Why I Continue to Choose Hostels over Hotels

Because clean sheets are overrated and bed bugs need lovin’ too!

I’m kidding, jeeeeez. The common misconception is that hostels are dirty, dingy, and dangerous butttttt that couldn’t be further from the truth! I mean, sure, sometimes you check in to a hostel in San Diego to find that your new roommates have locked you out in an effort to finish cleaning up vomit on the floor so that you don’t get a “bad impression” of them. And then *click* the door unlocks and you’re greeted by the strong smell of limes, an extremely intoxicated 20-something, and a teen cleaning up the mess. You spot the empty bottle of tequila, a condom wrapper, and Flaming Hot Cheetos on the nightstand. All this and it’s ONLY 7 FUCKING POST MERIDIEM.

Ah, hostel life, you sigh, before muttering, I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS! and you hop back down to reception where you inform Bradley that I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS! and he skeptically asks, how old are you, and you say, 27, and he failingly tries to disguise his surprise as he agrees that, yes, maybe you are too old for this, before assigning you a new room.

TRUE STORY.

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Never has there been a more appropriate gif.

And, yet, I continue to choose to stay in hostels because that’s where all the hella cool people are. Minus the vomming folks but I’ve been there too so, like, whatever.

From the 61-year-old man from the South Bronx who stayed at Hostel Fish and kept calling me ‘sista’ after learning that I too am from New York to the 30-something working there who once walked ACROSS AFRICA in the name of clean water, hostels are filled with the stories of incredible travelers, wanderers, and curious characters. 

My most recent stay at Hostel Fish in Denver took me back to my first time staying at a hostel four years ago. Remember that time I met the coolest people who crammed me in a car and invited me to venture to Canada with them? On that same trip, I ended up ziplining img_12303and hitchhiking. The great thing about staying in a dorm-style hostel is that it serves as an endless revolving door of awesome people. Most recently in Denver, one of my roommates was 23-year-old Michelle from Reno, NV. It was her first time staying in a hostel and she reminded me so much of myself– I too was 23 when I embarked on my first solo adventure and stayed at a hostel for the first time.

Upon meeting me, Michelle asked if I was going on the hostel’s pub crawl and if I was “old enough to drink.” I literally cackled. When I told her I was 27, she was like, “I THOUGHT YOU WERE, LIKE, 19.” Ah, jeez. 

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This is my face when people think I’m 19. Also, my face when old men “accidentally” moon me. Also, my face 98% of the time.

She seemed a little nervous and unsure– all feelings I had when traveling alone for the first time. Meeting her was like meeting myself all over again and being able to observe how much I’ve grown as a traveler over the years.

Then, there was the old man also staying in our room who “accidentally” mooned me as he was getting dressed one morning. There was the charming 30-something fella with the “#1 Dad” necklace, worn proudly around his neck. We bonded at the bar over our mistakes in marriage and our mutual desire to travel and explore as much as we can.

Staying at a hostel gives you the opportunity to meet folks from ALL walks of life. Back in Denver, I also met Max from Ukraine. He’s a smiley dude working at Hostel Fish and his general excitement about life is magnetic. He told me he feels like he’s exactly where he needs to be at the moment and it was hard not to believe him. Another incredible human working at Hostel Fish is Diego. An extremely talented artist, yoga teacher, and wanderer, this Colombian native is so inspiring. We talked for a while and he was kind enough to show me a bunch of his sketches, complete with stories to go along with each. Check out his work here! He also has the most unique handwriting of anyone I’ve ever met and keeps journals just to practice his penmanship.

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If you’ve never stayed in a hostel, I cannot recommend it enough– especially if you’re traveling solo! In fact, I still keep in touch with plenty of folks I’ve met in hostels throughout the years. From Laura (we met in Berlin) who lives in the UK to Shelbie, Dalton, and Alan…all of whom I met when in Seattle, I have a growing network of fellow adventurers around the world now!

Here’s a list of all the hostels I’ve been to in my travels– feel free to message me if you want more info about the hostel life!

States:

  • HI Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
  • Green Tortoise Hostel, Seattle
  • Samesun, Vancouver
  • HI Downtown Hostel, Vancouver
  • Hostel Fish, Denver
  • Lucky D’s Hostel, San Diego

Overseas:

  • Kabul Party Hostel, Barcelona
  • Singer109 Hostel, Berlin*
  • The Circus Hostel, Berlin
  • Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, Denmark
  • Budget Backpackers, Edinburgh
  • Makuto Hostel, Granada
  • Kex Hostel, Reykjavik
  • The Yellow Hostel, Rome

*I would NOT recommend staying here if you’re looking for a fun hostel where it’s easy to make friends. I stayed here for one night in Berlin before switching to The Circus Hostel where I had a MUCH better experience. That being said, Singer109 was really clean and well-maintained…just had ZERO atmosphere and felt more like a hotel.

And that’s all for now folks! Time to explore more of Sunny D before reluctantly heading back to Michigan.

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

Dear Denver…

Ah jeez. Just when I had my heart set on moving to Montana, I had to go and venture to Colorado. Another beautiful state with an abundance of snow-capped mountains. 😍

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Sure, folks come here for the good ol’ cannabis…in fact, one of my hostel roommates who introduced himself as “Ty Ty” said:

“I just travel to the weed states. I’m going to Seattle next.”

God, I love hostels.

Anyways, I’ll pass on the pot. Not my thing. Luckily, Denver is so much more than dispensaries…though Hostel Fish is conveniently located NEXT DOOR to one if that’s your thing. No smoking IN the rooms though unless you feel like handing over $150. Think of all the edibles you could buy with that! I actually have no idea. Anyways…

I decided to jet to Denver because it’s a hella cheap flight from Detroit.

Like, just 50 smackaroonies. Wooooooo!

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If you’re traveling solo, you should ABSOLUTELY stay at Hostel Fish.
Weird name, right? Denver’s not known for fish…wait, what about rocky mountain oysters?

NO, THOSE ARE TESTICLES. DON’T LET THEM TRICK YOU.

Okay, okay, the owner’s last name is Fish. The hostel is NOT fish-themed or anything. Nothing fishy about it.

If you’re looking to come to the Mile High City (named for its elevation not the pot stuff jeeeez you guys!), you may come across the 11th Avenue Hostel. DO NOT STAY THERE. I’ve heard that it allegedly smells and there may or may not have been a thrash of bed bugs. I can’t say for sure, but, like, why take a chance?!

I’ve stayed at tons of hostels both in the states and in Europe– Hostel Fish has BY FAR the friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered. Like, they actually hang out with the guests and every single one of ’em has an interesting tale to tell. Plus, the rooms are themed, clean, and – holy heck! – the beds are legitimately COMFY.

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There’s a fun bar area (guests get a free drink each night!) and a kitchen too. Every Thursday, the hostel hosts a pub crawl – all the main bars are literally around the corner from Hostel Fish. I went on the pub crawl and tbh the highlight was spotting this WOLF at one of the bars:

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Her name was Aspen and she was SUCH a mush and I spent a solid 25 minutes sitting on the floor petting her.

The hostel is also located above a super cool restaurant/bar/dance joint called Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Even the locals recommend this spot, so you know it’s good. We actually ended our pub crawl at Ophelia’s and had a super fun time on the dance floor.

Much more to say about Denver but this gal needs to get her butt up for an early flight to CA tomorrow! 

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

Berlin: Where to Stay and What to Do in This Weird Paradox of a City

Berlin: Home to currywurst, spacious sidewalks, tons of graffiti art, a stellar metro system, and grunge fashion.

I spent four nights in Berlin and, at first, I was not a fan.

The city felt cold, dreary, and unwelcoming.

I thought the Berlin Wall had been knocked down…but Berliners still seem to have walls up of their own… especially to block out Americans like myself. 😌

Of course, first impressions can be rather misleading. My first night in Berlin, I stayed at the Singer109 Hostel. It sucked. Do not stay there.

The folks at reception made me feel as though every question I asked was the biggest hassle ever and there was absolutely zero atmosphere. Though, I must say the rooms were rather nice…mine had an ensuite bathroom which is a rare find for most hostels. But still…not worth staying there!

So, where to stay instead?

I followed the advice of The Hostel Girl and checked into The Circus Hostel for my last three nights in Berlin. The atmosphere was night and day. I immediately felt better about Berlin and was excited to see what the city had to offer!

Ok, what should I DO in Berlin?

As I usually suggest…go on a walking tour! Similarly to the hostel in Copenhagen that I stayed at, The Circus offers free walking tours TWICE daily! So, if you sleep in and miss the 9:45 tour, you can always join the one at 1:15.

Our tour guide, Kyle, offered up tons of history about Berlin. For me, the highlight was seeing the hotel balcony (Hotel Adlon) where Michael Jackson dangled baby Blanket from all those years ago. 😂 I had no idea that was in Berlin…RIP MJ. 💙

Pop culture aside, Berlin is home to a lot of dark times in European history. The tour included a stop by the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial. Selfies are not allowed (for obvious reasons) and, while you can sit on any of the 2,711 stones, folks should refrain from standing on them.

So, why is Berlin a “paradox”?

Well, Berliners like to think they’re super progressive and forward-thinking…but here are some weird things I learned about Berlin while visiting:

Most of the city is cash-only.

In fact, cash is still the means of payment in some 80 percent of point-of-sale transactions in Berlin! According to Bloomberg, “the use of cash has, to a surprising extent, become a proxy for profound concerns about trust, privacy, and the role of the state.” So, be sure to carry euros ALL the time!

Clubs will reject folks who dress nicely.

Heels, suits, colorful dresses…not cool in Berlin. Even locals suggest wearing all black, sneakers, and anything “grungy.”

If you don’t know your DJs, GTFO.

Again, according to locals and other tourists I chatted with, music is a BFD in Berlin. Bouncers will ask you what DJ you’ve come to see and, if you don’t have an answer, you can hit the road. Apparently, they do this to weed out tourists from the true house-music loving locals…but I think it’s rather unwelcoming. 🤔

For a city that claims to be so accepting and open, the folks here seem to follow an odd set of rules. Someone I met recently said Berlin reminded them of NYC and, being the native New Yorker that I am, I don’t agree. In all my travels, there is no city more open and welcoming to ALL then good ol’ NYC. 😍

Disclaimer: I didn’t hit the clubs while in Berlin…folks in the city START partying at 6AM and also drugs are a big thing (not surprising with the hours they keep), so… not really my scene.

HOWEVER, there was plenty I eventually learned to love about Berlin and I’ll write all about it in my next post!

Have you been to Berlin?! What’d you think? Let me know!

P.s. If you’re not already following me on Instagram, do it now! I’ve been posting plenty of entertaining stories…including a rather claustrophobic experience in Berlin — more on that in the next post!

Will you run away with me?

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie

Eating Danish Danishes and Other Things: 48 Hours in Copenhagen

The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen is home to over half a million folks! It’s a beautiful city with colorful houses and tons of history! Denmark is considered a part of Scandinavia, along with Sweden and Norway.

Thinking of running away to Copenhagen?! Read on for my tips!

Where to stay?

If you’re looking for a true hostel experience, you should definitely stay at the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. It was Monica’s first hostel experience and we arrived late on a Monday night, walking through the PACKED bar/reception area…

“Are all hostels like this?!?” – Mon

Not all hostels are as lively as CPH Downtown, but most have cool vibes! (Except for Singer109 in Berlin…more on that in a future post…but heads up – don’t stay there!!)

What to do?

Copenhagen has a lot going for it:

  • Friendly folks
  • Very walkable, flat streets
  • An abundance of pastry shops

However, this city is expensive!! So, I recommend going on a FREE walking tour through a company aptly named “Copenhagen Free Walking Tours.” 😂

If you do this tour, try and get JAROD as your guide! He is hilarious and wonderful and, like most tour guides, not a native Scandinavian!

He took our group all around the city for about three hours! Mon and I learned that most of Copenhagen’s history involves buildings burning down, being built back up, and burning down again. Whoopsie! 😅

If you’re new to a city, walking tours are a great way to not only learn a bit of history but also to get yourself oriented and discover other things to do while you’re there!

After the tour, Mon and I went to a great outdoor/indoor food space called Torvehallerne. We each had a delicious taco and then a kimchi pancake that was SO good!

^ I tried it…not that hot.

In the same market area, we came across a game of Petanque…known to most Americans as bocce ball. The guys running it asked if we’d like to play a game…so, of course we joined in!

We ended our first day in Copenhagen at the bar in our hostel where we made some French friends. 💁

The second day, Mon and I walked around the second oldest amusement park in the world! It’s called Tivoli and it’s right by the CPH Downtown Hostel.

After that, we wandered around a bit more and went for a canal boat tour. ⛵

On this tour, I learned that the houses along the canal were painted so distinctly because they weren’t numbered back in the day! Mail carriers would literally deliver mail simply by knowing who lived in what colored house! 😂

Finally, for our last day in Copenhagen, I insisted we get Danishes! Mon and I ended up meeting fellow Americans and the four of us went together. Sooo worth it. 😍

Such a fun and beautiful city! Have you been? Are you planning a trip? Let me know!

Will you run away with me?

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie