I think I may have grown out of hostels.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like the cheap rates, the good locations (usually), and meeting the people there, both the hostel workers and other guests. I think hostels are still fine and fun and great for small traveling groups – I really liked our hostel in Berlin – but for solo travelers, at least for me as a solo traveler, I think I may have reached my limit here in Budapest.
It’s not the communal sleeping, the smells, the snores. A lot of it is just that everyone is so damn YOUNG.
We can still talk and I Iike meeting them and all, but it just seems strange to me to have two 22 year olds inviting a 29 year old out to a bar with them to meet up with their 22 year old friends or some 22 year old locals. It’s also hard to have a sustained conversation with someone who’s still in college. You’re just not on equal footing – your experiences are totally different. Much of what you have to talk about stems from your work experience, and…oh wait, they don’t HAVE any work experience. You end up feeling sort of like a parent, educating them about what their life will be like in 7 years.
Or grandparent. I’ve been going to bed insanely early, which also separates/alienates me from the typical hostel crowd. (I might’ve gone to bed at something like 9:30 last night =/ ). But i’m TIRED. And I feel like there’s not much point in doing all this traveling on weekends just to be exhausted by it all and then go back to work on Monday feeling like crap. I also don’t feel the need to party so much – how is getting drunk any more valid a traveling experience than going to bed on time, getting up early, and going for a walk in a local park? I’m finding that just about everything I want to do on my own can be done during the day, and I’m pretty much done by sunset. And in the winter, the sun sets early.
But I’m finding that living abroad and traveling more has actually taught me that it’s the little things that make a city memorable, and you can’t force them by staying out late or doing every tourist event in town. Since I’ve been living in Sofia, I no longer feel such a compulsion to “do” a city the way I once did.
In that sense, maybe I am more like the retired Hungarian men and women surrounding me at the Szechenyi Baths this morning (I went early, before breakfast was even out at the hostel) than the fellow travelers sleeping around me. But I think I’m ok with that.