7 June 2007

A place to stay

One of my contacts has fallen through and now I'm left frantically trying to find a hostel.

It shouldn't be too hard to find a hostel in a major European city in summer on a week's notice, should it?


I'm not too worried, I just have a niggling voice telling me to get onto it now because of something that happened to me a few years ago.

I was travelling around and had only booked accomodation for part of the trip. I was due to arrive in a town at midnight and didn't organise anywhere to stay until that evening. Imagine my horror to find everywhere was full.

Well, I had no choice. I hopped off the bus at midnight and prepared myself to spend a night on the streets with my backpack and guitar. I scoped out the toilets in the park where I figured I could lock myself in if things got rough (it's a real party town, and not in a good way). I grabbed myself something from the late-night bakery, found a well lit doorway on the main drag and settled myself down to wait until dawn.

I watched as drunk tourists tipped over rubbish bins and jumped into shopping trollies to race down the street. I saw a couple of fights. But during the night lots of people stopped to chat. Someone gave me a chocolate bar. Someone else gave me a red string which had apparently been blessed by the Dalai Lama.

And around four in the morning the woman from the bakery came out and told me to come back to her place.

"I didn't like to think of you out on the streets," she said. "So I told myself if you were still there when I finished my shift I'd take you home. My husband can drive you back into town in the morning."

I took a punt and trusted her as she did me. I slept on her couch and the next day found a place to stay in another town.

I am constantly amazed at the generosity and kindness of complete and utter strangers.

But I don't like the idea of spending the night on the streets in a big city, especially a big foreign city. And what are the chances that anyone in a big city would invite a random stranger off the streets into their home for the night?

That's why I'm up late running page after page through Babel Fish when I should really be getting some sleep.


Stinkypaw said...

I thinnk it is "wiser" to take that time and do find a place...
You never know with those things, sometime you might get very lucky and find a great place and other times nothing. Play it safe, find something before you go. ...my 2 cents.

Maegen said...

check out www.couchsurfing.org Cities, strangers, trust, and funtimes.

Anonymous said...

wow, what a nice lady!

hasarder said...

Stinkypaw - done and done. :)

Maegen - what a great tip, thankyou so much! I've couchsurfed a lot, but I didn't realise I was part of a movement!
Another great site is sleepinginairports.com

DFP - amazingly nice.