Hostel Lybeer in Bruges, Belgium

Posted on September 15, 2016 in

Bruges was one of my favorite cities to visit while I was in Europe, and it’s really no wonder why. The architecture is gorgeous, the people are friendly, and Belgium itself is a great place to drink beer and make friends. I found myself doing a lot of this at Hostel Lybeer.

The Amenities

The hostel has a fully equipped kitchen. I didn’t use it, but it looked spacious enough. It was also a very sociable area attached to the lounge area. I loved sitting at the bar, and I made a few friends hanging out there.

If you are looking for free things to do, Hostel Lybeer is a good choice. They offer free walking tours and a beer tasting on certain nights.

The Location

Hostel Lybeer is really close to everything I wanted to see in Bruges. I was able to walk everywhere I wanted to go, including the train station. I also felt incredibly safe in the neighborhood, which was gorgeous.

The Room

The hostel was renovated recently, and you could definitely tell in my room. It was a very nice twin room with a sink. The bed was comfortable enough.

The Bathroom Situation

I used the public bathrooms, which were situated not far from my room. Some private rooms have their own bathroom, but I didn’t see those. Mine was pretty clean, though I think there could have been more of them.

The Recommendation

I highly recommend Hostel Lybeer in Bruges if you are swinging by for a couple days. My private room was very affordable, and there are mixed and female-only dorms as well. Just be prepared for those stairs. They are circular stairs that are pretty steep, and there is no alternative way up.

Hostel Review – Generator Hostel London

Posted on September 14, 2016 in

The first hostel I stayed at was the Generator in London. I picked it because it was close to the train station and within walking distance of some of the things I wanted to see, including Russell Square and Regents Park. Apparently it was once a police station, but you really can’t tell at all. It is a bit hidden, but signs will point you in the right direction.

The Atmosphere

I really like the atmosphere of the hostel. Employees were super friendly and helpful, and so were the people staying in my room. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the vibe. The only bad thing that happened was that several people in my room had their locks smashed and computers stolen the day before I showed up. Everybody in the room suspected a particular person, and it sort of left a bad taste in my mouth.

The Room

Generator offers dorms, quads, and private rooms. My room had 12 beds, and all the other people staying there were women.

The Bathroom Situation

The bathroom for the whole floor had just four showers and two or three toilets, and the only trash can on the floor was in the bathroom. I never had to wait for a shower though, which was nice.

The Amenities

Generator Hostel offers free wi-fi in addition to 24-hour reception. The travel shop is helpful, especially because I realized I did not have to walk around with dirty hair anymore.

The Food

I spent a lot of time in the bar/lounge of the hostel, as I was staying in a room with 11 other people. I really liked the food at the hostel bar too. Mashed potatoes!

My Recommendation

I like the Generator hostels, generally. They have some quirks. This one in particular felt too crowded, and there definitely were not enough outlets for everybody. All the outlets were on one side of the room, which made it hard to charge my phone. Ultimately, this was not a bad choice for my first hostel.

 

Hostel Review: St. Christopher’s Gare du Nord in Paris, France

Posted on September 13, 2016 in

Throughout my entire trip in Europe, St. Christopher’s kept showing up in the list of hostels. They seemed to have decent facilities and pretty good prices, and yet somehow I didn’t stay in one until the last leg of my trip. I was in Paris, leaving for England just a few days from Gare du Nord via the Eurostar. St. Christophers Inn Gare du Nord was literally just two blocks from the train station.

The Amenities

The first thing I loved about this hostel was the fact that they had pod beds with curtains. Since I was staying in a room with 5 other people, this privacy was perfect. The wi-fi was also excellent, and the free breakfast was good because by this time I was just a little bit broke. The hostel offers female dorms as well as single rooms with their own bathrooms. Overall, I felt very safe in the hostel but also loved the convenience.

St. Christopher’s also offers a laundry room, Internet lounge, discount on food and drinks at the bar downstairs, and lockers. I met a lot of interesting people at the restaurant/bar.

The Location

I already mentioned that St. Christopher’s Inn Gare du Nord is near its namesake, but it is also not far from Gare de l’Est, which is where I came in on. You can also easily get on the metro or a bus to get to the Eiffel Tower and other attractions.

The Bathroom Situation

Bathrooms are situated down the hall for the dorm rooms. There were two or three shower stalls and two or three toilet stalls. They were spacious enough, but it was annoying to have to turn on the water every 30 to 45 seconds or so.

The Recommendation

I highly recommend staying at St. Christopher’s Inn Gare du Nord. It’s clean, spacious, and safe. It’s definitely one of the better hostels I chose on my six-week trip.

 

What is Intimacy?

Posted on September 11, 2016 in

“The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love the most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that.”

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

 

My view of what intimacy means changes with every relationship. Every time I think I know what intimacy means, it changes. But this quote most accurately sums up my best guess.

To really be intimate with somebody is to see them for who they are, as imperfect as they may be, and to find some sense of comfort in that. To be able to break somebody open, dissect them, and still feel something powerful. We should constantly be looking at those we love in a new light, allowing different reflections to flood our minds even for a brief moment, never letting sight of what it is that we love. When we can see and accept those different likenesses, we have found something truly special.

It is always a tremendous risk to open yourself to somebody. Vulnerability is never something that comes easy to me. I hate opening myself, like prying open a roly poly comfortable in its shield. I stand by the fact that it is a good idea to be challenged. It’s good to be uncomfortable sometimes. On the other hand, trying to find intimacy can be absolutely grueling and demanding. When you think you have found it, it can just as easily be torn from you.

The truth is that we are often hurt the most by the people we trust and care about the most. Sometimes it’s not even the other person’s fault. This just happens by virtue of being human and opening ourselves up. The hope is that we do not let loss prevent us from trying to find that something special in the future.

Hostel Review – Garni Technikerhaus in Innsbruck, Austria

Posted on September 8, 2016 in
Garni Technikerhaus

There weren’t many rooms available in Innsbruck, but I was on my way to Stuttgart from Milan and need a place to stay in between train rides. I settled for Garni Technikerhaus because it was affordable and had decent reviews.

The Amenities

Honestly, this hostel is pretty sparse on amenities. I believe they offer breakfast for guests, and the room was pretty large with its own sink.

The Room

My room was definitely clean, but it felt a bit eerie at night. I was happy it had a sink, even though I didn’t have my own bathroom. My Internet was free and worked well.

Single rooms start at 39 euro per night, and doubles go for 33 per person per night. You can stay in a quad for 25.

The Food

The restaurant downstairs where you check in during the day is great, though a bit pricey. I loved the food, and they were really happy to just let me sit in peace with a drink.

There are drink and food machines at the lobby level, just near the staircase too.

The Location

My trip to the hostel on foot wasn’t too long, and it seemed like there was quite a bit to do in the area. I had to walk through a college campus to get there. There is also a bus stop right outside. Plus, I had a fantastic view out my window.

The Atmosphere

This is definitely not a sociable place, more like a hotel than a hostel. It feels very dark, but I enjoyed my stay nonetheless.

The Bathroom Situation

Each floor had its own shared showers and bathrooms. They weren’t very well marked, and I accidentally peed in the men’s bathroom. Oops. Additionally, my shower was the coldest one I had in all of Europe.

My Recommendation

If you are in Innsbruck, this is a good place to stay. I would stay here again, providing that the shower was working.

Links

Garni Technikerhaus website

Hotel Review: Ibis Budget Hotel Nurnberg City Messe

Posted on September 7, 2016 in

I loved Nuremburg, in spite of the fact that I stayed so far away from the old side of town. Ibis Budget Hotel was a good choice, even though I had to walk quite a bit to get anywhere.

The Amenities

Free wi-fi! Clean rooms! Free parking! Cheap prices! Security!

The Room

I stayed in the standard room, which actually had enough space for three people to sleep. It was comfortable with a TV and desk, even though their was a bunked bed over the double. It was also a little weird that the shower was just a foot away from the bed — especially if you are staying with other people in the room.

The Food

I didn’t eat breakfast and there is no guest kitchen, but there is a buffet available in the morning. There is also a coffee/soup and snack machine downstairs.

My Recommendation

There’s really nothing wrong with staying here, but if you are traveling on foot you might want to find something closer to old town. It was safe and quiet, not to mention affordable.

Hotel Review: Hotel Astoria Ghent

Posted on September 4, 2016 in

When I visited Ghent in March of this year, I was tempted only by pictures of beautiful architecture in the city. I had absolutely no idea what there was to do in the city, nor did I understand how much culture it had to offer. I chose the Astoria Hotel because it looked warm and inviting in spite of being just a couple blocks down from the train station.

Hotel Astoria offers exactly what you expect from a family-run hotel. It is quite small with only 27 rooms, but each one appears to be decorated warmly. They offer a breakfast buffet in the morning, and the employees were all very friendly. The first woman working at the counter gave me maps and directed me where I wanted to go. Later that evening, I had a nice talk with another employee.

I stayed in the Clasical room, which offers a mini-bar, coffee/tea making area, and free WiFi. The mattress was lovely, and it had its own bathroom.

Now, this definitely isn’t the most budget-friendly hotel I’ve stayed in, but they do offer plenty of amenities for the price. Plus, I didn’t find anything else in Ghent that really seemed to fit my ideal price range.

Ultimately, you should definitely stop by if you are staying in Ghent. I had a great time here. My only complaint is that you will be hard-pressed to find a wide variety of food nearby. I had to eat at the train station one night.

Hostel Review: Meininger Cologne in Cologne, Germany

Posted on July 3, 2016 in
Meininger Cologne

I had never stayed at a Meininger Hotel before, but I opted for Köln City Center because there didn’t seem to be much available in the city. I walked to the hotel from the train station, so I got to see the Cologne Cathedral and a few parks on the way.

The Amenities

Meininger offers a hotel bar, which was not necessarily staffed. Instead, you buy your drinks from the refrigerator in the lobby and pay there. The guest kitchen is spacious, but they could definitely use better stocking on plates and utensils. The hotel offers 24-hour reception and an elevator. Paid parking is available, and the hostel also offers a washer and dryer. You can also buy snacks at the front desk.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere was very quiet. I met another traveler in the lobby, a man from New Zealand who had been traveling for about a year, but this is definitely not a social hostel. If you want a quiet place to stay, this is definitely it.

There was a woman working at the desk with a name that started with G. I want to say it was Geraldine? Anyway, she was one of the nicest people I met in all my time in Europe. She was really comfortable to be around, and she gave me some great advice about dealing with Easter weekend in Cologne.

The Room

I had a single room, which was small but offered a TV and a private bathroom. It was sparsely decorated, but the bed was comfortable and I had sufficient linens. I also had a nice window overlooking the park, which was beautiful and green. I’m not sure how the dorms compare.

Meininger Cologne

The Food

I didn’t eat breakfast, but it was available from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Breakfast was 6,90 extra. They had a decent selection of beers and snacks at reception.

The Location

Meininger Cologne City Center is near Rudolfplatz, Neumarkt, Schildergasse, and Mediapark. It felt like a safe area, and I had no problem finding food nearby.

My Recommendation

Apart from feeling a bit worn out, Meininger in Cologne was great. They were inexpensive and had free wi-fi.  I’ll actually be staying at the Meininger in Berlin on Monday, so we’ll see if the service is consistent.

Links

Meininger Hotels

Hostel Review – A+O Berlin Mitte

Posted on July 2, 2016 in
A&OHostel

I stayed in two different hostels during the four days I stayed in Berlin. The first one was A&O Berlin Mitte, which opened in 2004 and was renovated just a few years ago. The hostel is in the Mitte district, which is a short subway ride from Alexanderplatz and a brief walk from the Ostbanhhof. I checked in in the evening, and the place was already buzzing quite a bit.

The Amenities

A&O is considered a two-star hotel/hostel and offers a variety of room sizes. It has Internet terminals in the lobby, which is huge. The lounge also has a bar and some food, which includes sandwiches and pizza.

The Room

My room was great, with a full bathroom and plenty of space. I was surprised at the amount of space my room actually had. It had a view of the outdoor lounge area below, which wasn’t very interesting. Still, it was nice and clean. I’m not sure how the dorms were, but my private single was great.

A&O Room Berlin

The Internet

One of the things I disliked most about this hostel was the availability of the Internet. I had to pay to get Internet in my room, and when I paid nothing happened. I had to request a refund and not have Internet for the night because I did not want to bother with it anymore. Apparently, you can have free Internet in the lounge. It’s just really, really slow.

The Atmosphere

Honestly, I wasn’t really a fan of the atmosphere at A&O. There were a bunch of football teams staying there at the same time, and so groups of teenagers were lingering in the hallways. I actually felt unsafe walking to my room because some guys kept making noises at me. They also made noise late into the night, which was frustrating. If you are traveling with a big group, this might not be a problem for you though.

My Recommendation

If you are traveling with a group, I think this is a great place to stay. The staff members speak decent English, and the lounge is nice and spacious. It’s not really a party hostel though. In fact, I would say it’s best as a hostel for large groups or families.

Links:

A&O Hostel Website

This post contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

Weekly Roundup: It’s Summer! Edition

Posted on June 19, 2016 in

When we read about stories like the Stanford rapist with the unjustly light sentence, we need to remember that there are people who help. In the same vein, Joe Biden’s speech was awesome.

I love the Solstice Canyon hike in Malibu.

I love this video about the quadrant system in the movie Drive.

I got to see the Watts Memorial in London for myself. It’s one of my favorite memories from England.

I stayed at the Generator Hostel in Amsterdam and loved it.

Saying goodbye to a place you’ve spent time is never easy.

Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Life is beautiful. Just like you.

Going to Paris? 10+ Resources You Need

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