Random Observation/Comment #158: I am a very trusting (and hopefully, trustworthy) person. I do not stupidly leave my things unattended, but I don’t expect the bad traveling nightmares to actually happen in real life. Things have disappeared from me that I love, but the reasons for their disappearance have been patched and fixed to prevent future disappearances. However, more and more evidence from talking to friends and random travelers, have scared me into a bit more of a cynic. In one case, a traveler left his jacket on a couch in a drunken state and had his camera and iPod stolen from him the next day. Granted, this was stupid to leave important things unattended, but I could see it happening. In another case, a traveler used his credit card at a store and had the numbers stolen by an employee. Although he didn’t have to pay the ridiculous credit spending, it completely ruined the start of his vacation. I’m not quite sure if any level of planning can prevent this from happening. I wouldn’t even know how to “be more careful” with these situations. Let’s just hope my karma gauge has more optimistic readings.
Within my 7 days in London, I stayed 4 nights in St. Christopher’s Village near the London Bridge station and 3 nights in International Student House near Regents Park. When I booked the rooms, I decided to choose the cheapest one in the best location first, and then pick a little bit more expensive single room to keep my larger luggage safe. I found that the first four nights were ten times more fun than the last three. Besides playing ping pong for 3 hours on Sunday (I’m so lucky with these things), I was tempted to head back to the hostel and meet new people.
Don’t get me wrong, I was more than happy to spend some time alone and write some entries, but it was a large switch in my personality. As a social creature, my inner beast was being caged within those four walls. I considered the many advantages of having my own room, but there was that wagging finger that told me to enjoy the solitude. In that short amount of time, I allowed myself to pursue my personal interests. I collected some new beer bottle-caps and enjoyed the museums and parks in the area. I recommend at least one day sitting back and enjoying the vacation in your own way. In no way was I bored; there was so much to think about… The Terry Pratchett audio-books also provided a nice background. It was also a good time to catch-up with the German and Japanese Pimsleur learning.
St Christopher’s Village has a wonderful staff with a nice connection to Balmer’s bar next door. There’s free wifi, a movie room, a chill room, a nice roof and Jacuzzi during the summer, and a basement “club” section. There are shared bathrooms and showers, but the rooms come with locks. Lockers are available, so bring your own deadbolt to keep things safe. Most of the rooms are mixed 6-bed dorm style, which has been the best way to meet people. A popular conversation starter from “Andy in Interlaken” is “we’ve been sleeping together for a few days and I don’t even know your name.” I think this is tip-toeing the line of comfort, awkwardness, and appropriate etiquette for first impressions, but that’s why it’s so clever.
The International Student House, while it comes with very nice living arrangements, is not a major hang-out place. I did not drink during my stay, by personal preference, but I don’t think there would have been a good crowd regardless. The ping pong was definitely a great little discovery, which evened out the other days, but overall, I would rather spend less money partying it with other hostel lovers.
~See Lemons Prefer Hostels