Tag Archives: educate yourself

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.

Multi-Cultural Shock

So where are you from?

It’s a question that has both plagued me and amused me since before I can remember and the answer usually starts like this, “well……so I’m Puerto Rican mixed….Dad’s German and Irish, hence Shannon Murphy ya know….but I was born in Puerto Rico by a Puerto Rican mother, raised in Pennsylvania, as you can hear by my lack of accent, and I’ve always been back and forth my whole life”. Most people have follow ups,

“So how’d you get into the country?” Well by row boat duh.

“Are you here on a visa?” Baby I’m everywhere with my visa, and mastercard, and amex….I should really work out my credit card debt…..

“So are you worried about Trump?” Aren’t you?!

But I digress. Point is, home is tricky for me. Am I home in Pennsylvania with my mother and sister? Where there’s a Wawa on every corner and we chant for the birds? E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!! Or am I home when I am among the Islanders? Reminding you we are Boricua pa’que tu lo sepas, chirping with the coqui’s and filling our tummies and souls with cocina criolla.

Moving to Puerto Rico is about as easy as walking into your favorite store on payday, you can have anything and everything you want. The people will welcome you with open arms and even more open kitchens. You are welcomed with a “Siéntate vecino, dímequé pasa?” You might be put off by how loud everything is but let me tell you joy is not a quiet emotion. All the noise, the reggaeton, the bomba, the yelling, baby that’s all audible joy, that’s my people. This culture is sweet and easy and to the point.

Moving to Pennsylvania on the other hand is like walking into a Wal-Mart that has one T.V. on Black Friday and you only have 50 cents. Since moving back to PA I’ve learned a couple of things.

~DISCLAIMER~ Just because I say this doesn’t make this all true, this isn’t all Pennsylvanians, this isn’t all Americans. But this is my perception, and my perception is my reality.

So I’ve learned in PA, what matters when you talk to people?

Is it my grammar? Not really, I speak a sancocho mix anyway so that doesn’t matter.

Is it my stories? Cause I have a quite a few, want to know what the docks in Lisbon look like in summer? Or how I hung my delicates out of a Paris Apartment window to dry? How about I delight you in the story of how I turned Jimmy Buffett and his entourage away simply because I didn’t know who he was and I didn’t have time to care.

No, none of those? Catch me on a drunk day, you’ll have to hear them no matter what.

But again, what matters when you talk to people in Pennsylvania? Specifically in it’s suburban hell. Here’s some of my prime examples. “What university did you go to? Because my daughter went to a much better one.” ($105,200 at least)

“Oh, you stay in hostels? I could never sleep in a room with a bunch of strangers, that’s for people who don’t work enough to afford a nice vacation. My husband though just went to Los Angeles for an important meeting but he’s going to spend the week there for fun.” (FYI, he’s probably cheating on you. Also, $2,039 for the flight alone)

On a lucky day when I’m eavesdropping I also might hear something along the lines of, “Well I just had to have the new Tesla, my Mercedes is old” ($69,200)

Now what is my point in all this? Ultimately it is to show the insane consumerism in suburbia, and how it is absolutely ludicrous to think that name-dropping one’s “superior” or name brand items is completely asinine and that shade of green you may see me turn isn’t envy, it’s disgust. Am I saying that if you are financially capable that you should not have nice things? No. But to define your entire personality around your materialism and narcissism is in short. Obnoxious. These are the quality conversations I have had the “joy” of having since moving to housewife county.

This is nothing short of a culture shock to me. Yes, I was raised in the states for quite some time, but somehow this culture of grasping and clawing for the newest, most boujee item is not part of me. As I write this, it’s on a broken tablet/computer, I don’t even wish for an Apple Computer because why. My computer now is working the same way for me that a Mac would.

The weather is cold in Pennsylvania and read the disclaimer if you’re offended, but the people are close to the same. Yes, there are good people here but unfortunately my interactions with them have been far and few. So was I raised in Pennsylvania, yes. Am I a Pennsylvanian, a Philadelphian, a yankee? Hell to the no. I am Puerto Rican, straight from my lips, Irish looking as they may be. I am Boricua, straight from the colorful Caribe to your gated community. Enjoy my stay.

And between you and me, I am legal, educate yourself.