Diary Of A Stranded Travel Blogger……Chapter One ….the beginning…..by Lara Livingstone
As anyone who knows me well knows, I loathe my birthday and I stopped formally celebrating it when I turned 35.
At the time I’d gone through yet another totally rubbish break-up, hated my job and was kinda feeling well full disclosure ….blue….very, very blue. After spending most of the day in tears, I promised myself, I was done with birthdays and I stuck to it.
However, there are some landmark birthdays that you have to recognize and mine was on the day Amsterdam shut down totally. Talk about sod’s law. There I was in my favourite Amsterdam spot, alone (nothing new there), and just generally wondering what the fuck was up with the world.
Fortunately, there was one lone member of the staff, from their launch team, who remembered me and got them to rustle up some impromptu birthday goodies of biscuits, chocolate, crisps and wine – which of course was no good to me, as I’m one of life’s freaks whose allergic to alcohol.
Did the tears flow – hey I held it together, but once I was out of chocolate it was game on with the tears and a heavy dash of self-pity as I reflected on being single and barren. My birthday crisps turned out to be ready salted – like what the hell – can a girl get a little sweet chili flavored crisps on her birthday day? Oh did I forget running out of foundation and stuck in the middle of brutal pandemic – some bloody birthday?
Day One….ish !!
Well, it’s not really – I’ve been in Amsterdam lockdown for about 10 days, stayed at a total of two hostels already, before I decided to start this journal.
Will I keep it faithfully, probably not…..I don’t expect too many events to happen that are worthy of being recounted….but if they do, you can be sure I will share them.
I write to occupy myself (in addition to other activities) while stuck in the grip of the global coronavirus limbo, we all find ourselves in.
So let’s start with the high spot – I enjoyed a brisk walk in the park beside my hostel, taking particular care to avoid the crowds, was grateful for the sun, despite the fact that the swirling wind, was making light work of beating up my child-size ears.
My low spot was the fruitloop who I find myself currently sharing within my hostel room.
For those beautiful souls who’ve asked me why I’m not in an Airbnb. This plucky entrepreneur, does not have an endless money pit to call upon in times of emergency. With no obvious end in sight to the pandemic, staying in hostels to conserve my funds, while clients who owe me money, continue to owe me money, makes sense. Particularly as you get a refund when they close and can use that money to get somewhere else.
Also, and this is my idea of pure hell during a pandemic, being ripped off for a room you’ve paid your deposit and first month’s rent on, only to find it’s already rented out; sometimes several times and finding yourself with fellow ripped off renters, wondering what the fuck to do now.
A – make your phone calls outside of the room so you don’t disturb other people, who may be sleeping or just have absolutely no desire to listen to your conversation, particularly if it drones on.
And B if you insist on watching shot em up action movies (I am holding my own hand up now), have the good sense to watch with your headphones on.
The fruitloop failed on both counts and when challenged about my being forced to share her movie in audio, despite having my own headphones on, trying in vain to watch a Hollywood classic – she told me she didn’t have headphones.
She leaned full body into my bunk to tell me this- immediately further fraying my already frayed coronavirus isolation nerves.
In case anyone of you is thinking whether I was overreacting. My previous hostel had reception cornered off, and no more than two people could be in any part of the hostel at a time, to combat any coronavirus outbreaks.
All I had shared previously with the Italian, the night before, when she angrily told off an Argentina girl, who talked on her phone for two hours straight…..loudly.
Sounds nuts, well actually I appreciated the fact they took things so seriously. It was all I needed to appear at reception with a complaint and a request for a new room, which was granted to me but only for the next day.
So I am currently in the sanctuary of the hostel bar, tapping this entry in angrily and just wishing it was tomorrow already.
As I wait for tomorrow to arrive, I have to shout out the support and concern I receive from my previous hostel Via Amsterdam – great location, amazing facilities and committed staff, who were ridiculously professional.
Compared with the callous indifference of my first coronavirus refuge – Hostelle – who proclaimed itself Amsterdam’s premier female-only hostel and kicked us out with 48 hours notice – on my birthday – which pissed me off, as I had booked myself a room across town at my favorite Amsterdam spot – Hotel2Stay to celebrate another single birthday.
I had to haul my ass back to Hostelle, sort out my refund on the spot – because there was no chance I was leaving that to chance and also to calm one of my new pals there, a very cool American girl called Toni.
Bless her, there’s always at least one or two people who in the midst of a crisis lose it. One shares completely inaccurate information – in our case it was mutton dressed as lamb elderly Russian chick and then there’s the sensitive person, who worries about others first, before breaking down under the stress of their own worries; which was my lovely Toni.
Hostelle didn’t even bother to notify us by email – a bloody notice on our beds and absolutely no support from the management in placing us in alternative accommodation. To be clear the management had absolutely nothing in place to protect its guest in terms of anything resembling an emergency measures plan.
When a drunk guy marched into the hostel, shouting the odds about how vulnerable we were as women and how the virus would wipe us out first, on the very day that Amsterdam went into lockdown – it was yours truly who physically kicked his sorry self out of the hostel, which had no panic buttons by reception or even a security standard lock door.
You know the funniest thing out of this tragic situation – they actually sent out a feedback form to us, after they kicked us out. So folks, if you are reading this after the coronavirus, and the Hostelle, dares to open its doors again, using the same, frankly phoney we care about empowered women crap …..don’t listen to them and take your business elsewhere.
Anyone that’s it for today, wish me luck with the fruitloop.
Stay safe you beautiful souls.