The ultimate Hostel-Survivalguide Part 3

After you found you perfect hostel here and you’ve alreasy learned here how to survive in a dorm and here about the lounge it’s time to go on…

There will be a time, when you have to visit the bathroom and the shower. They differ from hostel to hostel as well. But basicly they’re all alright as far as I could experience. They serve the purpose, but keep in mind that you are sharing them with other people. Hence, it might be not so clean and well-provided like your bathroom at home. But that’s no promblem for you, isn’t it? With the following tips you will be prepared:

My ultimate Hostel-Survivalguide Part 3: WC and shower

Tip 10: Check first!

After you moved in you should immediately check bathroom and shower. I am not talking about the cleanliness but rather about to see how the land lies. In case of “emergency” you know what to expect. Just take a look around. Is there enough space to change clothes and to store in a dry place while showering? Is there toiletpaper and soad or do you have to take it with you?

Tip 11: Don’t shower in the rush hours!

Take your shower when nobody else does. That’s usually in the early morning or late at night. There are no queues in front of the shower cabinet, no idletime and not this unpleasent feeling to hurry, because others already wait outside.

Tip 12: The Hostel shower is no spa

Anyway, it shouldn’t take you too long – with due honors to your hygienic. The Hostel shower is not the rigt place for excessive washing rituals. Five to ten minutes maximum is a good benchmark. This applies particularly for showers with a limited contingent of warm water. You certainly don’t want be the person who consumes the last hot water.

Tip 13: Take your valuables with you!

In any case, you should take your objects of value, if there are no lockers. A small waterproof bag will protect them. This has nothing to do with paranoia. If you once had to procure your passport, money, credit cards, etc. again, you certainly don’t want to do it a second time.

Tip 14: Shower with Flip Flops!

If the shower is not soooo clean, flip flops can be very useful. A little extra tip, they are also ideal as projectiles for snoring roommates.

Tip 15: Stick to the toilet rules!

If there’s a sign which says: “do not throw toilet paper in the toilets” be sure, that it’s there for a reason. Calm down, there will be a small container for the toilet paper in every toilet. Not only your roommates, especially the staff will thank you. Also other signs should be obeyed. Oh, and queueing is of course required!

Actually, it’s pretty easy, as always. Respect your roommates and behave like you wish it from other people. In Part 4, finally, let’s take a look in the kitchen.

 

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The ultimate Hostel-Survivalguide Part 2

After you found your perfect hostel here and already know how to get along in a dorm, we are going to the lounge now.

My Ultimate Hostel-Survivalguide Part 2: In The Lounge

Every hostel has a place, where guests can hang out together – a cozy lounge, a beautiful roof top, maybe a bar. No matter what it is, here you have the great chance to connect with some people and maybe find some future travel mates.

Tip 5: Don’t Be Shy, Talk To People!

In the ages of smartphones digital network stuff most of the guests will stare at their smartphone, laptops or tablets instead of sharing their interesting stories of travel adventures and experiences. It’s a real pity. My experience shows me, that many of them are just hiding behind their electronic device. So they don’t have to start a conversation by themselves. Don’t be shy! Talk to the people, ask questions about their trips, if they have already been to the places you like to go. Or if they can recommend something. You’ll be pretty surprised, because most of the people will be really happy for the possibility to tell your their story. And never take it personal, if someone doesn’t want to talk to you. Maybe he or she is really busy or doesn’t speak so good English. No worries, tomorrow there will be new people.

Tip 6: Join The Activities!

Many hostels offer some cool activities, most of the free, like excursions or meals. Don’t miss the opportunity and join it. Not only that you get to know the other guests better, also you will learn about the country and people. Sometimes spontaneous parties or a Beer Pong Tournament starts, to name just two examples. No matter what: Join and have fun!

Tip 7: Leave Your Footprints!

I never have been to a hostel which had no guestbook. Explore a little and write something down to leave your footprints.

Tip 8: Take A Look In The Bookshelf!

In most hostels there are bookshelves, where the guests can leave the books, the have already read and take another one. Rummage a little and pick a book besides your usual reading habits – a book that you never would have bought. Perhaps you will discover indeed a title that you read already wanted to read for ages. When you leave a book, w rite something nice on the first page – make the next owner smile.

Tip 9: Ask The Staff!

You have no clue what you are doing this day? Ask the stuff. They’ll give you hints and tips besides standard tourist tours and sights. You can ask about some places, which they don’t like or never would recommend to anyone. Or which places the would like to go but never made it until now. Don’t forget to tell about your experiences. To make friends with the staff will help you to make the best of your time there.

Look forward to part 3, we will have a shower and visit the bathroom.

Over to you: Which activities did you join in a hostel? How do you connect with people and start a conversation?

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Review: Jah Shaka Surf Camp Portugal Luz

The next surf trip seemed so far away. Hence I decided to go on a short trip with friends in the Algarve, Portugal. Because of all the good reviews on Tripadvisor and their Facebookpage we decided to go to the Jah Shaka Surfcamp in Luz, near Lagos.

The Algarve

For me it was the first time in the Algarve and I really like the landscape. Some fancy stone formations and rough cliffs are surrounding small bays and wide sand beaches. Located on the south-west of this beautiful country, there are always some good waves promised. Lagos and Sagres are small, picturesque villages with those white houses, which are typical for this area. Both have a lovely small and cute center with an amount of restaurants and tiny stores. Everything is very touristic but still nice.

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Jah Shaka – The Camp

The camp is located near Luz. At first you will realize the beautiful yard with its pool, a beachvolleyball field, a football table, a fireplace. There are so much possibilities to chill and doing activities. In the backyard is the camping site located. The other guests will share one of the rooms in the villa. In the huge hall there is a chimney and a TV, which is just too much in use. The rooms are appropriate, but clean. Just a little minus is the number of bathrooms – there are three of them. For the guest in the house it would be enough, but when you add the camping guests it is definitely not. Especially in the morning or after the surf sessions, there will be a lot of traffic and it will be hard to get a free slot.

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Jah Shaka – Camplife and Activities

A great evening program and nice food – this is in my opinion the forte of the Jah Shaka Camp. Nearly every evening there were well structured activities for the camp inhabitants, like some inhouse dinners, which were awesome, and some common meals in nearby restaurants, which are also highly recommendable. Even for vegetarians were some alternatives. Besides regularly yoga classes SUP tours are offered. If there are enough people interested, you can book a sunrise or sunset tour.

Jah Shaka – Food

Like I mentioned before: The meals were all good. The breakfast was pretty varied and offered all you need to start the day. Pancakes, cereals, bread, eggs, fresh fruits and yogurt – even soy yogurt, just to name a few. If you booked a surf session there was a lunch break at the beach. Some salads and stuff to make a sandwich were put on a surfboard and everybody could just pick the things he liked.

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Jah Skaka – Surf lessons

This is my most criticized point. And that’s bad, because that was the main reason for my trip. Before we booked the lessons I was really struggling between guiding or lessons. But I thought to myself, that a little bit of teaching would be good for me. You know, work on some stuff, learning something new… so I did choose the lessons. Spoiler alert: it was the wrong decision and I tell you why:

The main reason in my opinion was, way too big groups. So you had one surf guide for seven people, which was reasoned by the number of seats in the vans. Even too much, if you ask me. But okay, depends also on the instructor. At the beach the people were separated into different groups. From beginners over people, who want to work on their basic techniques to advanced. Depending on the people it happened that we were more than 12 people in a group with only one instructor. I am not wondering that didn’t work out – an individual and intensive treatment is just not possible with that number of people.

At the beach they gave a brief introduction into some techniques, e.g. turns and if wanted, a quick warm up. And then… in the water: all together! We were lucky that there were no other surf school around, but imagine about 30 people just chasing for one wave. The safety rules were not explained so this is a miracle that not more people got injured. Everybody went into the ocean without watching the others and without enough space to each other.

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At my first day my group was about nine people including myself. Our Coach went into the line up with ONE girl. The rest of us left back unattended. I paddled out as well and the coach just didn’t attend me. On the second day I got no feedback neither. On day four I really wanted to know: I paddled in just in between two guides and surfed back just the same way… no feedback at all. No comment, no word at all. I started to do mistakes on purpose just to see if they will mention something. But no!.On my last day we went to a beach and were left there for over three hours to wait for better conditions while the coaches were surfing. So why not start later?

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To put it all together: no one ever spoke a word to me when I was in the water. No hints, no suggestions, neither a “Hey, great job”

Okay, that is just my opinion. But other participants had the same impression. My friend told me from a strange situation. She recognized that one of the students was wearing the leash on the front foot – WRONG! After she watched it for half an hour she went to one of the coaches and hesitatingly asked: “I am not a surf teacher and I don’t really know, but I think there’s maybe something wrong. Does the boy wearing his leash on the wrong foot?” The coach replied: yeah, he does, but he is catching more waves than anybody else, so what???” Another friend of mine told me that he didn’t get a feedback on the water as well – just on the beach while dryland training. Someone else, who was smart enough to just book the guiding told me, that he sees no difference between the guiding and the lessons.

On the other hand, there were plenty of people who really liked the way of teaching. I’m not sure, if they have nothing to compare with or if there was a difference in that treatment. I don’t know, but for me the surf lesson experience was a huge disappointment, so sorry to say. Instead of getting better and learning some new stuff I felt like I did a step back.

Summarized:

  • the Algarve is definitely worth a visit
  • I will not visit this surf camp a second time
  • although all the trappings was really great
  • the organization was good and mood was great but
  • the staff seemed partly unmotivated and what I had come for,
  • the surfing lessons were a disaster for me

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The ultimate Hostel-Survivalguide Part 1

After you found your perfect hostel here I now present you:

My ultimate Hostel-Survivalguide Part 1: In the Dorm

“A hostel is just like a hotel, you’re share the room with other people“

I don’t know, where I read this sentence, but I don’t totally agree. In a hostel there are some special rules. But if you follow my tips you can enjoy a great time with a lot of cool people. We start in the dorm:

Tip 1: Take care that you sleep well!

Luckily I have a deep sleep and that is perfect. In a dorm there is many fluctuation – people are coming and leaving constantly all the time, maybe there’s a snorrer in the room. You can have bad luck and and end up with loud party people in a dorm. If you are a light sleeper use some earplugs and a sleeping mask.

Tip 2: Don’t try to be quiet!

I am the loudest person in the world when I try to be quiet. Not kidding – I hit my foot, I drop things or other misfortunes happen. If you are the same like me, try this: Don’t try to be quiet, move normally as you were the only person in this room. Even if someone is sleeping, this person knows exactly that he is sharing the room with other people. No one should be that sensitive or he’s in the wrong place. And if you’re accidentally a little louder: stay cool, smile, excuse yourself briefly and the matter has been settled. Others will do like you, so don’t worry.

Tip 3: A headlamp is about the most massively useful thing!

Yeah, I know, Douglas Adams said it is a towel. But in a hostel you shouldn’t go without a headlamp. When you enter the dorm in the dark, you can navigate sure-footed to your bed without turn on the ceiling lighting and you can read in your bed. It’s always good to have a headlamp with you anyway. Talking about useful things. Take also a lock with you! While many hostels have lockers or lockable compartments, but just as many have lockers that can only be secured with your own lock.

Tip 4: Below is always better in a hostel!

Regardless where you prefer to lie in other situations… in a hostel takes effect: If possible, grab the bottom bed in the bunk bed. Why? Quite simple, so you do not have to sleep in the top bunk! First of all it is not that easy to come up there, especially in the dark (without a headlamp ->Tip 3) and after a few beers it is certainly not getting easier. Sometimes there is not even a ladder. There is often no storage space for your things like a water bottle, your smartphone, etc. If someone comes into the room in the middle of the night and turns on the light, it will directly shine on you. In the bottom bed on the other hand you can put your stuff on the floor next to you and also build a visual cover with a towel. Hey, Mr Adams was also right!

In Part 2 we go in the lounge. I have some tips for you to spend a great time here.

Over to you: Where do you prefer to sleep? Top or bottom? What do you do against troublemakers in the Dorm? What are your essential gadgets?

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How to: Find your perfect hostel

For solo-travelers it is almost a must! But even when you are traveling with friends – a hostel can be an inexpensive alternative to sterile or same looking hotel room. Hostels are great! They are cheap and nowhere else you can get in touch with other travelers so quickly and easily. But: It takes all sorts. Some can keep up with any design hotel, others offer you a cozy, familiar atmosphere, others are just descent. Therefore, you need to think well before you pick your choice. Especially if you have never been to a hostel, the vast selection can be a little bit overwhelming in the beginning. That is why I show you today,

How I find the perfect hostel for me:

I start by visiting the website: www.hostelworld.com. Thousands of hostels all over the world are listed here. I am pretty sure that there is the right one for you. Just fill in the city you want to travel to and when you are going to stay there. Now you are getting a huge list with many hostels and b&bs.

How to: Choise the right hostel

The following criterias are important:

  • price
  • rating
  • impression/facilities/ambience
  • location

It is entirely up to you how you priorize these points. For me, the price is really important, but on the other hand the ambience as well. Therefore, I decide usually for a hostel in the middle price segment.

Click by click to your travel home:

  1. First, sort by the price. So I can get an overview of the local price range.
  2. Next, I sort by the reviews. A high value is a good indicator for the quality of the hostels. Guests evaluate and rate the service, security, location, staff, atmosphere, facilities and cleanliness.
  3. And then I start clicking like a maniac – I open the cheap and highranked hostels in tabs. I look at the pics and decide within seconds flying by the seat of my pants. If I like, the tab stays open, if I don’t I close it. Most times there are about 4 or 5 hostels, which appeal to me in the terms of price and visual impression.
  4. Now it’s time for the details. I compare facilities and services. Is breakfast included (really important)? Aircon or Fan? Bikerental (just in case)? Parking lot? Laundryservice? and so on. I take a closer look where the hostel is located – how can I get there, is there a bus stop or a subway station?
  5. If available I now visit the hostels homepage. Here I get to know if they offer activities. In Singapore, for instance, I was in a hostel which offered citytours with the kickboard and in Lisboa we went out for a Fado-Evening.
  6. Finally I read some of the reviews. But again at hostelworld.com. In the direct comparison I usually find my favorite.

And voilà: I have found my hostel!

You can directly make your booking over hostelworld.com. A deposit of 16% is due – the rest I then pay when I am there. For a surcharge of 1 € I remain flexible and can use the deposit for another booking in case of cancellation.

Over to you: How do you find your hostel? What was the best hostel you have been to?