Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Right now I'm staying in a hostel. In Spanish "un hostal" isn't usually a youth hostel; rather they're cheaper places to stay than hotels. This one, however, is a place where backpackers crash, make food, and hang out. What's particularly great about this one, Hostal RevoluciĆ³n, is that it's owned by a backpacker, an Australian guy named Matt, so it really meets the needs of backpackers.

Traveling in Europe, hostels don't try to meet your expectations; you have to meet the expectations of the hostel. Many of them have rules like "you can't be in the hostal between 10am and 5pm," which is a particular drag when it's rainy or you need to sleep in. At one place in Lisbon, I didn't have a reservation and I wanted to stay a week. I got in the first night, but you had to make reservations three days in advance, so the next two days, I had to remove my things from my room, put them in a storage room, and be put on a waiting list. I also couldn't make a reservation for the second half of the week at the hostel but had to walk to an office several blocks away to make the reservation. I can't figure out what kind of person sets up such systems: clearly no one who has ever traveled and stayed in a hostel.

Anyway, this is a small laid back place. There are two rooms that each have six bunks, a couple of rooms for people who work here, a big kitchen, and a little bar with a foosball table where Matt will put $1.50 on your tab for a big bottle of Cerveja Brahma from Brazil. It's mostly Europeans, especially Germans, and also Americans, Canadians, and Australians, mostly people in the 20s, a few older. It's great for meeting people, except most are here only a couple days.

I don't mean to perpetuate stereotypes, but these are the facts: last night, the people playing drinking games were three German girls (who I've heard speak nothing but English) and an Irish guy. One game consisted of dancing to the song "Roxanne," beer in hand. Whenever they sing "Roxanne" the guys have to take a drink; whenever they sing "red light" the girls have to drink. I do not suggest trying this at home, but you might download the song and imagine it.

Later they were playing some game where you draw cards and that tells you who drinks. It was one of those games where people make rules. What was funny was that the first rule was every time you drink, you first have to stand up and say, "God save the Queen." Conor, the Irish guy, refused to do it, owing to, well, history. He made a big fuss, but finally relented. However, he insisted that he was saluting the Queen of Denmark.

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