Some amongst you may know that I am freshly settled in my own room with nice flatmates and cupboards and shelves in the kitchen and in the bathroom JUST FOR ME. I have a bed with a more-than-fine mattress and for the next few months, whether I have, or not, someone heavily breathing in my ear while I’m trying to sleep will be my own choice.
Before that, I had to pass a mandatory step for those who come and live in London: the hostel. Basically, a hostel is the hideout of the youth in great need of a place with all the commodities but not too expensive.
There, young professionals in transition and backpackers in translation cohabit. There, quiet people and night owls are mixed and everybody is in the same boat.
And you can’t get on board before 2PM. Even if you took an early train. Even if your arms feel tore and your mind tricks you into thinking your suitcases may be an extension of your hands. Even if you ask politely.
Anyway, don’t worry, you can wait at the reception, hugging your luggage, begging for the wifi password and trying to catch your breath while hearing people complain about their missing belongings. You have a couple of hours to kill so you’ll go on Facebook, update a new status saying “YAY England. Prince Harry, here I come”, tweet the youtube link of The Clash (you know which song, it’s not like people who seek the Great Perhaps in London are original) and use Paint to edit a picture and show your relatives that even in England you are still funny.
At 2PM, you will be able to check in. You’ll be given the Graal a magnetic card or a code to open your room and assigned your own foam cushion recessed into a metal cage. Yes, it’s a bed. Sometimes, you can even choose yours. Usually there are several bunk beds in a room, so you have the choice, either to take the upper bed and get all the light and no floor to put your precious belongings (phone, books, magnetic card or glasses) on or the lower bed and live in the constant fear of bumping your head on the metal structure. It hurts and shouting insults in your native language doesn’t help. If you are lucky, your hair might not get stuck in it. If not, well…
But beds are beds and when you have struggled in 4 buses, 9 sidewalks and 13 stairs with your enormous suitcases and no one to help, they offer a comfortable shelter that your tearing back would not want to turn down. Even if you know that you will be walking like a pregnant woman the following day.
Bear in mind that you can meet your roommates anytime now. When they come in, you’ll mumble a feeble “hey” thinking hard “I wish he doesn’t snore. I wish he doesn’t snore. I wish he doesn’t snore.” He snores. You’ll know that in a few hours.
For now, you’re just hungry. You feel so lazy so you try to figure out for the next hour if you’re more tired or hungry. Turns out you were more tired: you are woken up two hours later by a couple having a fight in German. With the noise you won’t be able to fall asleep again so you decide to buy some food and have a walk. Bad idea.
When you come back, there might be a drunk guy sleeping in front of the door. The room is dark, you bump in every bed and you realize he does snore. THEY snore. And those who don’t are changing position so often and with so much enthusiasm that it feels like a earthquake in the room everytime they turn around. You’ll fear every metallic squeak but, knowing they’ll come, you’ll be excepting them and you will hear nothing but them.
Honestly, between you and me, for the price you paid, a lack of sleep and a little pain in the back is nothing and you won’t feel anything once you remember the breakfast is included in the bill. Free food. FREE FOOD. YAY! But hang on a second, first of all, there’s another trial for you.
The shower : enemy of the hair, beware! (Come on, you know this joke was funny.)
Hair. Worse : hairs. Worst: not yours. I’m not an obsessive cleaner and I am so short-sighted I can’t even see the end of my nose without my glasses. And my nose is not that big. The problem is not seeing them. The problem is touching them. You know how it feels :
But, hey, stop complaining, you’ve got hot water and if you’re lucky, the lock on the door works properly. If not… Oh. Hey Bob, woke up early didn’t you?
Anyway, you now smell like a (synthesis) spring flower and you can go back to your room. In underwear, of course, you didn’t risk to put water on your trousers by putting them on in the shower. Unlock your storage and take your clothes off the storage place. Relock it, you would not want to be stolen during the day. Unlock it again, you took the green t-shirt instead of the blue one. Who could blame you, the two colours look the same in the dark. Relock it. Unlock it again, the first one was actually the blue one. Relock it… hang on, where did you put the lock?
You find it, put on your clothes, go to the kitchen and try to find enough jam in the three remaining jar to spread on your bagel, which is burnt because the person before you liked their bagel burnt and you didn’t check the button on the toaster.
It tastes good though. You’re eating so you’re happy so you don’t realize that the videoclips you are vaguely watching on the TV to avoid crossing someone’s eyes are incredibly sexist.
Once you’ve eaten your breakfast, you go out. You have to. Your room smells like a room where 16 people slept, the light is not on and everybody in there wants you dead because you were so noisy earlier with your lock and because you snore and your bed squeaks when you turn around and you leave hair in the shower and you complain all the time. Yes, you do.
You read the article until the end despite the mistakes and the bad jokes? You deserve a gift. Here is a bonus track. (You can discover amazing things in a hostel.)