10 beds and one shared bathroom

by Veronica Sanchez

Ten years ago, staying in a hostel was fun. While I was travelling in Europe with my best friend we would share the room with five, six, seven people from different countries and I would enjoy it. We would have a chat in the room with the other travellers and probably end up having a beer down in the hostel bar or doing some sightseeing together. We would exchange e- mails and maybe write each other some lines once we were back in our one- year jobs in the UK. The people we met were actually an important part of the trip anecdotes. Some appear in our photo printed albums.

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I remember Tommy, the skinny tall Australian guy I met at the hostel in Dublin, who told me how he loved to surf in Puerto Escondido. I still have in my mind how he danced ‘Crazy in Love’, the hit of the moment, later in the bar.

How could I forget the Prague girl that stared at Daphne and me when we were excited looking trough the room’s window because it was snowing the morning of the 1st of January 2004 in Bruges?

But why is sleeping in a hostel not the same enjoyable experience anymore?

Eleven days ago, I stayed at one, at the core of Copenhagen with a colourful reception and friendly atmosphere, just three blocks away from Strøget, the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe.

My Brazilian friend from the Master needed to apply for a visa at an Embassy and I decided to join her. I was looking to clear my mind after a exam week.

With our still student budget we wanted to make the lodging part as much low cost as possible, so after she finished her issues we could spend more on sightseeing, food or even on the shops. I proposed the CPH Downtown Hostel for the first night and Caro a CouchSurfing, for the second one. (I will just concentrate in the first one, as that last experience deserves its own post)

That is why when the smiley short blonde hair girl of the reception asked us which type of room we wanted for the night, I said the 10 beds with shared bathroom was fine. The fact actually brought me nice memories of my backpacker trips and overall it was the most economical in a Danish context: 260 kroners.

But we perceived a weird smell as soon as we opened the room’s door of the fifth floor, giving me a sign that something actually could have changed from the last time I was in a shared place.

“It seems that there are men sleeping here”, said Caro, while we were trying to figure out which were the beds that corresponded us.

The first fact I did not remember from the experience of my 18 years is that in a hostel room the only space you have for yourself is the bed. And if you are not lucky to have the lower one, which was our case, you will only use it exclusively for sleep, as you cannot sit to get out your stuff from your luggage.

I have forgotten that in a shared room you do not have a good rest, something that I was looking for. Although, people try to be cautious, you can hear when the alarms go on (well, actually that was mine and two hours later Caro’s) and when the door opens and closes continuously. Each person has his own times.

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Having a shower is quite a challenge and it could turn into a disaster like happened to me. Despite the bad sleep, I tried to keep the travel spirit the next morning and lined up for the bathroom with all my clothes, my robe, my cream, shampoo, and the hair dryer.

What was my surprise that when it was my turn, there wasn’t any space to put all that stuff. I had to fit them in the sink, which was the size of a salad bowl.

While I was in the shower trying not to think too much in the fact that I was not wearing flip – flops (I never thought to bring them to the cold Denmark!), I could hear another flush of water. I thought it was from the other bathroom. But when I jumped out the shower, I found all my things completely soaked. The tap of the sink had been opened all the time.

Fortunately, the only thing was not in there was my robe, which I had it hanged at the door. So I have to cross back all the corridor in it, get other clothes from my luggage in the room at the moment where two travelers, one of them from Mexico, actually almost from my same neighborhood, were exchanging trip tips; and go back to the room to get dressed.

By that moment all the nice thoughts I had of the hostels had vanished.

Now I just think that next time I will save a bit more to pay a private room, as these can still be a good option overall in expensive countries like Denmark.

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