Tag Archives: hostel

Circumnavigating Part 4: Sydney Revisited, Canberra, and Melbourne

I’m at Pancakes on the Rocks. Again. Mildly hungover and/or sleep-deprived. I order the most embarrassingly big breakfast. It literally arrives on two plates. There are chocolate pancakes involved. The shame is heightened by the fact that I am sitting by myself. That, and, the way the waiter looks at me–like some kind of curiosity; a bottomless pit at which to marvel. A half hour later, I’m slumped on a bench near Campbell’s Cove, unsure whether the massive brekky will help or hinder my recovery and hoping for some noticeable vitamin D absorption; the sun is brilliant. The harbour bridge is just behind me and the opera house is right across the water. It’s just so pleasant in Sydney. It’s just so clean, so temperate, so… not Cairns.

Over the next few days, I spend an inconsiderate amount of time with friends, avoiding hostels by sleeping on a vintage love seat in Adam Mada’s living room somewhere near the beach in Sydney. I share the room with his magical fish and Emily’s mom, Eileen, who sleeps on the floor. Kindly, no one makes me feel like the spectacular mooch that I am.

Adam, a magician by profession, is Emily’s brother-in-law and he has allowed me and, pretty much, their entire family to invade his home. One morning, Adam plans to take us on an alternate coastal walk–the route is known only to him, so the whole crew sets out, blindly, on foot from Bondi. We walk through a ritzy neighborhood, past many bays full of sailboats and pontoon planes, up hills. Up more hills. We stop to swim and it’s lost on no one that Sydney Harbour is more notoriously populated by sharks than the ocean. Thankfully, this swimming area has a net around it, but Eileen wonders, “What if a baby shark swam through the net and grew up?” It’s so hot that we swim despite the remote possibility of a shark outsmarting a safety net.

We continue walking: even more hills. After a while, we are begging for coffee and a place to rest our weary feet. Adam promises tea on a cliff overlooking the ocean, so on we trek. Several hours later, we are sunburnt and mutinous.

“Where’s that cliff-side café, Adam?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You said if we kept walking, we’d be rewarded with coffee and a fantastic view!”

“Oh. Yeah. I don’t know, I just figured we’d find something like that.”


We are rapidly losing faith, but still, we follow Adam. When we turn up at Bondi Sewage Treatment Works, which, admittedly, does have a great view but, you know, also processes shit and is probably a little toxic, we abandon our fearless leader and find comfort in body surfing, followed by beer. Later, looking at a map, I still can’t figure out exactly where we walked. But I do know that it was almost entirely uphill and it took about 6 hours. Possibly longer.

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The Trouble with Hostels

As I sit in Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, refusing to pay $6 for 30 minutes of wifi, and marveling that the explosive check guy asked if I was over 18, it also occurs to me that hostel people are a curious type. By “hostel people,” I mean people who genuinely like them. And by “curious,” I do not mean inquisitive.

I spent the last week in a hostel–my longest stretch yet. As you may have deduced, the word “snob” has been thrown at me from time to time: I fancy fancy beers and I don’t particularly enjoy sharing bedrooms with strangers. Judge me as you will. Anyway, I am calling seven nights in a four-person dorm a personal accomplishment. I wouldn’t say it was ace, but I wasn’t miserable. Sharing a room with three is better than sharing a room with five or nine. The Nunnery is clean and provides a [sparse] breakfast each morning. And there are lots of opportunities for socializing. The thing is, socializing can be frustrating in this setting, which basically amounts to an itinerant frat house.

Weirdly, my aversion has nothing to do with screaming, sloppy 20-year-olds. They’re fine. It has to do with the fact that people who stay in hostels always (okay, often) try to make your trip inferior to theirs. I had a guy from Indiana tell me, “Well, I’ve got the travel bug real bad.” As if my being on the other side of the planet–alone–isn’t proof enough that I enjoy traveling. Mind you, this was after he said, “You’re from Jersey and you haven’t fallen in love with anywhere here?” Let the record show that I merely said I haven’t [yet] found a spot in Oz where I’d be willing to work any random job to pay the rent.

I told another girl I’ll have spent a little over two months in Australia and she said, “Oh, a short little trip!”

Yeah, hostel people are weird.

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