Trails and trials of the writer who walks
It’s a good philosophy not to worry about things that haven’t actually happened yet. I want that to be my New Year’s Resolution. I could have had a much more enjoyable journey to Barcelona if I hadn’t been constantly worried that the plane would be late, or I would mess up getting from the airport to the hostel, or both, and the hostel would be locked (my documents said check-in closed at 10 pm), and I would be forced to walk the streets all night. Only half of those things actually happened.
As the flight from Manchester Airport was scheduled for 4.30 pm, I had all day to get there, so naturally I travelled on my bus pass which took about three hours and three changes of bus, but hey, it was free, and there was the opportunity to have lunch with beer at my favourite Manchester place: the market in the Arndale centre. Here you get a delicious choice of inexpensive and cosmopolitan ‘street food’ plus authentic real ale pulled fresh from the pumps at the beer stall.
It was well after 10 pm when I found my hostel, which was indeed locked, but the doorbell elicited a response and I was duly checked in and bedded down by a young man who was a bit frazzled because one of his guests, without telling him, had switched from her designated bed in the dorm to one that was reserved for someone else, and the someone else had arrived not long before me. Tip: if you’re in a shared dorm, make it absolutely clear that your bed is taken, especially if it’s a coveted bottom bunk (and mine was, yippee!): PJ’s on your pillow, towel laid out, duvet crumpled. You could even spray your deodorant on the bottom sheet – it works for cats.
The hostel is called Diagonal House and I found it to be clean and quite adequate for my needs, especially the free wi-fi which is so helpful in planning the next day’s mission. Of course a hostel is only as good as the people you’re sharing your dorm with, and I wasn’t too impressed by a pair of girls who rose from their beds every night at around 11 pm, took ages getting dolled up, and returned at 4 or 5 am, chatting away to each other as though it were just tea-time.They always left the door wide open as well, inviting every passing male to glance in and check what colour my pyjamas were. They did the same with the shower room door. Heaven help any nubile young girl who’d just stepped out of the cubicle starkers to dry herself (and it was physically impossible to dry yourself inside the cubicle.) That reminds me, don’t stay at Diagonal House if any of your measurements exceed 38 inches. You not only won’t be able to close the shower door, but may not be able to sit down on the loo.
The hostel is on one floor of a traditional building with ornate balconies and balustrades. The vestibule made me think of pre-war romantic films set in Rome. The metal door, with wrought trimmings, clanged shut wonderfully. Within the façade, the hostel was windowless with rooms thinly partitioned, but it was warm and there were plenty of lights and sockets. And let’s not forget it only cost 7 euros a night.
I celebrated getting safely ensconced by visiting the nearest bar which, it turned out, specialised in Spanish ‘craft beer’ and I was amused to see that the pump labels incorporated English terms such as ‘blonde’ and ‘stout’.
No one snored. (Although I can’t speak for myself)