My Top 4 Favorite Hostel Memories

While I countdown days and hours and make endless preparations for my upcoming trip, I’ve also been spending some time reminiscing about my past travels and what’s unique about the spirit and fun of backpacking. This got me thinking about all of the strange funny things that have happened to me while staying in hostels.

A lot of people are unnecessarily scared of hostels but I am a big fan. Not only are they cheap and convenient, but also when you get that many random strangers smooshed together in one spot you are bound to come out with some crazy stories. Here 4 of my favorites so far:

The One Where I Spent the Night with a German Swim Team

Creative Commons License photo credit: Life of Sport

My friend Jason and I were trying to do St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin on a budget- not an easy feat. The 18-bed dormitory sounded like an amusing and cheap idea beforehand.

The room looked like a military barracks or maybe prison- bunk beds crammed into every available space. But what really stopped me dead in my tracks was the small army of very buff boys in various states of undress. Apparently we were sharing the room with 16 members of a German swim team. And apparently they were not aware the room was co-ed… hello Speedos.

The One Where I Didn’t Understand the Metric System

“Only 2000 meters to the city center!” the website boasted. Well that didn’t seem too far.

“That’s 2 Kilometers” my boyfriend corrected me as we struggled through Ljubljana, hot packs on our backs.

The One Where I Learned How to Cure the Common Cold

I rolled into Zagreb late in the evening, pursued by a sniffling sneezing ugly cold (part of my ongoing battle with the Tonsils of Doom). It was the custom in many of the hostels in South Eastern Europe to greet guests with a complimentary shot of the local Rakia (a strong fruit brandy). The first time I’d gulped it down, weeks before, I could have breathed fire.  I wanted nothing more than to crawl into my lower bunk and die but the hostels owner, a friendly Chinese-Croatian man was not having it. “You must have drink,” he insisted. “Good for sickness.”

I declined but he persisted so finally, out of politeness I downed the shot. “Another.” Okay, one more. Only then did he let me go off to my dormitory and collapse, kicking myself for my poor willpower.

But damndest thing, when I woke up the next morning that cold was history. I felt fantastic.

The One Where I Made Best Friends with a Duck

In case you didn’t catch it in my previous posts (link) Iceland is really, really, empty. This is especially true of the misty east coast, a relatively untouristy corner of Iceland about as far from Reykjavik as you can get. Here we stayed in a converted farmhouse/hostel owned by a farmer and his family. To our consternation after arriving at about 3 pm we were at least an hour from the nearest town with literally nothing to do. The only other residents of our hostel were 5 American frat boys we’d been avoiding like the plague since Monday (they seemed to have the exact same road trip itinerary as us).

Skulking around in search of a distraction we found the owner’s 13-year-old granddaughter, sitting on the front stoop talking to her pet ducklings.  They were her birthday present she told me, she’d stolen the eggs from a nest on the coast and hatched them herself. She would spend the summer raising them and then they would be released to the wild before she went back to school in Reykjavik. I can’t remember what I got for MY 13th birthday but it was nothing as cool as that!

“Do you want to hold one?” She asked me. DO I?!?! They were literally 1 day old.  All the fuzzy happiness of 10,000 Easters nuzzled sweetly into my hand.

The point of telling you this is not that I’m a loquacious airhead who likes German boys. I wanted to illustrate that travel is about far more than just the sites you see. When you are a young traveler staying in hostels, your experiences are just as much about the people you meet as the things you do. The things that happen in between your sightseeing are the things you will remember best.

What is YOUR Favorite Hostel Moment

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39 thoughts on “My Top 4 Favorite Hostel Memories”

  1. Hi Steph,

    Thanks for the Iceland tip-off! You inspired me to do a bit of spontaneous research on the country and have already added three places in Iceland to my travel wish-list! Off to read your other posts on Iceland 🙂


  2. I had the same problem in Ljubljana. I’ve stayed in two hostels there — one where I couldn’t find the entrance and another that was also 2,000 km from the city center. I’ve heard that the prison makes for a pretty interesting stay there, though.

  3. I’ll never forget the three weeks I spent in an Istanbul hostel. The owner spoke no English and it was being managed by a really great backpacking couple from Texas.

    We spent literally every night having BBQs in the upstairs lounge where the owner would start a charcoal fire on the window ledge. By the end of night you could hardly see thanks to the BBQ and hookah smoke. When we weren’t BBQing we were drinking Raki and playing tavla!

  4. My favourite hostel moment. Christening a brand new hostel in Plettenbery Bay, South Africa. It was so new that we were ‘forced’ to kill a few hours on the beach so that the paint could dry before we could move in. That night we christened the hostel’s bar on its fantastic deck overlooking the Indian Ocean. A great way to end a great trip.

  5. I had a fabulous time for 2 days in a hostel in San Francisco hanging out with my Australian roommate and another Aussie girl we met as well. We went out traveling around San Fran (Golden Gate park and bridge, Haight Ashbury etc), and hung out drinking in the basement of the hostel the 2nd night til about 3am with some English boys and a bunch of Germans (flight home wasn’t until the next afternoon, so it was all good :D)

  6. LOVE the story about the Germans! Holy hottness!

    Reminds me of the time in a London hostel when I woke up and realized I was surrounded by guys sleeping in nothing but their underwear and moneybelts!

  7. Mine would have to be Christmas at the hostel where I was working when a couple decided to volunteer for two weeks and made the whole time a once in a lifetime event.. When they left we rented a bus and took the whole hostel out to La Rhonda in Old Town.. Too much fun!

  8. Having being sick from drinking too much and passed out on the bed, I woke up in the middle of the night with random items being thrown at me. One was right on target between my legs. I woke up still woozy but my hostel mates insisted I drank more. The night continued on till the morning hours. That’s the hostel life!

  9. That duckling story is darling, not just because of the ducklings, but the fact that you started out with a negative scenario that totally transformed into something positive–and one of your best memories. I love that.

    1. God those ducks were so amazing, I didn’t want to put them down! It was a neat glimpse into a different culture.

  10. My favorite hostel moment? Well I have only stayed in a hostel once in my life while I was in Montreal. Best part was when we arrived we were informed that the room we were supposed to be staying in had been trashed by a guest who refused to leave. As a result, the staff put the four of us in the bed and breakfast portion of the hostel in thier Honeymoon Suite. For the same price we would have paid for the tiny room that had been trashed. Large private bathroom, private entrance to the kitchen, jacuzzi tub beside the king sized bed.

    Really enjoyed this post! Especially the picture of the swimmer. You lucky lucky girl.

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