Hostel Takeover

Adam Cayton-Holland journeys to the seventh ring of Denver's travel hell.

"What would we do if we were in a foreign country?" Darren asked after we'd dropped our stuff.

"We would get booze."

"Exactly," Darren said. "Let's go get some booze and come back and try to drink with whoever's here."

Cue problem number two with this hostel: not a liquor store in sight. We were in downtown Denver on a Friday night, and Darren and I wandered for blocks looking for any sort of elixir. We settled for a few drinks at the Old Curtis Street bar, then decided to return to the hostel to see if anyone new had shown up.

And lo, a voice in the hallway — another traveler, a chance to expand my horizons! I found a young Czech girl smoking a cigarette, alone, and engaged her in conversation. Although it was obvious that she loathed my very presence, she deigned to tell me that she was here for the summer, living in the hostel and working at Office Depot, of all places. She then added that she hated Denver.

"It's so boring," she said. "There's nothing to do here."

Well, fucking duh, Prague, you situated yourself in quite possibly the dullest place in the city, and you sell staplers. When I offered to take her out with Darren and me, show her the sights, she extinguished her cigarette haughtily. "I have to work at eight in the morning," she scoffed, before making her way back to her room.

Somewhere, some unseen someone piled on one last piece of straw, and the camel's back was officially broken.

"Pack your bag," I said to Darren, who was in our room studying what appeared to be a sound mixer at the foot of the Japanese guy's bed.

"Really?" he asked.

"Fuck, yes. We have homes here, we have friends, there's no reason to continue to soak up this misery."

If there's one thing that traveling has taught me — beyond who I really am, of course — it's to recognize a shitty situation when you see one, and do everything in your power to escape it. So we called a cab and got the fuck out of Dodge, heading off to get drunk with friends in a bar we've been in a million times before. My experiment had failed. I didn't feel like I'd seen anything new, and to add insult to injury, it was Darren who contracted scabies, not me.

On the bright side, though, only three more months till I can take another vacation.

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