Hostel or Hostile

So if you’ve traveled on a budget before you’ve probably used a hostel once or twice, or completely exclusively. Since my travel started when I was young I never had to worry about my accommodations, it was my parents responsibility. But times arrow marched forward and now I’m responsible for me. So when I started wanting to travel again this new word entered my vocabulary, Hostel. Now here I am, (only ever hearing this word once before in a scary movie title) trying to backpack Europe on a budget and figure out where I am going to lay my head. One of my best friends used to work in a hostel so she finally convinced me to try it and it changed everything.

My first stop in Europe was in Lisbon, Portugal. A beautiful city with stunning architecture and delicious food and gorgeous people. I landed mid-afternoon so I had to find my hostel before the night fall, which I learned later seems to be a bit late. I eventually found my hostel named appropriately Lost Inn Lisbon. I climbed the stairs and was greeted so warmly by the staff. They offered sangria which I got to try on my third night (it was amazing, total game changer for sangria) and I was showed to my shared room. The beds were the comfiest beds I’ve ever felt while traveling, the bunks were pretty private considering there were eight of us in a room, everything was so clean, the bathrooms were beautiful and roomy, which is weird to say but when traveling I suppose that’s one of the little things. I couldn’t believe how nice it was. They offered fantastic tours, and nightly in-hostel events like “Mama’s Soup” or Sangria. The free breakfast was so good and offered a pretty wide variety. Everything was so perfect! Lost Inn Lisbon set the standard for me in terms of hostels. Plus it made Lisbon a winner in my book. I didn’t expect anything out of Lisbon but when I left all I wanted was to go back.

Unfortunately…..there’s also hostels that are more on the hostile side. When I was in Barcelona, my hostel there was Casa Kessler and it was awful. Everyone was cramped, whether it was the bathrooms, the kitchen, the common room, or quarters. I got the dreaded top bunk and I didn’t have enough space in it to even sit up. My locker was teeny tiny so I used it only to hold my dirty laundry. The staff there was unapologetically rude. They couldn’t be bothered by anything, not even to check me in. I stood waiting for at least 30 minutes before the staff finished their discussion in front of me, to check me in. This made what I had hoped to be my favorite destination, awful. Even my fellow bunkmates were rude, and I can’t blame them. When we were piled on top of each other night after night with zero privacy, I’d be rude too. Also don’t get me wrong Barcelona is a stunning city with incredible history, and who could miss out on Gaudi’s architecture? Everyone should see Barcelona once, but boy was it tough for me to love it the same way as Lisbon.

My most recent hostel experience was in New Orleans, I stayed at Site 61. This was an interesting hostel because appearance wise and location wasn’t the best, it wasn’t as high tech as Lost Inn Lisbon, but the people were a million times more friendly then in Barcelona. So much so that staying in for a day was sometimes the best thing to do. I would grab my morning coffee and sit in the common room and chat with the staff as they would come by, some would sit down with me and we’d laugh at commercials and whatever else was on the tv. It’s that damn southern hospitality it’s somethings so incredible I have even thought of going back down to New Orleans to just visit them.

Where you lay your head matters. In some cases it can make or break a trip. Now obviously always check reviews before going and remember that there will always be things that are completely out of control i.e. snoring bunkmates, bad bunk placement, but the rest can always be avoided by checking the places reviews. Use your tools, google is your friend. But the important thing to do in hostels is socialize, everyone there has one thing in common, travel. Talk about it.

Naturally Urban

Many have heard of random places throughout Japan that boast an uncommon amount of wildlife like foxes, rabbits, cats. In Nara, it’s deer. The deer have been a staple part of the cities life that without them the city wouldn’t be the same. What has caused such a high population? Legends, of course.

The legends go like this, when the city was built the god Takemikazuchi arrived on a white deer to protect the city. They are the steeds of the Gods and messing with them comes with consequences. Up until the good ol days of 1637 it was punishable by death to harm one of these deer, unfortunately after World War II they were no longer considered sacred and were stripped of the status, which I’m sure the deer themselves didn’t notice….but they are still national treasures. Talk about a demotion though.

The deer themselves are considered wild but act quite tame. They mind their business unless they want something and that something is usually always food. Shika-Senbei are available for purchase all throughout Nara park, these are essentially deer crackers. Pretty tasteless and have a cardboard consistency which I learned through trial and error the same way I learned to not put them in my back pocket or you might find a deer trying to get too friendly. But the deer go crazy and will chase you down for them, the more polite deer will kindly bow for the crackers, a lovely trick I’m sure was taught by the humans around them.

This city is a must do for any animal lover! The day I spent in Nara Park was completely magical and left me feeling like a modern Snow White. All in all if you find yourself in Japan take a weekend and go down to Nara, won’t regret it.

Inkstory

Grandma says “ You know what? It’s not my issue anymore, if you can’t find a job because of this it’s not my fault.”

Mom says “Well I can’t tell you what to do with your life.”

Grandpa says “Women like that are so ugly.”


Tattoos. That’s the subject. Currently I have eight. All beautifully placed and pretty well done. Here’s the rundown.

Serendipity on my arm. Meaning, the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way, also a happy accident. I see much of my life as a happy accident so it was a fitting word, plus saying it is fun, go ahead try it.

There’s a Lotus outline on my ribs which is my first tattoo, I got it matching with my mother and that’s about it. The traditional symbolism of lotus flowers is purity and harmony but it was just really a design I liked.

Feather on my left rib cage. Feather has somehow ended up being one of my lifetime nicknames. My grandmother used to give me feathers to play with and it ended up transferring to my nickname. Much later in life a dear friend of mine went to Canada and brought home a pair of earring for me, they were feathers. She had a matching pair only hers were bigger causing me to laugh and say “big feather and little feather!” So there it is, my nickname is feather and I have it on me for life.

Under my feather I have the words “Send me on my way” this being a Rusted Roots song, it always makes me happy for some reason and carries on with my life theme of always being on the move. I like to think that life will always be sending me on my way.

On my left thigh is one of my biggest tattoos, a raven framed with a victorian outline. My raven is standing on a heart, the meaning for this one is Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart. For the Raven tattoo, the entire driving force behind it is woeful insanity, the psychotic breaks, and depression. The negative aspects of absolutely losing your mind. This tattoo is meant to have a sister on the other leg, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. But I’m planning on getting the Mad Hatter and his tea party on the right leg to show the fun side of being entirely bonkers.

Next is my Warpaint tattoo, I got this one the day it was announced that Trump would be president.Which was for me, as it was with many a very emotional day. In a way I felt defeated, because how could such an awful human being get put into a position such as that, especially after we had such an accepting and clean-cut President beforehand. The design itself is a rose with a case of lipstick and the word Warpaint written across. The idea behind this is to say that my femininity is never a weakness but it is my strength, and everyday when I get ready I put on my warpaint and take on the day.Finally the last two have simple themes, Frida Kahlo. I have a minimalist tattoo of her unibrow, flowers, and hair on my back. It was a spontaneous tattoo done with my best friend. Then the next one is another one I got done with my mother. Her’s is a long quote from Frida, mine says “I am Simply I am” meaning to me, what I am is what I am, no tricks, no gimmicks, just me.

Tattoos are art, they are stories, they are memories that we carry for life. Yes, someday I will sag and they will look nothing like they do now. But for now they are here and I love telling people all about them. Of course people say negative things, but the best answer for them is “If you don’t like tattoos, don’t get them”.

Meeting the world my way