One day, when I get old, will I hate something I used to love dearly? Will I become jaded or just realistic?
These are questions I asked myself when I recently saw the Kabul Hostel listed among The Guardian‘s 10 Best Hostels in Barcelona.
I have stayed at Kabul on two occasions: Once, when I was 22, on my first backpacking trip to Europe, and a second time, when I was 30, on my first backpacking trip with — get this — my brother and my parents. No joke. My parents are cheap. They didn’t want to stay in a hotel. They wanted an “authentic” backpacking experience. They were also the only people over 30 in the entire building, cleaning staff included.
The receptionist took pity on us. He at least put is in a room with only four bunks; our family had our own room.
The party atmosphere was a shock not only to my parents, but also to the young people we met in the hostel bar.
“We’re here with our parents,” my brother told an American girl we met. “You’re fucking kidding, right?” she said. “Nope,” I said. “They’re upstairs sleeping, or trying to sleep. They have earplugs.” People were incredulous.
“Why on Earth would your parents want to stay here?” she asked.
“Well, I stayed here years ago and loved it,” I explained. “The location is perfect and it’s dirt cheap. I warned my mom that it would be a little crazy and the funny thing is, her eyes lit up when I told her that. I think she wanted a glimpse of what the young backpacker scene is like.”
We asked for it.
“A Barcelona institution in the best possible sense, the recently renovated Kabul has been housing backpackers since the pre-Olympic days, before the sailors and prostitutes patrolling the nearby Rambla were replaced by Geordie stag parties,” writes The Guardian‘s Sally Davies. “It’s an unbeatable location, right on the arcaded Plaça Reial in the centre of the Barri Gòtic, but is really aimed at hard-core party people –- the cheap beer and all-night comings and goings of the clubbers make it less fun for anyone here for a quiet weekend of sightseeing, especially in the larger rooms (mixed dorms sleep up to 20 people).”
After three sleepless nights in Barcelona (which my brother and I thoroughly enjoyed), my ‘rents had seen enough. Or maybe they’d heard enough: girls shrieking in the hallways, people shouting, listening to loud music and drinking boxed wine in the adjacent rooms before going out (with all the windows open, as there was no air conditioning).
“This is unbelievable. These kids do not sleep!” said my mom, on the second night. My dad grunted from behind his sleep mask. The earplugs offered little relief.
But we were operating on opposite schedules. Mom and Dad were getting ready to go to bed, just as we were all getting dressed to go out.
We stayed in a private guest house in Venice, the next stop on our trip. No more party hostels for Mom and Dad. NOW, they realized the peace and quiet was worth the extra money.
Honestly, I don’t hate the Kabul Hostel. I had a blast both times I was there. My parents hate it.
Growing up kinda sucks. And so, I resist (see 44. Finishing school/Quitting your job).