I am listening to the Americans at the table next to me. I am trying not to judge them. I am an American abroad. They are Americans abroad.
“I’m going to Starbucks,” he says. And suddenly I am very sad he can say that. He can go to Starbucks, despite this being Barcelona. I’m listening to American 80’s music.
Maybe it’s just the hostel.
I chose to stay at St. Christopher’s hostel, because of the location and the one quality of their beds I view as advanced: individual cubbies with outlets, curtains, and reading lights. Thank god I’m here for only 2 nights though. More than that I could not handle.
St. Christohper’s Inns is a chain hostel with a bar (Belushi’s) and beds in eleven different (continental) European cities. I have stayed at their Barcelona location, and their two hostels in Paris. They are all relatively the same.
Each time I’ve encountered a friendly, bilingual staff. Based on the conversations I overhear, the guests are a majority of Anglophones. The price is never very bad. The reputation is that of a party hostel and the bar gives that impression. Discounts for drinks and food are presented to you each time you check in.
The American music I view as annoying. While I occasionally don’t mind jamming out to a song I haven’t heard since I was in third grade, I also don’t need to do that here, in Barcelona, which is rich with music in Spanish in Catalan.
However the atmosphere is pleasant. Ping-pong, fooseball, comfy chairs, computers, and free Wifi that functions well are all pluses.
American culture that is everywhere I view as a problem. But is it bad in a hostel? What is a hostel? What are its functions?
While Baxpax has three locations in Berlin, they exist solely in this city. Their most chilled-out location, according to reviews on the internet and their own description, is the Mitte location. I choose it specifically though, because they have a self-service kitchen, and vegans on the go are well benefited by kitchens. Sure enough, the vibe was very relaxed. The reception is located on the fourth floor of a building with big cement stairs. There are a few armchairs and couches, a computer, and the kitchen area all surrounding the reception. My room was on the same floor. There is artwork all over the hostel, and each room is painted a different theme. Much to my delight I was placed in the “underwater” room. The walls were painted blue and included seaweed, whales, fish, and sharks. I was in an eight bed mixed dorm.
In the lounge I overheard conversations in many languages, English not being very common. Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, and Chinese being more popular. Australians are everywhere and they are wonderful. I spoke briefly with a man from Australia about his backpacking experience, classic American literature, and Australian summers.
In my room I met an Italian dude, who I unashamedly listened to each night Skype with his girlfriend in Italian. He had one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard in my life. I also met a Brazilian girl, who lives in France. We spoke in French and English.
I spoke with the receptionists about German words and how to be polite. I enjoyed spending time in the hostel because of the lives I watched walk in and out of rooms, and how everything felt easy but also kind of sad.