I was born on 6th September 1978, in Weston-super-Mare, a southwest English seaside town about 20 miles (30 kilometres) from the large port of Bristol. My travel adventures really began when I was a teenager, when my best mate Will, who has sight in only one eye and an incapacitated hand, introduced me to hostelling. I was nineteen years old, full of enthusiasm, energy and foul language. We were off to Norwich of all places, about as far east as anyone can travel in England. It is like going to the corner of the earth and back, a distant, seemingly unimportant agricultural and cold city. We went there for a rock gig, something I had been doing for a couple of years by that point, so with our backpacks in tow, we set off for chilly Norwich. After a long train journey, we checked in at our previously booked hostel. We asked the owner to leave the door on the latch, as we would be returning late. The gig was held way out of town at the university, near the airport, but we eventually found it and enjoyed the show. Then things began to go awry, when Will suggested walking back to town. It was a crazy idea in the dark and in an unknown city, but I just followed, swearing profusely.
We eventually arrived back at the hostel and after entering easily enough, we went to our dormitory, but the lock would not open. We tried both our keys, but it would not budge. It was 1.00 am so we crashed in another empty, unlocked dorm. In the morning, the owner forced the lock, we collected our gear and left. What an introduction to youth hostelling and travelling! Nevertheless, I have continued hostelling ever since. By the way, I should mention I am totally blind and 80% deaf in both ears!
That experience opened the door to a new and exciting world and I never looked back. I would not use any other accommodation, as they are generally inexpensive and located in interesting places. There is always a mixed crowd and it is a great way to meet new and interesting people from all backgrounds. Hostels are ideal for any traveller and the Youth Hostel Association-Hostel International (YHA-HI) and other independent hostels are located in many countries, including the developing world.
I began by using YHA/HI abroad, but eventually found that they can have a stale atmosphere and I felt there were too many rules, such as no alcohol on the premises, smoking bans and curfews. The independent ones are usually much better in that regard, though they can vary alarmingly. That does not worry me too much, as I am usually only after a bed. However, I still use YHA accommodation when there is no alternative.
Taken from Chapter 1.
Seeing The World My Way
Not yet published