving a bit of my dignity at the reception desk, i climbed the stairs, took my first left, went down the hall passed harry potter, frodo, the joker (ironic that he’s near an exit sign?), and i think sonic the hedgehog, i arrived at room 24 where this random chick gave no hints to what i would find behind her…not a new car that’s for sure, thanks for nothing bob barker.


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upon entry, my fleeting jet lag that had been almost cured by a good nights sleep and a relaxing day at the state library, quickly returned and i felt for the first time since booking it out of seattle in my car, like this was a bad idea. good thing wilma and fred were there to remind me that washing the city off my face would set me right again. the dorm mates that were to be mine were not in when i arrived, but trust me when i say, i knew more about them when we finally met face to face than they did about me. my impression upon entering the room…(aside from the f word that i thought and said quite loudly)…was this: good god, it’s like they live here. only later to find out, sure as the s for shit in hostel…they do.

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my first storm in sydney, was indoors…unexpected. the top bunk of the 4 beds was my only option coming in late to the fraternity house party that was my new sleeping quarters. literally every available surface in the place had been taken over by the inhabitants (and probably some bugs) and all i had to choose from was the locker that was left available to me with 4 hangers, a shelf with a lock box that my padlock was too big for (i’d have to rent one or risk trusting these strangers), and a nook below that fit my pack perfectly. after a deep sigh of despair, i decided to set up my bed first and feel a bit more at “home”. it was a well laid plan until i saw what sad excuse for a mattress i was meant to sleep on. (i sound like a total pompous princess, i know, but i’m just painting you a picture here…i ended up turning 3 nights into 7 so i’m not as high maintenance as i may read. refer to previous post about shoe selection i’m currently working with.) i even became a hero when i killed a huge bugger of a cockroach on my 2nd night-speaking of the f word…

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upon meeting my dorm mates, not the 7 little men i requested, but two german girls and an italian guy, shortly after convincing myself i could in fact handle all of this, i decided that another mostly jet lagged night with a hot shower and an early bed time, was what i needed. plus, i was eager to use my travel towel for the first time. i now know why they call it a shamwow…i said “wow” out loud the first time i used my microfiber travel towel. it dries you off in seconds and dries itself in a flash. i could be a walking advertisement for this towel. have you shamwowed yourself today? i suggest you try it and become amazed. these are the little things you come to really appreciate during hostel life (more irony in that phrase?) quick dry anything is a thing to be cherished…worshipped even…along with my cocoon sleep sack (another thanks to amanda) so that my body (and mind) kept me free of  bed bugs, my fleece lined hoodie with the thumb holes to keep me warm when it actually got cold and yes, for the flip flops that are now doubling as my fancy shoes, beach shoes and shower shoes. these things become your most prized items when backpacking. and the biggest friend of all when living in a hostel, is your headphones. mine and i are best mates these days. as travelers fate would have it, there isn’t always a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down (or make the cleaning happen, spit-spot!), but there is always vodka…no matter what country you’re in…and if you’re lucky, a decent soundtrack to block out the hostel noise around you.

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