I was sitting on my top bunk bed in my Manchester hostel the other day, trying to figure out how to return to blogging after a six-month absence. Blogging requires consistency, I was told recently by a well-known writer and blogger, but it's hard to feel like blogging when you write all day, every day, five days a week. Consequently, several unpublished posts have been in my drafts for months, but I couldn't decide on that one thing that would get me back in the blogging spirit - that is, until the Manchester hostel.
With that in mind, let's talk about #hostellife - specifically, hostel roommates.
So I'm in my hostel, Chromebook open, fingers poised over the keypad, mind going a mile a minute with visions of the Roman ruins I had seen that day, when I become engaged in conversation with my hostel roommates: we'll call him Keith, from Seattle, and Jess, from Australia.
Here's the thing about hostels: they can either be fab, significantly cheaper versions of hotels (or, like Urban House in Copenhagen, hotels-turned-hostels,) or they can be a nightmare with a horror movie just waiting to happen. Thankfully, I've been blessed with the former. I've stayed at hostels in London, Cork, Manchester and Copenhagen and have yet to have any complaints. Aside from some snoring (I'm a heavy sleeper anyway who can easily go back to sleep, so it's grand,) I've had some pretty great roommates and Keith and Jess were no exception.
But while talking to the two of them, that's where it got weird. The door opens, this guy pops in for a minute (we'll call him Liam,) asks if it's a shared room and promptly leaves. Liam, who not only had never stayed in a hostel before but also had never shared a room before, thought he booked a private room and was startled when he realised he had not.
Liam was meant to go on holiday to Turkey, as he mentioned several times that night, but due to train delays, he missed his flight and had to stay over in Manchester while he figured out his next step. Hailing from a small English seaside town near Scotland, his one venture outside of England had been to Egypt several years earlier with some of his mates (oh, how I would love to go to Egypt. But I, who cannot handle heat in any form, would surely die.)
One could tell the guy had been spoon-fed his whole life - mostly because he repeatedly said so. He kept forgetting he was in a hostel, not a hotel, and asked about a wake-up call, to which the response was he could get one by setting an alarm on a thing called his phone. And he was reminded there was no room service, resulting in his putting his phone to his ear and calling for "room service." He couldn't make up his mind about whether he should get food or stay in and declared several times that he had ADD - and, clearly, a very indecisive personality. I mean, a 29 year old was asking a 20 year old if he should get dinner.
But that wasn't the strange part as, up until two years ago, I had never stayed in a hostel, either. No, where it got...interesting...was when he started talking about energy levels in the universe and chakras and vegans having better universe levels than carnivores or whatnot.
Do you remember that Mandy Moore film where she plays the president's daughter, Chasing Liberty? Do you recall the guy in there, the hyper Aussie peace-and-love guy who talked about similar subjects and then stole their wallets? Well, Liam reminded me a lot of him. I was convinced he was going to start handing out the same stickers, but no, he just spent the rest of my waking hours talking with another roommate about his missed opportunity in Turkey.
And that's the thing about hostel roommates. Most of them are pretty chill, instant friends. If you've stayed in a hostel before, you know the first thing you're always asked: where are you from, why are you in that particular place and how long have you been travelling. At some point, it's remembered to ask the names, but not until that ground is covered. In the case of some, you might know them for only two days and gain a lifelong friend (like Stacey from Sheila's Hostel in Cork City.) But in the case of others, you might hope you'll never see them again.
Liam didn't fall into either category. I wouldn't mind coming across him a second time (if only to know where he decided to go,) but he definitely wasn't an instant friend. What he brought, though, was an incredibly weird conversation in a Manchester hostel that finally got my blogging wheels turning.
So, cheers to you, Liam. Thanks for that. And good luck in wherever you decided to go next.