Most hostels offer private rooms at a high price and dorm style rooms for a low price. Typically the dorm rooms have four to eight beds in them, meaning if you travel alone or in a small group you're likely to have some roommates wherever you go. I had my first experience staying in a hostel dorm room by myself in Bern... and it left a lasting impression.
While depositing my things in my room after dinner I discovered several things. I had been assigned to a room with six beds (three bunks). The first set of bunks was occupied by a college couple from Colorado. The second by two girls from Austria who spoke minimal English. The third belonged to me and a guy that wasn't around at the time. I discovered, however, that he had found my bed a convenient place to let his wet laundry dry... which was a nice welcoming touch I have to admit. As I had just run into a cute Australian my mind was elsewhere focusing on trying to get back downstairs so I could get a drink with her, so I didn't think much of it.
The next morning I woke up in a rather unusual, but effective way. I was on the bottom bunk and the unknown guy above me apparently needed to be up early to go who knows where. After rummaging through his stuff (waking me and the Austrian girls up) he left to go down the hall to take a shower. I promptly fell back asleep.
When I woke up again I had a bit of a surprise. The unknown guy was back from the shower and collecting some of his things from the bunk above me. This meant that he was literally standing right in front of my face. He was also quite naked. "And a good morning to you too, sir", I wanted to say. Instead I decided to roll over and think of more pleasant things such as my dog dying or eating a jar of mayonnaise.
Moral of the story: A hostel might have more to offer than it advertises...
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