“Holy Hostels!” – By Alex Martinez

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Traveling to Europe so far has been quite the experience. After undergoing multiple hours in the sky, pricey cab rides, and adjusting to the five-hour time change, Ireland somehow made everything better. I learned about different currencies, heard different accents, and seen famous tourist attractions. From the beautiful cities and views to the interesting culture, Ireland was the perfect beginning to this crazy adventure.

Airplane View of Northern Ireland.
View from Dunluce castle.

With every adventure, comes some low and difficult times. There were a lot of things that I had to get used to and things that gave me perspective along the way. One of the main eye-openers for me was each night spent at a hostel. I’ve never been to a hostel in the U.S., but I know how they are advertised at home and I’ve learned how natives feel about them here in Ireland. It is safe to say that hostels are not what I believed them to be and media has represented them horribly.

These “experiences” began in Northern Ireland at the Sheep Island View hostel. The hostel is placed right off the coast and the view was impeccable. I knew prior to this trip that I would be staying in some hostels and I didn’t mind the thought of doing so. The idea of sleeping in a room with multiple strangers had me a little nervous, but I went in with an open mind. Thankfully, I ended up rooming with seven other girls on my trip.

One of the amazing views near the Sheep Island View hostel.

The room was small and had three bunk beds and two single beds (which all felt like slates of rock). There was only one small window throughout the whole room and it was placed in a weird spot on the ceiling. The room had no other source of light other than that window. It was also the only thing that provided air into the crowded and hot space. The Wi-Fi and phone service was nonsexist here. Even when I found a place that said they had Wi-Fi (in the town) it still ended up being extremely weak. It made me think that natives must have a hard time getting informed through media and the Internet if it’s this hard to connect to it. They must just stick to newspapers and their landline telephones as their source of communication.

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The bedroom at the Sheep Island View hostel.

The second hostel experience was at the  Aras Ghleann Cholm Cille hostel. This place seemed like a small upgrade (if you don’t compare it to the view of the ocean from the last hostel). I was put into a small room, but I only had to share it with two other people. We had our own bathroom and shower, which was pleasant to find out. After using community bathrooms last time, I realized how much I took my privacy for granted. This place said that they had Wi-Fi, but once again it was nonexistent. This being my second hostel experience, I still felt like I couldn’t necessarily judge or have an opinion because I haven’t been to enough of them yet, but then the third hostel came along.

Hostel #2.

The third hostel was in the city of Dublin (Republic of Ireland) and it was called the International Youth hostel. The night before sleeping here, I had spent the night at a fancy hotel called the Temple Bar Hotel, which was right in the center of the city and was around everything. So moving 20 minutes away from that amazing location was a bummer, but once again I prepared myself to accept this change with positive thoughts. When I arrived I noticed my surroundings instantly. This was different than the other two hostels; partly because this one wasn’t in a countryside location, but instead it was placed in a rough part of the city. The buildings surrounded seemed vacant and haunting. Again, I was put in a room full of bunk beds with eight other girls from my trip. The room was bigger than the last two hostels, but oddly this hostel didn’t feel right to me.

Once I explored the area more, it hit me that this was the worse hostel yet because I didn’t feel safe. The other two had its faults, but I never felt uncomfortable. This hostel was in location that made me not even want to venture outside. The one time that I did go outside for a walk in the middle of the afternoon, I witnessed some sketchy things. For instance, I saw an older white male who was speed walking with a younger Asian woman and he had his hand wrapped around the back of her neck as he was leading her somewhere quickly. Seeing this made me instantly have Goosebumps. Something didn’t feel right and the women looked a bit lost and out of it. Then within three minutes of seeing that, I saw a boy on his bike being chased by a man. The boy on the bike was screaming for people to help him and call the police. At that point, I knew that I was in a bad part of Dublin. Along with the scary area the hostel was in, the more I explored the hostel itself I noticed how dirty the place was. The bathrooms were hard to use and the bed spreads had stains everywhere. The stains looked too fresh and that indicated to me that the bed spread hasn’t been washed since it was last used.

Bathroom at Hostel #3.                  
This was the cleanest of all the other showers inside hostel #3.
The sinks in hostel #3 were messy. It is hard to see, but there was paper towels wrapped around the back edges of all the sinks as if there was some sort of a leaking problem.

Leaving that place immediately was for the best. I then realized after the whole experience, that back in the U.S. they do not advertise hostels to be what I have found them to be here. All over social media platforms like Instagram and Tumblr, hostels are shown as trendy places for young adults to stay at for a reasonable price. The reasonable price fact is correct, but trendy? I don’t think so. I have seen pictures on Tumblr that make hostels seem cool and “hipster”. They really try to appeal it to the younger crowd of explorers. The media never mention that there are a lot of hostels in the middle of nowhere or are in rough sides of the city too. They only mention how amazing of an experience it is and how you can meet some cool people along the way. Social media gives a false representation of what to expect from a hostel. Circumstances would be different if I knew what I was really walking into, but social media fooled me.

Even one of the cab drivers asked a group of  us why we were staying in a hostel while visiting Dublin. He said that the hostels here are beyond disgusting and are not that safe. He made it seem like we should have known this information or that this was a such an obvious thing. Hearing a local say that was incredibly eye opening. I gained a new perspective on how the U.S. views hostels vs. how Ireland natives feel about them. America see’s them as cute and “in-style”. And Ireland sees hostels as a big dump. It’s weird to think about how one country can make something look better than it is, and another can see things as they are. I’m not certain all hostels are similar to the ones I visited, but from my own experience I believe that media has been playing a big trick on us.

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