The Thing About Hostels

…is that every one’s equally as unpredictable as the next. Which in and of itself is never a good thing, but at least sometimes you get pleasant surprises. For example, my two hostels in Rome and Florence were each better than the last. I don’t usually go for the very best ones, and usually just the ones that have alright reviews and a good price, so I’m not expecting Four Seasons (or even Holiday Inn)-esque treatment here, just a nice clean bed and a reasonable clean shower.

Both Athens hostels I stayed in were clean, if not fantastic. I didn’t feel like I was crawling into anyone’s leftovers or anything like that, and although the blankets weren’t exactly. Freshly laundered, if you will, they were acceptable as I was sleeping between what I assumed to be clean sheets, after all. The second place I got in Athens I had to myself the two nights I was there and if nothing it had pretty consistent internet and cute room decor.

Rome surprised me with the clean shower floor (not the walls, though at that point I really wasn’t complaining about the walls…Athens didn’t do the whole bathroom thing very well…but you see? I’m accommodating and try not to complain! Please remember that for a few paragraphs down…) and nice wooden furniture. The ceiling was “frescoed” though of course it was just a layer of…ceiling paper, I’m sure. But it was clean and manageable and everything was fine.

Florence, though not a very nice city itself, gave me the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at, with two separate “bathrooms”, one for the shower and one for the toilet, and both were clean as a whistle. The shower was probably even larger than the one at home – home home, like Parsippany home – though that may just be because I’ve been gone for seven months and can’t accurately tell you how large my shower actually is.

The beds were great and sturdy and get this – I got one nearly the size of a queen, because there was just one abnormally large bed in there and I checked in at a time where it was still empty. Scooore. And the girls (heh, story about that later) were really nice as well.

So coming off of a line of incrementally better hostels, one on top of the other, and getting steadily more miserable despite it all, Zebra Hostel in Milan was not, in any sense of the word, a welcome surprise.

I’m not sure how to describe just how…unpleasant that place was, really. I didn’t even take pictures the entire time I was there because I simply did not want anything to have to remind me of it. Which is a mistake, now that I look back on it, because at least then I could describe to you in pictures why I left.

I had originally planned to stay there for three nights. Milan, as most have told me, is not much of a tourist city, but I’ve always wanted to go, because of Da Vinci’s Last Supper and all that nonsense, so I went. I was really going to stay only one or two nights, but you have to make reservations to see the Last Supper, and the only time I managed to get a reservation was the night of the 27th, so I had to stay a couple nights longer than I had intended.

Which, at the time, didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.

Well, after checking in at Zebra, I don’t believe that I could’ve actually stayed there for three nights without being completely miserable. First of all, as a Parsippany/Bentley spoiled WiFi brat, there was only WiFi in the common areas. Which, really, ins’t that big of a deal usually, but every other hostel I’ve been to has looked at me funny when I asked if there was WiFi in the rooms, as if to say, Are there hostels that don’t have that in this day and age?

Apparently.

But I was more than willing to let that go…if the floors weren’t grimy and squishy – I could hear myself walk on them and not in that clean squeaky way. The common area was divided into two parts, a “dining” part and a “computer/living” area. Let’s start with the dining area, shall we?

The kitchen itself was mildly nauseating, as the floors were disgusting and there was food everywhere. The fridge was so close to the wall that it was impossible to close without leaning all your body weight into it. There were four cheap Ikea sitting tables and chairs, as well as a proper dining area with wooden benches and picnic-style tables. Which would’ve been nice, had the lighting been acceptable and I wasn’t worried about being eaten alive in the dark corners of the room. 

Which, don’t scoff at me, I very nearly was, as I managed to get myself at least 10 mosquito bites during the few minutes I sat there to use the crappy WiFi.

Now, the other side of the place, the living room area, had this seating area filled with cushions and this huge, huuuge shag carpet, which back in the day might’ve been nice and white and CLEAN, but certainly was not any more. It was matted and dirty looking and I was afraid to touch it for fear of fleas.

And I’m someone who willingly plops down and sits on the floor of random public places without giving it a second thought. 

And the overarching theme here, you guys, is that everything looked gray. And dusty. And when I looked at the lights overhead I could just see dust floating around the air like millions of tiny flies. 

The room itself quite frankly smelled. The corners of it were just covered in…stuff. I have no idea what the stuff was, it was just stuff. And the window wouldn’t close properly, and did I mention that my blanket smelled? 

I actually didn’t shower yesterday, as gross is that is, because the showers were just out of this world unbearable.

And I know I’m complaining from the viewpoint of a spoiled brat, but if anything, I like things to be clean. Really clean. I’m willing to give up the “really” for just “clean” on a eurotrip but “clean” is definitely a necessity.

I mean, the hostel was a great social place and I met a bunch of really cool people that I didn’t bother keeping in touch with, lol, but I was not willing to give up cleanliness for it.

Soooo I moved. I went and got my money back (not all of it, but a good amount) and moved to this mildly creepy neighbourhood (with locks everywhere…did I mention that the doors on Zebra weren’t even lockable? There were simply no locks. The only security there was was this little turnstile that let you into the common room and a laminated sign that warned you not to let anyone else but yourself into the rooms…in Comic Sans.) but I have a room to myself and the bathroom makes me want to sing.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I have the entire house to myself, lol, but it’s still only four, after all, and there’s plenty of time for people to come in.

I’m not going anywhere today. I’ve seen most of Milan already, I think, and a nice day of being clean and using a full-sized computer (they have a Toshiba for use here too! Although the WiFi doesn’t work upstairs…god, is it that difficult to rig a WiFi connection?) and studying is exactly what I want to do today.

Until later, I’m sure, 

<3jD

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