Everyone who I meet who has stayed in hostels always says the same thing, you meet the weirdest people in hostels.
After last night, I now realise that Gabby and I are those weirdos. We over share, are over emotional and over enthusiastic.
Two Kiwis came to stay in my room here in Madrid and within ten minutes I had already told them far more than they ever wanted to know. Luckily this didn’t scare them off and the agreed to come for cans with us.
After a sniff of alcohol things just get worse, we spent a long time letting everyone know how we felt about saving the NHS and repealing the eighth. After the ball got rolling we just couldn’t shut up. Gabbs let everyone know about the time she woke up a Portuguese town by setting off a house alarm trying to leave some guys house, while I shared my weakness for tour guides on a power trip.
For us, it’s normal and natural to share every dirty and disastrous detail of our messy lives. Some people this freaks them out and maybe we come on to strong, I think this is why I am often on the receiving end of eye rolling and lots of side eye. Sometimes this can hurt my feelings, but it’s also natural I’m definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.
Maybe one day we’ll learn to use our filters but for now, I think I’ll continue sharing as honestly as I can.
I’ve been in Madrid for the past three days staying in the worst hostel I’ve ever stayed in. When I arrived I had to walk through a group of men who looked like they had just been released from prison and I was the first woman they had seen in ten years. Uncomfortable start.
There was no common kitchen so no where to store food which meant that you just had to eat out all the time which was super costly. There was a common area but it was negative craic. Like it literally sucked the energy out of your body it was so dull.
Outside there were always that group of weird men sitting around the entrance making everyone with a vagina feel very uncomfortable. This in addition to the unwelcome and inappropriate touching at breakfast from one of these men made me feel in general very unsafe and unwelcome at this hostel. It is the first time on this trip or other times that I have been staying alone that I have felt vulnerable.
Not only did I personally feel unsafe but I was also concerned about the security of my belongings. One morning a man walked into the hostel common room from the street and stole someones ipad off the table while he wasn’t looking. Luckily the man noticed and ran after him and got it back, but still.
Previously I have just been picking my hostels based on the lowest price but I think that in the future I need to pay more attention to the reviews and the facilities in the place especially in a big city like Madrid.
I’ve moved to a new hostel still in Madrid now, and already I’m getting a way better vibe from it.
Due to minimal budgets I basically just find the cheapest transport and accommodation possible. On Saturday night I found a cheap hostel in Madrid and a super slow train through the mountains all day Monday. It was about double the time and half the price of most of the other journeys so naturally I took it.
I was waiting at my platform expecting a semi modern train to arrive when a glorified steam engine pulled up. The doors didn’t even open themselves, it was like something from Harry Potter. There were no plugs or wifi on the train and the only toilet smelt like balls and urine. Despite this it was actually a really nice journey.
The ticket inspector at the beginning of the trip told me something in Spanish, I panicked and just said “si”. When he said the same thing to the girls behind me they started asking questions about time and place names so I had to ask them what he said. Turned out I had to change trains towards the end of the journey. Thank fack I asked the girls otherwise I would probably be in some tiny town in the middle of Spain right now instead of sweaty Madrid.
The actually journey was so beautiful we went up into the mountains around Valencia and through all these tunnels and over valleys. It was definitely one of the most relaxing and picturesque journeys I’ve taken. We passed through tiny little farming towns that look like they are ten million miles away from everything else. It was definitely worth the 30 beans for the views alone.
I think after this I will definitely always be going the longer slower route. I didn’t get to take many photos but I’ve never seen country side like what I saw on the train and I definitely would have missed it on a faster train.
I took a blabla car to Almeria from Granada with a man who sells fruit packaging. This meant we stopped at every fruit farm in between the two cities. Considering this is the main industry in the region, it was a lot. The journey took about three or four hours and was only supposed to take one or two. This was compensated by the breakfast and snacks that were provided for free-sies. He was really nice and brought me directly to the campsite. Old man number one was cool. A good start.
Old man number two was the bain of my life for a brief period. On Saturday I had to wait in Almeria all day for my blablacar so I decided to do all the touristy things. This meant I had to carry my back pack around with me (12kg!!!!!) I walked up to the Alcazaba, which is basically just a shitter version of the Alhambra. On my hike up to the castle I was stopping to take breaks in the shaded areas, this is where old man number two entered my life. He was the typical chatty brit living the retirement dream in Spain, giving out free life advice to anyone who will listen. In the space of no more than fifteen minutes he had told me to stay away from “the two pricks in life ; herion and dicks”, eat more vitamin c, stop being a vegetarian, give up alcohol and not to vaccinate my future children. He just kept appearing at every corner there was no escaping him for a while. Old man number two was the fucking worst.
Things picked back up with old man number three. He was my blabla car out of Almeria. With no common language and a five hour journey ahead of us, I decided to do the mature thing and put my head phones in and pretend to sleep. I woke up twice, once for him to buy me food and the second time for me to get out at my hostel. Old man number restored my faith.
The campsite I was staying on in Almeria was pretty quiet and I wasn’t expecting to make many friends there but these two cutie Spanish girls took me under their wing. The fed me for pretty much the full two days, drove me around when I needed and even gave me some new socks! Their English wasn’t that good but they tried so hard to make me feel welcome and were so generous with everything they had. This trip is definitely showing me how kind and willing to help people are.
My third destination set the bar very high. I’m not sure if anywhere else will be able to live up to the last five days in Granada. The combination of the city, hostel and beautiful people I met all contributed to some of the best moments of my life. I stayed in Granada Inn backpackers hostel, it’s been the cheapest and best place I’ve stayed so far, dorm rooms started from only nine euro a night and it was super clean, comfortable and really easy to make friends there.
I did a walking tour of the city with this company for free on Monday which lasted about two and a half hours and showed you around the old parts of the city. This was super cool not just because it was free but because you got to see so much and then could choose to go back and revisit stuff it you wanted more detail later on. They also have tours in the evenings but I skipped this to watch sunset and moonrise on the walls of the old city.
About ten of us walked up to the Sacremonte area and into the hills where the gypsys live and to the ruins of the old city walls. To get to the top of the wall it was necessary to climb the old wall, something that I did not excel at. At one point my hands and feet were so sweaty with fear I thought I was going to cause a mudslide and slip down the mountain to a certain death. Surprisingly I didn’t and when we got to the top it was so worth it. We had views of the whole city and surrounding mountains all to ourselves. It felt like an episode of Skins (minus the drugs) it was so perfect. I’ve never sat and watched the moon rise before and this was the perfect first time.
Basically everything in the city is so pure and exciting that I never wanted to leave ever…
P.S Photo creds to Gabby Rogers xxxx