Hostile hostels…

I hate hostels.

There I’ve said it. 

I really hate them. 

I’m too old for hostels. They are, in my opinion; dirty, noisy, crowded, sub standard hell holes where complete strangers are forced to share mere inches of space, bumping personal belongings and body parts whilst trying not to make eye contact with each other, across a bland, empty metre or two – if you’re lucky. Is it normal to share your sleeping quarters with a total stranger?

This has been one of my main worries about taking a long trip/’travelling’- at my age -negotiating the hostels. I know that I don’t have to stay in them but when you’re on your own it’s a great way meet people and to be honest it’s the cheapest way to travel. So despite my reluctance I booked myself into a hostel in St Kilda which it turned out was about twenty minutes by tram from the centre of Melbourne. Error 1. 

Error 2. Having not researched the area properly I didn’t realise that St Kilda is basically mini Ireland. Not that I mind the Irish, I’m half one meeself mind, but the other residents were all long term, as in they lived there, for years. They all knew each other and had no interest in me; the stranger. They didn’t smile or even pretend to notice me. 

Error 3. The next morning, I woke up after a dreadful nights sleep, there’d been a heat wave in Melbourne and no air con in my room. The windows were wide open (=high bug alert) and the partying had not stopped till God knows o’clock.

I looked at my arm, where there were an array of little red bites, not mossie bites, too small. Red, itchy bumps, all over my arm and the left side of my face. I hadn’t had them when I went to sleep…but they were there when I woke up. Must be bed bugs I decided. 

I immediately checked out. 

Street dating 

Much like Berlin, Melbourne has a thriving street art scene…

Despite it being 42 degrees I joined a group of like minded culture vultures at the library and traipsed after the ‘free’ tour guide. ‘Free’ means please make a donation – donate what you think it’s worth.

Four hours through the blistering heat of the city in the midday sun. Most of the clientele that day also seemed to be ‘back packers’ – lone travelers trying to forge a link with one another along the route. It felt like speed dating. 

We kept swapping partners and the hum of chatter drowned out the tour guide easily. My initial partner Vivian joined me for the lunch stop but seemed far more interested in a young man she’d been lining up for a trip along the great ocean road. I initially seemed to be doing well but I started to panic in hour three when it seemed I’d lost all my partners to other suitors. I’ve failed I thought. As though it was a test rather than a tour!

I decided to focus on what the tour guide was saying. It perplexes me why on a ‘free’ tour I have to pay? I started to worry about the amount I should give him. 

I also feel sorry for the poor chap. I wonder how much money he earns from each tour? 

Finally it was over and with great relief Vivian rushed up to collect me for a rooftop bar drink. I’d learnt nothing about Melbourne but I’d gained three new drinking buddies. Success!