On our recent trip to Minneapolis, Simon and I did what any good travelers on a budget do: we looked for a cheaper airport to fly into. When you’re heading to the Twin Cities, that frequently means Chicago O’Hare.
When it comes to hostels, I’ve got a bit of experience. I’ve stayed in dozens of them, and for more than 700 nights altogether. On the internet, that basically makes me an expert.
Of course, hostels vary wildly — big and little, charming and soulless, clean and, uh, not so much — but staying long-term in any kind of shared accommodation will certainly change you and your life. Just look at me: if it weren’t for hostels, I probably wouldn’t have met Simon, or be living in the Netherlands right now.
Long-time readers may remember that when I first started traveling New Zealand in 2010, I booked a pass with a hop-on hop-off bus company called Stray. I’ve talked about my experience with this bus before, albeit rather briefly, and tucked away in this post about sailing in Abel Tasman National Park.
This past “summer” in the Netherlands was pretty much what I’ve come to expect after two years.
It was cold. It was cloudy. It was wet. I grumbled and pouted and questioned nearly every day why I had chosen to live in such a godforsaken place, which I can only assume means I should get my Dutch passport in the mail any day now. (“Je bent één van ons. Veel sterkte.”)
Amsterdam: I’ve always known it’s the most popular Dutch city by far.
But until I moved to the Netherlands, I didn’t realize just how often it manages to eclipse the rest of the country. I live 1.5 hours away in a completely different province — but people hear “I live in the Netherlands” and they assume my kitchen window overlooks the Herengracht. (Because, yes: in addition to residing in Amsterdam, I’m also a millionare. Did I not mention that before?)
“This friend of mine, we have really different views on a lot of things — but we just don’t talk about politics!” Sound familiar?
Or what about this one? “This is not the place to discuss politics. This is a travel blog/make-up channel/fashion account. I don’t follow you/read your posts to hear about your ~causes~!”
Melbourne is no stranger to praise or acclaim. The city has been hyped as the world’s most liveable for years, topping lists left and right, and generally garnering a reputation as The Place To Be. There’s festival for every season, a market for every budget, and a restaurant for every taste. (There might not be a café for every hipster, but it’s probably as close as you’re gonna get.)
Most people know Kaikoura, New Zealand for whale watching. Maybe they visit for its nearby colony of seals, or to eat some super fresh seafood (Kaikoura, in the Māori language, translates to “meal of crayfish”). Maybe they’re just lured by the stunning scenery of a peninsula surrounded by sparkling water and snow-capped mountains.