My worst night in a hostel happened over twenty years ago. I’ve done a lot of traveling since then. To maintain a record for that long you have to go beyond the standard dorm-room annoyances. Beyond snoring and body odor. Beyond bad breath and bed bugs. I’m talking big leagues. I’m talking vomit.
The place was called The Palm and I liked it because of its location- directly across from the Damascus Gate, allowing quick access to the Old City. And a fabulous city it was. I loved Jerusalem’s crowded, covered streets and bustling markets, the smell of falafel frying, the historical and religious sites around every corner. As far as I could tell, the city was only lacking in one thing – drinking establishments.
Not completely lacking. There was one good pub – The Arizona, which had a nice garden, decent food and tasty brews. Travelers, including me, enjoyed hanging out there. However, when I saw the sign proclaiming that the following night they would be offering two-for-one pints to celebrate their anniversary I felt dismayed. This was exquisitely bad timing.
Bad timing, because I had signed up to go on tour of Masada on the day that would follow that night. Masada is many things. It is the site of heroic hold out against a Roman siege which ended in the mass suicide of 960 Hebrew families. It is an engineering marvel, a fortified palace built for Herod the Great. It is also a big rock (about 400 meters high) in the middle of a hot desert. Climbing is best done early, before sunrise.
So my tour would be picking me up from the hostel at about 3:30 AM, with a full day of activities planned (climb the rock to see the sunrise, tour Masada, proceed to the oasis park of Ein Gedi and then on to to the Dead Sea, stop at Jericho on the way back to Jerusalem). I thought it best not to be hung-over.
So I didn’t go to the anniversary celebration at the pub. Predictably, others did. The dorm was over-crowded and I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor between two bunks. Sometime in the middle of the night, the dude on the top bunk began vomiting over the side of his bed. Someone yelled at him to get up and go to the toilet, but he remained completely oblivious and kept retching. This was quite a height for vomit to plummet. It smelled. It splashed. It came with gruesome sound effects. Fortunately for me, he chose to hang is head over the left side of the bunk and I was on his right. Still…
When I got back to the hostel in the late afternoon the mess had been cleaned up and there were only two people in the dorm. One of them was The Puker, a skinny British guy with a ruddy face and long, red, curly hair. “Oh, man! You were puking all over the place last night,” his friend said.
The Puker shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh well. I didn’t get any on me.”
I picked up my stuff and moved to a place were I would have my own bunk – on top.
Tell us about your worst night in a hostel?