Hostel rooms can have from one bed
to over a dozen. The toilet facilities are normally separate and normally outside the room. Sometimes
breakfast is included and sometimes guests have use of a full kitchen. Most hostels have
cheap or free internet connections.
Hostels are virtually unknown in America. To get you up to speed on what to
expect, my photos from some of the hostels I've stayed in recently
are at the bottom of this page. Physically they are all different. Mentally they are all about
the same -- operated by good down home folks.
Verify hours of operation and check-out times before checking in. Hours
are often much different than most hotels. If breakfast is provided and you are late for breakfast
you are without breakfast. Even if you show at the last minute the pickings will be slim because
other guests, following the advice of one guidebook writer, have cleaned out the breakfast room and
stuffed everything they could into their backpack.
Due to the communal style of bunking in with young strangers traveling on the cheap,
it is wise to guard your goods. Never even think of leaving valuables in your bag or anywhere in the room.
Bring your stuff with you, else why did you bring it from home in the first place? You'll need to carry
some Ziploc® bags with you. When you go to the shower put your wallet, passport, cameras, etc. in Ziplocs®
so they don't get wet in the stall.
Check these sites in the right column
for further information and links to hostels in Europe. You certainly do not need to be a young
"backpacker" to stay in hostels. I am much older and I use a rolling carry-on soft-sided case
for my traveling goods. I've stayed in a number of hostels and nobody ever complained
that I didn't have a backpack.
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A nice feature of most hostels is do-it-yourself washing machines. Compared to the cost of laundry service in hotels throughout Europe, hostels let you do it yourself for pennies in comparison. This is from my Riga, Latvia hostel and those are some of my threads hanging to dry.
This is the entryway to my hostel in Riga. Notice the sign for the Mademoiselle bar right next to it. Riga is a favorite of English boys looking for a drinking stag weekend. There are girlie bars and touts passing out flyers throughout the old town.
The Hostel Old Town in Vilnius, Lithuania featured a full kitchen for use of the guests. I preferred to eat out rather than wash pans. But the lunchroom came in handy for enjoying my raw herring which I bought in the market behind the rail station. What a market that is!
The fact that it is necessary to post such a sign in the Vilnius hostel tells you something about the behavior of some guests.
My Vilnius, Lithuania hostel had plenty of bunks. There were 14 beds in the room I slept in, but I was the only customer in January. That's my 21" roll-about case. Hostels may be associated with the backpack group but I prefer to do it the easy way and pull my stuff. It is much easier to pull your belongings than carry them on your back, unless you aspire to be a pack mule.
What kind of shoes should you wear in Europe? It looks like anything goes, judging by the shoe rack at my Vilnius hostel.
These folks were very helpful and they are located right in the Krakow, Poland train station, but in an unheated area and it was January.
I found this hostel thanks to the guidebook Europe on a Shoestring. It is behind the World Trade Center, and only a couple of stops to the left on tram #10 from the rail station in Dresden, Germany.
The en suite bathroom of my Dresden hostel was sparkling and huge, and even had his and her's thrones. It even had a shower curtain, something you won't find in many hotels. There were three beds in the room but I was the only occupant that evening.
German breakfasts are phenomenal and no less so in my Dresden hostel. Here are the left overs for my late arrival and there was plenty more on other tables. But just as I entered the room a squirrely punk scooped up the last few oranges and put them in his backpack.
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