Saturday, July 26, 2008

Homes away from home!

This post will be dedicated to the best of all the budget accommodations that I have stayed, during all of my magical trips. These excellent accommodations make world travel possible for the young, and the young of heart like myself, who are not wealthy. The parameters for making these accommodations special are; cost, historical value, location, comfort, and atmosphere. I will list these great places in chronological order.

By starting this posting, I will go back to my first trip to Europe. To my holiday in Switzerland. This trip was my first experience staying in travel hostels. Hostel International hostels are excellent places to stay. They have very good standards. They usually have very good amenities, and are usually located in very desirable places to stay. They can also exist in what use to be a historic building. Also it is a great place to meet people and gives you the chance to make new friends. What I believe is a bonus, Hostel International hostels have a no tolerance policy for use of drugs and alcohol on there property. I consider myself a very liberal person. I do enjoy the occasional beer or nice glass of wine. However I have a very negative attitude towards illegal drug use. My opinion is; if you want to use drugs that is a person's choice. Everyone has to make there choices in there lives. If you like to use drugs for your way to escape the crap and pressures that this world constantly throws at us. Then stay at home and use them. Some countries have very strict laws in place to deal with foreign travelers that are caught with illegal drugs. Even simple possession can produce heavy fines or punishments on the perpetrator. In my opinion travel and illegal drug use simply don't mix very well!

I will profile 3 HI hostels that were outstanding places to stay in Switzerland. The first is the HI hostel in the city if Basel. This classic hostel was one of my all time favorites. It is located close to the downtown section of this historic Swiss city. Also it is located very close to the Rhine. I remember very well there was a small brook that ran from the Rhine, right by the hostel. The constant noise of running water, set the relaxed atmosphere for this comfortable place to stay. Also of note is the staff that work at HI hostels. The staff are usually young people and experienced travellers themselves. Also they are usually very expert in giving accurate advise on the city or area, where the hostel is located. If you are staying in a hostel, and have a question, ask it. The friendly staff at these places will always have the answers for you. To help you enjoy your trip.

Next is the hostel located in the resort town of St. Moritz. It opened in the summer I was in Switzerland, in 1986. It was a brand new building. The amenities, and comfort were great. Also you shared a very nice room, with one other person. In HI hostels they always segregate the sexes in there own dormitory. Except in France. Where it is common practise where they have co-ed dorms. Most hostels today also offer private rooms. This hostel also has special meaning for me. I met my excellent friend Peter V/D W. there. When I was checking into the hostel, after I had arrived. Peter was sitting in the foyer, located by the check in desk. Peter overheard that I was speaking in English. He started a conversation with me. We have been great friends to this day. That is the big bonus of staying in these places, especially if you are travelling on your own.

I saved the best hostel in Switzerland for last. It is the 1798 castle of "Schloss Hegi" That right, it doesn't get any better then that. Staying in a classic 18th century castle in Switzerland. I stayed 2 memorable nights in this fascistic place. It is located just outside the small Swiss city of Winterthur. It was a thrill as I hiked 2 KM out of Winterthur into the countryside, and then came to Schloss Hegi. Just click on the picture of this historic castle, and you will see what I mean. When I was there, this HI hostel was family operated. They usually always include continental breakfast (choice of a hot drink & bread with jam), which in included in the cost of the accommodation. In Schloss Hegi. The management also served yogurt and Swiss cheese, as part of the breakfast. That was a nice treat.

The next great placed I stayed was in Reykjavik Iceland, in 1991. I stayed in Iceland or Niceland, as I enjoy to call it. For 3 glorious days, as the last part of a 2 week stay in Europe. My home in Iceland for the 3 days was the Salvation Army Guesthouse, located in Reykjavik. When I arrived at the guesthouse. I was greeted by a very friendly Icelandic man. Sadly he informed me, that they had no vacancies. That was a problem for me. As I was travelling on my own. Also Reykjavik is one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit. Lucky for me. When I am genuinely happy. I become very friendly, and revert back to being a little kid. Never let the little kid in you die. If you do, you will stop having any real fun. You don't want that to ever happen, as long as you have a chance to enjoy your life. After about 10 minutes of explaining to the man, how thrilled I was to finally be in Iceland, and telling the story that motivated me to come to Iceland. The man said to me, "I going to speak to my boss, maybe we can find you somewhere to stay". Then he came back with great news. The man said "my boss agreed to let you stay in the dormitory room, for the 3 days". I was thrilled! I was shown to the big comfortable room. I had my choice to grab any bed I wanted. The hot shower in Reykjavik Iceland is fantastic! The hot water never runs out. It is natural thermal hot water. (N)iceland is a great place!

Next on the list of great cheap places I stayed were in England, in 1998. The first place I will profile is the HI hostel in Cambridge. Lucky for me. I used Cambridge as the starting point of my two week trip. This hostel was fantastic! It was comfortable, had great food, great location, and the staff there were excellent. There was a very nice German girl working there, named Christine. She helped me coordinate the rest of my accommodations during the rest of my English vacation. Christine recommended that I do that, as she explained that the English school children were also going out on vacation around the country, at the end of there school year. During the first 2 weeks of June. I had to make reservations right away, or risk being turned away at the hostels. I will always be in Christine's debt for her help. Which made my England trip, into a jolly good show!

During this trip I ventured north to visit the classic British city of "York". This city is a fantastic place to visit, and should not be missed on an English holiday. During my stay there I could not get a reservation at a hostel in York, they were all booked. Lucky me! My next choice was a "bed and breakfast". I was lucky again and found the Copper's Lodge, located at 15 Alma Terrace. I enjoyed staying there. I would stay there again even if I was a millionaire! The comfort, management, and atmosphere were all brilliant. Cheers!

My last 3 days of this amazing trip were spent in the city of London. I was very fortunate again and stayed in the best budget location in all of London. It was the City of London Hostel (St. Paul's). This classic hostel is located a stones' throw from the front steps of St. Paul's Cathedral. The hostel is a historic building, that use to house the choirboys from St. Paul's. It is an excellent part of London to reside. You are also very close to the St. Paul's (tube stop).