Youth Hostels--your stories from yesteryear

Old May 7th, 2021, 09:30 PM
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Youth Hostels--your stories from yesteryear

Any tales from your hostel stays, YHA and all that? Good-value hostels, terrible hostels, hostile hostels?
I am done. the dorm
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Old May 7th, 2021, 10:10 PM
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OMG. Too many stories to tell! (1970, 1972, 1977)
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Old May 7th, 2021, 10:56 PM
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Zebec - you are starting to do my head in with travel related threads - I have been diligently trying to put travel thoughts aside whilst my government forbids international leisure travel - not that there is anywhere I am even remotely tempted to visit given ongoing infection rates - but keep it up - it is fun to reminisce despite my head hurting.

Mostly I recall the youth hostels of South America in the early nineties - nearly every kitchen in nearly every hostel was commandeered early each evening by young Israelis (for the cooking of what, to a young Australian at that time, was quite exotic food) travelling after completion of their national service in one of the few less expensive regions of the world that welcomed them.

A mate of mine is now head of an Australian youth hostel association - big changes underway as people no longer wish to share bathrooms - the model here is upscaling and becoming more family friendly.

Can't though compete with Hershey - I was 4, 6 and 11 in the years quoted - not years that I spent time in hostels.

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Old May 8th, 2021, 05:58 AM
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Not exactly yesteryear, but my favorite “terrible hostel” story is from the UK— shower in my dorm was broken. Plugged up, AND trickling. Some nice fellow PNWers let me into their dorm to use their shower. Well, I go down to the front desk, because the night clerk told me I needed to talk to the manager for a refund. One of my dorm mates was there as well. This swarthy snake oil sales man of a manager mansplains to us silly girls about the mysteries of plumbing— says the drain was just “slow” and we’re on the forth floor, and something about pipe pressure that was so absurd, I still can’t believe he could even get it out. I’m just about to rip into him when my dorm mate says “I’m a hydraulics engineer. That’s not how any of that works.” I said “yup. Full refund, please, now.” He suddenly became very cooperative. I think everyone has met a terrible hotel manager, who blatantly lies, but that one took the cake. I’ve had bikes and cars and gym equipment mansplained to me, but plumbing?

I miss hostels. I’m really leery of staying one now. I’m usually no germaphobe, but I’m still not flying, so I can’t imagine sleeping a few feet from several strangers.
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Old May 8th, 2021, 07:15 AM
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“I’m a hydraulics engineer."
Oh damn MM, I love that!

A great hostel exists at Lk. Louise in the Canadian Rockies. They even have an adjoined cafe, one good enough to warrant visits from non-guests. Bonus: it is also very close to the pickup-point where each morn in season, a former-schoolbus picks up sleepy travelers who were lucky enough to have signed up months before to be allowed to visit Lk. O'Hara. The bus takes those lucky ones up to the stunning lake, which is inside BC's Yoho Park and remains one of the best-kept secrets of travel across Canada. Some of the best hikes anywhere (e.g. the Lk. Oesa trail, a classic).

I am done. the hostel, eh?
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Old May 8th, 2021, 07:23 AM
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Hershey, 1970-72 was part of a golden era of travel. C'mon, plz tell us some of your stories.
Fodorites within the lounge all move to the roaring fireplace there, where they sit quietly on the carpet and cast hopeful glances towards Hershey, in hopes that they will take a seat in the rocking chair beside the fire.

CC the Birthday boy:
"Where's the popcorn? I've brought spices."
I am done. the '70s hostels
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Old May 8th, 2021, 07:52 AM
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I have plenty from '72 and '73. The first I ever stayed at was at 8-10 Agamemnon Road, West Hampstead, London, was my fondest memory because I still have a lifelong friend I met there who was there from Paris with her sister and friend. We all met up several times following that first meeting in 1972 (I was living in Grenoble and hitchhiked to Paris a few times to go to concerts). Patricia visited us in California, and we've celebrated and mourned together so many times together in Paris since then. The last time, in 2019, she helped spread my mom's ashes. I returned to that hostel in '73, and actually worked there for a month in exchange for a bed.

I'd say the most interesting youth hostels I stayed in was in the summer of '73 in a middle-eastern named hostel on Warmoesstraat in the red light district of Amsterdam. The walls were all deep purple and very psychedelic looking.

Then there was the very cheap "hostel" (about 50 cents - 1 DEM) -- a nunnery in Munich near the train station that rented out beds. The downside to that was you had to be in the convent by 11 p.m. or you were locked out (we got around this!). I remember this place for 2 reasons. First, I had to participate in an I Love Lucy styled party line between the nun, who spoke only German and English, and a young Italian woman, who spoke only Italian and French. I spoke English and French, so the Italian would ask the question to me in French, and I translated it in English to the nun. The second reason was I had a hair dryer with dual voltage, and blew out the lights in the nunnery because I had it on the wrong setting.
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Old May 8th, 2021, 07:54 AM
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My only stay in a hostel was about 14 years ago in Bolzano. I had a private room that was super clean, very modern, had a built-in bed, a desk, big window, and nice bathroom. Breakfast was adequate, and I loved the people watching (and listening) in the breakfast room. Mother and young daughter, older couple, 20-somethings, teenagers. A real mixture. And of course, if you think about it very logical, the common language used between youth of different nationalities was English. Interesting experience.
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Old May 9th, 2021, 09:06 AM
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You’re all so young! My hostel experience was 60 to 61 - from Sweden to Morocco. The YHA ones were pretty dependable but often we’d find ourselves in iffy private ones out of desperation and/or laziness.

In Paris we were the only ones staying in a grim hostel in a decidedly unchic part of town. The ‘manager’ didn’t speak French or English and seemed a tad ‘off’. He was. Around two a.m. he decided to try and rape my friend. Happily, he
didn’t but we were out of there and on the wet pavement in a state of pre- and post - panic.

We headed south to the only area we knew which was around the Latin Qtr. We were sitting on the curb wishing we were
anywhere else when a familiar voice leaned over and said my name in a querulous tone...it was a girl I went to elementary school! She’d been living in Paris for a few years but had to go to London for work. We took over her room and stayed there for a few months paying the rent so she could keep the place.

It was a garret in the infamous Beat Hotel on Rue Git le Coeur - certainly not a youth hostel! but one hell of an experience for two innocents abroad!
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Old May 9th, 2021, 09:58 AM
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Yo Immimi, your 60-61 YHA period sounds like the basis for a good book, yeah? From Sweden down to le Maroc, that trail must have many more stories.
I am done. the beret
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Old May 9th, 2021, 11:59 AM
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My favorite HI hostel of all that I have stayed at is the Sacramento HI Hostel NW corner of 10th & H. Other California hostels I/we have stayed at are at Pigeon Point Lighthouse and downtown Monterey.
There are 2 hostels in Toronto #1 is the HI hostel and the other one which I slept on a top bunk on a corner that had trolleys running most of the night. There is a good HI hostel about 3 miles outside Jasper. When my train was many hours late, they left a flashlight on the check in desk with a map to my bed. That night I saw the best northern lights of my life on the taxi ride to the hostel.
There is a good HI hostel in the west end of Winnipeg. They have a room in a turret.
Other not so great hostels are in Seaside Oregon and Truth or Consequences NM. The best thing about TorC is the series of hot tubs fed by a hot spring on the bank of the Rio Grande.
Another good hostel is one of the 2 HI hostels in Vancouver. I had a private room in one of them that had a TV. I watched a World Series game that year.
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Old May 9th, 2021, 03:08 PM
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The Canadian Rockies hostels used to offer one of the best-value add-ons: the Rocky Express van tour. For a very reasonable fee, one could sign up ahead of time, then be driven door-to-door to a designated quartet of hostels, in order: Banff (orig. departure pt.), Ramparts Creek, Athabasca Falls then finally Edith Cavell. Mrs Z and I joined the tour. Our van-mates were a group of lively young Quebecois gals. They were young enough to have been our kids. Understand, this was a guided trip every step of the way, so at each of those stops there was a variety of daytrips.

Bear with me.

Two bear-oriented memories from that 21 year old trip:
1) public notice attached to front door at one hostel: "Female Grizzly #56 is now coming out of her den after a long winter. She has cubs. DO NOT leave any food attractants out! A fed bear is a dead bear."

2) another hostel (actually pre-van tour, in Waterton Lakes) had a clever newspaper ad for Banff-brand Ice vodka. That ad was nearly full-page and its colour drawing depicted a typical middle-aged tourist guy dressed in pseudo-safari gear, leaning and straining at a cliff edge to take the best panoramic foto of Rockies mountain-scape with his camera. He is unsuspecting and does not notice the large ram with full horns just behind him, about to launch itself to push its latest human victim off the ledge. On a rock wall right beside the ram, there was a tally scoreboard like the kind used by WWII fighter plane aces, cept instead of Nazi plane motifs crossed out, there were human stick man figures--12 in total thus far! Brilliant.

*Bonus Bear:
On another tour that we took up in the Adamant Mountains a week later, the guide used his binoculars to suddenly spot a huge male grizzly at the top of the hill. Our hill. His demeanor changed, "Um, no need to stampede but..." He was ushering us to move our asses back to the vehicle!

I am done. the fangs and the claws.

Last edited by zebec; May 9th, 2021 at 03:30 PM.
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Old May 12th, 2021, 03:43 PM
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Aussie hostels seemed to be um, 'eventful'. When I arrived at the Darwin one in '89, the army had taken over the place for a week. Had to look elsewhere for lodgings. The Cairns one had a VG internal network of travelers assisting each other, for eg. with the rental of underwater cameras for those about to scuba The Great Barrier Beef. The Melbun one had a unisex sauna, inside which partying folks placed booze plus chunks of hash upon the coals. The Sydney one had an ongoing issue which I understand got worse as the 90's came around: transient local laborers using the hostel for their long-term stays. One such fellow seemed to have run of the entire hostel. And he brought back a different woman to sleep with him in our dorm nearly every single night. Some of those un-shy women were hostel staff.

Swiss hostels have a good reputation, so we're told.
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Old May 18th, 2021, 02:29 PM
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