Before starting, here are some do’s and don’ts of traveling:
- Do: Research an area before arriving
- Don’t: Use a debit card for a payphone, unless it’s an emergency
- Do: Pre-book lodging before arriving to a city, especially on weekends
- Don’t: Travel with others who talk of doing cocaine…unless you want coke
Here we go:
I was traveling by train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen; an 11+ hour trip. One wouldn’t think that sitting all day is tiring, but it is especially so when traveling.
Along the route was Hamburg, Germany. “Why not see another country and cut up the travel time?” I thought. Eleven hours of any one thing sucks, and I didn’t have it in me to travel all night to a city I’d never been to.
I rode into Hamburg with the assumption that there’d be vacancies at the hostels. This was not my wisest choice as it was a Friday evening. The train arrived at 7:30 p.m.; it was getting dark and starting to rain.
My confidence likely came from the travel guide I carried, but with that confidence came oversight. The guide listed at least 5 hostels with their addresses and phone numbers. These and their sister hostels were all fully booked.
“Well shit”, was a reoccurring thought through this venture. Keep in mind I was carrying all my belongings…in the rain, walking around a country I’d never been to. Morale was lowering, and I thought I may have to sleep at the train station.
Didn’t think things could get much worse…until I blew 15 euros calling a hostel on a pay phone. After dialing out, the screen flashed, “€ 15.00”. “Well shit”, I said as I yanked out my debit card. A zero-second-call wouldn’t actually cost anything, I reassured myself.¹
Each hotel I checked would cost anywhere from €100-€120 for one night. “Well shit”. Morale dipped further. Staying at the train station seemed more and more likely. At the next hotel I visited, there were two travelers who sounded American (or at least Canadian). I sparked conversation in hopes to pay them €20 to sleep on their floor.
My plan actually worked. From this point on, I will refer to them as guy #1 and guy #2.
They were two Americans on business and the night’s plan was to wander the Reeperbahn; basically Germany’s “Red Light District”. Getting to know them, they seemed all right. We decided to take advantage of Germany’s beer-vending machines, and got a bit tipsy.
“Yeah, I used to do hookers, but only when I did coke”, said guy #1.
Hm. Yeah. Okay.
Didn’t know how to respond to such a bold statement…guess I still don’t. While guy #2 and I chatted of music and past travels, guy #1 was drunk. As the night progressed I discovered the following formula:
X + Y = Douche Bag
X = Beer
Y = guy #1’s stomach
Douche Bag = self-explanatory
Guy #1 then attempted haggling down admission prices to strip clubs. Classy. He then began walking shoulder-first into strangers; even telling some to, “fuck themselves”. Though I wasn’t quite sure of his game-plan, I did know I wasn’t about to back this guy in fight.
Guy #2 apologized for his colleague’s behavior, brushing it off saying, “Sometimes he gets like that”. Reassuring. All I wanted was to get back and go to bed.
Somehow we did. Slept maybe an hour until I heard guy #1 walk out to, “get high and get laid”. Hours later he gets back, presumably after getting high and getting laid. He then snores louder than I’ve ever heard. This is no exaggeration. It was though his mortality relied on the decibel level of his snoring. Eventually guy #2 made a makeshift bed on the bathroom floor.
I woke at 5 a.m. sleep-deprived, dirty, and hungry. “Well shit”, I thought. Quickly I packed my things, paid them, and left to find the largest cup of coffee Hamburg could offer.
Funny. This blog didn’t have much to do with travel, the Reeperbahn, Hamburg, or Germany. For more information on these, try consulting other travel blogs and/or travel guides.
- As my online bank statement would later indicate, this assumption was incorrect. I believe this to be the fastest $20 I’ve ever spent.