BootsnAll Travel Network

A Not-So-Hostel Life

Written at 11:53 PM in Corfu, Greece

In my last blog, I don’t think I quite did the Sunrock Hostel justice. I was tired of writing and describing it was kind of an after thought. In this hostel, I have only a day’s worth of experiences to write about, so perhaps I can adequately express the coolness of this place.

When Jacob and I arrived at the hostel, we were immediately struck by several things. First of all, there seems to be an inherent understanding between the hostel owners and the family that runs the hostel. You’re in their home, so you be polite and considerate and they will treat you well—very well.

First, everything you consume or do is on a tab. That is, when you get a drink at the bar, buy lunch from the kitchen, or get an ice cream bar from the store, you write it down on your tab. Then, the night before you leave, you pay for what you’ve written down. There’s an inherent trust in this agreement (granted, you give them your passport for collateral), but you could just take things without writing them down. From everything I’ve seen, no one would do that.

We were happy just to have a place to relax. Jacob passed out shortly after arriving in our room, but I quickly got ready to go get what sun I could down at the beach. As I was leaving, he managed to rouse himself, assuring me that he would join me down there once he had slathered a thick layer of sunscreen across his body.

The beach is about three minutes from the hostel. In fact, the hostel is perched on a cliff side and overlooks a sandy beach surrounding by steep cliffs. A few houses and restaurants dot the mountainside, but it is otherwise remote. A perfect little piece of paradise.

Down on the beach, I laid down on my towel and promptly passed out to the sound of Bob Marley playing at the nearby restaurant. It was great. The sun, which is normally too hot for me to sunbathe, was tolerable because of the cool wind, which blew by at regular intervals. Jacob joined me eventually, after searching all of the beach except the place where I was laying. I think it’s worth mentioning that for lack of a towel, he used his cheap sleeping back to lie on. Jacob had forgotten to bring a towel, bought one in Ireland, and then promptly forgot to hang it out to dry so that it got too nasty to use. I suppose the sleeping bag worked pretty well—probably better than my under-sized bath towel.

We stayed down on the beach until the sun began to sink behind the clouds. Jacob stayed behind for a while longer while I went up to the hostel to have a shower. Now, I have very few bad things to say about this hostel, but the one I can think is this—the hot water is broken and as a result, I was forced to take a cold shower. If nothing else, it served to wake me up.

Jacob returned and together we went out onto the patio that overlooked the ocean. There we enjoyed the sunset, each doing our own respective reading and writing. The sunset was absolutely gorgeous and was definitely worth enjoying for a couple hours. Dinner was served just after sunset, so we headed into the hostel and began to meet our fellow backpackers.

I’ve actually only picked up a few of their names, though I’ve gotten to know quite a few of them well. There are two Australian girls, Nicki and Natalie, and three people from the states, Trey and Lindsey and then a guy named John who’s traveling on his own. John is from Oregon and studied Philosophy at the University of Oregon only three years ago—kind of crazy what a small world it is. We very well could have had classes together since there’s some overlap between English and Philosophy. There’s a couple Canadian, not sure of there names, and then a girl from Belgium and a guy from Mexico. Most of them—in fact, all of them except John—work at the hostel either three or six hours a day in order to stay for free. Doing this gets them a free room, as well as three meals per day. If you have an open ticket, it makes a pretty sweet deal—you could basically stay here—um, forever.

Don’t worry though, I only have a month left as of today, so you won’t be losing me to Greece, tempting as it would be to just chill for a couple months and finish my novel. The kind of work includes everything, from tending to the garden, to making wine, to cooking meals, to playing bartender. The jobs can be a bit inglorious, but with all things considered, you basically have an all-expense paid stay in a Greece resort.

And then there’s the food. I think I’ve had more consecutive “good” meals here since my time back in Paris—possibly since I left home. Nothing like some awesome, home-cooked meals. And I’m not talking about meals cooked by the other backpackers. Sure, they do lunch and breakfast (which are still good), but as for dinner, the hostel’s proprietress takes care of that and the food is delicious. A salad and bread with oil and vinegar at the beginning of every meal (all organic), followed by whatever authentic Grecian dish happens to be on the menu for that night. The first night is was a chicken and rice mixed with various vegetables, and on the second night, it was a lasagna-like dish with eggplant and beef. Mmmmm.

Dinner dissolved away into drinking out on the patio area. The night had cooled off a bit, but it was still clear. Beneath us, we could hear the ocean washing against the sand and rocks. It was idyllic. And apparently perfect for drinking games.

This was when we really got to know people. Up until then, Jacob and I had been fairly reserved in talking to them, but there’s nothing like alcohol and games to make everyone friends. We played some card games, counting games, name games, over a period of about four hours. As time wore on, more and more people disappeared until only three of us remained. I left, leaving Tray and Lindsey to wrap things up for the night.

Now, something else that deserves note in the evening was that there was a birthday—not of one of the backpackers, but one of the kids who lived here. The proprietors of the hostel have two boys, one who’s seven and another who was turning six. This presence of young kids in the hostel adds a certain homey feel to it. There’s nothing like toys scattered around, kids screaming out, and computer games and cartoons blaring to make things feel quaint. (or something?). Anyway, so it was one of the kids birthday. This was cool for us as well as him, because it meant we got cake and a free large bottle of wine (which commenced our drinking games). The only requirement was that we sing happy birthday, and we were all happy to oblige. Several of the backpackers staying here have pretty close relationships to the family, playing with and taking care of the kids. (Let’s not forget that one of these kids took the car ride to teach Jacob Yu-Gi-Oh).

So it was a pretty late morning for everyone, including Jacob and I. I think we managed to get up around 10:30 or 11:00. The constant banging of the door wasn’t particularly helpful to our sleep. The door of our hostel has an old-fashioned key to lock it, but it doesn’t close right, so you have to lock it to keep it closed. The result is that if one person leaves the room, you have to lock them in or else it keeps banging. Jacob got up a bit earlier than me to call his girlfriend, but he then went back to bed. When we both got up, we found the common room only sparsely populated. Some of the hostel’s staff was up, but everyone else had either left or was still asleep. Jacob and I ordered our free breakfast—Greek Pancakes, which are like flour and water deep-fried in batter. Pretty damn good.

Now, the unfortunate part of the “morning” (it was noon by this time), was that it was rainy. And not just a bit rainy—what we might call a “drizzle” in Oregon—it was a full blown storm out there. The ocean below churned and heaved with larger waves than I think anyone in Greece was accustomed to. We weren’t close to the ocean, of course, but we definitely felt the impact of the rain, which basically saturated everything so that you couldn’t walk without getting wet. This is bad, you think, but actually, I didn’t really mind. I was planning on having a pretty easy day anyway, so being confined to the hostel to read my book and do some writing didn’t really seem that bad. Jacob worked on his photos a bit on my computer but didn’t get anything posted.

I finished my book, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, which I’d been working at slowly since the beginning of my trip. We (the hostel’s workers) also watched a couple movies, one called Deep Blue and another, The Quiet American, which I’d seen before and really liked. The only problem was that we constantly had to compete with the nearby computer, which constantly blared with the cartoon-like music of various video games. Some of the people staying at the hostel even went so far as to hum the music because they’d learned it so well. It made for a bit of a struggle to follow the plot, but we all were able to get the gist of it.

The rain let up a bit in the afternoon and let us catch what might have been a great sunset, were it not for more looming storm clouds in the distance. After the sun set, or rather, descended behind the impenetrable blanket of dark gray clouds, we had another delicious dinner. I learned a new cardgame, but it relied on luck a little too much for my liking, so Jacob and I split a bottle of wine and watched some stand-up comedy on my computer outside. It wasn’t long, however, before the rain returned. Jacob and I went back inside, where he worked on finishing his book, Catch 22, and I surfed the net, browsing I’m feeling a bit short on funds so I’m starting to check out some more economic options for staying in Rome and Paris. basically connects you up with fellow travel-enthusiasts who offer up their couch to stay at, or at the very least, are willing to meet up for coffee. It’s pretty cool and safe, despite whatever you may think.

Jacob didn’t last long and soon went to bed, while I stayed up, perusing the net and eventually writing this blog. The storm thickened and I moved outside into the thunderstorm where I could write with the lightning and thunder crashing around me. Even under the canopy, though, it soon was raining too hard and I had to retreat inside for fear of getting my laptop wet. Now it’s getting late and it’s about time I head to bed.

We’ll be staying in Corfu for one more night. Jacob had considered leaving tomorrow, but after the rain today, I think he’s resolved to get another day of good weather. I figure I’m going to head back to Venice with him on the same ferry because it works out to be the cheapest, easiest, and fastest route to get to my next stop, Cinque Terra. That’s about all to report for now. Cheers.

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