The worst hostel in the world is located in Edinburgh. In a shabby building on Prince’s Street, up a interminable flight of stairs is a dirty, drafty, smoky, flea infested place to rest your head for 11GBP per night. My friend Matt and I were traveling around the UK together and arrived at dawn from an overnight bus from London. The friendly tourist agent at the coach station directed us to a nearby hostel and we happily scampered off without asking questions. All hostels are the same, we figured, and by that point in the trip we were well-seasoned backpackers. Or so we thought. We stayed in room H and all the beds in this room had names that began with the letter H. I wish I was making this up, but the name of my bed was “Hell.” That should have been a sign. The bedding clearly had not been changed, the showers were drafty and had only lukewarm water. I got sick from spending too much time in the ashy, smoky, lounge area trying to use the coin operated computers to book a flight to Dublin. There were no lockers, no locks on the door. Twice we caught people fiddling with our bags. Nothing was stolen, but I got to be paranoid enough to sleep with my purse under my pillow. Edinburgh itself is a gorgeous city; we were simply dazzled by the castle, the streets of the old town and the natural surroundings. I would love to return to Scotland, but just not as a poor-as-dirt backpacker. Continue reading →
All of us have experienced that dream vacation that quickly turns into a nightmare. Whether it’s losing your luggage, getting lost in a new city or offending someone inadvertently, these hiccups happen to the best of travelers. Our San Francisco office has compiled a list of their worst travel stories, and we want to share them with you. Enjoy!
Alex, Czech Republic
Only a real man can pull off sunglasses and a dainty cigarette.
How did I ever catch that plane? I’m sure everyone asked that. But then, why put a freshly-minted 19-year-old in charge of anything? We had stayed up till 5 the night before spending the last of our kroner at the basement bar. Chris and I unknowingly split a pack of Moons (the Czech version of Capris) and, armed with our dainty smokes and discounted bottle of something local and astringent, carried on in the alley till dawn. We retired shortly after. We all had places to be. Three hours late to wake up and with a plane in an hour and a half, I sprinted through my formative hangover to sound the alarm for anyone who decided to rely on me. People a decade my senior leapt balletically through their hostel doors, hurriedly jamming their things into suitcases, cursing, moaning, some drooling just a bit. Quick goodbyes happened before leaping onto the bus with my over-weighted luggage (who doesn’t need an entire sound system for a one month trip) and an anxious bus ride to the far-off airport on the edge of town. Somehow, struggling with a 70-pound suitcase with broken wheels, I made it to the gate, sweating out whatever remained of last night’s drink that hadn’t been digested yet.“Sir. Have you been drinking?”“No!” I insisted “I mean, not since I woke up!”But it was a Czech airport, at six in the morning, with a prop plane full of Chinese tourists catching a connection somewhere. Dawn was breaking and no one was truly awake. Continue reading →